Jock Mooney: From Spiceworld to Brexit, Vane

  • North East
  • visual arts
  • Christopher Yeats


In ‘From Spiceworld to Brexit’ Jock Mooney has chosen to revisit his memories of a more optimistic time in the late 1990s, to re-examine them with an older and hopefully wiser eye. Devised at a time of ongoing political uncertainty, the exhibition sifts through the upheavals of the intervening decades and juxtaposes Mooney’s youthful icons with the current political climate in an attempt to reclaim some of the positive spirit of that earlier time.

In the exhibition we are presented with a sculptural tableau, a portrayal of Mooney’s personal Britannia: Spice Girl, Geri Halliwell. The first of a triptych of Geri-based works, this tableau is partly influenced by Mexican Day of the Dead displays: floral and menacing at the same time. A warped parody of her appearance is also referenced in Very Geri, a series of small portraits shown en masse that are in part inspired by Louis Wain, famous for his cat-based illustrations and paintings. These became exaggerated and overly stylized over time as the artist arguably descended into madness. Mooney takes the same approach and explores the concept of the UK – and Geri – becoming unrecognisable, bizarre versions of themselves.

In the video, You Can’t Polish a Turd, Mooney has collaborated with the Geri Halliwell themed drag queen, Just May. She performs a song of Mooney’s that name checks, amongst other things, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, Tori Spelling and Spaghetti Westerns. The song is also part of the 11-track soundtrack that Mooney has recorded to accompany the show. The keen of ear may hear soundbites of Theresa May, droning synths, birdsong, and motorway ambience, depending on what point they enter the space. Boris Johnson may or may not be referenced by the title of the closing instrumental piece, Big Bastard.

None of us can ever really return to the naïve optimism of our teens, but in ‘From Spiceworld to Brexit’ Mooney attempts to search for a new identity out of the ashes.

Preview: Wednesday 13 November 5-8pm