John Marchant jokingly describes himself as Jamie Reid’s representative on Earth. A gallerist himself, John manages the archive of one of the 20th Century’s most important visual artists, Jamie Reid. This is the man who defined a generation thanks to his early work with the Sex Pistols.
Now Marchant collaborates with Jamie on projects from land art to street art. One such project at the Nuart Festival in Aberdeen being 1the installation of a paste up wall. It is a collage of some of Jamie Reid’s iconic poster images from over the years.
John Marchant talks about the Jamie Reid Wall at Nuart Aberdeen
Jamie Reid is still probably best known for his work with the Sex Pistols. His album covers and supporting artworks really created a visual language that even today is recognised. When you think of punk and the movement of rebellion that grew up around it. Jamie Reid’s artwork is what you think of.
Since then, this idea of rebellion and supporting grass roots causes is something that Jamie Reid has persisted in supporting. His art has been used by Extinction Rebellion, Occupy and by Pussy Riot amongst others. Connecting with organisations in this way is a deep part of who he is as a person and as an artist.
Peace is Tough
Called ‘Peace is Tough’ the collage takes it’s name from a work created in the 90’s which shows John Wayne. He is shown wearing lipstick and wearing a badge saying ‘Peace is Tough’. Reid used the image a number of times in the 90’s. Most notably at the Waterside Centre in Derry where in 2000 he had an exhibition called ‘Peace is Tough‘. The following year in the same city there was a peace and reconciliation conference also called ‘Peace is Tough’.
The city of Aberdeen is also unique in that it holds a special place in the history of Jamie Reid and the Sex Pistols. Most notably in 1975 when the very first Sex Pistols poster was printed in the city. Reid had been on the Isle of Lewis and was travelling to London via Aberdeen. The location of the mural is at the same approximate location on which that first poster was printed.
Follow the Hare
Installing the mural around the city on behalf of Reid and as part of the festival. Marchant has also created a trail of hares. Placed in locations that should be immediately visible from one another. This idea of ‘following the hare’ is meant to lure any would be adventurer to explore different parts of the city. The hare itself is an important symbol in many cultures such as Celtic and Pagan. Sometimes symbolising cunning and mischief the trail for Nuart is simply to invite a bit of curiosity. To explore a part of town that you might not normally wander.
This sense of curiosity is really what stands out about the work of Jamie Reid as part of the Nuart Festival. Within each poster there is a story. Each piece considered to elicit a certain response, a commentary behind each one. Passers by might be drawn initially to the recognisable Queen images made so famous on Sex Pistols artworks. Soon though their eyes might well be drawn to other works for other campaigns.
Look carefully at the wall of posters and you might also see the OVA. An encircled A for Anarchy with a V for Victory. This is the symbol by which Jamie Reid chooses to identify. Given it’s shape and with the combination of the V and the A. The OVA results in a design with eight points coming into contact with the circle surrounding it. Each point representing a single event of the Druidic eight fold year. These are the festivals which have meaning in the Pagan and Druidic calendars. All connected with the seasons and with sowing and harvest. Reid himself has always had a deep connection to the land and to druidic ideals.
Jamie Reid’s latest project, shared by John Marchant as part of the Nuart Symposium, is one that uses the idea of the OVA. Sown into a field at the Heligan Project in Cornwall, it changes with the seasons. Providing a space for a celebration of nature and for people, Pagan and otherwise to connect. A short film, shown at Nuart, showcased the project using footage from the Spring Equinox Festival and using a song written by Jamie Reid himself. A song which also has the title ‘Peace is Tough’.
As the theme for the 2023 Nuart Festival was ‘rewilding’, the year long OVA project did that in quite a literal way. Not only changing the landscape albeit temporarily. But also in generating masses of excess seed that could be distributed across the country. That seed would in turn go on to have a life of its own, finding itself sown and rewilded in places that could not be known.
Returning back to Aberdeen and it will remain to be seen how long the wall will last. Posters that will no doubt fade and be subject to human interference. It nonetheless tells a story of an artistic ideal that uses art as a means of giving voice to campaigns and causes that might not otherwise. Each poster has it’s own history and a story waiting to be heard behind each one.
Peace is Tough Video
The Nuart Festival ran from 8-11 June 2023 in Aberdeen with John Marchant representing Jamie Reid who appeared via zoom at the Nuart Symposium. The ‘Peace is Tough’ mural was created using posters previously designed by Reid and is located on Crooked Lane. The OVA project at the Lost Gardens of Heligan in Cornwall ran from 1 May 2022 to 1 May 2023.