Unfuck The System Artwork Workshop LandWorks Devon


It’s April 1963, one crowded room in Hackney and Johnny has just been born. Two elder sisters, their father (his part time abuser), Johnny’s Mother (who he would die for) all squeezed in.

On his eighth birthday they flee the abuse, finding sanctuary but still the same grinding poverty. Johnny, clothed in hand-me downs is taunted and bullied, girl’s trainers and jeans!

It’s scarred him deep, resentment is building, social workers, truant officers, police and suddenly a spell in a young offender’s, short sharp shock, the boot camp, sharpens his juvenile mind, setting him totally against authority.

“F#ck The System”

It is ‘war’, unnoticed by most of us, he’s radicalised but not perhaps as we consider it today. Johnny believes it, crippled by thoughts of society’s rejection… He has nothing; but desperately wants in.

Cocaine provides it all…. Wealth, holidays for his mum, a house…

But still no stake; no matter how much he justifies selling ‘A bit of chillax’ to those whose life he actually craves. Foolishly, he takes the risk to supply their ‘recreational lifestyle’.

Nike trainers, his designer this and that. They’re expensive keys which still don’t let him in.

Then comes prison… six years; then a few months out before an eleven year stretch and now this one, a seven. Taking him into his fifties.

Years locked away, days banged up, down the block, dirty protest, broken; not yet, still the fight is on.

“F#ck The System.”

How does this all end… I don’t know, we’re not there yet, he’s 54 this month.

I do know the ‘war’ did not need to start; we hear the same stories of exclusion, anti-authority, again and again…

But there is often a window of opportunity for change, easily missed and I accept for many it’s a very small window. But it is at that moment we should act… support, encourage and respect change, not exclude and break people.

Go go Johnny go, Johnny B. Goode….