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"I dislike lack of integrity. I dislike all the ways the world of man tries to make us passive observers rather than participators."

Andrew Stevens reviews The Aquarium's Billy Childish exhibition


A Dansette-style record player emits the crystalline strains of garage rock in the corner, barely audible over the chatter of the assembled viewers in Euston's Aquarium gallery one Saturday evening in November. Just after teatime. 30-somethings mill around, some with pushchairs, others with babies in pouches on their fronts. Surprisingly there are no regulars from London's eager, young and hip Dirty Water Club. It is the opening night of Billy Childish' We Are All Phonies exhibition and the bar isn't free.

Childish probably appears in events listings sections in London under more guises than anyone else alive. Or dead. The Guardian and Time Out frequently refer to him as a 'polymath', banding around the term with furious regularity it seems. The man has a lot of fingers in a lot of pies, that much is certain. Tonight's is firmly implanted in that of Childish the artist. You didn't know he was an artist, you say? You can add author and poet to the list as well -- he's not just the frontman for all manner of Childish persona and vehicles over the years. Pop Rivets, Thee Headcoats, The Milkshakes, Thee Mighty Caesars and The Buff Medways, it's all good it seems. A selection of the LP cover work is also on display. Don't forget the careers of his associates, Holly Golightly and Sexton Ming, either.

Childish sentiments:

"I dislike lack of integrity. I dislike all the ways the world of man tries to make us passive observers rather than participators."

"Painting pictures is what children do and that adults would do very well to learn from because they are in their natural human state of creativity. That creativity is nicely expressed by doing something that doesn't matter like pictures and then it can permeate into the rest of our lives like making tea well, or making a pair of shoes and the making of things with meaning which matter to other people."

The Aquarium's last exhibition was concerned with the Situationist International and in late December they'll play host to the next 3AM event, our Xmas Bash (Billy Childish headlined at our last one, in July).

'We Are All Phonies' runs until 24 December.


Andrew Stevens is a Chief Editor for 3am Magazine and lives in London, England.

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