Gee Vaucher: the visual artist behind Crass on curiosity, communal living and where punk went wrong

Mar 09, 2020, 06:45 AM

The anarcho-punk originator gives a tour of the open-house she runs in Essex, England, with Penny Rimbaud and considers her bohemian lifestyle and her confrontational art, which is in demand now more than ever

Gee Vaucher isn’t perhaps as well known as some of her punk peers, but she should be: she’s one of the artists who defined punk’s visuals of protest in the 1970s, especially with her arresting photo-montage covers for Crass, the cult band and art collective she was part of, who put anarchy into practice.

She had a stint in Manhattan as a political illustrator for The New York Times and she’s also designed album sleeves for bands like The Charlatans and experimental hip-hop group Tackhead. Her piece for the latter, Oh America, in which the Statue of Liberty covers her face with her hands, went viral and was published on the front cover of newspapers when Trump was elected as President of the United States. 

Gee's art continues to be confrontational, whether she’s painting or, as she shows us, making an absolutely enormous book filled with millions of hand-drawn stick figures – one for every single person that died in World War I. 

She is radical in every sense of the word. In this episode, Gee invites us to Dial House, on the edge of Epping Forest in Essex – a tumbling old cottage with a difference: it’s run by Gee and her collaborator Penny Rimbaud as an anarchic “centre for radical creativity” where anyone can turn up at any time for a cup of tea and a chat. So that’s just what we did, to hear Gee talk about her working relationship with Penny, why punk was a disappointment and the 'perverseness' of her art.

This episode was produced by Mae-Li Evans.