David G. A. Stephenson Americana Artrockers
3 November 2007 - 3 February 2008
David Stephenson (born 1959, Lichfield, Staffordshire, UK) has had a long association with the art and music worlds. He has been writing song lyrics since he was ten years old, becoming especially inspired by the London and New York Punk Rock scenes of the late 1970s. This was followed by an enthusiastic love and wide research of American Blues and Soul music, which also influenced Stephenson to teach himself blues harmonica (the only instrument he can play proficiently).
He has always found willing musical collaborators, notably meeting Richard Bell (of The Blue Aeroplanes) in the 1990s, which resulted in 'I Want To Hang Out With Ed Ruscha' (verse lyrics based on some classic Ruscha text paintings), and launched at Ruscha's May/June 2000 exhibition 'Mountains and Highways' at the Anthony d'Offay gallery, London. Some months later Chris Frantz and Tina Weymouth (of Talking Heads and Tom Tom Club renown) heard the song when introduced to Stephenson at his brother's Rocket gallery in London. At Frantz and Weymouth's invitation, Stephenson flew out to their home and studio in Westport, Connecticut, USA to record 'SAMO (Undiscovered Genius of the Mississippi Delta)', a celebration of Jean-Michel Basquiat's life and work.
Vincent Gallo to Vincent Van Gogh
East Village hobo in Andy's Soho
Downtown 81 - in search of food and shelter
The undiscovered genius of the Mississippi DeltA
Andy Warhol looms large (not unexpectedly) in connection with many of the artists Stephenson serenades. In response to the photography of William Eggleston (at one time, boyfriend of Warhol superstar Viva) Stephenson has created (with Anthony Reynolds of Jack/Jacques fame) a suitably dark and haunting story song, entitled 'I Will Return To Memphis With Eggleston As My Guide'.
In 2005 Stephenson worked with British painter and ace guitarist Clem Crosby as KUNSTKICK - releasing the four song CD '1, 2, 3, 4', song number 4 being an Iggy Pop-style rock paean to Louise Bourgeois. Specially for this Inverleith House show Stephenson has made a video to accompany 'Miss Louise Bourgeois (An American Star)', entirely appropriate in light of her just-opened exhibition at London’s Tate Modern.
Gonna do the monkey
Gonna do the spider
Gonna cha, cha, cha
With Louise Bourgeois
Stephenson first started to produce videos for his Artrocker songs when he was asked to take part in a special presentation on Americana at the ICA, London in April 2004, alongside Jeremy Deller, Andrew Cross and Paul Claydon. Stephenson's latest song/video creation (showing at this Inverleith House exhibition for the very first time - on a 'looped' DVD with the RUSCHA, EGGLESTON, BASQUIAT and BOURGEOIS productions) has been made with the full cooperation of Sir Peter Blake and features film of Blake working and talking in his extraordinary West London studio:
From Sir with love
In denim jeans
David Stephenson became a qualified Secondary School Art and Design teacher in 2005, and has since taught at schools in Essex and Suffolk. At present he is teaching Religious Studies, completing the three Rs - rock and roll and religion! Since 2004 he has lived in Colchester (Essex) with his wife and three-year old son.
All work courtesy of the artist.