In the world of late 1970s political art on record sleeves, Gee Vaucher makes Jamie Reid’s ransom notes and safety pins, look distinctly polite.
Her stark, detailed, black and white, some would say, doom-ladened artwork was used to accompany releases by the band Crass and their affiliates including, the Poison Girls and A Flux of Pink Indians. She cut no slack in graphically illustrating the groups distrust, or even total revulsion at the government; the Thatcher government, any government, all governments, but especially the Thatcher one. All of this made a lot of sense, Crass were branded as an Anarchist collective, they weren’t the casual “fashion anarchists” who dipped in and out of anarchy as the mood or the T-Shirt took them, but proper alternative lifestyle artists, who saw no need for government and who lived exactly as they preached.
“’Anarchists’ wasn’t a title we gave ourselves. It was something that was given to us, and we thought we’d run with it”, Gee told The Guardian in 2014
Born just after the second World War, and raised on the borders of Essex and London, Gee met up with Penny Rimbaud at Art College in the 1960s. Penny and Gee became bandmates, housemates, co-workers and all round besties, founding an “open house” on the Essex borders as a space to live, work and collaborate with others. By 1977, Rimbaud and Vaucher were inspired and excited about the Sex Pistols and Punk Rock, and so decided to put their energy into another band. Vaucher, often thought of as the silent member of Crass, simply because she didn’t play on the records, instead took on the mantle of the sleeve artist, who’s lasting impression was easily as “loud” as anything on the record inside.
“We thought it was a great statement, the Pistols’ statement. Because what was happening in England at the time was just diabolical. And being older made a lot of difference”.
We think Gee’s probably right, it was the “being older” that really did make the difference; Crass created a really important link between 1970s Punk, and 1960s counter-culture. Gee and Penny still live at Dial House, and although Gee never sells her originals, you can now buy selected prints from her at exitstensil press
There is so much more to Gee than Crass record covers; her work, and her attitude continue to be not just an inspiration, but an absolute masterclass in living on the outside. Gee Vaucher – if we may be so bold….punk girl salute coming your way!
Further reading at TheQuietus.com