Laurie Vincent isn’t just the guitarist in Slaves, the fearsome two-man punk band from Kent. He’s also a visual artist and will exhibiting his work at The Amersham Arms, a south-east London boozer, this Saturday (March 19). A colourful, lighthearted collection, the paintings poke fun at religion, explore conspiracy theories and often feature plastic bags. We headed to his tiny studio, tucked away in an unpromising industrial estate in Lewisham, south-east London, to get the stories behind some of pieces.
And the artworks aren’t the only things in the studio that are inked up.
Plastic bags are a motif in Laurie’s work, as he feels they have a nostalgic quality. “As soon as you see shopping bags you remember where you grew up,” he says. “It makes me think of the Grove Green Tesco [in Kent]. When people look at shopping bags, it strikes something in their head. Some people say: ‘No, Sainsbury’s mate!’, or ‘Aldi!’. It just sparks conversation.”
Laurie couldn’t decide what to call this painting, but at the suggestion of NME’s photographer, opted for ‘Lidl 13’, named after the alien Bishop’s plastic bag and the number at the bottom of the painting.
Laurie told NME he feels inspired by icons like John Merrick – who in the Victorian era was dubbed ‘The Elephant Man’ due to his disfigurements (David Lynch made a film about him) – and boxer Mike Tyson. “At first when he got the face tattoo, I thought he was mental,” Laurie says of Tyson. “But the more I think about, I realise he cemented his image. People know him.”
Mockery of organised religion is a constant in Laurie’s art. However, he says: “I think faith is wicked and I admire people who believe in a higher power. The skateboarder Rodney Mullen is so intelligent he’s come to the conclusion that you have to believe in religion because there’s no answer. If you’re super-intelligent, you think: ‘Fuck! There has to be more [to life] because it’s insane.'”
‘Streatham’: “I watched ice hockey in Streatham [south-west London] and the team are called the Red Skins. I always paint plastic bags and the Streatham ice hockey rink is next to a massive Tesco.” And so Laurie painted the Streatham Red Skins off to Tescos. “It’s quite lighthearted. The red moon is a reference to ‘Red Hot Moon’ by Rancid ‘cause I’m a massive Rancid fan.”
‘Arse Church’: “It’s not my girlfriend in this painting, because it’s so cartoony, but I got her to model for me,” says Laurie. “Religion is so humorous to me. It’s like this image is pulling a moony at religion. I love churches – it’s mad that they built these massive stone buildings when everyone was still living in huts – but I don’t like what they stand for.”
‘Joseph Merrick’: “I watched the David Lynch film Elephant Man and was blown away. Everyone thinks he was called John Merrick but his real name is Joseph. It’s interesting when humans are like cartoon characters, and I find him inspiring because he was so positive. He lived through a hard time but I love that he was so creative – he built a model of a church that you can still visit.”
‘Mike’: “Growing up, everyone assumed Tyson was a really bad person, but I watched a film on him recently and realised he worked really hard to do what he wanted to do. He thought villains got remembered so he decided that’s what he was gonna be. He was boxing with STDs, he had bronchitis and still knocked someone out in the first round.”
‘Flower Pot’: “I do a clothing line, Young Lovers’ Club, and this is almost a crossover. I put this logo in my paintings now. Another thing I love about art: the simplistic kids’ drawing style. I love Andy Warhol because his whole thing was: ‘What can I get away with?’ This took me 10 minutes but maybe one day a Russian billionaire will pay millions for it and I’ll be like, ‘What a dickhead’.”
These Laurie Vincent initials might be worth millions one day.
‘Balaclava’: “People think this is Pussy Riot, but it’s not. I just saw a photo of a girl in a magazine wearing a balaclava. I like to paint things as simply as possible – it’s actually a really sloppy painting, but because it’s such a simple thing, you instantly know what it is. I’ve done a full-length version, which is a mermaid holding a machine gun.”
‘Lidl 13’: “There’s a theme running through the exhibition – the paintings all pose questions. I poke fun at everything. People call my paintings cartoons and that annoys me. When you see them in real life, there’s real texture. I always have to get a shopping bag in too. I always put in three stars, as well – it’s like a nativity theme, following the stars.”
‘Mind Control’: “Behind this was an old painting of a house, which I didn’t like, so I painted over it. It’s all based on the theory that fluoride – which is in your drinks and toothpaste – actually blocks out your third eye and suppresses it. If you avoid fluoride – using natural toothpaste and drinking bottled water instead of tap water – you can open up your third eye.”
Of the exhibition, Laurie says: “I like to think that my art is accessible. Firstly, it will be a good excuse for a piss-up and the bright colours will make it a really fun room to stand in for a few hours.”