This exhibition celebrates Mike Coles’s mischievously magical playing cards and mercenary rhymes project. Mike is renowned for his work in the music world over the past 40 years, most notably the provocative and eye-shattering imagery for Malicious Damage Records and Killing Joke. Now he’s plundered his own catalogue and remixed it to produce this deck of 56 playing cards (52+4 Jokers). On top of that he’s written a collection of 56 hilariously deranged mercenary rhymes in the style of the traditional nursery rhyme, but with a modern slant. The exhibition will feature 56 artworks plus a chilling and disturbing audio installation of found sound and spoken word, and all the artworks will be for sale. Also on sale will be a limited edition boxed set containing two packs of playing cards, (one large A6 and one poker size), a 120-page book with 56 colour plates illustrating the rhymes and an audio CD.
“I work with musicians a lot and they are forever remixing and deconstructing their own music and I thought this would be a good approach to my own graphic work. I’ve always wanted to do a set of playing cards so I started working on this, mixing and remixing my own imagery to produce 52 cards + 4 jokers. This wasn’t enough though, I wanted to make it more than a deck of cards, so decided to do a book of the images on the cards. But this still wasn’t enough, it needed words, so I started playing around with nursery rhymes, using traditional ones, with which I’ve had a long-time fascination, but adding my own lines. Then I started creating completely new rhymes in the traditional style - the more I stuck at it the more the traditional stuff was stripped away until I ended up with the 56 mercenary rhymes that feature in the book, around 20 per cent traditional and 80 per cent me, although it’s difficult sometimes to tell the difference. On top of all that I’m producing an audio soundtrack of the rhymes using spoken word, found sound and abstract noise - it’s quite disturbing…”