The Gallery of Unfortunate Art

‘That Which Is Whispered Can Never Be Heard’ by Mae Not Waving. Sellotape on cardboard, 2010. £700.

A recent graduate of Mrs Davison’s reception class, Mae Not Waving specialises in monolithic, slab-like structures that are difficult to carry home. Her huge cereal boxes, with toilet-roll tubes and yogurt pots stuck on with way too much masking tape, symbolise the pointlessness of junk modelling when one would rather be playing in the Wendy house. ‘It’s a squirrel,’ she has said of her latest work. ‘Look, that bit’s its head and that’s its tail. Are you blind?’

‘Yeah, that’ll do. Whatever’ by Charlie Not Waving. Paper on card, 2008. £450

One of the Young Turks of the ‘Art Averse’ scene, Charlie Not Waving burst into our collective consciousness in 2006 with the taboo-breaking ‘Potato Print That Looks Like A Pair of Tits’. Since then he has continued to push artistic boundaries, with crude cartoons of flesh-eating zombies, and teachers sitting on toilets. The festive centrepiece from his ‘Can I Play on the Wii now?’ collection of two years ago, ‘Yeah, that’ll do…’ is perhaps best summed up in the artist’s own words: ‘Art & craft is for gaylords.’

‘Kangaroo Flange’ by Not Waving But Ironing. Karate badge on cotton, 2010. £1,400.

A simple scarlet and white karate badge is given a haunting quality thanks to an accompanying aural soundtrack, which repeats, ‘I don’t believe it, it’s happened again! The bloody thread has got caught up in itself. Now I’ve got to start over. I hate sewing. Sod it! SOD IT!’.

‘I wanted to reach out to other mothers with piss-poor fine-motor skills,’ Not Waving But Ironing says. ‘Each knot represents a five-point increase in my blood pressure.’ The artist is currently on secondment to the Victoria & Albert Museum, working on the restoration of their 15th-century Persian textiles.



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58 responses to “The Gallery of Unfortunate Art

  1. Having spent pointless hours sewing on name tapes because I thought the school said no iron on ones this had me in stiches!

  2. Oh this is pure genius.

    I too have an artist in residence whose work has an uncanny resemblance to “Yeah, that’ll do”. He follows the “Can’t be arsed with this” school and contracts out magazine-cutting tasks to his mother before completing his masterpieces.

    • notwavingbutironing

      How very sensible of him. I read that Damien Hirst doesn’t actually create his artworks – he has a team of minions to do it for him. And he’s a gazillionaire.

  3. Brilliant. I love it.
    After the first time I stopped doing nametapes and bought indelible markers to write names on inside and on labels.
    I also glued a Cub badge on with superglue as emergency measure and it’s still there.

    • notwavingbutironing

      Yes, I’ve got a pen too – they’re flaming brilliant. Superglue is a great tip. If only they could invent something similar to attach buttons.

  4. Excellent – I love the critiques. To see more of this sort of thing, take a look at Kinbote’s Commentary website:

    • notwavingbutironing

      God, I could make a living doing this sort of thing! If I actually knew anything at all about art, that is…

  5. Social_Butterfly

    LMAO!! I think you’re on to a winner with those masterpeices and so reasonably priced… I think you should up them…

    I tried to sew once… My mum told I needed to learn to do these things if I was ever going to survive without her.. crock of pants.. I sewed my top to my jeans (that I was wearing) and stabbed myself so many times I’m surprised I didn’t pass out with the amount of bloodloss… I have never sewn since and have survived perfectly fine… 😀

    Always, SB xx

    • notwavingbutironing

      Crock of pants, indeed, SB. My mother was the same. But tell me, Mum, why would I darn my tights, when I can easily buy a new pair made by little Cambodian slave children?
      (Okay, so she may have a point.)

  6. big {g}. yeah my kids are very good at churning out those ‘I can’t be arsed’ home-made birthday cards.

