The world according to Cold War Steve

A controversial artist who rose to prominence while capturing the mood of ‘Brexit Britain’ is bringing 20 of his politically-charged pieces to Warrington.

Christopher Spencer – better known as ‘Cold War Steve’ – has teamed up with the Pyramid Arts Centre for an exhibition which will launch at the beginning of October.

The Birmingham artist originally started creating his surreal, satirical and sometimes shocking collages as a coping mechanism. But his ‘hellscapes’ quickly began to pick up a huge following on Twitter. Since then, Cold War Steve’s work has featured on the cover of Time Magazine, on a billboard installation at Glastonbury Festival and in two books for Thames & Hudson.

Now Warrington people can see what all the fuss is about when 20 of the artworks are displayed at the Pyramid between 1 and 22 October. It is Culture Warrington’s first exhibition of 2021 after all the challenges of the pandemic.

Christopher’s latest and ‘most uncompromising’ work yet focuses on the UK response to the Covid-19 pandemic and the showcase is called You, Me and Cold War Steve: The International Exhibition of the People 2021.

All the people in his unflattering pieces are political or public figures that have an arguably ridiculous element to them. Christopher took on the moniker Cold War Steve as EastEnders actor Steve McFadden can usually be found as the ‘everyman’ in the pieces – looking on in disgust at the scenes in front of him.

The exhibition comes with a warning as some people may find his work outrageous or upsetting. Others see it as thought-provoking and hilarious but whatever your politics, the pieces are guaranteed to provoke a reaction.

Leah Biddle, Cultural Manager at Culture Warrington – the charity that runs Pyramid, Parr Hall and Warrington Museum & Art Gallery, said: “We are delighted to welcome audiences back to the Pyramid Arts Centre for our first exhibition of 2021. It’s been a challenging 18 months with a significantly reduced cultural offer but this autumn and winter introduces a new diverse programme of visual and performing arts.

“Cold War Steve’s latest exhibition presents a bold and challenging body of work which takes a damning look at the current state of things and the people in charge. But the artist’s interpretation of the pandemic highlights the stark reality we have all faced in the past 18 months.”

The Cold War Steve exhibition will run alongside a display by comic artist Ste Kilb, who is better known by his pseudonym Waspdodger. The Great Sankey resident’s work is described as observations of life through a filmmaker Richard Linklater filter.

Leah said: “Waspdodger’s exhibition will kick-start a new programme showcasing Warrington talent at the Pyramid. We feel it’s important to provide a platform for the area’s home-grown talent and Ste’s surreal but very funny comic art is a perfect accompaniment to Cold War Steve’s work.

Ste added: “Cold War Steve’s darker tone during the coronavirus era matches the mood of the country better than most cultural records will. His work is still hilarious but with an intense bleakness.

“I’m proud to have a display up during his exhibition. Initially this whole thing was meant to happen in April before being cancelled due to the pandemic, and I hope it’s worth the year and half wait.”

You, Me and Cold War Steve: The International Exhibition of the People 2021 is at the Pyramid Arts Centre from 1 to 22 October. Tickets are free but must be pre-booked here.