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john davies
notes from a small vicar
from a parish
in Liverpool, UK

    Saturday, September 11, 2004
    It's gonna be a Childish autumn

    I mean, I am looking forward to the Biennial, which starts next week. Though there's so much happening at venues all over the city that I'm not looking forward to having to wade through plenty of last-minute half-concieved and frankly uninspiring installations to identify the good stuff.

    But one thing is thrilling me in anticipation: Billy Childish is in town. Or at least, the spirit of Childish. The Walker is putting on The Stuckists Punk Victorian,

    the first major exhibition to recognize the Stuckists, the group founded in 1999 by Charles Thomson and Billy Childish, which has subsequently become an international art movement. Stuckism marks the birth of 'Remodernism' - "a renewal of spirituality and meaning in art, culture and society".

    The Stuckists oppose 'Postmodernism' and conceptual art, famously campaign against the Turner Prize and declare painting as the radical medium of self-discovery: "The Stuckist paints pictures because painting pictures is what matters."

    As he tells us in his biography, Childish never seems to stand still: "by far the most prolific painter, poet, and song-writer of his generation. In a twenty year period he has published 30 collections of his poetry, recorded over 70 full-length independent LP's and produced over 1000 paintings." And having started the Stuckists in 1999 he left them in 2001, but (according to their website) he continues to support their ideas in his life and work.

    If these artists have the vigour Childish has, their show will be a stand-out. If they are as creatively contrary as he is in his art and music they'll make many waves in Liverpool this autumn. With Thee Mighty Caesars Childish sang:

    "well there's a feeling in this world
    that causes unrest
    your ambition and success
    is what i detest
    i try to be true
    i'm trying my best
    i'm not seduced by your cheap love
    hatreds and mess
    you make me die now
    you make me die now
    you make me die"

    I came back from Piccadilly Records yesterday with Billy's retrospective 2cd set, 25 years of being Childish. It's raw, it's real, it's refreshingly good. It will be on my player a lot. In the sleevenotes Childish says, "All my work belongs close to the ground, to instinct and the elemental. I believe in home made music, home made art and home made cooking. I want to bring back the bike, the tram and the horse."

    "You better realise
    that I'm a lie detector aah-aah
    I'm a lie detector aah-aah
    I'm a lie detector aah-aah
    If you ever lie
    I'll detect you too"

    The autumn would be complete if someone could persuade Childish to come here and gig The Walker ... well, why not?