Origin of the word "Stuckism"
'Stuckism' was a word coined by Charles Thomson in
mid-January 1999 as the name for an art group. It was inspired by conversations
between him and Billy Childish, who had been accused by ex-girlfriend,
Tracey Emin, of being 'Stuck - Stuck! Stuck! Stuck!'.
Billy had put this insult into a poem and quoted it
to Charles on more than one occasion. It embodied the contrast between
Tracey's entry into the world of conceptual Brit Art and Billy's continuing
commitment to the painting of pictures.
explains another element in the formation of the name:"I was thinking
about Impressionism - another name along with Fauvism, Cubism etc -
derived from an initial insult. This suddenly cohered with the bits
of Billy's poem.
was at my then-home in Finchley in bed with the light. I wrote down
'Stuck-ism' in a notebook .
had been trying for weeks to think of a decent name for an art group
I wanted to start and failing miserably. I suddenly knew this was it."
The group would be known as Stuckist and members obviously
of Stuckism and Stuckist(s)
First public access, early 1999
The word 'Stuckism'
first entered the public domain in early 1999 in the web site of that
name set up by Charles Thomson with Ella Guru, which may have had two
hits in its initial few months.
time in print, 23 July 1999
"Stuckists" appeared first in print in the Evening Standard
Londoner's Diary page in a short piece by journalist Harry Phibbs.
time in print nationally, 1 August 1999
"Stuckists" received its first national appearance on the
front cover of the Sunday Times Culture supplement. Since then it has
appeared countless times in this country and internationally in newspapers,
and on radio and TV in connection with the group's activities.
Use of "Stuckism"
and "Stuckist(s)" spreads
The first Anti-Stuckist, 25 October 1999
This was the incident where two Chinese performance artists, Xi,
37, and Chai, 43, jumped on Tracey Emin's bed in Tate Britain during
the 1999 Turner Prize Show, as reported by Fiachra Gibbons in the Guardian:
"The Battle of the Bed may have been all over in a few minutes
but it will go down in art history as the defining moment of the new
and previously unheard of Anti-Stuckist Movement. That much can be discerned
from the slogans scrawled on JJ Xi and Yuan Chai's bodies."
(The slogan on one of their backs was 'Anti-Stuckism').
Launch of Stickism, 24 October
Albeit by accident, Stickism has now entered the language. The
following is how it all starts on a message board:
"I saw an article in the Guardian today about Stickism, a new art
movement which want to reject conceptual art and get back to paintings.
The accompanying photo was a picture of a Stickist artist and her self-portrait.
Name of the artist? Ella Guru!
- Mike Godwin To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: Re: Stickism Date:
Tue, 24 Oct 2000"
Stuckist supporter with no links to the group
"I am an Irish painter, born in Derry. I studied at Chelsea School of
Art, London, and also at Camberwell School of Art, London, where I trained
as a painter and ceramist. I support and adhere to the principles of
- Elsie T. Mckeegan, artist
Denial of being a stuckist, 20 April 2001
That is, with a lower case 's' for a generic term, as in 'hoover' for
example. This honour goes to Oscar-winner Bob Godfrey, creator of Roobarb
and Henry the Cat. This is what he says in The Guardian:
" I'm not what you'd call computer literate but I employ people
who are. I'm not a stuckist."
"Stuckists" enters Wikipedia, 27 September
First entry here
who also edited MapleSyrup, Georges Braque and Sub-Roman Britain. The
page was redirected to "Stuckism" on 18 June 2002.
Anti-Stuckist in a manifesto, 2 November 2001
Independent film-maker Andrew Kotting (latest
film: This Filthy Earth) is profiled in the Guardian. His manifesto
ends with the declaration: "The work should prove anti-Stuckist, genuinely
post-modern, contingent and ad hoc in its thinking."
Read the article on: http://www.guardian.co.uk/Archive/Article/0,4273,4289744,00.html
"Stuckist" enters kinky fiction, found
17 December 2001
As far as we know 'Ascent into Chastity' by Ann X is the first
work of fiction to make reference to the Stuckists, as follows
: '....I was a struggling artist, who'd never married or had a family
and he was a very rich widower, with three, grown-up children, who liked
my paintings. Not many did and I was broke!' 'They're good!' I meant
the reassurance. 'We bought one about eight years ago and still like
it.' I counted the others on my fingers. 'And we've bought another three
since including last night's.' 'But they're not very Tracy Emin. Not
very modern! Not very original! In fact, very stuckist!' She paused
for effect. The story hots up as you can see from the following excerpt:
"What the hell was I doing taking off my clothes in the locked toilet
of an art gallery with a very frustrated artist and standing there in
just my tightly laced corset, stockings and heels?"
