If politics should be local, then so should punk. That’s what I took away from this exhibition at The Florrie anyway.
Jamie Reid’s punk history started before he tore the face off our monarch for the cover of God Save the Queen, but it’s definitely grown since. This exhibition at The Florrie acts as two parallel history classes, leading me down the path of global punk, while reminding me that this history was very much affecting the area around the Florrie at the time.
A large part of the interest in this show is that it isn’t timeless, at all. Almost every day you hear of people talking about art as a timeless artefact, or as something that transcends politics, or as something ‘in and of itself’. Jamie Reid just isn’t that, and it’s so refreshing.
Jamie Reid’s work speaks volumes, but only of a snapshot in time. His work captures moods in the way a lot of artists are afraid to explore. Walking around The Florrie each and every piece reminds you of some fascinating history or other.
The exhibition completely takes over the building, from its bottom to its absolute top in the, thankfully, restored viewing tower on the corner of the building. But more than just being a temporary thing that fills a space, Jamie Reid has fly posted all over the building, with work that will stay around for far longer than this exhibition. More so than the posters though, the new rehearsal room, with a collaged mural by the artist on its back wall is being offered to local bands as a practice room (with less than subtle hopes that some of those bands take a little punk inspiration from Reid’s mural).
Now, for anyone worrying that this is an archive, aside from his wall mural in the practice room, there is a large quantity of new work, perhaps made by a more inward looking Jamie Reid. His hangings, inspired by the Eightfold Wheel of the Druidic Calendar lead you up the stairs and past a bed (which I’ll get to) to what the curator described as the heart of the exhibition. This heart, a twelve foot printed tepee, sits listening to music that’s about as far from the punk rock, which this artist is most associated with. The music, from an album he recently designed the cover for, takes its inspiration from the Celtic, druidic eightfold year so prevalent in the show.
The other work, which if you’re on Twitter, you’ll possibly have come across already, is his F–k Forever Bed. Jamie Reid isn’t just a political punk, his defiance extends to the arts too. As Tracey Emin’s My Bed lunches at Tate Liverpool, The Florrie are on the cusp of starting a #BestBed hashtag, as far as I can tell, just to defy the Tate giant.
So Jamie Reid has had a clear impact on visual culture, his punk influence is pretty much undeniable, and he goes far beyond the usual role of a cover designer, actively influences the direction musicians take, and does that on both a global and a local scale. And he’s holding one of his biggest retrospective exhibitions just off Park Road
Casting Seeds brought one of the world’s most loved artists to the back end of Toxteth for one of the most comprehensive shows of his career. The curator of one of Liverpool’s more well-known galleries asked Jamie how the Florrie convinced him to exhibit there at all. His answer, “They asked.”