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Group Hangman was founded in 1983/4 on the suggestion of Tracey
Emin with the idea of producing a print portfolio, as, Billy
Childish records, "she said it would be like the German
Die Brucke group, where you couldn't tell whose style was whose."
The name was derived from Billy Childish's small press, Hangman
Books, of which Tracey was the administrator (she held this
post 1982-86). Group Hangman consisted of Billy and Tracey plus
Sheila Clarke and Sanchia Lewis. Its initial activity was to
print 4 postcards, one for each artist, printed unofficially
at Maidstone College of Art (where Tracey Emin was then a student).
The run was around 100 each.
number editions of hand-made books of woodcut prints were produced
by Tracey, Sheila and Billy. Billy comments, "Tracey's
idea was to produce a porfolio of prints - as all of us were
printmakers of one description or another - and she was going
to go round the London galleries to promote and sell the work.
It was her idea to do it, and then I had to try to get her to
do what she said she would do: I'd already printed up 6 or 7
editions of 50-100 prints - which she pressurised me to do.
But then she didn't do anything, which pissed me off a bit.
It was also
left to me to get Sanchia and Sheila to print their work up.
I think they printed up a number of copies, but Sanchia was
very suspicious anyway, and so was Sheila. They were ex-girlfriends
of mine. It was Tracey's idea they should be in it, but they
thought it a bit fishy she wanted them involved. Tracey went
to the Royal College in 1987 and the 'group' just petered out."
Billy Childish reformed the group principally with Dan Melchior,
who was virulently against conceptual art and co-wrote some
of the manifestos with Billy. Members included Kyra De Coninck,
Sexton Ming, Wolf Howard, Sheila Clark, Philip Absolon, Mark
Lowe, Chris Broderick and Eugene Doyen. The group issued seven
manifestos printed in small pamphlets and posted them to people,
such as Tracey Emin, Sarah Lucas, Peter Doig, Mat Higgs and
White Cube (Jay Jopling and Honey Luard of the White Cube gallery
had in the past requested via Tracey copies of Billy's poetry
books and novel ). The text of the Hangman manifestos is printed
below with the original spelling - "I didn't know there
were mistakes!" Billy said. "I'm surprised Tracey
put up with the content of these manifestos and I didn't get
told off. I suppose it's because she wasn't quite famous enough
at the time."
at Charles Thomson's invitation, Billy joined forces with him
to launch the Stuckists group: this included some of the members
of Group Hangman. In 1999 and 2000 he co-wrote the Stuckist
manifestos with Charles. The influence of a number of the ideas
in the Group Hangman manifestos can be seen in the Stuckist
form of the Group Hangman manifestos are prefaced with: "GROUP
HANGMAN ( est. 1983) Incorporating the FEWBO and the CUGF Painting,
Writing, Music and Film" and have the name of the members
underneath with "© Group Hangman 1997 [1998 or 2000] The
Group Hangman Bureau of Enquiry, 11 Boundary Road, Chatham,
Kent ME4 6TS".
quotes above from interview in 2006. Billy Childish left the
Stuckist group in 2001.
Texts are reproduced by permission. Billy has not been able
to confirm, but recalls that manifestos 1 to 5 were printed,
while 6 and 7 remain as drafts and notes. He states that his
intention with the Hangman manifestos was to be funny, provocative
and insulting, whilst still stating some relevant truths - "something
that Charles had to rein in when we co-wrote the Stuckist manifestos."
Crude Art manifesto
Crimes of the future: The role of the artist against conceptualism
and the idiocy of ideas.
1. Good taste is fascism. "Either all are special or none."
2. It is the artist's responsibility to smash style.
3. Artistic talent is the only obstacle.
4. We must embrace the unacceptable in all spheres.
5. We use the tough language that only children can bear.
6. Art is made to impress, but we are not in awe.
7. Artists don't laugh in case the mob should discover that
they are pathetic.
8. Western art has been stupefying its audience into taking
the position of an admiring doormat. We, at Group Hangman however,
intend to wipe our mud-encrusted boots on the face of conceptual
9. Fashion and its role in art. The artist as social terrorist
or on the pay-roll of the conservatives and the Saatchi's ?
