Shit Rags. A Month in a Life of Darkness
6 December 2023 – End of January 2024
Given the opportunity of a second show I thought it the perfect occasion to explore what I consider to be the most pernicious of influences over our society, Machiavellian newspaper owners. I immersed myself in their output and emerged out of the darkness with my new collection. It’s a mixed media series worked up with contemporary collage, stencils (both artist designed and commercial), oil pastels, spray paint, house paint and traditional mark making. Certain images (politics my own) have been provided by a great photographer @dougie_wallace who kindly gave me access to his Soho Unlocked-Portraits series. Other influences have been Robert Rauschenberg, Kurt Schwitters, Jean-Michel Basquiat and George Carlin.
1 Starting work just prior to the horrific massacre on Oct 7th has been witness to the full effect of the propaganda and how deeply entrenched across all media it is. The first and second works are expressing surprise at the ability to cease all wars during the time of a virus and then to recommence when the armaments corporations and ‘defence’ budgets 2 need their forever wars to start again. And then there were two.
3 Interspersed within the main narrative are references to our eye wateringly corrupt and hypocritical government. In this instance we can’t afford to feed hungry children but venal MP’s can have 2 subsidised slap up lunches so they don’t have to pay for an evening meal.
4 The trumped up outrage against a march for peace in Gaza being held on the same day as Armistice day was truly something. To see the contortions of the Home Office and client media in full swing as they smashed into the reality of understanding that it was International Cease Fire day. 11 No stone was left unturned in the search for anti-semitic utterances or troublesome flags. 6 Not surprisingly my villainous protagonist was at the heart of the disinformation and represented here and in further pictures by Agent Smith from the Matrix.
5 As we continue to plunder the Earth’s resources unabated at least there’s the diversionary accompaniment of the sound of the media both siding the incoming catastrophe. This one is called, “Drill More, Fuck bears”.
7 This work is called “Under The Rug” and was planned as simply as possible using paper versions of my zebra stencil and is aimed at the biggest cover up in the World today, the Jeffrey Epstein sex trafficking scandal and the 400 or so rich and powerful men involved. This has seemingly been completely whitewashed by the media and authorities with the only person found guilty, Ghislaine Maxwell (coincidentally, I’m sure, the daughter of a newspaper Baron). If you look carefully various other institutions are included since I’m on a roll and talking about international sex trafficking being normalised.
8 One work was never going to do justice to the implications, suspicions and malevolence of the scandal so “Jizz Lane” was born.
9 Drink Fuck Die is my response to the utter mismanagement of the world and a mantra to live (and die)by. This work is spray paint, stencil and house paint and available in a variety of colour combinations.
10 Shit Rag was designed as my reposte to the poison on the news stands. To read these papers objectively is to marvel in the dishonesty and division they seed. One noticeable factor is the rift they are exacerbating within the Royal family. Every other page has some sort of dig against the King, usually but not always wrapped up in a Harry/Meghan vs William/Kate non-story. Remaining pages are devoted to harrassing famous, vulnerable women, seemingly for the owners’ private delectations.
12 With the Covid Enquiry beamed live into our homes everyone can finally see at first hand how utterly incompetent those governing us actually are. So sure of their entitlement that every bad decision is doubled down on, economy on knife edge, shit in all our waterways, NHS on its knees and a Government firmly set on attacking the institutions at the heart of this country and driving a wedge between its citizens. All the while trying to distract us with a confected migrant crisis and balloons.
13 This is my mum’s cat Margo insouciantly carrying on as the spectre of World War III looms behind him. She asked me to do a portrait of him so I was happy to oblige and include him as part of the series.
www.benmellorartist.com | firstname.lastname@example.org | @aliveordreadart
“Mantras are for keeps”
Ben Mellor at the Star & Garter 29 September – 6 December
The show is called “Mantras are for Keeps” and is a selection of the images and characters that I have created over the years to relay the story of institutional corruption, oppression and greed that I wanted to tell. My usual format paintings are made on a 1200mm x 2400mm timber board so the challenge was to scale everything down whilst hopefully retaining the impact and message. I have simplified this in certain instances by the use of 3 or 4 word slogans so beloved of our gaslighting politicians.
The images are either hand painted or stencilled onto canvas board and hand finished. Then roughly hand framed as part of my effort to keep as much as possible within my studio. Please have a look at the website to see the images on a larger scale or on various walls round London.
