When Bill Drummond announced that he would be embarking on a twelve
year world tour of his The 25 Paintings show earlier this year, it was
no belated rock and roll gesture that emulated the life on the road so
beloved of ageing icons stuck in a last-gasp music industry groove.
Rather, the show's opening leg at Eastside Projects in Birmingham
between March and June this year was the latest chapter in Drummond's
very personal pilgrimage that has provoked and confused himself as much
as the music and art establishments he has subverted over almost forty
From designing the set of theatre director Ken Campbell's legendary
twelve-hour staging of Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson's
science-fiction conspiracy epic, Illuminatus, through to spending his
sixtieth birthday standing on a manhole cover in Liverpool, Drummond's
restless wanderings have been a very personal Boy's Own style adventure
that have explored ways of being as much as seeing. This has been the
case whether subverting the music business with The KLF, burning a
million quid with the K Foundation,or founding National No Music Day
and his mythical choir, The 17.
The 25 Paintings ae a series of word-based canvasses that make up an
epic, ever-changing sculpture which Drummond has painted over several
times since he began the work in 2002. As he points out in the
limited edition hardback catalogue of essays and images for the
Birmingham show, 'the actual paintings aren't the important bit. The
important bit is what I will be doing in and around Birmingham...for
those three months.'
Since he wrote those words, Drummond has graffitied a bridge under
Spaghetti Junction where he also laid down 400 bunches of daffodils. He
also defaced a UKIP election poster with his own brand of Drummond's
International Grey paint, an action for which he was investigated by
the police. Berlin is scheduled to be the next stop-off point in
Drummond's nomadic action that will later take in residencies
Guangzhou, Memphis and Damascus, all of which he will sail into on a
wooden raft of his own construction.
In 2025, when Drummond is seventy-two, Drummond will end his tour by
returning to Birmingham, where he will once again lay 400 bunches of
daffodils beneath Spaghetti Junction in what may well put a final bloom
of his life and work.
Scottish Art News, August 2014