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This Image is in Revolt Ancient Champion pops along to see Pop Art Star Derek Boshier's collected works at the Wolverhampton Art Gallery

This Image is in Revolt

Ancient Champion pops along to see Pop Art Star Derek Boshier's collected works at the Wolverhampton Art Gallery

by Ancient Champion, Columnist
first published: November, 2023

approximate reading time: minutes

From Special K to the KKK. Splitting hairs with everyone.

Image in Revolt
Wolverhampton Art Gallery
until 21st January 2024

Super-highly regarded for its permanent collection of Pop Art, the Wolverhampton Art Gallery is currently hosting Image in Revolt, an exhilarating and enthralling career-spanning trip through the 60 great years of the British artist Derek Boshier, one of the most celebrated and biggest of the founding figures of the British pop art movement in the early 1960s.

Boshier impugned the culture, taking his place in ushering in a new era, using his art to conflate and confront the still dour commercial-cultural hegemony in ways perhaps better known pop artists did not. Special K never tasted the same again. I don't know though, we never had it anyway, who did? 

Meanwhile, Ken Russell’s 1962 documentary, Pop Goes The Easel, for the BBC’s Monitor series captured Boshier, Peter Blake, Pauline Boty and Peter Phillips in those very exciting times… 

I tend to wend my way to Wolverhampton Art Gallery fairly frequently. It’s a beautiful old building, with its fancy arts and crafts friezes on the exterior; the 19th century facade is a  jewel in the heart of the city. Out-of-towners should know, it’s nary ten minutes from the station. I write that here because I am sure a lot of people will be saying to themselves, damn I really, really, want to see that Derek Boshier’s work, but how quickly can I get out of Wolverhampton? Maybe that’s why The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government took the new buildings on the station curtain. Civil servants posted there won’t need to engage with Wolverhampton at all. 

LodgerWhatever, I am jaundiced as can be, overbrimming with bile, writing this while listening to an inadvertent hot mic during a break in the bail breach proceedings in the Trump R.I.C.O. trial in Judge McAfee’s courthouse in Georgia. Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis and her star power are there for real this time. [Despite this, bail wasn’t revoked anyway]. It is so peculiar to see media celebrities doing their actual jobs. Judge McAfee's voice, his calm and decent demeanour, soothingly letting us know democracy is having some sort of health check right now, although, he'll take that under advisement most likely. As will we. I would publish a screengrab from the court but this is the advice I was given... "In general, it is best to avoid publishing any images of court proceedings without the express permission of the court. If you are unsure about whether you can publish an image, you should consult with an attorney." Well there's no budget for that so here is a link you can see for yourself.

As a gallery, Wolverhampton constantly punches above its provincial weight. Good spot for lunch too, if you can afford it, maybe my wallet is somewhat out of touch with reality though. 

The Wolverhampton Art Gallery is by no means the only game in town. The most exciting art founded reclamation work is in motion with the very independent Asylum Art Gallery, extending their philosophy with their Roundabout-Chapel Ash, Public Art Project. Recovering one of those pedestrian wells of the city ring road for the benefit of the whole community. Theirs is the future. (More about that future here

ClashDerek Boshier’s show overarchingly contemplates and commentates on matters of popular culture through drawings and painting, and paintings that burst from the canvas, his angular films from the 70s and way more; his focus never faltering. Boshier has lived and worked in Los Angeles for the past twenty years, as evidenced by his more recent work illuminating the American experience. From Special K to the KKK in a Texas Radio Station Logo... Splitting hairs with everyone. 

The exhibition hosts his work on the sleeve art for the final album of David Bowie's Berlin triptych, the 1979 LP The Lodger, from when record cover art still mattered; and The Clash's 2nd Songbook, (Boshier taught The Clash’s Joe Strummer on a foundation year course at London’s Central School of Art & Design in 1970-71). For a punk dinosaur kid like me, it’s all so thrilling to see, although maybe weirdly hung here, the heavy dark frames caught in the lighting, cast deep shadows over the edge of the Boshier’s images no matter which way I looked. Maybe he would want it like that? Whatever. His themes remain, deconstruction and fragmentation and rethinking how we think about everything from Pop to Punk, to the Technodome we live under now.


Derek Boshier: Image in Revolt is curated by independent curator Helen Little in collaboration with Wolverhampton Art Gallery. Helen has produced many acclaimed art books, and Image in Revolt coincides with the publication of a new monograph, edited by Helen, Derek Boshier: Reinventor. The book features commentaries and reflections by leading contemporary artists, academics, curators and writers. Like the show, it explores how Boshier’s ground-breaking activity interrogates truth and logic, fantasy and reality in the modern age.

Essential Information
Derek Boshier: Image in Revolt runs until 21st January 2024
Wolverhampton Art Gallery
More information from Wolverhampton Art Gallery Here

Ancient Champion

Ancient Champion writes for OUTSIDELEFT while relentlessly recording and releasing instrumental easy listening music for difficult people. The Champ is working on Public Transport, a new short story collection that takes up where 2021's Six Stories About Motoring Nowhere (Disco City Books) left off. It should be ready in time for the summer holidays. More info at

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