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Twitter sensation Cold War Steve art goes on display

Martin Rowson and Al Murray at The Social gallery

19 October, 2018 — By Tom Foot

Brexit: It’s that ‘Let’s go back to the 1970s’ feeling, says Christopher Spencer

HIGH-profile cartoonists and comedians say his absurdist collages place him among Britain’s best satirists.

But the creator of Steve McFadden’s Cold War, a collection of photo-edited compositions featuring well-known faces made only his first public appearance on Monday evening as his work went on display at a bar in Fitzrovia.

Christopher Spencer, 43, has seen fans flock to his Cold War Steve account on Twitter, where he posts the collages, usually set against a slightly mundane 1970s or 1980s backdrop.

They often include world leaders and always feature East­Enders actor Steve McFadden, known for playing Phil Mitchell in the soap. With a growing buzz around his pictures, Guardian cartoonist Martin Rowson and comedian Al Murray were among those at the launch of his first exhibition at The Social, in Little Portland Street.

Mr Spencer told the New Journal: “I think Butlins in 1982 is a good setting for our current world leaders to mingle. Having Trump in the White House, it’s the same as having Les Dennis in the White House. These two worlds, of politics and celebrity, are blurring together more and more each day, into a kind of scary vortex.”

Christopher Spencer appeared at Monday’s launch

Alongside McFadden, Danny Dyer, David Cameron, Kim Jong-un, Donald Trump and Nigel Farage often appear.

“I like abandoned 1970s caravans,” said Mr Spencer. “I like the images of them. They have that relic of the 1970s feeling to them. It is what people are going back to with Brexit. It’s that ‘Let’s go back to the 1970s’ feeling, boiled potatoes, Fray Bentos [pies in a tin]. “That’s the shit we’re going to get – but it’s ok because at least it’s British.”

Mr Spencer, whose day job is in the public sector, said the main goals of Cold War Steve were to make a stand against Brexit and halt the rise of the Far-right.

“Where I’m from in Birmingham, there is a large Polish community,” he said. “And a lot of my friends are Polish. They are here working and contributing.

“The thing about Brexit is it has just legitimised vile opinions about immigration. It is mainly just ignorance, finding someone to blame for something.”

Mr Spencer makes most of his images on the Pixomatic app – mainly during bus journeys to work. The rough nature of his cut-outs is important to maintain “spontaneity”, he said.

At Monday’s launch, at The Social, Little Port- land Street, Cold War Steve fans included the Guardian cartoonist Martin Rowson and TV funnyman Al Murray.

On the exhibition, Mr Spencer said: “Walking in and seeing things on the wall was just bizarre. Then watching it fill up with people, that was really strange.

“I’ve always said the followers make the whole thing, the comments they come out with, it’s often really insightful.

“I was on Twitter before and I got two retweets I’d be really pleased, and I know now I’m spoiled. I always make sure I get back to everyone but it’s getting more and more difficult.

“I think people feel like they are in a club, where they are going to find people with the same-mind set. That’s rather than get furious, and rant – you can laugh at it.”

The exhibition is on until December at The Social – for more information visit http://www.thesocial.com/gallery/

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