Poppycock!: Exhibition Review

‘PoppyCock!’ by Sina Sparrow at The Weavers Factory

Let’s get the one negative point out of the way, The Weavers Factory website lied to me! It said it was a 10 minute walk from Greenfield train station, it was actually 18 minutes! But, saying that, it was a lovely sunny day and a nice walk, and if you have a car, then you are fine, you can just drive there. Besides from that little white lie, we had such a good day visiting The Weavers Factory in Uppermill, which currently houses ‘Poppycock!’ by artist Sina Sparrow.

NOTE: This is an over 18s exhibition and therefore an over 18s review!

The introduction to the gallery was lovely. It is a very welcoming place, with a beautiful garden at the back. The exhibition was split into three parts, which covered The Weavers Factory three floors. The ground floor was child friendly. This part of ‘PoppyCock!’ featured prints and t-shirts of female pop icons. Cher, Diana Ross, Cyndy Lauper, Grace Jones all don the walls and hanging t-shirts. They were drawn in a pop-art style, black dots with yellows, blues and red backgrounds. The whole exhibition was accompanied by music from 80s icons. Artist Sina Sparrow is also a DJ, so these classic tunes were on point. This 80s vibe really set the tone for the whole exhibition.

The first floor was like walking into a magazine/comic book strip, with illustrations and text surrounding you, all relating to pop culture. The comic book pages were drawn by Sparrow when he came out and needed an outlet to express himself. The story and images show the struggles of dating and the insecurities that come along with this. Separate stand alone drawings show snippets of modern dating – online and offline. The work reminded me of Andy Warhol, but mixed with Roy Lichtenstein.

It was then I saw my first penis (well not my first penis, I have seen one before, wow this is taking a weird turn!) The first of many in this exhibition, this penis was a drawing on a page in one of the zines Sina Sparrow creates. It was an illustration of a male torso to thigh, legs open, penis erect. But there were more dicks to see.

I have Googled whether you are allowed to show drawings of erect penises online but literally all I get was ‘How to manage your large penis,’ or ‘What size penis do women really want?’ or ‘Exposing yourself is illegal,’ – thanks Google! So I’m just going to go for it and hope that this post doesn’t get banned from the internet. Although to have something banned from the internet would be a pretty cool thing to say I managed!

As I looked up the stairs I was about the climb to the second floor, boom – huge erect penis at the top, looking over me as I walked towards it. What a fantastic placement for a piece of work! It was like this man at the end of the dick was a penis god! You walked towards his alter, to worship this man, who stood proud under an archway, under a spotlight. You climb the stairs to his heaven and pray to his huge penis!

At first, when I entered the second floor and was surrounded by drawings of naked men, all with erect penises, I had to laugh! ‘PoppyCock!’ is a shock at first, and humorous. Even the most serious person in the world must have, at some point, laughed at seeing a dick, right?

These huge illustrations of naked, erect men obviously make this a very sexually driven exhibition. Some butt naked, some with their trousers pulled down, one has his member poking out of his shorts, just there to say hi. Some have 80s style pubic hair, some have a shaven haven (is that mainly used to refer to women – not sure?)

But, this exhibition had a serious and quite emotional side to it. Each drawing was of an 80s gay icon, and each had it’s own blurb, to tell you their story. It aims to tell the real story of these men, rather than their porn story.

Scott O Hara. He was awarded the biggest dick in San Fransisco in 1980, he could also auto-fellatio (wowsers). But he died in 1998, from AIDS, aged only 36.

Jon King. He became famous as a gay porn star with the launch of the internet. He too died of AIDS, aged just 32.

Roman Ragazzi. He was the one we should all pray to, and he had the saddest story. Although it was said he hardly talked about it, he was repeatedly raped and abused as a child. Haunted by this, he committed suicide, aged 38.

What I found odd was that this very sexual, yet emotional, exhibition seemed weird in this very quaint, little, family village. Downstairs you can grab a tea and a biscuit in the garden, and upstairs – dicks galore. It’s like what was outside didn’t match what was inside. I’ve just found a metaphor here as it is the same with these porn stars. What they do on the outside, doesn’t reflect who they are on the inside!

Side note – Why do boys always draw dicks? I don’t know if this has anything to do with Sina Sparrow’s work, but do you remember growing up as a teen? Boys drew dicks everywhere! On the school tables, in their work books, permanent marker them on people’s skin if they had the chance. What is this male obsession with dicks?

Although the exhibition first comes across as humorous, shocking, and sexual, it aims to tell the real story of these men, all who have passed, most from either AIDS or suicide. It’s a shocking reality of what these men had to go through, with the lack of support for gay men back in the 80s. The whole exhibition, really does take you back to the 80s, exploring the decade of colour, power ballads, and the history of LGBT. So if you are over 18, and happy to walk 18 minutes from the train station (there are plenty of pubs along the way if you want to take a break) then you should definitely visit The Weavers Factory to see this. You’ll laugh and you may cry, and you’ll see a lot of dicks.

‘PoppyCock!’ by Sina Sparrow is on at The Weavers Factory from 3rd August to 1st September and is for over 18s only.

If anyone is upset by the images shown in this review then I can only apologise. However, you were warned!

Please note: This was a sponsored post

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