‘Old punks never die… they just get into gardening and grow veg!’ The ‘do-it-yourself’ punk ethic still runs strong in Pete Polanyk and Sue Nolan’s world.
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At the tender age of 15 Pete Polanyk saw The Sex Pistols and got inspired. By the time he met Sue Nolan in Birmingham in the early ’80s Pete was playing bass guitar and producing his post-punk fanzine Ded Yampy. Originally conceived as “an i-D-type magazine”, it reflected his tongue-in-cheek sense of humour and cheeky creativity, sending up the straight beer-drinking pub culture that surrounded him in his native Coventry. These were the days when cut-and-paste meant using actual scissors and glue, when Letraset was king and photocopies ruled. These were the days when i-D magazine was held together with staples.
Sue’s love of the social whirl got the better of her and sent her south to London. Pete soon followed, moving into graphic design at the London College of Printing and taking gardening jobs to supplement his income, while Sue studied upholstery and furnishing at the London College of Furniture, changing direction a few years later for an English degree followed by an MA at Goldsmiths.
The creativity just kept on flowing. In 1999 Pete started producing another fanzine, Steroid Abuse, and for the next few years he and Sue ran the London club of the same name. DJ-ing and recording as One Deck Pete, part of “One Deck & Popular”, Pete released singles on Black County Route Records. Since then he’s been using samples from shortwave radio and recording under the name Madtone (listen to your right).
Moving into their house on a hill a few years ago the pair inherited a large overgrown garden complete with knee-high weeds, and so Pete’s most recent creation, Weeds Up To Me Knees, was born. Bringing together his eclectic musical tastes with his lifelong love of gardening, this blog is Pete’s progression from the fanzine, both informative and amusing, and embracing the objective of no-spend gardening. Pete’s garden is impressive; there are raised vegetable beds built from old scaffold boards and large, old stone sinks densely planted with kitchen herbs and flowers. Found objects are plentiful here, used as containers or just for decoration. An old window makes a sturdy cold frame. There is an excellent compost area and a very good pond, all created for free. Everything here has been found and recycled, plants have been swapped or purchased cheaply and much has been started from seed. Following my lead Pete has recently started growing biodynamically, following the magical powers of the moon.
This interest in astronomy and astrology, time and space, and the sky with all her planets and stars is also clearly visible in Sue’s work; her creative energy now drives her company, Enlightened Cushions. Quality curled feather cushions sit inside pure silk and cotton linen covers. Planetary-inspired luxury home furnishings, her Constellation Collection features 19th century illustrations, reminiscent of lovely old tarot cards, beautifully printed on silk with carefully selected Swarovski crystals laid out in the pattern of the respective constellation across the image; the attention to detail is stunning. Other collections include Descartes impression of the Universe, Stonehenge, and Pagan gods such as Bridget, the horned woman of Wicklow, my personal favourite. Lush and luxurious and each one telling a tale, every home should have one.
Images from top: Fanzines and cushions; Sue and Pete in the 1980′s; Old teapot, now a little planter; stirring the comfrey liquid feed; Constellation cushions; Cassiopeia cushion; Constellation cushions; an old sink makes a wonderful herb planter; Page from Ded Yampy fanzine.