News and Articles

Introducing Joe Machine 'Collectors Editions' - Small in Price and Editions Size, Large in Collectability

These smaller limited edition prints are released with the collector in mind. We are purposely keeping the price, and the edition size, low to make them accessible to all. Each one is individually hand signed by Joe Machine and printed to the highest quality on 300gsm recycled art board at a standard paper size of 14.8cm x 21cm which means they fit a standard size frame and standard size envelopes, making them perfect for collecting or for trading online.

We will be occasionally issuing Joe prints in this format. So perhaps get the entire set. 

The first two are available here

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Doin' It For The Kids!!! Our First Book

Theme HQ is proud to invite you to celebrate with us the launch of Richard Foster and Christopher Dawson's stunning graphic novel 'Doin It for the Kids' published by Theme.

The book will be available in e-book format from the 24th of January and to commemorate the publication of Theme Artefacts first e-book we are also producing a very limited number of signed hardback copies of this fantastic new, if not overdue, book by Richard Foster and Christoper Dawson.

Only 26 lettered copies (A to Z) are available to pre-order now. 
Each copy is signed and lettered by both authors and will never again be released in this format. 

ABOUT THE BOOK: "This is a book that already feels like it's from another age entirely. Imagine: a world without smartphones, where the weekly local paper getting delivered was a Big Thing. In fact, so big, you'd get the Friday (Accrington) Observer on a Thursday night. Quicker than Twitter. Another age. Even going down Accrington Stanley's changed. Can you still take a flask to the game? We hope so.

Looking back, one wonders why we ever began Doin' It For the Kids. It was not a response to any form of trauma or any hidden stresses and tensions that we were suffering at the time. It certainly wasn't therapeutic drawing it. But the fact that we both left Accrington shortly before beginning the story is probably not entirely unrelated...

We knew we wanted to write about Lancashire but could not find the form to do the subject justice. After several years of wool-gathering the focus finally narrowed to the town of our birth and upbringing, Accrington, and the characters of Alwyn and Nigel began to form.

Accrington is definitely central to the book. Its quirky and irascible nature is lodged deep in both our souls, after all. But we both had a sense of ambivalence towards Accrington and wanted that to come through (and surely, unless one wants to retreat from the world, one must have an ambivalent attitude to wherever one lives).

So it's not one of those dreadful feel-good, "no-nonsense decent Northern folks" things. At least we hope not. Living in Acc can be boring and small-minded as hell, and we wanted to show that. And in the book we wanted to shame the casual racism that one sadly still encounters (everywhere, not just in Accrington, we hasten to add).

Sometimes the only solution to everything related to living in Acc was to go down the pub. We certainly hope we've shown that.

Cheers cock." - Richard Foster & Christopher Dawson

ABOUT THE AUTHORS:
Richard Foster is a music journalist and fine artist. Between 2005 and 2015 he was editor in chief of Incendiary magazine. He writes regularly for The Quietus, Louder than War, Vice (Noisey), True Faith, Luifabriek and Sounds XP. As well as his journalist work he works at the "avant-garde recreation institute", WORM Rotterdam; is co-founder of the Dutch "existentialist nonsense" label Smikkelbaard; and runs the AA club nights in Leiden. He is currently researching the Dutch post-punk and punk movements. He likes pies and Peter Paul Rubens.
Christopher Dawson is a novellist and rock journalist. (More details as soon as he's written them)
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Joe Machine, shares recollections of his fathers stories of The Kray Twins in advance of his exhibition at The Lollipop Gallery in Whitechapel.

Theme artist, Joe Machine, shares recollections of his fathers stories of The Kray Twins in advance of his exhibition at The Lollipop Gallery in Whitechapel.

13th of November - 13th of December
PRIVATE VIEW: 12th of November, 6pm - 9pm

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Sailors, Violence, Sex, Nature, Mythology & Englishness

I first came across the work of Joe Machine in 2009 when visiting a Billy Childish exhibition at The Aquarium Gallery.  Since that time I have been an avid supporter, champion and promoter of Joe Machine and his work across all media.