Read the whole salacious/chaste tale on: http://www.tpe.com/~altarboy/nt010526.htm
First mention of Stuckist in a horoscope, January
This particular distinction has been achieved by Leigh Oswald in The
January Perspective 2002 for artnet.com Certain Leos take note. Here
is the text:
" If born August 14th to 18th you must rely on yourself alone,
as others will not be the rock you want. But then again do you need
one now. A rock would keep you tethered to your present path, whereas
a loose cannon of a partner may just shock you into the direction you
need to start considering for real growth. Accept changes in style and
lateral creative ideas as a norm for you now. You are no "stuckist"
Apology for sounding like a Stuckist, found 10 February
'Novadaddy' on pub8.ezboard says:
" Sorry to sound like a Stuckist but, what did you think about
that guy who nearly won the Turner Prize with the painting of the spaceship
that he'd "appropriated" from an old sci-fi novel cover? Personally,
I get a little peeved at "high artists" who steal from the "low arts"
(comics, fantasy art) with the suggestion that they have imbued it with
an extra context, the nature of which is often rather flimsy."
See it here.
"Stuckism" in Wikipedia, 18 June 2002
Bartels. The page on "Stuckists" was redirected to it.
Government Minister compared
to Stuckists, 2002,
A web article The trouble with Turner by Aidan
" Am I the only person to suspect that culture minister Kim Howells'
Stuckist-style intervention into the Turner Prize this year was another
case of government spin?"
Stuckism in an encyclopaedia,
The first appearance of Stuckism in a print encyclopaedia:
Styles, Schools and Movements, an Encyclopaeditc Guide to Modern
Art (Amy Dempsey, Thames and Hudson 2002). The definition reads:
"Neo -conservative movement started in the UK in 1999 by artists Billy
Childish and Charles Thomson. Thomson derived the name from an insult
hurled at Childish by his ex-girlfriend Tracey Emin ('Your paintings
are stuck, you are stuck!'). Calling themselves 'the first remoderist
art group', they agitate against Postmodernism, Installation and Conceptual
Art - favoured by the YBAs - and promote conservative painting techniques
and a rebirth of spirituality in art."
Nothing to do with the art movement. The name has been used in the computer
world by Andrew Orlowski to propose a 'Stuckist net' - 'one in which
the hardware and protocols remain open'. Read about it here.
Neo-Stuckists and Stickists
Not the accidental launch of the Stickists as above,
but the real thing in Scotland. They say, 'Why 'Neo-Stuckists' instead
of Stuckists? As Groucho Marx said "I wouldn't join any club that would
have me as a member". Whilst we were inspired to a great degree by The
Stuckists, we feel it would compromise our autonomy and integrity to
wrap ourselves in the Stuckist flag.' See http://home.clara.net/stickist/home.html
(link now defunct)
Stuckism in rock lyric, 2002
The honour for the first in this department may well go to the group
Half Man Half Biscuit on their album Cammell Laird Social
Club (2002). The track If I Had Possession Over Pancake Day begins:
"Outside Goldsmith's, coughing up blood -
Turner Prize judge gasps, "Christ! That's good!
"Leave it as it is, it'll get first place -
"We'll call it 'A Full Shift at the Coal Face'.
"Oh well, you're neither a Stuckist or a Y.B.A
"And you're no longer a miner as of today".
30 second sample
of the track on Last.fm
(player top right of page). The full song is on YouTube.
Full lyrics on Half
Man Half Biscuit Lyrics Project.
artist described as "Stuckist" in style, 21.1.04
Fisun Guner in The
Evening Standard said
the work of Sophie von Hellerman (at one time a Charles Saatchi favourite,
but never a member of the Stuckists) "seemed more Stuckist than
enters Wikipedia, 1 January 2005
as a redirect to Charles Thomson changed seconds later by Kaihsu as
a redirect to Stuckism.
A "Classic Stuckist", 24 September 2005
Under "Poetry and Culture" in 3 Quarks Daily, on the
subject of "Poetry
and limitations of the ironic mode in the new millennium, Part 2",
Australian poet Peter Nicholson wrote:
says it is essential to have a knowledge of the art that has brought
us to the present moment. This has nothing to do with burying one’s
head in the sand—being a classic Stuckist—and everything to do with
knowing the good that is not interred with bones, the art that stands
as a challenge to everything we achieve and which it is our duty to
honour—or what will be left that that will be worthwhile?"