    There I am, wailing ‘you’re going to a party, we’ve got to take SOMETHING!’ Until I concede ‘oh ok, just do one between all three of you.’ The result is always a pencil/biro-scribbled picture of birthday balloons, usually drawn on the back of the card, with Hapy burthdy written underneath it. It must be a boy thing cos all the girls I know produce home-made birthday cards that contain more than one colour, with pictures on, glitter, ribbons and THOUGHT. And everyone knows it’s the THOUGHT that counts.

  7. P.s. you forgot to mention the ‘My whole world is Brown’ art movement. You know, where they use every colour in the rainbow and swirl it around until the paper disintegrates into a puddle of poo-coloured wrinkles.

    • notwavingbutironing

      I think it is a male-brain thing, truth be told. But I still force my son to do it. Thing is, his relatives can spot a piece of reluctant art from a mile away. The thank-you letter where you can see the tear stains, the scribbled flower drawing where my son has almost thrust the pencil through the paper with frustration…

  8. OMG this bought back horrible memories of sewing the bleeding school badge on school blazers. I could never get it straight. Would Mae Not Waving consider an offer of a bag of Haribos for ‘That which is whispered can never be heard”? It is a sublime piece of artwork.

    • notwavingbutironing

      I see you are a connoisseur, Previously. She’d probably settle for one or two Mini Cheddars. But I’m her agent, and I need my 30 per cent.

  9. LOL ladies! But isn’t is equally as soul-destroying when the wee things hand their carefully thought out and painstakingly crafted piece of art for your considered opinion and all you can see is a slight resemblance to something you saw on ‘Casualty’ last night?
    The ‘thing’s I’ve had to put on display for the world and his wife to see, for the sake of placating small feelings would make even Tracy Emin ROFL.
    Love “squirrel” btw – truly inspired.

    • notwavingbutironing

      Your kids could be onto something there though, Debs – think of whatisname with the body-parts sculptures (see how much I know about art?).

  10. Lou

    Wrap ’em up I’m taking the lot!

    Actually, in the ’80’s I was a Corporate Art Consultant (what sort of title is that!!!) I had BIG shoulder pads and a Vauxhall Vectra Estate …IT WAS THE 8o’s OK!!? You would be good at that job, – look for ads in the Guardian. Sigh, those were the days…

    • notwavingbutironing

      A proper job in the 1980s? You must have been v v young, Ms Archer! Or the country air has kept you remarkably well preserved.
      Did you zoom around with the windows wound down, and Peter Gabriel’s Sledgehammer blasting out? Or maybe Labour of Love by Hue & Cry? Ah, takes me back…

      • Lou

        Formaldehyde is not for the exclusive use of Mr Hirst y’know…I was a child-worker, fresh from Uni…more likely listening to Japan, the Bee Gees and Barbra Streisand…..(she was NOT too old to play Yentl!)…

        Oh I feel so much better for getting that out!

  11. I think that Littlest is from the same movement as Mae Not Waving, especially in relation to her work’s non-portability. The production of Death of Easter (mediums used – black paint, chocolate packaging, and loose sequins) incorporated a performance element in which she walked to school, solemnly, carrying a black box which shed glitter from the prominent egg-shaped hole in the top.

    • notwavingbutironing

      Oh, the symbolism! The hole representing the void at the heart of our secular society, the shedding glitter the last vestiges of spirituality, cast off into the ether…. How much are you asking for it?

  12. Penny

    Priceless. I have been known to retrieve cereal box / loo roll creations from the bin having been displayed for several agonising weeks.
    Welling big eyes peering into the bin…..” How DID that get in there?” says I incredulously – Bloody Hell !

    • notwavingbutironing

      Similar events here this weekend, when my daughter saw two of her ‘paintings’ on the recycling pile. Oh, the hurt in her eyes…

  13. I’m buying the lot of them. Cheque in the post.

  14. Hi Not Waving – Chaarles Saatchi is a felow Belgravia resident I’ll be sure to collar him next time I see him and mention your extraordinary work.

    You kind of beat me to it – I have enjoyed your blog so much I would like to give you an award ! There a few things to do – entirely optional if you fancy, no pritt stick involved. xx

    • notwavingbutironing

      Oh thank you, Belgravia! I will make it my next mission. Tho’ I am having ‘blog guilt’ lately and thinking I should really be trying to find some work instead of writing random shite about cardboard boxes.

