This exhibition heralds the publication of Forty Years in the Wilderness, a visual account of Mike Coles's graphic journey on the fringe of art, design and music since his arrival in London in 1976 armed with £90, a rucksack and a little book of drawings.
"Whilst living in Covent Garden in 1977 a friend gave me a set of prints by John Heartfield, the German artist who produced highly political anti-nazi photomontages. I started messing around with cut-up magazine photos and newspaper ads creating twisted and surreal images and soon I’d swapped the pen for the scalpel. And I bought a camera."
In 1979, MIke formed Malicious Damage Records with a few mates and an unknown band called Killing Joke, his logic being that if you had your own record label you could design all the record sleeves, posters, t-shirts and maintain what he refers to as "stubborn independence". Some of the label's more idiosyncratic releases include a Shriekback album released on an egg and elaborate Orb box sets featuring, aside from the music, prints, postcards, badges, boxes of "ephemera" and action figures.
That early bold, atmospheric Killing Joke imagery is now legendary and forty years later Mike is still creating and treading his own path, single-handedly running Malicious Damage Records, still working with Killing Joke and The Orb, doing live VJ sets, realising his visions on film and video and meddling with the art of photomontage.
Mike's career has spanned five decades, from the twilight days of hot metal type, drawing boards and cow gum, through the revolutionary arrival of the computer and on in to the digital future of smartphones and social media.
"I love to subvert images and twist them out of context, transforming something nice into something nasty, or taking something evil and making it funny. It's always fascinated me, the evil behind the smiles and the grin behind the wickedness. I think it probably harks back to my strict catholic schooling... all those nuns and priests. I like cute things too."
The exhibition showcases a selection of Mike's stark graphic creations from the 1970s and 1980s through to current projects and works in progress and also features an installation of innovative and experimental video works