Stuckist Atheism, 31
An article in the Daily Telegraph Our
troops don't need a tieless Tony by Vicki Woods introduces this
concept to the world
(12th paragraph) :
"In a year when militant "faith groups" are making the godless
feel rather leery about their stuckist atheism..."
Stuckist suits, 15 January
most extraordinary new use of the word Stuckist occured in the following
phrase: "Stuckist suits" in an article in The Independent.
What exactly is a Stuckist suit? (One made from paintings perhaps?).
The surrounding text, in an article about a classical concert at Shoreditch
Town Hall, provides little more elucidation:
"In Shoreditch Town Hall, a venue so intimately associated with
the art world that you can almost smell Tracey Emin's bedlinen, chic
geeks in Stuckist suits rubbed shoulders with college girls in biker
boots." Read it here.
Pizza Stuckists, 18
Now you can be a pizza Stuckist, if you want, according to "Side
orders: Artful eating" by Caroline Stacey
in The Independent on Sunday food
and drinks review [link broken] also available at Highbeam:
"It's not your usual quiche and carrot cake at the independently
owned restaurant underneath Sale's arts centre. Pizzas come topped with
Thai curry or Chinese duck; pizza Stuckists can stick to margarita,
salads or pasta bakes from the pizza oven. Waterside Arts Centre, Sale,
Cheshire (0161 962 6666) CCA Café "
Stuckist British sense of fair play, 30 September
Vicki Woods in The
"I always feel a bit uncomfortable when I'm on the same side
as a baying mob (the stuckist British sense of fair play being so powerful)"
Stuckist everyman, 7 December 2006
By Chris Ziegler from OC
[Orange County] Weekly:
"Local lovefest with unbreakable post-ponk from Geisha Girls,
Fall-go-gothisms from former cover features Squab and the stuckist everyman
rock & roll of the Thingz, who play the kind of nourishing grawge crud
you can eat three times a day, like potatoes or pizza."
as new word, 27 August 2007
John Ayto, editor of The Oxford Dictionary of Modern Slang, defines
including Stuckism (on
the cover of Times 2 magazine).
stuckism, 31 August 2007
A post on the BBC Newsnight message
board (post 132) criticised
the laziness and stuckism the BBC is currently undergoing".
Brown accused of political stuckism, 4 November 2007
Martin Ivens in The
1 July 2008
"The 'much-needed alternative' (for conservative Christians)
to Wikipedia gets a bit stuckist over bacterial evolution", says
Charles Arthur, The Guardian technology
Polly Toynbee uses "stuckist",
4 October 2008
Talking of the Labour party, Polly Toynbee says in The
Guardian, "Fresh thinkers are needed, not the stuckists
of more than a decade ago steeped in market idolatry."
We are not stuckists from 1997", 8 October 2008
Robert Philpot in
Polly Toynbee's article above.
Labour party members under John Smith called "Stuckists",
29 July 2009
Alan Watkins in The
Independent, talking of one tendency of the Labour party under John
Smith, says, "There
was a small skirmish where the conservatives, what might be called the
Stuckists, adopted the slogan One More Heave."
Stuckist, 20 December 2011
Sukhdev Sandhu in The
"In 1983, when the Smiths first started playing shows outside
Manchester, to stand up for ordinariness – as they did, most forcefully,
with their name itself – was a bold statement. It seemed a refusal of
the sartorial overload and yacht-rock opulence of most chart pop. Though
I didn't have the language to articulate this at the time, it was also
a political refusal, two-fingers-up to the Tory politicians who were
in the middle of a brutalist makeover of the economy. Britain was being
forced to change, to ride the shockwaves of neo-liberal modernisation.
Finance – its boss-class internationalism and disregard for local mores,
the stripy shirts of its Square Mile henchmen – was effecting a cultural
shift towards market fundamentalism. By contrast, the Smiths were the
enemy, Stuckists who clung to old ways."
- invention of a verb
it out, 27 March 2006
The first known, recorded use of the word Stuckist as a verb occurred
at 9.44 am on 27 March 2006:
im coming to new york this summer we totally have to meet to stuckist
It was on the web site myspace.com and was a message from "underage
stuckists" (who is named as "Vanuata, female, 16 years
old") to Liv,
who is "female, 16 years old, Squaresville, Pennsylvania, United
States". However, a subsequent message was sent to us at 8.37 am
on 28 March 2006 from "underage stuckists", stating, "i
said "'lets stuckist it out!'' im rebekah maybury i think i deserve
good credit for that." (Rebekah is 15 years old.)
but not Stuckism
Britartists who are stuck
"I don't ask myself why. If I did ask myself why, I woudn't be able
to find out the answers, and I think that's why a lot of people get
- Damien Hirst, Observer (14 Feb 99)
"I really cannot carry on living with all that stuff stuck
inside of me."
