Cultural Treachery is basically me, Steve Prince and is one of the things that I may well be up to...
My history... well, I grew up in a selection of small Northern and Midlands
UK towns and villages, before escaping to the heady lights of Derby at
17 (my mum always says I left home too young) and from there to London and then a selection of towns and cities around the country.
From there onwards I appear to have not quite finished a degree and done
all kinds of creative stuff, with an almost
wilfull contrariness towards anything that might be considered a career
path but curiously has had some kind of theme or order running through it all
I guess a lot of what has driven me on is to do things that I would want to see put out into the world, to create things that make others have the feeling I get when I see some fine and beautiful work and my hairs stand on end... oh and the perennial problem of making a living through your work and of not having to answer to those above you in a hierarchy that is peopled by those placed often via anything other than through merit (rant).
So, what have I done? How do you document a life in one web page? Not
sure but I'll give it a go.
Well, for many years I had various independent clothing labels, under
numerous guises and kind of aimed at all kinds of subcultures. It all
started when I was working in the legendary Sign of The Times shop in
London (a one-off kind of place that gave space to genuinely outsider
fashion) and a chap came in one day and said "I can print whatever
you like on a t-shirt. With that I was off..." oh and also strangely ending
up making fake fur glampunk bondage clothes in a mates front room for
a huge posh Steven Meisel photoshoot for Vogue magazine!
My clothing ranges have often been the bread and butter that kept me alive
and was often used as a way to have a right good old complain/comment
about the mediocrity and lack of genuine passion that's prevalent in so
much of contemporary culture while making various slutpunk kind of clothing...
|"A selection of photos that a
friend of mine Ray took of my clothes around Kings Cross... and also
on the right a bit of a rough collage of some of the press that I
got over the years for my clothes."
Sometimes later on it was more voodoo rock'n'roll a la
The Cramps, sometimes more goth/fetish, briefly it was mod and even occassionally
a bit kind of leftfield fashion. Generally I screenprinted the items myself
and was even known to be tied to a sewing machine for months at a time
in order to make boxes and boxes of the stuff to send to Japan or to sell
in the Electric Ballroom in Camden Market.
|"A selection of pages
from the Degenerate catalogue that was a kind of greatest hits from
my time in the bowels of Camden Market."
During all that I seemed to manage to sell things to an
eclectic mix of famous people... from Dee Dee Ramone to Naomi Campbell,
Marc Almond to that woman out of Aqua via Marilyn Manson and Boy George...
which was all both odd and yet curiously satisfying.
Oh and during all that I also put together a rather large selection of
t-shirt, promotional and cover artwork for industrial-elektro sleaze band
Sheep on Drugs (one of England's great lost bands and featuring now tattooist
of note Mister X but more of him in a mo').
For several years (1998-2002) me and my sister, Sue Prince,
had a shop/gallery called The Last Chance Saloon in London's Waterloo.
This was basically a place that sold and displayed things that we would
want to buy and see ourselves, a large part of which was the 'lowbrow'
culture that was found in Juxtapoz magazine... basically a twisted take
on oddball pop culture, devils'n'hotrods, zines, small press books, our
own clothing labels, quirky toys, a huge range of our own pin badges...
oh, it's difficult to describe.
the flyer design for Coop's exhibition, me, Coop, his partner Ruth and my sis Sue at the opeing for Coop's exhibition. Next along is the screenprinted poster for
Vince Ray's third exhibition at the shop and on the far right is the front of The Last Chance Saloon.
The gallery side of the shop was particularly popular, leading to signings with people queueing for four hours down the street, cover articles and acres of press in everything from Creative Review magazine to BBC radio.
Note to self:
It's kind of odd but there's a sense that beyond just south of the river Thames in London is another country and it makes that four
Tube station journey from central London's Soho to South of the river, which takes about ten minutes, seem like a very long way away. Folk will make more of a dedicated trip for a gallery than a set of oddball shops.
I have to say we did have
a lot of very dedicated and supportive customers (thanks very much to them) and we had an awful lot of fun (and some very long hours!).