During that time I have sold many of Joe’s paintings into private collections  and the one thing that I have often tried, but often failed to convey,  is that ‘certain something’ that I, and those that choose to collect Joe’s work, see in it.

I used to assume it was some intangible thing, something about the duality of the human condition, the thin line between love, anger and the human need for contact.  Contact, either through the healthy act of sexual intimacy or through the primal acts of violence, that once withdrawn, only amplifies the ultimate isolation that is, in reality, the fate of all human beings.

It is present in all his work, whether it’s vibrant greens amongst a snowy landscape, the regal purples of a Russian fairy tale or the ruby red of a slashed face.  His work has a sense of timelessness about it.  

 

Joe’s work is traditional, brutal, crude, uncomfortable and violent, yet is also refined, lonely and vulnerable.  However his work still contained an element central to its message that remained something that I could not put a word on...well not a single word or tag anyway.

I have the privilege of having a large selection of Joe’s work around me at the moment and as I have been going through it, describing it and spending time with it, it has become clear to me what that ‘something’ is.  It’s Englishness. Now not English in the ‘stiff upper lip, ‘cucumber sandwich and cream teas’ kind of way, but still very English. What Joe captures in his work is the outsider, the underbelly, the England that we don’t like to address, but that we all know is there...if we are honest.  Joe presents an England of bare-knuckle fighting, of dogfights by the docks, of criminals glorified to the status of mythical kings, of eccentricity and of violence.  Joe’s England is a  violent rugged land with an understanding of structure, an order, a belief in how things are supposed to work whether right or wrong, an agreement made in blood hundreds of years ago, and although unsavoury, a set of rules that all English people understand implicitly.

This knowing look at the underclass of England is what makes Joe’s work so vital and so important. In a time when groups like Britain First and Ukip are selling us a dream of England’s green and pleasant past, Joe reminds us of the blood that has been spilt in these fields and on these streets. This blood has not always been spilt in the glory of war, but in the struggle just to be alive, just to live, just to love.

Joe shows the dark heart of England and holds up a mirror to its bestial, violent and proud subconscious. What’s reflected is an internal landscape forged between the clash of fists, steel, cultures and beliefs, of desperate men and sensual women, of right and wrong, of sex and aggression.  This is a landscape where fear, anger, love, hate, violence and sex stagger together through its backstreets looking for meaning. Like William Blake, Joe is not interested in the England that England thinks it is. Joe is interested in England’s dark satanic mills.

So on the publication of this limited edition print, I raise a glass to my friend Joe Machine and feel comfortable in toasting his place at the table of important English artists. Joe’s work, although disturbing, will stand the test of time because he is not concerned with the shock of the new, but rather the shock of the present and the shock of the past. Joe’s work is about all of us really. It’s about what it means to be English, or rather, what it means to be a human living in this green and pleasant land.

Laurence Johns. co-director of Theme and Joe Machine's Agent. 

'The Blonde Kiss' is available in a signed limited edition of only 15. 

For more information or to but your print click here.

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Remy Noe Releases Trans Pride Fundraising Print

This summer Remy Noe attended the fantastic Trans Pride march in Brighton. He produced, via a body-mounted easel, a series of stunning drawings on the day - it was going to be paintings but he lost his brush in the crowd. Trans Pride is a cause very close to Remy's heart.


Likewise Theme has been honoured to present its shimmering sound art project Platform On The Ocean (which has recently received support from Arts Council England) as part of the Trans Pride march for two consecutive years.


It is with great pride that Theme and Trans Pride have collaborated to release this stunning print of one of the drawings made by Remy that day.


Each print is an original giclee print, signed and numbered by the artist, and measures 21cm x 30cm. They are from a total edition of only 50 and all profit goes to support this important cause. 

