Sexton Ming: Artist, Poet and Failed intellectual
It seems I wasn't the only one who was curious about the 'Mind Reader' graffiti. I received a phone call the other day from Sean Ridgeway - the stand-up comic - telling me that there used to be a local band called the Mind Readers, and that they were inspired by the same graffiti: and their leader - if they had a leader - was Sexton Ming.
I had no idea who Sexton Ming was, but Sean Ridgeway, who used to be into the Medway punk scene, told me that Sexton Ming was a mate of Billy Childish, and that he was an artist and poet too. That didn't mean anything to me, I'm not into art and I'm not into poetry. And I was never into Billy Childish. But Sexton Ming is an interesting name, and anyone who was inspired by the dark writings on the railway arch is all right by me. So I did some research into the fellow, and discovered that he is still active, and not only is he active, but that he is a cult figure in his own right. I wanted to write something about him, but fearing that Ming might be merciless - he once threatened to dry-fist a man's arsehole into a shredded wheat - I asked permission of his wife instead. She granted it. And having been given this permission, I suddenly realised that I didn't know what to say. Or rather - I didn't know what to say that didn't seem trite. I was going to start something like this ...
... born in Gravesend ... 1961 ... an undiagnosed dyslexic ... a good chum of Billy Childish ... a Medway poet ... a transvestite ... And then get to the bit about being a failed intellectual. I would then mention the Stuckists. And finally - finish off by mentioning that he is married to Ella Guru, the Stuckist artist. But I'm sure he knows this - and I wouldn't mind betting that Ella does too.
So rather than going through all that stuff, and because I'm not qualified to critique his art and poetry, I will get straight to the point. Or two points actually.
One: Sexton Ming is funny.
Sexton Ming is funny because his work is humorous. All of his work. From paintings to poems: from poems to songs.
Two: Sexton Ming is not up his own arse.
And Sexton Ming is NOT up his own arse because he doesn't bore you with a long and sanctimonious manifesto. He does have a little one though, but I suspect that this because he has too. I think it's compulsory. I have discovered that all art-groups and movements write manifestos. The Stuckists have got about twenty and I wouldn't mind betting that they're writing another one too. Sexton's is tiny by comparison, and, if I'm not mistaken he's not taking it very - whisper it - seriously!
But that's enough about manifestos ...
Sexton Ming is a very funny artist. His work is humorous, and I suspect because it is humorous, and because he didn't take his manifesto seriously, he has been sidelined by the art establishment. I know that that sounds a bit conspiratorial, but I reckon that if somebody was to point out that art is funny - and sometimes it is - then the general public will not take it seriously. Which I don't think they do anyway, because your average prole - me included - is happy to buy a Jack Vettriano, and if that ain't funny then I don't what is!
So what are the best and funniest pictures of Sexton Ming? Well I'm not qualified to say; I've only seen a few on the web. But from what I've seen, these are my favourites.
The first picture is called, Smoking is Clever. It depicts a pink pig-man - looking wistful - smoking a cigarette against a blue, cloudy sky. The pig-man is sporting a tattoo on its left arm. I like this picture a lot. Click here
Another picture is called, Toilet Monsters playing hose pipes. At first I was shocked by this, but on close examination I found myself intrigued. Two standing turds with pipes in hand. Both turds are playing these pipes like ceremonial trumpets. I wonder what they are playing? Click here...
I cannot comment on Ming's writing but I bet it's funny. Any book which is titled: God Told Me To Eat Dog Shit has got to be hilarious - though I would like to point out, that it is was when God told me eat dog shit that I became an atheist!
In conclusion, I have enjoyed researching into the life of Sexton Ming. I have never met him, but he seems to be unpretentious. His work will never be popular in the mainstream, but I think that that's a good thing. The mainstream watches X-Factor, and that - quite frankly - is pooh. More pooh than Ming's toilet monsters!
I'm going to keep an eye on his website for his next gig, but unfortunately I think these might be rare events.
I wish Sexton Ming good luck for the future.
Sexton Ming Website
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