Origin of the word "Stuckism"

'Stuckism' was a word coined by Charles Thomson in mid-January 1999 as the name for an art group. It was inspired by conversations between him and Billy Childish, who had been accused by ex-girlfriend, Tracey Emin, of being 'Stuck - Stuck! Stuck! Stuck!'.

Billy had put this insult into a poem and quoted it to Charles on more than one occasion. It embodied the contrast between Tracey's entry into the world of conceptual Brit Art and Billy's continuing commitment to the painting of pictures.

Charles explains another element in the formation of the name:"I was thinking about Impressionism - another name along with Fauvism, Cubism etc - derived from an initial insult. This suddenly cohered with the bits of Billy's poem.

"I was at my then-home in Finchley in bed with the light. I wrote down 'Stuck-ism' in a notebook .

"I had been trying for weeks to think of a decent name for an art group I wanted to start and failing miserably. I suddenly knew this was it."

The group would be known as Stuckist and members obviously as Stuckists.
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First publication of Stuckism and Stuckist(s)

First public access, early 1999
The word
'Stuckism' first entered the public domain in early 1999 in the web site of that name set up by Charles Thomson with Ella Guru, which may have had two hits in its initial few months.

First time in print, 23 July 1999
"Stuckists" appeared first in print in the Evening Standard Londoner's Diary page in a short piece by journalist Harry Phibbs.

First time in print nationally, 1 August 1999
"Stuckists" received its first national appearance on the front cover of the Sunday Times Culture supplement. Since then it has appeared countless times in this country and internationally in newspapers, and on radio and TV in connection with the group's activities.
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Use of "Stuckism" and "Stuckist(s)" spreads

The first Anti-Stuckist, 25 October 1999
This was the incident where two Chinese performance artists, Xi, 37, and Chai, 43, jumped on Tracey Emin's bed in Tate Britain during the 1999 Turner Prize Show, as reported by Fiachra Gibbons in the Guardian:
"The Battle of the Bed may have been all over in a few minutes but it will go down in art history as the defining moment of the new and previously unheard of Anti-Stuckist Movement. That much can be discerned from the slogans scrawled on JJ Xi and Yuan Chai's bodies."
(The slogan on one of their backs was 'Anti-Stuckism').

Launch of Stickism, 24 October 2000
Albeit by accident, Stickism has now entered the language. The following is how it all starts on a message board:
"I saw an article in the Guardian today about Stickism, a new art movement which want to reject conceptual art and get back to paintings. The accompanying photo was a picture of a Stickist artist and her self-portrait. Name of the artist? Ella Guru!
- Mike Godwin To: fireparty@beefheart.com Subject: Re: Stickism Date: Tue, 24 Oct 2000"

Stuckist supporter with no links to the group
"I am an Irish painter, born in Derry. I studied at Chelsea School of Art, London, and also at Camberwell School of Art, London, where I trained as a painter and ceramist. I support and adhere to the principles of the Stuck-ists."
- Elsie T. Mckeegan, artist

Denial of being a stuckist, 20 April 2001
That is, with a lower case 's' for a generic term, as in 'hoover' for example. This honour goes to Oscar-winner Bob Godfrey, creator of Roobarb and Henry the Cat. This is what he says in The Guardian:
" I'm not what you'd call computer literate but I employ people who are. I'm not a stuckist."

"Stuckists" enters Wikipedia, 27 September 2001
First entry here by Rrees, who also edited MapleSyrup, Georges Braque and Sub-Roman Britain. The page was redirected to "Stuckism" on 18 June 2002.

Anti-Stuckist in a manifesto, 2 November 2001
ependent film-maker Andrew Kotting (latest film: This Filthy Earth) is profiled in the Guardian. His manifesto ends with the declaration: "The work should prove anti-Stuckist, genuinely post-modern, contingent and ad hoc in its thinking."
Read the article on: http://www.guardian.co.uk/Archive/Article/0,4273,4289744,00.html

"Stuckist" enters kinky fiction, found 17 December 2001
As far as we know 'Ascent into Chastity' by Ann X is the first work of fiction to make reference to the Stuckists, as follows
: '....I was a struggling artist, who'd never married or had a family and he was a very rich widower, with three, grown-up children, who liked my paintings. Not many did and I was broke!' 'They're good!' I meant the reassurance. 'We bought one about eight years ago and still like it.' I counted the others on my fingers. 'And we've bought another three since including last night's.' 'But they're not very Tracy Emin. Not very modern! Not very original! In fact, very stuckist!' She paused for effect. The story hots up as you can see from the following excerpt: "What the hell was I doing taking off my clothes in the locked toilet of an art gallery with a very frustrated artist and standing there in just my tightly laced corset, stockings and heels?"
Read the whole salacious/chaste tale on: http://www.tpe.com/~altarboy/nt010526.htm

First mention of Stuckist in a horoscope, January 2002
This particular distinction has been achieved by Leigh Oswald in The January Perspective 2002 for artnet.com Certain Leos take note. Here is the text:
" If born August 14th to 18th you must rely on yourself alone, as others will not be the rock you want. But then again do you need one now. A rock would keep you tethered to your present path, whereas a loose cannon of a partner may just shock you into the direction you need to start considering for real growth. Accept changes in style and lateral creative ideas as a norm for you now. You are no "stuckist" currently."