To buy your copy CLICK HERE

 

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You Speak and We Listern

The artist we promote, and the artworks we select, often polarize. This makes selecting the right prints for you very difficult. To make sure that everyone can get the print that they want, by the artist they want, at the price they want, we have launched a new series of Theme Editions. These prints are selected from our most popular images and issued in three editions different in size and number. Edition sizes have been kept low, and the prints are produced to order, in order to insure high quality and collectability at the lowest possible price to you.

CHECK THEM OUT

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Cash for Chaos – Collecting the Counter Culture

Once in a while as a dealer you get the chance to handle and offer an item that has true cultural significance. Not something that is nice and collectible etc,. but something that genuinely changed contemporary culture.

‘Sniffin’ Glue’ the punk fanzine started by Mark Perry in his bedroom in 1976 is one of those, and we have a truly complete set with an original drawing by Paul Simonon and signed by Caroline Coon.

There was no comfortable position for punk in mainstream culture when it exploded in England in 1976. The mainstream media could not accurately speak for punk, and punk could not represent itself through the mainstream media without radically compromising its own nature.

VIEW OR BUY ITEM HERE

Sniffin’ Glue, the first punk fanzine, was conceived and produced by Mark Perry, then a bank clerk and with the assistance of Danny Baker, in July 1976 after reading an article which slammed his favourite band, The Ramones, for all the reasons he felt made them great. He took the title from a Ramones song ‘Now I Wanna Sniff Some Glue’ and set about created a magazine to redress the balance in music journalism. Perry states: “The whole of that first issue was what I could do at that time with what I had in my bedroom. I had a children’s typewriter plus a felt-tip pen, so that’s why the first issue is how it is. I just thought it would be a one-off. I knew when I took it to the shop there was a good chance they’d laugh at me, but instead they said, “How many have you got?” I think my girlfriend had done 20 on the photocopier at her work and they bought the lot off me.” Far from being a ‘one off’ Perry’s fanzine was the perfect punk form. It reported the moment immediately as it happened, reporting it from an insider’s point of view. Because Perry used everyday tools that were immediately to hand, Sniffin’ Glue fit with the do-it-yourself ethos which was already an important part of punk culture. A flood of punk zines followed with identifiable cut and paste graphics, typewritten or felt tip text, misspellings and crossings out. Photocopying also contributed to punk zine look by limiting graphic experimentation to black and white tones and imagery based on collage, enlargement and reduction. Sniffin’ Glue demonstrated that anyone could easily, cheaply and quickly produce a fanzine.

 

NME acclaimed “Sniffin’ Glue” as “the nastiest, healthiest and funniest piece of press in the history of rock’n’roll habits” and it became the true chronicle of the early days of British punk rock. In the zine history books, Sniffin’ Glue will go down as the first pioneering punk zine that launched a thousand other zines, as well as firmly cementing zine publishing as part of the DIY punk ethic. Within the space of three issues Perry had connected the dots within the British Punk underground, and Sniffin’ Glue became the mouthpiece for a generation. In his 2001 feature Tony Fletcher added: “Sniffin’ Glue was not so much badly written as barely written; grammar was non-existent, layout was haphazard, headlines were usually just written in felt tip, swearwords were often used in lieu of a reasoned argument. . .all of which gave Sniffin’ Glue its urgency and relevance.”

Punk began to decline in 1977 when mainstream record companies, venues and media began to embrace it and, fearing absorption into the mainstream music press, Perry ceased publication in 1977 and encouraged his readers to follow him with their own punk fanzines.

Though Sniffin’ Glue never actually printed the legendary instructions often ascribed to it – “This is a chord. This is another. This is a third. Now form a band” – (that was Sideburns, another punk zine from 1977), its example spawned a slew of followers – including Jamming!, Burnt Offering and Chainsaw (which featured ribald cartoons from a young Andrew Marr) – and established a culture of DIY underground rock criticism that thrives to this day, both in print and online.

