SHOULDERS TOES AND KNEES
One-off digital print on Hahnemuhle German Etching paper
50 x 50 cm
Stuart Semple, 2015
(Signed by the artist and the band)
The above artwork is a very special totally one-off print I made from the Placebo imagery to raise money for CALM (campaign against living miserably). It’s the only one in the world and it’s signed by me, Brian Molko and Stef Olsdal.
You can bid for it from now on eBay at no reserve:
So please, get across to eBay and get involved. Share the link with anyone you think might be into it please! I’ll tell you a little bit about what C.A.L.M (campaign against living miserably) actually do later on, it’s heavy, so lets do the fun bit first.
For those of you that don’t know, I just want to share what an important and inspiring influence Placebo have been on me over the years and why it meant so much to me to be able to make this piece. Before I do that though I need to congratulate the guys for their Artist’s Artist award (read more over at music week HERE), 20 years of doing your thing! Amazing.
I suppose my Placebo affair started way back at art college in Bretton Hall, which was in the Yorkshire Sculpture Park. There wasn’t a huge amount to do there, I remember except look at Henry Moore sculptures and sheep, nice to visit pretty dull to live there. Anyway, one day I heard the grinding hook of ‘Teenage Angst’ pulsing down the corridor of the dorms, and at the end of the sound I found a tiny little grebo girl with an Elmo backpack, sat with thick black eye liner in a dorm sized shrine to Brian Molko. She played me song after song, and that was it. Unlike the Morrisey song ‘Hang the DJ’, the music that Placebo played said everything about my life. In those lyrics and in those melodies, I found somewhere I belonged.
The impact of that on how I dressed, what I did and where I went was dramatic. Put it this way, I didn’t sign all my work from 1999 – 2002 ‘Nancyboy’ for no reason! I go into the influence they had on my style and fashion in THIS ARTICLE for the Financial Times, but the long and short of it, they gave me permission to be me.
The print I made with their imagery is a strange series of co-incidences. First of all the two girls in the photo, originally shot by Corrine Day for Placebo’s album ‘Without You I’m Nothing’, are now a couple of my closest friends in the world. We met totally aside from all of this, when they interviewed me for their magazine ‘BLAG’. They were actually there when my son was born, but that’s another story. Anyway, years and years before I met them it turned out they’d modelled for the band.
Strange twists of fate abound when it comes to Placebo though. I met Jamie from the band OFFICERS, when I was trying to black-out the ceiling of the Truman Brewery for my show Fake Plastic love back in 2007. Turns out Jamie was a dab hand at black bin liners on skylights but his band Officers was even better. We’ve made all sorts together since then and had many adventures, but his latest foray was a secret after-party following Placebo’s gig in Leeds a couple of weeks ago. All the money from the tickets went to CALM (they raised a mint!). Matt and Jamie from Officers are ambassadors for the charity, and together we came up with the plan to make a really special artwork that we could auction online for the cause too. Hence ‘Shoulders Toes and Knees’ was born.
The piece re-mixes iconic imagery from the bands album history. You can’t imagine how long I’ve wanted to get my hands on that stuff! So if you are a fan you will find several album covers in there.
Back to CALM though, as you all know I’m on a mission when it comes to mental health and happiness. I’m an ambassador for Mind, the mental health charity. The hard fact is that suicide is the single largest cause of death amongst young men (20 – 45) in England and Wales. A staggering 78% of suicides are male. CALM exist specifically for this cause. They provide help and support for men of any age who are down or in crisis via their telephone line and website. They also do a lot of work to challenge the stigma and culture that seems to prevent men asking for help when they need it. Alongside massive lobbying for policy change and support for those bereaved from suicide. Needless to say it’s a really vital and valuable service, massively underfunded. All bids on the eBay auction will go straight where it’s needed and even a little will make a massive difference. For more info on the charity please check out: https://www.thecalmzone.net/
Read more about the collaborations:
and further reading
Student Pocket Guide: AN INTERVIEW WITH INTERNATIONAL ARTIST: STUART SEMPLE