Apology for sounding like a Stuckist, found 10 February 2002
'Novadaddy' on pub8.ezboard says:
" Sorry to sound like a Stuckist but, what did you think about that guy who nearly won the Turner Prize with the painting of the spaceship that he'd "appropriated" from an old sci-fi novel cover? Personally, I get a little peeved at "high artists" who steal from the "low arts" (comics, fantasy art) with the suggestion that they have imbued it with an extra context, the nature of which is often rather flimsy."
See it here.

"Stuckism" in Wikipedia, 18 June 2002
Entry here by Toby Bartels. The page on "Stuckists" was redirected to it.

Government Minister compared to Stuckists, 2002,
A web article The trouble with Turner by Aidan Campbell starts:
" Am I the only person to suspect that culture minister Kim Howells' Stuckist-style intervention into the Turner Prize this year was another case of government spin?"

Stuckism in an encyclopaedia
, 2002,
The first appearance of Stuckism in a print encyclopaedia: Styles, Schools and Movements, an Encyclopaeditc Guide to Modern Art (Amy Dempsey, Thames and Hudson 2002). The definition reads:
"Neo -conservative movement started in the UK in 1999 by artists Billy Childish and Charles Thomson. Thomson derived the name from an insult hurled at Childish by his ex-girlfriend Tracey Emin ('Your paintings are stuck, you are stuck!'). Calling themselves 'the first remoderist art group', they agitate against Postmodernism, Installation and Conceptual Art - favoured by the YBAs - and promote conservative painting techniques and a rebirth of spirituality in art."

Stuckist Net
Nothing to do with the art movement. The name has been used in the computer world by Andrew Orlowski to propose a 'Stuckist net' - 'one in which the hardware and protocols remain open'. Read about it here.

Neo-Stuckists and Stickists
Not the accidental launch of the Stickists as above, but the real thing in Scotland. They say, 'Why 'Neo-Stuckists' instead of Stuckists? As Groucho Marx said "I wouldn't join any club that would have me as a member". Whilst we were inspired to a great degree by The Stuckists, we feel it would compromise our autonomy and integrity to wrap ourselves in the Stuckist flag.' See http://home.clara.net/stickist/home.html (link now defunct)

Stuckism in rock lyric, 2002
The honour for the first in this department may well go to the group Half Man Half Biscuit on their album Cammell Laird Social Club (2002). The track If I Had Possession Over Pancake Day begins:

"Outside Goldsmith's, coughing up blood -
Turner Prize judge gasps, "Christ! That's good!
"Leave it as it is, it'll get first place -
"We'll call it 'A Full Shift at the Coal Face'.
"Oh well, you're neither a Stuckist or a Y.B.A
"And you're no longer a miner as of today".

30 second sample of the track on Last.fm (player top right of page). The full song is on YouTube. Full lyrics on Half Man Half Biscuit Lyrics Project.

Non-Stuckist artist described as "Stuckist" in style, 21.1.04
Fisun Guner in
The Evening Standard said the work of Sophie von Hellerman (at one time a Charles Saatchi favourite, but never a member of the Stuckists) "seemed more Stuckist than Saatchi".

"Stuckist" enters Wikipedia, 1 January 2005
Entry here by Kaihsu as a redirect to Charles Thomson changed seconds later by Kaihsu as a redirect to Stuckism.

A "Classic Stuckist", 24 September 2005
Under "Poetry and Culture" in 3 Quarks Daily, on the subject of "Poetry and limitations of the ironic mode in the new millennium, Part 2", Australian poet Peter Nicholson wrote:
"Wagner says it is essential to have a knowledge of the art that has brought us to the present moment. This has nothing to do with burying one’s head in the sand—being a classic Stuckist—and everything to do with knowing the good that is not interred with bones, the art that stands as a challenge to everything we achieve and which it is our duty to honour—or what will be left that that will be worthwhile?"

Stuckist Atheism, 31 December 2005
An article in the Daily Telegraph Our troops don't need a tieless Tony by Vicki Woods introduces this concept to the world (12th paragraph) :
"In a year when militant "faith groups" are making the godless feel rather leery about their stuckist atheism..."