10. Art can achieve nothing.
11. The negative and bogus posture of being positive. To like
something or 'be positive' has always been held up as a laudable
attribute. We, at Group Hangman however, believe that it takes
consciousness and intelligence to dislike something. As if being
a fan of some moronical half-wit artist or musician is an achievement.
How often in life have we met 'a fan' who by their violent devotion
to the god-like status of their chosen infatuation is really
only puffing up their own shabby ego and trying to allude to
some vast expansion of their pathetic brain.
12. The conceptual artist arrives on the scene and frozen with
fear, like some anal retard, is too scared to transmute their
ideas into paint and commence a string of unacceptably pathetic
canvasses and thereby experience themselves as crap. It is essential
for every artist to paint a succession of unacceptably bad paintings.
SUMMARY OF COMMUNICATION 0001
People have allowed themselves to be robbed of their child's
right to paint by giving up their power to communicate to the
pathetic professionals. We at Group Hangman denounce the violence
of the so-called 'professionals' and stand firm by the rights
and laudability of the intrepid explorer. In short the critic
without and within must be smashed and trampled underfoot. Above
all else we uphold the individual's right to remain ignorant.
11.8.97 ammended: 17.6.98
Sex Crimes of the future: The artist's role in modern sex,
the castration of our offsping and the fear of sincerity.
1. The inheritance of sexual neurosis: the curse of impotency
and the deafening applause of society.
2. Parents and the distruction of creativity: The castration
of offspring and the fear of sincerity: The mother as heinous
spider and the father in rabid fear of his daughters sexuel
3. It is the artist duty to explore and display his/her sexuel
neurosis in the market place.
4. The librel as passive fascist in fear of expression, sexuality
and the shadow.
5. The curse of impotency, artistic and sexual.
6. The innocent have become implicated. "Either all are guilty
7. The role of of the pornography in modern sex: Toppling
the Goddess from her pedestel and dragging her through the
8. All publicity is bad publicity.
9.Under no circumstances should the artist ever justify him/her
10. The artist must allways indevouir to understand the threads
of implication and, when nessissary, be prepaiereid to stand
guilty infront of a baying and pious public.
11. The artist in his pathetic attempts to become the phallus
12. All crimes aganst the life, liberty and sex will be forgiven.
OF COMMUNICATION 0002/b
The expression of personal truth has always been viciously
censored by family, teachers and friends. For too long the
artist has allowed great chunks of his/her personality to
be hacked off and thrown to the dogs. We, at Group Hangman
however, believe that the artist, like a sheep in wolfs clothing,
has the duty to nurture their own neuroses then unleash it
on an unsuspecting society. We hereby reclaim the right for
every mongrel dog to dream themselves king and be patted on
the head and fed a biscuit.
Crimes of the professional against society and creativity and
the artist's role as saviour and underdog.
1. The true artist, by nature, is always an amateur and never
2. In a world populated be experts the artist must be a forever
3. The professional's violence against creativity and his rewards
for his cowardice must be exposed and finally ridiculed.
4. The professional is weak because of his need to be respected,
honoured and adored. The true artist, on the other hand, must
have the courage to remain unimpressive, shallow and obvious.
5. The lie of originality, the ignorance of its champions and
the intrinsic honesty of plagiarism.
6 The inherent provincialism of professionals and the intrinsic
cosmopolitanism of the amateur.
7. It is the professional's obsession with good taste that obliterates
all creativity. It is actually this fear of life itself that
forces the professional to become a neurotic expert and crush
the intrepid amateur.
