The Pop Rivets

founded in 1977


Billy Childish

born 1959 as Steven John Hamper in Chatham, Kent, England; lives in Chatham

1976: Leaves school and works in Chatham Docks

1977–1978: Studies at Medway College of Design, Kent; joins Medway Poets

1978–1981: Studies at Saint Martin’s School of Art, London; during this period, he strikes up a friendship with Peter Doig and with Tracey Emin, with whom he had a relationship for some time

1999: Cofounds, with Charles Thomson, the art movement stuckism, from which he distanced himself in 2001

Visual Arts

Visual Arts

Billy Childish’s painting looks timeless. In formal terms, his art is inspired by expressionism, in particular the works of Vincent van Gogh and Edvard Munch. In selecting his subject matter, he draws on literary figures and paintings from the late nineteenth century, to which he adds his own facial features. For many years he has also created dandified, retro self-stagings.


In 1999, together with Charles Thomson, he founded the stuckism movement; protesting against the art business’s market-oriented values and dictates, its name stems from the critical cry »You are stuck!« Two years after it was established, Childish left the movement.

Although, for a long time, art critics dismissed his works as naive, unpolished, and above all not independent, Childish has achieved international recognition, yet criticizes the all-appropriating art market.

Author: Daniela Hahn



In 1977 Childish founded and sang in his first punk band, The Pop Rivets. At the same time, he released the punk fanzine Chatham’s Burning. In 1981 he learnt to play the guitar and founded The(e) Milkshakes, his most successful band to date, with blues and rock’n’ roll influences that stand in sharp contrast to his first punk band.

All the releases from his numerous other bands, several of which he fronted, were solely on independent labels, as was the case for his solo projects and his collaboration with British singer-songwriter Holly Golightly.

In 1986, Childish founded the label Hangman Records. As with Hangman Books, his publishing house, the label’s logo also incorporates a gallows. The groups he produced include British underground »musical gems« like The Len Bright Combo, The James Taylor Quartet, and The Prisoners, as well as Die Goldenen Zitronen.

More recently, he has been performing with his music project Wild Billy Childish and the Musicians of the British Empire, which he set up in 2005. With increasing regularity, however, he appears solo with a guitar and recites his poems between songs.

In the Exhibition

In the Exhibition

The Pop Rivets

Live at Detling Village Hall, GB, 1977, with Brand Buds (guit.), Wild Billy Childish (voc.), Big Russ (bass guit.), Little Russ (dr.), 3:50 min.

Film: Tish Hughs, Courtesy: Neugerriemschneider, Berlin

The video was shot when The Pop Rivets played their first concert in 1977 at Detling Village Hall, Kent. Childish had founded the band that year and appeared on vocals with furious energy as Wild Billy Childish. In true British punk style, he was accompanied by loud guitars and leading drums. Underlining the punk context, »GASH« was spelt out in large letters in the background and can be read as a call to resistance.


Daniela Hahn