Stuckist suits, 15 January 2006
The most extraordinary new use of the word Stuckist occured in the following phrase: "Stuckist suits" in an article in The Independent. What exactly is a Stuckist suit? (One made from paintings perhaps?). The surrounding text, in an article about a classical concert at Shoreditch Town Hall, provides little more elucidation:
"In Shoreditch Town Hall, a venue so intimately associated with the art world that you can almost smell Tracey Emin's bedlinen, chic geeks in Stuckist suits rubbed shoulders with college girls in biker boots."
Read it here.

Pizza Stuckists, 18 March 2006
Now you can be a pizza Stuckist, if you want, according to
"Side orders: Artful eating" by Caroline Stacey in The Independent on Sunday food and drinks review [link broken] also available at Highbeam:
"It's not your usual quiche and carrot cake at the independently owned restaurant underneath Sale's arts centre. Pizzas come topped with Thai curry or Chinese duck; pizza Stuckists can stick to margarita, salads or pasta bakes from the pizza oven. Waterside Arts Centre, Sale, Cheshire (0161 962 6666) CCA Café "

Stuckist British sense of fair play, 30 September 2006
Vicki Woods in The Daily Telegraph:
"I always feel a bit uncomfortable when I'm on the same side as a baying mob (the stuckist British sense of fair play being so powerful)"

Stuckist everyman, 7 December 2006
By Chris Ziegler from OC [Orange County] Weekly:
"Local lovefest with unbreakable post-ponk from Geisha Girls, Fall-go-gothisms from former cover features Squab and the stuckist everyman rock & roll of the Thingz, who play the kind of nourishing grawge crud you can eat three times a day, like potatoes or pizza."

Defined as new word, 27 August 2007
John Ayto, editor of The Oxford Dictionary of Modern Slang, defines new
words in The Times, including Stuckism (on the cover of Times 2 magazine).

BBC's stuckism, 31 August 2007
A post on the BBC Newsnight
message board (post 132) criticised the laziness and stuckism the BBC is currently undergoing".

Gordon Brown accused of political stuckism, 4 November 2007
by Martin Ivens in The Sunday Times.

Conservapedia accused, 1 July 2008
"The 'much-needed alternative' (for conservative Christians) to Wikipedia gets a bit stuckist over bacterial evolution", says Charles Arthur, The Guardian technology blog.

Polly Toynbee uses "stuckist", 4 October 2008
Talking of the Labour party, Polly Toynbee says in The Guardian, "Fresh thinkers are needed, not the stuckists of more than a decade ago steeped in market idolatry.

"Response: We are not stuckists from 1997", 8 October 2008
Robert Philpot
in The Guardian refutes Polly Toynbee's article above.

Certain Labour party members under John Smith called "Stuckists", 29 July 2009
Alan Watkins in The Independent, talking of one tendency of the Labour party under John Smith, says, "
There was a small skirmish where the conservatives, what might be called the Stuckists, adopted the slogan One More Heave."

Morrisey the Stuckist, 20 December 2011
Sukhdev Sandhu in The Guardian:
"In 1983, when the Smiths first started playing shows outside Manchester, to stand up for ordinariness – as they did, most forcefully, with their name itself – was a bold statement. It seemed a refusal of the sartorial overload and yacht-rock opulence of most chart pop. Though I didn't have the language to articulate this at the time, it was also a political refusal, two-fingers-up to the Tory politicians who were in the middle of a brutalist makeover of the economy. Britain was being forced to change, to ride the shockwaves of neo-liberal modernisation. Finance – its boss-class internationalism and disregard for local mores, the stripy shirts of its Square Mile henchmen – was effecting a cultural shift towards market fundamentalism. By contrast, the Smiths were the enemy, Stuckists who clung to old ways."

"To stuckist" - invention of a verb

Stuckisting it out, 27 March 2006
The first known, recorded use of the word Stuckist as a verb occurred at 9.44 am on 27 March 2006:
"fuckkkk im coming to new york this summer we totally have to meet to stuckist it out!!!"
It was on the web site myspace.com and was a message from "underage stuckists" (who is named as "Vanuata, female, 16 years old") to Liv, who is "female, 16 years old, Squaresville, Pennsylvania, United States". However, a subsequent message was sent to us at 8.37 am on 28 March 2006 from "underage stuckists", stating, "i said "'lets stuckist it out!'' im rebekah maybury i think i deserve good credit for that." (Rebekah is 15 years old.)
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Stuck but not Stuckism

Britartists who are stuck (or not)

Damien Hirst
"I don't ask myself why. If I did ask myself why, I woudn't be able to find out the answers, and I think that's why a lot of people get stuck."
- Damien Hirst, Observer (14 Feb 99)

