Shane MacGowan has announced his first-ever art book, The Eternal Buzz And The Crock Of Gold.
The Eternal Buzz… will feature sketches, paintings, self-portraits and playful character studies alongside handwritten lyrics, stories, photographs and abstract snippets dating back to MacGowan’s childhood and through six decades of punk and Irish revelry.
Additionally, it’ll boast photographs that capture candid moments between the singer and his bandmates on tour, personal pictures at home and nights out with celebrities including Nick Cave, Bob Dylan, Pete Doherty, Kate Moss, Bryan Adams and Daniel Day-Lewis.
The book, which is described as “a labour of love” for MacGowan, was curated by his wife and collaborator Victoria Mary Clarke, edited by Paul Trainer and includes forewords by Johnny Depp and art critic Waldemar Januszczak.
“I was always into drawing and painting, and I used to do all sorts of things, hurlers, IRA men, teenage punks hanging around in cafes, you name it…” MacGowan explained in a statement.
“When I was about 11 or 12 I got heavily into studying history of art and looking at old paintings and modern paintings, I knew a lot about art. It’s one of the only O Levels I got, was in art.
“I did the album cover for The Pope’s album ‘Crock of Gold’ and I designed the Pogues first album cover, ‘Red Roses For Me’. And I more or less designed the second album ‘If I Should Fall From Grace With God’.”
He continued: “In terms of my materials, I like pastels but I don’t really think about it. I’ll paint or draw on anything, with anything. I like more or less everyone from Fra Angelico and Giotto to the latest, like Caravaggio was the last of the Renaissance, before it went into Expressionism.
“I love Cezanne, Gauguin, Monet, Manet. I love the Irish impressionists, Lavery, Jack B Yeats, Brendan Fitzpatrick. The 20th century impressionists who painted the period of Ireland fighting for its freedom. I like Max Ernst, the surrealists, Dali, Chagall… God there’s millions of them.”
Victoria Mary Clarke said: “When we were making The Crock of Gold documentary, Julien Temple wanted some of Shane’s drawings so I asked my mum to have a look and see if she had any. She sent me a bin bag full of drawings and lyrics that I had asked her to look after 25 years ago, we didn’t even know it existed, it was miraculous, like finding a crock of gold!
“His art brings back lots of very funny and often hideous memories of different stages in our life together, a lot of his drawings have been done on my shopping lists and my own diaries, and on things like sick bags and hotel note-pads, airline sick bags and recording studio sheets, and diaries, so it is easy to know exactly when they were made.”
She added: “I love the way that the drawings and notes and scraps of stories provide an insight into Shane’s songs, it is like walking into his studio and seeing everything that was happening in his mind. The illustrations are like a visual tapestry of the inner workings of his creative process. I feel very privileged and very excited to be able to share them with the world in a book, especially for people who love the songs.”
Johnny Depp, who collects MacGowan’s art, writes in a foreword for The Eternal Buzz…: “It’s rare for a creative genius like Shane to have one avenue of output. Such an incendiary talent is likely to have a multitude of facilities whereby his talent might infiltrate the atmosphere and change the climate as we know it.
“And so, revealed here, is Shane’s propensity for the wild, for the absurd, for the political, for the beautiful, all funnelled and threaded through the needle of his pen. But, this time, not via the tool of language. Instead, Shane’s visual acuity will take the lead here. His visions will speak for themselves.
“Sometimes they will invoke wonder, sometimes they might appear decidedly threatening, but, regardless of medium, his work will always be full of poetry – a bit like the great man, and my great friend, himself; the artist, Shane MacGowan.”