  15. Inspired. Totally inspired.

    At my school we had to have our initials sewn in 6 inch high loopy stitching on our science overalls. I always felt sorry for Veronica Durose.

    Hey – I voted for you for The MADs funniest blog. You waz robbed.

    • notwavingbutironing

      I wondered whether it was you who’d nominated me, DB. Thank you so much – very flattering! And you wuz DEFINITELY robbed of best writer, and I won’t have been alone in voting for you for that.
      Although I am thrilled that Stickhead at the hilarious Slightly South of Sanity is up for Butlin’s Choice best blog AND funniest. Somehow, I can’t see her being Butlin’s cup of tea (and I mean that as a compliment) but hope she walks the ‘Funniest’ category.

    • veronica durose

      So who are you then, baby?

      • veronica durose

        Actually, two glasses of wine and enough jokes from the family to script a comedy show later I’ve just managed to get over the shock of seeing my maiden name come up in a search engine in this context. I guess you would have to be called something like Sarah Tess Diamond to get a similar impact these days. Thanks again, Alison. Cheers.

      • veronica durose

        I was no good at sewing either! (Neither did I go on to make my living as a stripper/pole dancer or high class prostitute – so who says life is determined by your name)! xxx

      • notwavingbutironing

        Hi Veronica – see the bottom of this page for a reply from Deer Baby.

  16. We have given up on Thank You letters entirely, and birthday cards are now on the critically endangered list. It’s a toss up sometimes between proffering the hasty biro’d fooball on the back of a parking ticket and the ‘oh I’ve left the card on the kitchen counter – they’ll be so cross with me after all that effort – what am I like?’ And yet I still refuse to actually buy cards. House full of totally woeful cardboard box atrocities. Unfortunately made by me. Recently. Outsider Art? No. Just crap. By the way Damian Hirst is crap too. I just don’t care me.

    • notwavingbutironing

      Ah, Madame, how we missed you! I take it your holiday has mellowed your mood and you will be blogging from now on about bunnies and your turn manning a stall at the church bazaar. No?

  17. ELS

    Please. Marry me or at the very least come and live in my kitchen and make me laugh like this about 18 times a day.

    I will pay you. In cash, booze or cheese.

    Or all three.

  18. Anita

    I haven’t laughed this much in ages! I do think that Mae Not Waving has a bit of competition, must be in the genes! My eldest has insisted I KEEP all the recycling so she can create more and more masterpieces. It has come down to her having her own recycling bin in her room where she is collecting cereal packets, toilet roll tubes and yoghurt pots etc. You cannot move in her room without ‘accidentally’ squashing something!

    When I was little I made a cactus pin cushion for my Mum which I was immensly proud of. I got the impression that Mum was rather embarrassed by it ( due to it looking particularly phallic) and kept hiding it in the cupboard despite my vain attempt to search it out and put it back on display.

    I’m not bitter…

    • notwavingbutironing

      Bless you for visiting! As you can see, my English degree is being put to good use. I really must try harder to get some freelance work.
      Do you still have the cactus pincushion? I think a photo must be posted on Facebook! xx

  19. Have you been in here with your camera… although to be fair, whilst Son’s artistic creations resemble your offspring’s in style and substance, his source of inspiration does tend to differ… in that it’s only ever about guns! But presumably everybody’s child makes little guns to go with the gingerbread men he’s baking don’t they?

    • notwavingbutironing

      I think Gregg’s are missing a trick. I am sure they would flog a few more gingerbread men if they were carrying giant Kalishnikovs. x

  20. Just willies in our house. Artistic willies. Gingerbread men with willies, apple pies with willies. Guns are a bit like willies tho’. Not as funny.

    Bunnies with willies, home-made jam with willies, congratulations on your new baby girl……with willies………………

  21. notwavingbutironing

    Willies! Willies! WILLIES!
    Sorry, got a bit carried away…

  22. dragondays

    It’s all the fault of Blue Peter … I find it soooo hard to put finished loo rolls, cereal packets and Fairy Liquid bottles in the bin. And don’t even mention egg boxes – the things you can do with those!