SUMMARY OF COMMUNICATION 0003
We have allowed the right of expression to be hijacked by a
suspect body of so called professionals and experts. Humiliated
in our artistic dreams as children, only a very select few of
us go on to participate in the making of our culture. In ignorance
we have allowed ourselves to be bullied into becoming passive
and admiring doormats to the good taste of these so called professionals,
who then spoon feed us on a constant drip-feed diet of de-natured,
un-nutritional pap! It seems that we have somehow been tricked
into believing that our own personal expression is inadequate
when compared to the gaudy hype of these professionals. We,
at Group Hangman however, believe that rather than being the
poor brother of professionalism, amateurism is in fact the ultimate
form of artistic expression, and is far more worthy of praise
than the sheep-like professionals pathetic devotion to accolade
and success. Our proposals for the rejuvenation of society are
1. In all areas of life the violence of the professional must
be questioned and where necessary smashed. It must be seen that
amateurism is the only creed that invites participation, stimulation
and ultimately, personal growth.
2. Just as the professional footballer ruins football, so too
does the professional musician destroy the joy of music. We,
at Group Hangman call for the immediate and total disbandment
of all professional bodies and organisations and the installation
a purely amateur society, where people are encouraged at all
levels to express themselves regardless of their ability or
so called lack of it. e.g. If a child wishes to sing in the
school choir, that is reason enough for that child to do so.
3. We further demand the disbandment of the current school curriculum
and the installation of a syllabus that places the advancement
of creative thought and expression at the heart of its activities
and objectives, and finally chucks society's heinous and odious
obsession with professionalism on the dung heap of history.
Crimes of the Critic: The critic as expert and the artist as
amateur. The artist's role as social terrorist. 1. The artist
creates, the critic bleats.
2. The critic is in search of certainty and the artist is in
search of uncertainty.
3. It is the artist duty to explore and display his/her sexual
neurosis in the market place.
4. It is the critics wish to always be correct, where as it
is the artist duty to always be wrong.
5. The critic as disapproving parent, in fear for his job, his
mortgage and his resulting hatred of creativity and sex.
6. The critic at lunch and at rest, but still somehow odious.
7. The critic as hideous parasite, caught luncheoning on the
neck of art and grinning through the fat and blood. 8. The role
of the critic in modern art: His desire to fondle and be fondled.
9.Under no circumstances should the artist ever stroke the vile
critic, even when being stroken.
10. Be ware! The odious critic will not only scoff the rose
but will also devour the shit it grows in!
11. The critic must be forced to his knees and made to apologise
in public for his deceitfulness and the error of his ways.
SUMMARY OF COMMUNICATION 0004
For too long now the critic has been allowed to ride rough-shod
over the sensibilities of others, these parasites on the carcass
of art. Only a pompous fool would de-sky a hawk, tack out its
mortal guts, rummage around in its very entrails and then declare
themselves to now understand beauty. These so called arbitrators
of good taste then sit back on their gargantuan behinds, stuff
yet another lunch into their ever open gobs and, talking with
their disgusting mouths full, pronounce themselves still a little
peckish. For this arrogance these foul parasites are lorded,
lunched and watered. This odious 'sheep', rather than accepting
its place in the flock, has somehow elevated itself to the office
of shephered. We, at Group Hangman however, believe that their
pompous time has come and that the artist, like a wolf in sheep's
clothing, is ready to leap upon the throats of these loathsome
self appointed shepherds and bleed them behind a stone wall.
We hereby declare war on the critic and his pathetic band of
friends and admirers, and vow, once and for all, to smash them
and their foul ideology from the field of play.
Crimes of the Art aganist art: Our culture in the hands of theifs,
cowards and burocrates.
1. In a civerlised socioty art should come before a frightend
2. The male tutor and the distruction of creativity: Our sons
and daughters at the mercy of the fragile ego's of aspiring
and often failed artists. Rather than seeing their role as one
of fatherly compassion and understanding the ever fearfull tutor
first castrates any male students, who he persives as compertion,
befor indevering to bed the daughters of the pathetic middle
3. The tutor in fear of his job, his motgage and his desperate,
and often commicel, atempts to apear librel and broad minded.
4. Without a single teaching qulification, the pathtic art student
graduates, and then with no life experence takes his official
and indoctrinated views on art and stuffs them down the throats
of another hungry generation of middle class children. With
no other aim or benifit than the fear and the ability to say
yes to the pathetic system.
