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Jamie Reid - Spinning The Wheel of The Year A new book, 'Time For Magic', unveils the druidic influences behind one of Britain's best known and iconic artists

Jamie Reid - Spinning The Wheel of The Year

A new book, 'Time For Magic', unveils the druidic influences behind one of Britain's best known and iconic artists

by Alan Rider, Contributing Editor
first published: May, 2024

approximate reading time: minutes

"...a heady mix and one that illustrates the many complexities of Reid both as an artist and a spiritual 'shamanarchist' and protester. The diversity shown is impressive."

Jamie Reid ArtTime For Magic: A Shamanarchist’s Guide to the Wheel of The Year
Jamie Reid
(Watkins Publishing)
June 2024

Jamie Reid’s art is, of course, both iconic and extremely well known, with his designs for The Sex Pistols, in particular his single covers for ‘God Save The Queen’, and ‘Pretty Vacant’, and his album art for ‘Never Mind The Bollocks’ having been reproduced hundreds of thousands of times, adorning a million T Shirts, and featuring in punk books and documentaries the world over.  What is less well known is the strong family links to Druidry, mysticism, and Shamanism that fuelled his revolutionary and counter culture ideals and endured throughout his life, until his death in 2023 in Liverpool.

Born in Croydon into a family steeped in both Druidry and social protest, his siblings were activists in CND and he joined in protests with them as a schoolboy. His great uncle, George Watson MacGregor Reid, was Chief Druid, once being arrested and dragged away by police in a Solstice protest at Stonehenge. We all wish we had uncles like that! Later, along with fellow art school revolutionary Malcolm McClaren, he was impressed by the radical art movement Jamie Reid ArtSituationism, and the revolutionary 1968 student riots in Paris, to such an extent that they both travelled to France intending to join in the riots, but arrived too late to take part. After an unlikely stint as a semi-professional footballer, Reid went on to found Suburban Press and, along with McClaren and Vivienne Westwood, helped create the visual aesthetic for the emerging punk movement, described in this book as being “intelligent, funny, violent, and essentially romantic”.  That is where most people get off, but at that point Reid was really only getting started as an artist and by the mid-1980s was putting on exhibitions internationally, designing record sleeves, and lecturing in art, all backed up by his distinctively cynical and humorous dayglo cut-and-paste creations. At this point he also began to paint again, exploring scared geometry.  This is where is gets more interesting, and the narrative of ‘Time For Magic’ really begins. Reid was commissioned to refurbish Strongroom Studios in London’s Shoreditch after a flood (ironically just after a recording session by the Producer, Flood!), which became his largest ever project, with Reid opting to fill the walls and ceilings of the studios with brightly coloured druidic glyphs.  At the same time, he continued his involvement with revolutionary causes, including protests against the Poll Tax, Clause 28, Criminal Justice Bill, and English Heritage, and supporting environmental groups such as Instinction Rebellion and radical arts group Visual Stress.  He also designed druidic posters and created the OVA symbol (a merging of the anarchist ‘A’ with V for Victory) which adorns the cover of this book and is a recurring symbol throughout his art, even being recreated in a wildflower meadow in Cornwall to mark the festival of Lughnasadh on 1 August.

Jamie Reid Art

That brings us nicely to the Wheel of The Year, which gives this book both its sub title and structure, being a term to describe the eight festival periods of the pagan year which mark the seasons, equinoxes, and solstices; Winter Solstice, Imbolc, Spring Equinox, Beltane, Summer Solstice, Lughnasadh, Autumn Equinox, and Samhain. As former Chief Druid Phillip Carr-Gomm aptly puts it in his explanation “you are never more than six weeks away from a celebration”. In common with a previous publication from Watkins, ‘Weird Walks’ (reviewed here), after brief biographical, historical, and contextual sections, the book is divided into a chapter for each of the eight festivals of the Wheel of The Year. Reid produced hundreds of small paintings and postcards, amongst them 365 cards, one for each day of the year, along with eight larger paintings representing each of the eight festivals of the year, and many of these are reproduced here and represent a quite different side to him to that usually seen, alongside more familiar images drawn from his punk influenced designs.   Many are naive in style, with bold splodges and splatters of paint and almost cartoon like depictions of creatures and people, and rorschach ink blot test style swirls.  In a piece entitled ‘Peace is Tough’, an image of John Wayne is altered with lipstick and a CND symbol. In another, a moronic looking Sid Vicious messily eats a burger sporting a badge stating “I’m a Mess”, code for Reid’s dismay at the tastelessly commercial exploitation of his friend’s death by Virgin Records and the media.   It’s a heady mix and one that illustrates the many complexities of Reid both as an artist and a spiritual ‘shamanarchist’ and protester.  The diversity shown is impressive, and the explanatory texts are enlightening.

I should also commend Watkins Publishing on the faultless presentation of this book, from the embossed print of the cover image OVA, through the full colour images presented throughout (no pasty black and white travesties for them!), even down to the printing of the flyleaves with a green acorn pattern design, rather than simply leaving them blank as is normal practice.  There is even a faux “Seasons Greetings and Love, Jamie” scrawled on the final page as if a personal dedication to you.  It’s a nice design touch and a neat way to sum up the ethos of both this book, his art, and his life.

Jamie Reid Art


Essential information
‘Time for Magic’ is published on 11th June can be ordered from Watkins Publishing here→

Alan Rider
Contributing Editor

Alan Rider is a Norfolk based writer and electronic musician from Coventry, who splits his time between excavating his own musical past and feeding his growing band of hedgehogs, usually ending up combining the two. Alan also performs in Dark Electronic act Senestra and manages the indie label Adventures in Reality.


about Alan Rider »»

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