    • notwavingbutironing

      But best of all were miniature LPs made out of After Eights wrappers. My dollies had an amazing record collection back in the day…

  23. This is hilarious! I am roaring. Your son’s work is on a par with my son’s feelings about craft. As for stitching….. I still have a half completed Springer Spaniel-that-looks-like-it’s-had-a-stroke-because-I-can’t-count-stitches in my drawers. It was for my dad’s 60th and he’s 62……

    And yes, you were robbed, you should be up there with me. We could go to the awards ceremony and smash the place up big style. Thanks for the big up though – as for Butlins. My lips are sealed. I’ve been asked to thank them and say nice things. As I said, my lips are sealed……..

    • notwavingbutironing

      Just smile and wave, Stickhead, smile and wave… REALLY hope you get it. There should be more blogs about topiary boobs – you are forging a path for the rest of us. x

  24. I might start some topiary boobs of my own. Or topiary cocks. Now there’s a thought…..

    You can do classes painting with your menstrual blood (I kid yee not) so how about ‘exploring your intimate form through the medium of foliage – with specialist tution on pruning to encourage erect growth. Light lunch included. No pets’?

    I think I shall enjoy teaching that……


    (Smiling and waving, smiling and waving….occasionally nodding like Princess Di).

  25. Loved this; but which is worse: a child who thinks it has made something beautiful and requires it be kept for posterity or one who takes little interest merely going through the motions because it is expected? Eldest has only ever cried over Art homework and eventually decided that taking the easy option was best for her: when the same asignment was set two years in a row she rubbed out the date and wrote the new one… Youngest on the other hand rarely finishes anything but has an enormous collection of projects on the go; it is indeed hard to find any loo rolls or boxes I can throw away! Her room is (apparently) an artistic tip.

  26. Hi-larious! love it. I actually like sewing, yeah, sad isn’t it, but the karate badge made me wince. Love the price tags. If bloody only!
    Thanks for coming by my blog – what a great title yours is, and a fab blog too. Even if blog is a silly word.

  27. I thought I recognised you at the V & A – it’s my local and the food is tip top too !! I have been toying with the idea of scanning in my oeuvres from life drawing class but I thought I might wait for the Christie’s valuation first.

    As ever – inspired xx

  28. You should really make a video installation too entitled something along the lines of ‘Art on the Edge – A Study’. Then just film all the parents on the last day of term as they try and get six weeks worth of cardboard sculptures and a PE kit home balanced on top of their buggies. A wailing toddler being squashed by ‘Anderson shelter – a Modern Recreation in Mixed Materials’ would be a bonus.

  29. You’ve made me feel better about my own son’s can’t-be-arsed-really approach to art at school. He recently won a merit certificate for ‘trying harder at art’. Note ‘harder’ not ‘hard’. His response (he’s 6): “you don’t have to like it, you just have to say you like it and then you get one of these’ [holds up merit certificate]. That statement is art in itself, really.

  30. Hi Veronica – if you’ve come back. I was a Redland girl. I can’t give out my real name!! We did Science together. How the devil are you?

    Better not use Not Waving But Ironing’s page as Friends Reunited!!

    off to google myself

    • veronica durose

      Cryptic …

      I thought you were Alison R but maybe not. Fiona C?

      Hate to pick fault girl, but for someone who doesn’t want to give out her name you’ve been a bit free and easy about mine! It’s like the film where a guy is made to live out his life (unbeknownst) on film and the film producer turned out to be a privacy conscious recluse. (A bit). Anyway … not sure if we suffered biology together , physics or chemistry! Were you one of the girls who stuffed bits of wire down a socket and caused an explosion in physics? That was the week before I started. I just got there in time for the class telling off and warning afterwards!

      Perhaps you could reach me on friends reunited and we can unpick a few stitches together in private rather than by blog. (Before I name names …. says I, waving devilish tail maliciously in air)…

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