5. The curse of education, the artists right to remain ignorent
and the librels burried, yet violent, anger.
6. The innocent have become implicated. "Either all are guilty
7. The role of of the pornography in modern sex: Toppling the
Goddess from her pedestel and dragging her through the dirt.
8. The artist must allways indevouir to understand the threads
of implication and, when nessissary, be prepaiereid to stand
guilty infront of a baying and pious public. 9.Under no circumstances
should the artist ever justify him/her self!
10 All crimes aganst the life, liberty and sex will be forgiven.
not ony denies an art froam for those deamed to unitelgent to
benifit from from particapating in the culturel debate, but
SUMMARY OF COMMUNICATION 0005
Instead of promting the advansment of personal expression and
thereby enriching socioty, the art school system has become
a tied, burocratic monster, that in supplying a slanted, and
ever animic, art education for a select segment of socioty only,
damns socioty with the burden of their tame, dim witted and
castrated version of our inner selfs We, at Group Hangman however,
call for an open policy of admition to all art schools and further
education in general, based on the indeviduels work, asperations
and commitment. Regardless of their acadmic record , or so called
lack of it. We further call for the vile and gutless policy
of entrapping rich and untalinted students from at home and
broad for the purly finacial gain of art schools and collages
to be halted forthwith. We also demand that all collage buildings
be available for further education and recreational use of the
indiginious population of its respective catchment area. If
a school or collage is unable to offer benifits to the comunity
it is geusting in, then why should its pathetic adminastration
and dreconian vews on art be listend to or tollerated. We hereby
reclaim the right of artic education for all, from the cradel
to the grave.
Crimes against the soul: The creed of success, the elevation
of the ego and the distruction of art.
1. It is only possible to win by failing.
2. In a world motivated by the lie of success the true artist
must always endeavour to fail.
3. The true artist doesn't fail in the same dumb way as the
compulsive individual, who in his continual striving for success
inadvertently fails. The true artist fails mindfully and willfully.
And whereas the failure of the compulsive individual invariably
brings about sadness and self loathing, the failure of the true
artist propels him ever onwards towards the true understanding
of the futility of all striving.
4. Success is pathetic because of its need to be respected,
honoured and adored. Failure, on the other hand, is glorious
in its courage to be loathed, hated and despised.
5. The lie of success, the ignorance of its champions and the
intrinsic honesty of failure.
6 Rather than being a pathway to a pathetic career in the arts,
personal expression should instead allow the artist to experience
him/herself as crap.
7. It is the societies obsession with success that leads to
the stillbirth of all creativity.
SUMMARY OF COMMUNICATION 0006 For too long now, the cult
of the ego, and its pathetic band of stars and hero's, have
been given leave to ride rough-shod over the rights of the useless.
Artistic expression has been strangled by the hands of these
insatiable and bombastic sycophants of success. It is in protecting
the rights of the useless that we, at Group Hangman, have been
forced to call into question the sheep-like devotion of society
to the barren masters of accolade and success. We propose an
immediate and mass devolution of all global corporations and
a severing of concepts and ideas. On inspection it would appear
that the hold that this noxious gang have on society is only
made tenable by the adoration of the even more loathsome hoards
of the aspiring famous. This Adoration will have to be neutralised
at sauce. It will only be by destroying the hopes and dreams
of this violent and malevolent undercurrent in society that
a true renaissance of creativity can be brought to fruition.
Our proposals for the destruction of the vile creed of success
are as follows.
1. The true patheticness of the artists shabby ego must be exposed
and the violence of his/her success smashed. It must be understood
that failure is the only true path to understanding and growth.
2. Just as devotion to success will destroy the finest poet,
so to does the awarding of pathetic and demeaning prizes. We,
at Group Hangman restate our call for the immediate and total
disbandment of all professional bodies and organisations and
the installation a purely amateur society, where people are
encouraged at all levels to express themselves regardless of
their ability or so called lack of it.
3. We here by demand the installation of an art that is anti-thought,
anti-language and devoid of all accountability.
It is time for art to grow up. Against the bloodlessness of