“There’s a guy in the place who’s got a bittersweet face. And he goes by the name of Ebeneezer Goode” sang The Shamen in their 1992 No.1 hit ‘Ebeneezeer Goode’. There was much controversy at the time about whether or not the song was endorsing recreational drug use. Which it obviously was. It hardly takes a genius to work that one out. Anyway, you may wonder what that has to do with today’s piece. Not much directly but it does allow me to segue nicely into the world of MDMA, Ecstasy, madman, X or Mandy. Call it what you will. Back in the late 90’s London’s club scene was buzzing with places like Turnmills, The Cross, The End and Fabric (to name but a few) having wildly successful evenings week after week. You’d only have to venture into one of those booming dens of iniquity to witness a large percentage of the crowd looking decidedly happy, chatty and sweaty. Now I’m not endorsing anything but I had some good times in those places myself.
So today’s piece is a tribute to those good times, wherever you were at the time. I’ve got a few favourite touches on this piece – the googly eyes, the Mitsubishi sign overlaid on the club and the thread which overlays the stencil of the chemical composition of MDMA. Winner. Now, if anyone wants to save this from an uncertain life on the streets it’s time to speak up now…
BONUS FACT – When the Shamen appeared on Top of the Pops, it was expected that Mr.C would tone down the song due to its being broadcast. The group replaced the final lyric “Got any Salmon?” with “Has anyone got any underlay?” He was later asked about this in a radio interview, to which he replied that it was not a drug reference but a rug reference
After a couple of years hiatus it was once again time for Upnorthfest. After the first one in Southport this time it was back but had gone further up north to Sunderland. After we’d loaded up the id-iomobile it was time to hit the road. A gruelling 6.5 hour drive saw us arriving around 1.30am where, thankfully, our gracious host was still up and receiving guests. (A big thanks to Pauline for putting us up and Frank for putting us in touch with her!)
The next morning we were up early and headed down to Studio Q where we’d be painting. Street work in late September is always something of a gamble so we were hugely relieved that it was blue skies and sunshine all round. We got shown to our wall but it hadn’t yet been painted with red oxide, the paint of choice for this year’s festival, so to start the day it was rollers at the ready with red oxide in hand. The first act of the day was managing to break the extendable roller so a quick trip to Homebase was in order. After that it was the laborious job of painting the wall with the glue-like red oxide.
Using the tower scaffold proved easier than anticipated once we’d managed to get the legs level and once the wall was dry it was time to move onto the main event – Jack Mackem the Sunderland Fitter. We’d done a little research in the hopes of coming up with a good design and it was revealed that historically the playing card the Jack of Clubs was also known as the Sunderland Fitter. Once we had this little nugget of information the design pretty much suggested itself. The ‘Mackem’ ambigram in the middle was the final flourish and we’re left with the somewhat moody visage of Jack Mackem the Sunderland Fitter. As he’s the Jack of Clubs it’s probably fitting that he looks something like a bouncer. With any luck he’ll be gracing the streets for a couple of years so keep your eyes open if you’re up in the North East.