The original image was made from a photograph of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani in 2010 for my first public exhibition at the Redgate Gallery in Brixton in a pop art style to highlight the oppression of women in general and, in her case, being sentenced to death for adultery even though she was a widow. The patriarchy seemingly survives into the afterlife.
13 years later and nothing has changed and we are now seeing the growing repression of women in America with the malicious abortion bans which have absolutely nothing to do with the right to life and everything to do with the right to control.
The image is hand painted, roughly framed and measures 300mm x 400mm.
Self Portrait No 1. July 2023
This is my first self portrait and is included in the show as I thought that a first self portrait should definitely be a good investment seeing the prices of existing artists first portraits. It was created in an impasto style using poured house paint and expresses my disappointment in the lethargic way we accept the stupidity, incompetence and cruelty meted out to us by the venal morons in Downing St
Abstract No 1. January 2023
I’m normally consumed by making work highlighting the injustices and division in the world but occasionally I need a break and this painting is again a first. First figurative/abstract piece that I’ve let out of the studio. Simple, carefree, mark making.
Squares is the condensed version of my series of semi-abstract ‘windows’ paintings where the background and colours used are my windows into my secret world. This work is again the first in a new series. Please see my website for the previous works.
Was one of the first stencils that I cut way back in 2005 or so. It was obviously critical of the sudden dominance and inexorable advance of big tech, however, it now represents for me the complete disregard for what’s right and wrong by all the big corporations. The flagrant profiteering by energy, food, pharmaceutical, armaments whilst at the same time poisoning us with the chemicals that they use. Predators picking on us like carrion.
This assemblage work was inspired by my years of running a construction company and watching at first hand how the larger companies could commit whatever manner of violations and never seemingly suffer any consequences. Grenfell Tower being the most egregious example and as I write this the main contractors vans are parked in my street having escaped any sort of prosecution despite the horrific outcome. Corporations are now running us with the politicians there to ensure everything they do is ‘legal’ and the police as a private security force to ensure there’s no way up the ladder for us.
Is the image I created for my street art last year to highlight the horror and absurdity of there being an actual European war. In 2022. A year on and its basically Meh from news corporations and shrugs of shoulders from everybody else. I’m keeping the image alive as it represents the fact that we provide just enough weapons and supplies to prolong the war but not enough to ever give Ukraine an advantage. But hey amid the slaughter at least the armaments corporations are getting paid handsomely from those lovely taxpayer coffers.
This is a continuation of my series of flag paintings. I originally started doing them following yet another school shooting in America in 2012 and was both a response to these horrific incidents and the opportunity to tread in one of my greatest influences, Jasper Johns, footsteps. This small piece was done following another police shooting this time in the UK and states for me that the police forces around the country are now just a private security force for the rich. To quell dissent and protest which, given the greedy and incompetent way we are being governed, is only going to get worse.
The World Has Gone Fucking Mad
I made the original design for my “unknown Hoody” following the riots in 2011 which was the first time I’d witnessed visible anger against authorities since the poll tax riots in the early 90’s, which is astonishing given the absolute shitshow of lies and theft that had gone on in between. That however was a drip in the barrel of malevolence that has since been unleashed upon us by possibly the most venal and utterly incompetent bunch of sociopaths to ever govern a country.
Not Those Ones
The original image was conceived the week that 500 migrants were allowed to die in a ship off the Greek coast whilst at the same time the entire World’s coastguard and news agencies were dispatched to the Atlantic to search for 5 idiots in a tin can. Despite, as we found out later, all the intelligence agencies knowing that the craft impoded on the Sunday they dragged out the search and media until the Thursday. 4 days of coordinated multi agency, multi news corp lying to us. 4 days of bullshit. Why?
This was done last week following the earthquake in Libya and complete lack of international response beyond the absolute basics. Tens of thousands dead and not a sniff on the news. Utter carefree indifference to anyone considered unproductive.
A lot of my previous work involved the use of tryptch’s to tell my story. Although these are individual works I thought that I’d like to hang them together. The previous paintings represent the desperate unwanted migrants around the world and this painting represents the desperate, the unwanted, the homesless people that we have in our society and just shunned by our politicians.
Drink, Fuck , Die
The show is called “Mantras are for keeps” so I thought I’d explore the contemporary mantra that pisses me off the most. Live, Laugh, Love, and update it to my feelings on the actual dystopia we’re being conditioned for. Drink, Fuck, Die ticks my boxes.