The early days of the punk movement largely failed to attract the attention of television or the mainstream press, and Sniffin’ Glue remains a key source of photographs of, and information about, contributors to the scene and this truly complete set is, in our opinion, the finest example of a truly scare set, of which only another two are known with OCLC records showing the New York Public Library is the only institute with even an incomplete set.

VIEW OR BUY ITEM HERE

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Why I Love: Firsts, Freaks and Sniffin’ Glue

Renowned collector Laurence Johns on buying and selling the counter-culture, including the iconic DIY punk zine

The world of collectables, especially counter-cultural ones, is inhabited by fascinating, beautiful and weird objects and same goes for the characters in it. I started my career with legendary dealer Simon Finch, who certainly fits this description, and his mentorship gave me access to this colourful world at the very highest level.

In the subsequent two decades, I have handled magical scrolls, the rarest first editions and even an explosive – and semen stained – letter between two warring members of the most successful four piece in musical history. I have bought and sold items in some of the finest and strangest places, including the penthouse suite of The Four Seasons and a cold water tenement in Brooklyn on the same day. I dealt with madmen, models, film stars and the legendary guitarist and last of the true book runners, Martin Stone.

But of all the things I have handled, in the all the weird places I have been, and through all of the weird and wonderful people I’ve met, what I have learned was that people are never really interested in the items.

As dealers and collectors, what we are really selling is time travel. Be it books, posters or ephemera, we are selling a connection to another time, another group of people, and another place. What they really want to own is a piece of that history. Objects associated with past important people, causes, movements, and fashions have become cultural currency, and the ones I like most are those self-made ephemeral objects. Seemingly nothing at the time, often disposable, they went on to influence so much. Sniffin’ Glue is one of those.

Sniffin’ Glue, the first punk fanzine, was conceived and produced by Mark Perry in his bedroom in 1976 after reading an article criticising The Ramones for all the reasons he felt made them great. He stole a title from one of their songs and in the 14 issues that followed – not 12 as some claim – its photocopied cut and paste graphics, typewritten or felt tip text, misspellings and crossings out, created the mouthpiece for a generation.

Sniffin Glue issue 5

Sniffin’ Glue became the true chronicle of the early days of British punk rock and in the history books, it will go down as the zine that launched a thousand others and established a culture of DIY underground rock criticism that thrives to this day, both in print and online.

 

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The Krays: Mythology of Violence - Joe Machine talks about his latest body of work on the release of Tom Hardy's new movie

Mythology has always been at the center of Joe Machine's work. Whether its his reinterpretation of Alice is Wonderland, his fascination with biblical stories and Russian fairy-tales, or his obsession with the fear, violence and sexuality that run throughout his autobiographical sailor paintings, Joe takes his subject matter away from their ordinary constraints and looks at them in a mythological light and uses them as symbols or icons of the darkness and light that resides in all of us and within the human experience. 

We asked Joe Machine to tell us about his current series of artworks.  

"I heard somewhere that the origins of European Royalty began in the ancient world as nomadic bandits and outlaws. These teams of villains rode from town to town killing and burning and offering “protection” from their own exploits to towns that would pay them. Once the bandits were in, they took over the town, establishing themselves as rulers. In time, they became royalty. Whether this is true, or not, the story reminded me of the British Royal Family of the underworld – The Krays.

The famous twins who ruled London’s East End during the 1960's were well known for fine tuning the protection rackets and had most of London’s club land stitched up like a kipper. As villains, their lives and crimes were incredibly public, as was their eventual trial in 1969 for the murders they were involved in.

I first heard stories about the Krays from my father, a Gypsy who lived in Poplar, not far from the Twin’s manor in Bethnal Green. My father was not a gangster, although like a lot of people in that area, he knew the Krays personally and drank in the Double R Club in Mile End Road and their billiard hall in Eric Street. My Aunt Sheila was married to Tommy Brown, Reggie Krays minder. My Grandmother and my parents often received visits from Ronnie and Reggie, who I’m told, were always polite and well liked by my family.

