From Spiceworld to Brexit: Jock Mooney at Vane Gallery, Newcastle

Updated: Feb 13




As an Edinburgh teen in the 90s, Mooney was a part of the ‘Cool Britannia’ movement that swept the nation. Just like the 60s, this was a time of undeniable energy and optimism. Sadly this slowly changed into an unnerving and uncomfortable feeling from the turn of the millennium; terrorism, financial crisis, and climate change contributed to this along with the divisive EU referendum.


From Spiceworld to Brexit was exhibited at Vane Gallery, in Newcastle upon Tyne, in November 2019. This was a powerful vehicle for Jock to look back at his younger years and reflect on how much has changed, whilst still showing how vivid and magical the period was.


Underscoring the whole experience was a soundtrack playing in the background as you started your journey. The sculptural tableau, named The Remains of Leaving, was reminiscent of Mexican Day of the Dead displays. Gerri Halliwell was the focus of much of the exhibition, and her head sat proudly at the top of the piece. Did it lament about how a positive period has passed; is it likely that a euphoric era can ever return? Also, did it portray that, in leaving the EU, we will never be the same again?


In Very Geri, we saw lots of small portraits of Halliwell. At first, it appearred to be many round pieces of card with cute acrylic and ink designs, but as you looked closely, you saw her face in some of the pieces become distorted, and even morphing into cats. This questioned Great Britain, asking if it too has become an unrecognisable version of itself.


Polished Turds was exactly that and expressed where we were as a nation: however you dressed it up, it wasn't in a good place. With the video featuring a drag queen, a painting, screenprint and clothes designed with Mooney’s distinctive style, there was a real plethora of pieces to observe poised for you to interpret.


Interestingly, it dealt with tough issues, but the colours popped, and were so vibrant; it was a delightful feast for the eyes. You thought back to different times: affordable housing, great music, the introduction of the Premier League and the Good Friday Agreement. It urged you to contemplate where we are at now, how we reached this point and where we are going. 90s addicts (hand up) rejoiced and spiced up their life.




Article by Beverley Knight

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