Wild Billy Childish

Billy Childish and Tracey Emin, n.d.

Leg of Lamb watched Billy Childish is Dead last night, a no-frills documentary about the mustachioed rocker and prolific poet and painter who flatly refuses to become ‘famous’.  This might explain his split with old girlfriend Tracey Emin.   Her self-obsessed artwork draws heavily on the work of Childish and even includes him – Emin’s infamous appliquéd tent Everyone I Have Ever Slept With (1995) contains the muso’s name front and centre (below).

Detail of Tracey Emin’s work ‘Everyone I have ever slept with’, 1995

It was Emin who allegedly coined the term ‘Stuckism‘, an art movement Childish was associated with until the early 2000’s.  Eschewing the ‘pretensions of conceptual art’ promoted by the Tate – and often protesting outside the gallery’s annual Turner Prize – the Stuckists favour a return to figurative painting.

Woodcut by Billy Childish, n.d.

Unfortunately Childish’s paintings are somewhat derivative, they reference expressionists like Van Gogh and Kirchner.  The energy and confidence evident in his woodcuts is more interesting.  But it’s when he’s performing that Childish comes into his own.  His spoken word is sincere and his music is raw.  He’s released over 100 albums with bands including The Milkshakes, Thee Headcoats, Thee Mighty Caesars, The Buff Medways (below) and The Musicians of the British Empire so take your pick…

Wild Billy Childish

2 thoughts on “Wild Billy Childish

  1. blackwatertown says:

    Spent an enjoyable few hours with him years ago when he was performing as one of the Medway Poets. I salute his stamina.

  2. I enjoyed his irony towards brit art conceptualism, till I understood the obsession of the stuckists for recognition to get their piece of the market cake.

    Real rebellion is elsewhere!
    The System has to be TRULY questioned!

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