I was born in 1973, four years after the Krays received their life sentences. When the other kids were getting bedtime stories about Rupert the Bear, mine consisted mainly of my father’s recollections about 1960's London gangland. I remember the tales of the shadowy Kray Twins who were described by my father as wearing suits as sharp as a razor, and their notorious exploits fighting and shooting other villains in the smoke filled beer-dark clubs of the East End.

The decades I grew up in were different to the era of the Krays. In the eighties, drugs swamped the streets taking over from the alcohol and gambling synonymous with the 60’s and 70’s. Drugs changed everything, including the face of crime. Gone were the old school  ethics of London gangsters, the huge amounts of money involved with drugs insured that “honour amongst thieves” was well and truly dead.

Of course, opinions of the Krays and the era they dominated differ vastly depending on the experiences of those who knew them. To this day they are a paradox, respected and denounced in equal measure, even by members of their own firm.

For me, the bedtime stories I was told about them are as relevant as those of Robin Hood or King Arthur. For anyone who does not see the comparisons, look up the bloodthirsty legends of the Arthurian knights who murdered women and betrayed each other to understand the holistic human nature within the myths.

The Krays come from an era which has now passed into antiquity. Few members of their ‘firm’ are still living and when the last of these die, the stories of the Kray’s will pass forever into the realms of mythology. When this happen’s the tales of lives and activities will change forever. Over the years I’ve heard several different versions of the now famous shooting of George Cornell by Ronnie Kray in the Blind Beggar Pub. In fifty or sixty years time, I expect"  - Joe Machine, 2015

Theme Artefact are the official dealers of Joe Machine and his Kray artworks are available exclusively from us. 

To view the current collection please CLICK HERE

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Rare Remy Noe Interview and Prints

One of Theme's most treasured artists is Kent-based Remy Guy Noe. Remy is known for his landscape paintings which achieve a transcendent luminosity due to their emotional intensity. In this beautiful short film, Remy gives a rare personal interview about his work.

Please don't forget that there is only a few days remaining to buy Remy Limited edition POP prints.

CLICK HERE

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Joe Machine talks about upcoming Teleny book with THEME

'I heard about Teleny from a friend of mine a few years ago. Its one of those novels I never really got around to reading at the time, although when I eventually got hold of a copy, I was pleased that I did.I read the novel in two sittings, then went back over it again. I'd been told it was a homoerotic novel and it's certainly easy to see it that way, but to me, it was more than that. Teleny is a novel about obsession and that's something I understand pretty well. In this way, the book transcends gender and even sexual orientation. Sure it's a sexual odyssey, but its also a study of  love and emotional projection, one that doesn't shirk from showing its central characters flaws. There is an inevitability about about the relationship between Camille and Teleny, one that I find very interesting to work with in terms of translating the written word into paintings.
Their relationships, with each other and the women they involve themselves with are ultimately destructive. It's the journey towards that point, how the incidents within those relationships play out , is what I have tried to capture. Its a fine balance, but as I said, the motivating force was always the obsession, the idea that someone can have about another person which informs their reality, the fixation ,desire and the danger that comes with it is one that I immediately recognised. Story aside, the writer speaks of his subject matter with the voice of experience and for me, that's a road well traveled.' - Joe Machine
COMING SOON....
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Remy Noe Meets TOAS. A Magical Night in Hove

Anyone that actually reads the nonsense that I write will know that I have recently become involved in a fantastic new project called Theme, that I love the work of musician Nick Hudson, and that I have the privilege of representing, in my opinion, one of this generation’s finest artists.

Thursday night I had the honour of experiencing this magnificent and heady concoction coming together under one roof.

The result?

A stunning gig or epic proportions, a hangover, and a painting produced live to the music that I can, hand on heart, say is one the finest paintings I have ever seen.

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