Artists from the internationally acclaimed Mutoid Waste Company and Wrekon have once again collaborated to create an exhibition known as ‘Smash Guru’ that looks set to liquidate the eyeballs, annihilate the senses, and mutilate the artistic sensibilities of any of those who dare to confront it from the 25th of April to the 7th of June, during its slot at the Brighton Fringe Festival. Sam Haggarty, Strapper, and Debs Wrekon have collaborated with Brighton based photo artist Denise Felkin to create this exhibition that features scrap sculpture installations to be displayed not just inside but also on the outside of the Phoenix building, Waterloo Place, Brighton. Continuing within the Phoenix’s south gallery, these installations are combined with a collection of photo art featuring mutated, mutilated creatures made from found objects, recycled metals/materials, and animal carcasses. It looks set to be the personification of work stemming from the darkest recesses of the most brilliantly twisted imaginations that first captured public attention in the early 80’s.
Sam and Strapper started their Mutoid Waste careers by throwing illegal parties in disused urban spaces which they transformed with the sculptures they created. Debs joined them in the early 1990’s and together they became legendary for having the mettle to meddle with metal. Later in the 90’s the collaboration of Debs and Strapper spawned Wrekon. Both collectives received plaudits from the international press and earned global recognition, exhibiting at world famous events such as Glastonbury, Fuji Rock Festival, Rocket Festival, Notting Hill Carnival, Beautiful Days, Electric Picnic, and Subway Gallery London.
Denise first photographed Mutoid Waste Company at Glastonbury in 2005. Inspired by their work and ethos, she followed them to the Rocket Festival in Spain in 2006 to further document their sculptures. She later met Sam and invited him to exhibit on her London Road balcony as part of the Brighton Biennial and Photo Fringe Festival, a festival which fused the disciplines of photography and sculpture. This offer was the beginning of a collaboration which saw Denise following Mutoid Waste’s artists, photographing their work. The culmination of this collaboration is the exhibition due to run at the Phoenix.
When not creating for the collective the artists have their own individual projects to work on. Sam Haggarty creates elegantly twisted effigies that have been exhibited internationally and collectors of his work include the Royal Academy of Art. Most recently, in December of 2008, he exhibited in the cheekily dubbed muTATE Britain, a collaboration of over 60 artists which indymedia described as ‘the best show London has seen for years….this is how an exhibition should be’. His unique creations are sculpted from fibre glass, leather, glass fibre, and rusting steel. Equally adept at working on small or large scale, his sculptures walk the somewhere between the comic and the macabre.
Strapper’s sculptures are quintessentially Mutoid and are assembled using scrap metal other found objects. His pieces demonstrate the allure of simplicity whilst still embodying a tongue-in-cheek quirkiness. He has exhibited as far a field as Japan and one of his sculptures is owned by the MIAAO (Museum of Contemporary Applied Arts) in Turin, Italy.
Debs Wrekon was an avid drawer and painter throughout her school years and it was during her late teens that she chose her itinerant lifestyle. She has been an integral part of the “Mutoid Waste Co.” art collective for the last 15 years. Her sculpture is created using scrap metal and other found objects; the subject matter generally being figurative. Commonplace everyday items are transformed into the robots, birds and animals of Debs’ imagination. Although she has exhibited in Europe and regularly shows her work at numerous international music and arts festivals, her forthcoming participation in this Phoenix show finally allows her the opportunity to present her work on her native south coast.
Denise Felkin lives and works in Brighton as a photographic artist and has been a Phoenix studio member since 2001. She has exhibited in Brighton, through Phoenix, at the Brighton Festival, the Fringe Festival, and the Brighton Photo Fringe, as well as further a field around the UK, Italy and Spain. She has also completed creative commissions for Brighton and Hove City Council, had her work hung in Brighton Museum and Art Gallery, and taken part in a project that projected her work onto the façade of houses. She works freelance alongside teaching photography within the community.