Tracey Emin
"I really cannot carry on living with all that stuff stuck inside of me."
- Tracey Emin (Art Now, Taschen)

Gary Hume
"I do shout at people to help me, dead people and live people, when I'm stuck... I'll be shouting at Picasso, or at Warhol: "Get down here, I'm stuck"... Or when I'm shouting at Duchamp, I mean, that's a complete nightmare... I feel as though I'm stuck as myself, and that's the horror... I'd be stuck with myself..."
- Gary Hume, interior decorator (tate: the art magazine, summer 1999)
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Having stuck to make progress

Matthew Robinson
"I've stuck with drawing and I'm getting somewhere."
- Mathew Robinson, mature painting student, Camberwell Art College (16.3.00)
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Critics on artists being stuck (or not)

Matthew Collings on Lucien Freud
"There's something stuck... about the world of (Lucien) Freud"
- Matthew Collings (p55, 'Blimey!' 1997, 21 Publishing Ltd)

Tom Lubbock on Anthony Julius
"He concludes that much contemporary art has got itself stuck in a cult of empty negation and should get itself unstuck."
- Tom Lubbock reviews 'Transgressions: the Offences of Art' by Anthony Julius, Evening Standard 14.10.02.

Rachel Campbell-Johnson on Keith Tyson
"The Turner Prize may be in a bit of a rut. But Tyson certainly won't get stuck." (Tyson won the Turner Prize in 2002.)
- Rachel Campbell-Johnson, The Times 9.12.02
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Various people getting stuck

Carl Jung
"I only know one thing: when my conscious mind no longer sees any possible road ahead and consequently gets stuck, my unconscious psyche will react to the unbearable standstill."
- Carl Jung, The Aims of Psychotherapy

Charlotte Joko Beck
"...there is no way that is superior to relationships in helping us see where we're stuck and what we're holding on to. As long as our buttons are pushed, we have a great chance to learn and grow. So a relationship is a great gift, not because it makes us happy - it often doesn't - but because any intimate relationship, if we view it as practice, is the clearest mirror we can find.”
- Charlotte Joko Beck,
Everyday Zen

Mrs M
"I don't want to be stuck in Thurrock all my life."
- Mrs M, Thurrock (1999)

Rail Staff rallied round to help the stranded crew of an impounded ship from Georgia in the former Soviet Union.
"The crew had not been paid and had pretty well run out of food and provisions. They had dropped their cargo of molasses and had been stuck ever since."
- Railnews (Sept 99)

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"Thanks to PD, I have gained 2.3 extra inches on my penis, I'm a new man! Thanks PD!"
-Carl T.
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- spam email received by Stuckism

Nigella Lawson on Shepherd's Bush
TV wonder-cook Nigella Lawson now lives with mega-collector Charles Saatchi in Belgravia, but used to live in Queen's Park which she contrasts with "more violent" Shepherd's Bush - "They keep saying it is supposed to be up and coming but it is just stuck."
- Evening Standard (14.11.02)
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Thoughts on being stuck

The origin of the word 'Stuckism' is described above and was originally poetic in its inspiration. However, like poetry it has come to reveal deeper meanings as time has gone on. It stands, for example, in stark contrast to the Western concept of progress = something- to-always-be-desired = new = better (which has led to a manic concentration on more/bigger/smaller/faster cars/videos/records/CDs not to mention trashier shopping malls/food outlets/fashion.

So a deeper level of Stuckism is that continual 'progress' is not only not always good, but can actually be, paradoxically, a deterioration, and that sometimes the best thing is to do nothing (which is also a statement and may require perception and awareness), to be in the eyes of so-called progressives 'stuck'.

A classic case of this is 'progressive' intensive, chemical farming as opposed to 'stuck' organic vegetables, where the original method has proved to be better than the'improvement'.

We would of course make a similar comparison between the 'fast food' junk-art of the conceptual Brit Art school and the organic art of Stuckism.

It is surprising how often the word 'stuck' occurs in everyday conversation and texts, nearly always in a pejorative sense. We would like to highlight the use of this concept and also to consider whether the assumption of its negativeness is appropriate in the circumstances in which it occurs.

Rather than feeling stuck and therefore a sense of frustration that one cannot move forward, it might well be better to adopt the attitude that the cirumstance is a good one to be in, that it is in fact quite acceptable to be stuck and to do nothing, and that this is a healthy and unavoidable part of life.

It might then be found not only that one is able to take a perspective previously not noticed, but that circumstances change of their own volition to provide the right answer.
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Contributions for this page giving examples and mentions of Stuckism should be sent to stuckism@yahoo.co.uk. Please give if possible source, date and, if relevant, URL. Indicate whether you want to be credited and your email address included, or not.

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