A collaboration by DJ Fat Tony + Opake
The Cookie Monster attends a meeting for overeaters; Eeyore and Pooh Bear re-enact a therapy session; Sesame Street’s Bert and Ernie have an obsession with adult content; even the confectionery you find at meetings has had a makeover… it’s all the work of a pair of recovered addicts-turned-artists, DJ Fat Tony and Ed Worley (aka Opake), who between them are celebrating their recovery through some unsettling and provocative art.
From addicts to artists
Club kid. Hedonist. Queer pioneer. Addict. Tony Marnoch, aka DJ Fat Tony, hit rock bottom during an out-of-control cocaine binge in the early noughties that almost literally left him ‘speechless’ – he pulled out all his own teeth with pliers while experiencing psychosis. Fast forward to 2023 – following rehab, therapy and a journey through 16 years of sobriety and enlightenment – and the fashion world’s go-to DJ, now 56, is a bestselling author, acerbic social influencer and outspoken advocate for facing addiction.
Ed Worley’s addiction story follows a familiar trajectory after he first tried alcohol aged nine. By 16, he was taking cocaine but nevertheless passed his exams and enrolled at University of Leeds to study cinematography. He became an alcoholic. A crack addict. During a drug-induced psychotic episode he attempted to cut his leg off with a razor blade. He experienced homelessness, had run-ins with violent dealers who threatened him with guns and machetes. Now clean for five years, the 34-year-old is a graffiti and pop artist who works under the name Opake.
Honesty, advocacy, irony
These two creative forces have United in desire to confront the stigma of trauma through honesty, advocacy and humour. A tongue-in-cheek look at the different forms of addiction and recovery, the art featured in Church Halls and Broken Biscuits (26 April – 20 May) explores the ’12 steps to recovery’ mindset and behaviours. Meetings often take place in church halls or community centres, where tea is served alongside biscuits decorated with positive affirmations such as ‘One day at a time’.
Opake’s works often feature cartoon characters, and both Winnie the Pooh and the familiar figures from Sesame Street make an appearance on canvas. Cookie Monster attends an Overeaters meeting. The Count counts off his recovery days. Bert and Ernie are cast as former porn and sex addicts. The middle of the gallery space will feature life-size soft sculptures of The Count, Cookie Monster, and Oscar the Grouch.