Our exhibitions included
the first UK exhibitions by screen printed rockposter artists Coop and
Frank Kozik, the first ever exhibition by the fetish'n'psychobilly illustrator
Vince Ray and our opening show was by the garage punk musician/poet/artist/one
man industry Billy Childish. We also had shows by mail artist Mark Pawson,
post feminist fashion designer Karen Savage, girls with spaceships
in their hair illustrator Neil McFarland (aka Paris Hair) and a group
poster show that featured work by Shepard Fairey, Banksy and Pete Fowler...
oh and not to forget glam seditionairy club night Kitsch Bitch, which
was probably actually my personal favourite.
|"These were some of the clothing
prints that I did while at the LCS. They also had shoulder prints
that said "my belief system has been systematically destroyed",
"media whore", "I saw it in a magazine, I can't afford
it but it's definitely me" and "I buy my identity"...
basically the range dealt with my own personal fascination and hatred
of the media, the way they suck something in and spit it out sucked
dry in a matter of months, pounce on something before it's had time
to gestate and develop and generally help engender a feeling of inadequacy
through consumerism... which has been a bit of an ongoing theme with
a lot of what I've done over the years. I'm fascinated and repelled
by the whole spectacle but I try and avoid it as much as possible
as filling my head up with the endless unfiltered junk just leaves
me feeling physically dirty (strange but true)."
|"...this selection of t-shirt
prints you'd have to see on the garments to get the full effect, as
each one was unique and printed in a hand cut-up effect across the
side of the tops, which were made in an asymmetric shape. It was based
on England's semi-forgotten history... early eighties activism, the
miner's strike, Maggie Thatcher, the use of unemployment as a weapon
to help destroy the working class spirit. I suspect that people that
wore them probably didn't really know that that was what it was all
about... ah, well, we can but try. The one on the far right is actually
a mixture of my graphics and one of my sister's drawings and I always
thought it had an aching bit of melancholy to it. That one in particular
ended up on 10,000 posters across London town and on some t-shirts
that we sold in Topshop, during a brief fling with the nasty nasty
side of clothing retail."
Plus we put together a fine selection of clothing, jigsaws
and other merchandise featuring the work of Vince, Mister X (former front
man with Sheep on Drugs and now a tattooist of note at Into You in London),
Paris Hair and Frank Kozik.
|"A few of the designs
that Vince Ray and Duncan X did for us at the Last Chance Saloon"
So all in all 'twas a pretty varied place. It was a fine
space, that apparently's become some kind of mini-urban legend and is
the sort of genuinely independently spirited place that's been driven
out of inner cities by the insatiable need of landlords for ever higher
rents (oh look, my favourite shop's closed down and now it's a sandwich
bar/coffee shop/vodka watering hole).
Towards the end of the LCS I met a young lady and moved up to Nottingham.
Carried on with the clothing, in a more strictly fetish crossover and
gothic style than before. For a while I delved into the world of trading
at darkwave festivals throughout the land (a cyber gothic festival in
Bradford with a thousand hair extensioned goths on pills listening to
dark trance... who would've thought it?). This was a more online thing
than before and I was soon also embroiled in the world of Ebay and was
back screenprinting myself, which I'd kind of missed.
In 2003 I put on a big pile of club nights.The main one
of these was called Home
Taping Is Killing Music and was a kind
of electropunk-twisted pop-future rock'n'roll night before such things
became the mainstay of student nights out across the country... well,
that was what it said on the flyer but generally it was "playing
things we like at a club we'd want to go to" mixed with the club
slogan "we just don't care". These are a few of the flyers for
As a side line to that we djed and helped promote for
Peaches (a lovely lady, v'un-in-your face offstage), Adult. (two of the
nicest, most genuine people you could want to meet), Chicks on Speed (who
I didn't actually meet and I think were a touch too arty for the good
people of Nottingham). There were piles of other things that surrounded
the club nights, badges, banners, live video mixing, Meg White at one
of them, skipping rope dancing on the dance floor, fanzines and more and
The same year I also put on another club night kind of
a thing with the aforementioned nice young lady. We started doing a night
called Sex and Horror, which was a more sleazy rock'n'roll/Gallon Drunk/Nick
Cave kind of a thing, which also took in putting on The Cramps aftershow
party for one of only two dates that they did in the UK, a Day of the
Dead Mexican themed Halloween night and a fair bit of quiff action.
...then eventually, a little burnt out by the late nights,
venue politics and endless flyering I took a break.
That was the end of 2003.
I guess it was a break in some ways, not in others.
I had some time out, moved city, earnt some money briefly in more normal
work (not for me it would appear, I lasted around two and a half weeks before having to say to the chap that I was working for that it wasn't really working out).
