The Other Muswell Hill Stuckists

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First published in The Other Muswell Hill Stuckist newspaper, December 2012.

The Other Muswell Hill Stuckists (aka The OMH Stuckists) were founded in 2006 by Edgeworth Johnstone, and now comprises of four artists: Edgeworth Johnstone and Shelley Li from Muswell Hill, Emma Pugmire from Crouch End, and Justin Piperger from Holloway.

To date, they have released three manifestos, one of which was published in a Penguin Book of Modern Classics. Since 2007, Members of the group have attended every Stuckist demonstration against the Turner Prize, as well as one in Central London regarding works by Damien Hirst, and exhibited in every major exhibition of Stuckist work in the UK.

In 2009, an art fraud that duped the Royal Collection was uncovered by Johnstone and reported in The Sunday Times. In 2010, he became the first, and to date only Stuckist exhibited in the UK’s national gallery of modern art, Tate Modern, in a display curated by The Museum of Everything (who have acquired over 30 of his works). 

A book about, and written by Li and Johnstone has since been accepted into the Tate Gallery Library and Archive.

In 2007, wood sculptor Mike MacKenzie was the first artist to join Johnstone’s “The Other Muswell Hill Stuckists’, despite Stuckism being primarily a figurative painting group. After attending the twice-yearly Stuckist Turner Prize demonstration at Tate Britain in December 2007, Shelley Li joined in early 2008 (Shelley and Edgeworth married roughly a year later), along with another artist who was later expelled from the group for stealing £300. In 2009, Emma Pugmire and Justin Piperger joined after visiting a Stuckist exhibition in Shelley and Edgeworth’s flat, titled ‘Stuck in Wood Green’. MacKenzie, although having not left the group, has since moved from the area and not been in contact since 2009.

Shelley Li has translated many Stuckist documents into Mandarin Chinese.

In July 2008, The Other Muswell Hill Stuckists staged their first group exhibition at Nolias Gallery, Southwark. The exhibition did not have a title, but was staged in support of a petition made to Downing Street by Stuckism co-founder Charles Thomson, calling for Sir Nicholas Serota to be removed from his position of Director of the Tate Gallery.

Eight days after publishing ‘The Founding, Manifesto and Rules of The Other Muswell Hill Stuckists’, Shelley and Edgeworth hosted and curated an exhibition of UK Stuckists, titled ‘Stuck in Wood Green’, staged in their Wood Green flat. It ran from 28 February – 30 April, closing only after an infestation of rats forced the couple to move out.

In July 2009, The Other Muswell Hill Stuckists curated another exhibition of UK Stuckist artwork titled ‘Not the Groucho Club’, at the Islington Arts Factory, opposite Holloway Prison, using the show to raise awareness of fellow Stuckist Michael Dickinson’s trial in Turkey, on the charge of “insulting the Prime Minister”. Dickinson faced a possible jail sentence over a collage titled ‘Good Boy’, a print of which was exhibited in ‘Not the Groucho Club’.

On August 9th 2009, The Sunday Times article: Royal Collection Duped over fake African painter Helen Anne Petrie, detailed research done by Johnstone, after becoming suspicious of a wikipedia article claiming the artist to be in various national museums and galleries, and celebrity collections. Online records of these collections gave no mention of Helen Anne Petrie, although works by an artist of that name were recorded as being accepted into the Royal Collection.

In November 2009, Stuckism co-founder Charles Thomson spoke at the Oxford Union Debating Society discussion: This House Believes that conceptual art just isn’t Art. As part of the Stuckism display, Shelley Li and Edgeworth Johnstone from The Other Muswell Hill Stuckists attended dressed in clown outfits, as Stuckist protestors against the Tate Gallery Turner Prize.

Later that month, The Other Muswell Hill Stuckists spoke out in the Ham & High newspaper in support of Damien Hirsts paintings, which had been widely trashed in the artworld press, following an exhibition at The Wallace Collection, and the just-opened exhibitions at the White Cube galleries. Shelley Li has since founded the ‘Supporters of Damien Hirsts Paintings’ group on Facebook.

In October 2012, Edgeworth Johnstone published on his blog support for Damien Hirst’s claim to have not plagiarised a similar painting by Max McLaughlin, stating that one of his own paintings it is near impossible Damien Hirst could have plagiarised has more similarities than McLaughlin’s.

In December 2009, The Other Muswell Hill Stuckists curated another Stuckism exhibition, at Matisonn Burgin Gallery, Shoreditch, East London, titled The Stuckists Christmas Sale, designing the exhibition’s poster.

In May 2010, a Stuckist was exhibited in the Tate Gallery for the first time when four of Edgeworth Johnstone’s drawings were exhibited in the Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall. The display was curated by The Museum of Everything, showing work by many UK Outsider Artists. Hugh Muir in The Guardian asked if this, and other recent examples of Stuckist work being accepted in to the art establishment signaled ‘a wind of change blowing through the art world.’

Later in 2010, Victoria Press published “Stuck Near Tate Modern”, a book of writings and artworks by Shelley Li and Edgeworth Johnstone. A copy has since been accepted into the Tate Gallery Library and Archive.

On 30th June 2010, The Other Muswell Hill Stuckists released their second manifesto, titled ‘Stuck Near Tate Modern’. It opens with the groups response to Tate Director Sir Nicholas Serota’s plans of “a radical unseating of painting and sculpture from the positions as the ‘king and queen’ of art”, by announcing their plans of “a radical unseating of Sir Nicholas Serota from his position as the king of crap”. The manifesto goes on to list a number of artists the group claims have been snubbed by the Tate Gallery as a result of Sir Nicholas Serota’s apparent anti-painting agenda, and sarcastically claims to be “looking forward to Tate Britain’s comprehensive overview of British art as promised by Dr. Stephen Deuchar in 2000.” Later points in the manifesto calling for Tate Gallery to cut its ties with BP, and a humerous acronym for T.U.R.N.E.R. P.R.I.Z.E were used on Stuckist placards at later Turner Prize demonstrations.

The Stuck Near Tate Modern Manifesto is also critical of a Martin Creed work displayed on the front entrance of Tate Britain, denouncing it as ‘an East 17 lyric’, suggesting another from the boy-band would have been more appropriate: Instead of ‘Everything is going to be alright’, The Other Muswell Hill Stuckists suggest ‘Don’t understand what’s going on’.

On 14th October 2010, members of The Other Muswell Hill Stuckists attended a Stuckist demonstration with Charles Thomson (Stuckism co-founder) and Jasmine Maddock (of The Merseyside Stuckists), outside Christie’s Auction House claiming Damien Hirst plagiarised other artists, as Hirsts work was sold to bidders inside. It was a tense demonstration, with Christie’s security staff verbally intimidating and physically shoving one demonstrator, despite the protest being carried out legally on the pavement outside.

In November 2010, Shelley Li and Edgeworth Johnstone spent two months in China, visiting the major art districts of Beijing and Shanghai, and touring villages of artists studios with Soemo Gallery owner, Lucy Tan. They came across the work of ‘East Change’, a group echoing the views of the Stuckists but internationally remain virtually unknown. The Other Muswell Hill Stuckists promoted the work of ‘East Change’ on their website with a photograph of a street sculpture by the group carrying the quote: ‘It’s been almost a century since Duchamp dubbed a urinal art. Now it’s time to break it…”

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