- Tracey Emin (Art Now, Taschen)
do shout at people to help me, dead people and live people, when I'm
stuck... I'll be shouting at Picasso, or at Warhol: "Get down here,
I'm stuck"... Or when I'm shouting at Duchamp, I mean, that's a complete
nightmare... I feel as though I'm stuck as myself, and that's the horror...
I'd be stuck with myself..."
- Gary Hume, interior decorator (tate: the art magazine, summer 1999)
back to top
Having stuck to make
stuck with drawing and I'm getting somewhere."
- Mathew Robinson, mature painting student, Camberwell Art College (16.3.00)
back to top
on artists being stuck (or not)
Collings on Lucien Freud
"There's something stuck... about the world of (Lucien) Freud"
- Matthew Collings (p55, 'Blimey!' 1997, 21 Publishing Ltd)
Tom Lubbock on Anthony Julius
"He concludes that much contemporary art has got itself stuck
in a cult of empty negation and should get itself unstuck."
- Tom Lubbock reviews 'Transgressions: the Offences of Art' by Anthony
Julius, Evening Standard 14.10.02.
Rachel Campbell-Johnson on Keith
"The Turner Prize may be in a bit of a rut. But Tyson certainly
won't get stuck." (Tyson won the Turner Prize in 2002.)
- Rachel Campbell-Johnson, The Times 9.12.02
Various people getting stuck
"I only know one thing: when my conscious mind no longer sees any
possible road ahead and consequently gets stuck, my unconscious psyche
will react to the unbearable standstill."
- Carl Jung, The Aims of Psychotherapy
Charlotte Joko Beck
"...there is no way that is superior to relationships in helping
us see where we're stuck and what we're holding on to. As long as our
buttons are pushed, we have a great chance to learn and grow. So a relationship
is a great gift, not because it makes us happy - it often doesn't -
but because any intimate relationship, if we view it as practice, is
the clearest mirror we can find.”
- Charlotte Joko Beck, Everyday
"I don't want to be stuck in Thurrock all my life."
- Mrs M, Thurrock (1999)
Rail Staff rallied round to help the stranded crew of an impounded
ship from Georgia in the former Soviet Union.
"The crew had not been paid and had pretty well run out of food and
provisions. They had dropped their cargo of molasses and had been stuck
- Railnews (Sept 99)
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- spam email received by Stuckism
Lawson on Shepherd's Bush
TV wonder-cook Nigella Lawson now lives with
mega-collector Charles Saatchi in Belgravia, but used to live in Queen's
Park which she contrasts with "more violent" Shepherd's Bush
- "They keep saying it is supposed to be up and coming but it is
on being stuck
origin of the word 'Stuckism' is described above and was originally
poetic in its inspiration. However, like poetry it has come to reveal
deeper meanings as time has gone on. It stands, for example, in stark
contrast to the Western concept of progress = something- to-always-be-desired
= new = better (which has led to a manic concentration on more/bigger/smaller/faster
cars/videos/records/CDs not to mention trashier shopping malls/food
So a deeper level of Stuckism is that continual 'progress' is not only
not always good, but can actually be, paradoxically, a deterioration,
and that sometimes the best thing is to do nothing (which is also a
statement and may require perception and awareness), to be in the eyes
of so-called progressives 'stuck'.
A classic case of this is 'progressive' intensive, chemical farming
as opposed to 'stuck' organic vegetables, where the original method
has proved to be better than the'improvement'.
We would of course make a similar comparison between the 'fast food'
junk-art of the conceptual Brit Art school and the organic art of Stuckism.
It is surprising how often the word 'stuck' occurs in everyday conversation
and texts, nearly always in a pejorative sense. We would like to highlight
the use of this concept and also to consider whether the assumption
of its negativeness is appropriate in the circumstances in which it
Rather than feeling stuck and therefore a sense of frustration that
one cannot move forward, it might well be better to adopt the attitude
that the cirumstance is a good one to be in, that it is in fact quite
acceptable to be stuck and to do nothing, and that this is a healthy
and unavoidable part of life.
It might then be found not only that one is able to take a perspective
previously not noticed, but that circumstances change of their own volition
to provide the right answer.
for this page giving examples and mentions of Stuckism should be sent
to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please
give if possible source, date and, if relevant, URL. Indicate whether
you want to be credited and your email address included, or not.