That year I also did
the less normal work of working for the chap who used to make
my clothes and helping him with the starting up of a clothing factory
geared towards young fashion designers... paid off the evils of credit
cards, closed my Nottingham workshops and generally prepared for what
I was going to do next... plus here are a couple of things of note during
this resting period:
||"For a long time I'd wanted to
do something for Nag Nag Nag, the club night that'd helped kickstart
the whole new-electro dance scene. I'd gone down to it in London and
it'd completely inspired me to start my own night. I printed the t-shirts
for Jonny Slut, with this rather nice design from their compilation
||"...plus I co-put on these fine chaps
in Nottingham. It's James Johnston (Gallon Drunk/Bad Seeds), his artist/filmaker
wife Geraldine Swayne and Steve Gullick (a stunning music photographer
and Admiral of Loose Lips Sinks Ships magazine). It was a great night,
helped by them being real sweethearts and was a good way to say a
fond farewell to Nottingham."
In 2005 I briefly ressurected Home Taping, along with Rik/Rikmanu:
"It was a pretty good night, we played some fine music, folk seemed to be very much enjoying it, I put together a huge selection of different flyers, on different formats, dimensions, materials... but I think I realised that I needed to do other things and it kind of marked the start of the end of my absolutely obsessive interestest in music."
Since around April of 2005 I've also been running a custom pin badge making site, www.badgesaplenty.com
I've made literally hundreds of thousands for a huge variety of chaps and lasses, including:
Holly Golightly, Kings Have Long Arms, The Aquarium Gallery, Night and Day (Manchester), Fantazia, The Brudenell Social Club (Leeds), James Cauty, Jeffrey Lewis, Dr D, Shibby Shabblers, Vince Ray, United Stencil Agency, Daniel Johnston, The Hi-Fi Club (Leeds), Left Lion Magazine (Nottingham), Mr Stacey's Video Emporium, The Imogen Styles, Whiskey Cats...
Terry Edwards/Sartorial Records, Sputnik 2 (Martin Degville), Diamond Jacks Tattoo, Procol Harum, Humber Rescue, Razor Stiletto (Sheffield), Artnucleus, 1968 Film Group, Arthole (Bruce Brand/Masonics/Thee Headocats), The Wendy House (Leeds), The New Master Sounds, Ed's Diner (London), Omerta...
...and (after a pause for breath)
The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain, Fred's Flying Circus, Sheffield Bikers, Hot Dog (club), Fert (Feret Education and Research Trust), Raucous Records, The National Maritime Museum, (London), Dr Wu's (Leeds), GoJonnyGoGoGo Records, Forward Russia, Smash Skates, Trojan Records,
...and not forgetting
Benjamin Wetherill, Trojan Records, DJ Scotch Egg, Brandon Steep, Detour Apparel, Katscan, Mechanical Cabaret, a fair few schools, an NHS Trust or two, Pollinates, Popstarz (London), Shortfuse, Brennan & Burch, Joolz/NYAAA, Little White Lies Magazine...
Well, all kinds of folks, basically.
In 2006 I moved to Leicester and worked on various projects that involved creating merchandise ranges for and with creative folk. Some of them worked out, some of them didn't, I made a lot of very fine samples, lived in and shared a fine and unusual 10,000 square foot old 1920's factory space.
A couple of other things I've been working on... I rebuilt Ms Holly Golightly's website:
Alongside the website I built her online shop, which I'm also running and making the merchandise for.
I designed and built the web shop pages for Mr Roi's Mechanical Cabaret band, also creating and runnig the online merchandise.
Both of which have been rather fine things to do, as they're both rather fine and lovely people.
I did a fair old bit of work on this site, well worth a look-see:
And my new clothing label and site, I expect more of an art project meets clothing label rather than just strictly a clothing label as it might once have been:
In 2013 I published the first in a series of Afterhours Sleaze and Dignity books. I shall let their website explain more...
I'm currently working on a project called A Year In The Country:
"A Year In The Country is a year long journey of and searching for an expression of an underlying unsettledness to the English bucolic countryside dream… and wandering about and through the trails of things that have influenced, inspired and intrigued me along the way, which will quite possibly take in the further flung reaches of folk music and what has been labelled hauntological culture."
I suppose in a way it's one of the first times that I've worked on something creatively that wasn't directly connected to the interests of my youth and pop culture, nor that draws from or is set in city based culture. This is more from the wald or the wild woods....
It's a strange thing life. Ups and downs and downs and ups but it's an interesting journey.
1st May 2014
PS Well, thinking about it, that was mostly work stuff,
none of the more day to day life and loves and relationship stuff.
A chap likes to keep somethings private I guess.