Pogues frontman Shane MacGowan is set to release his first-ever art book next month, opening the door to a treasure trove of sketches, paintings, self-portraits, handwritten lyrics, stories, and rare photographs.
"The Eternal Buzz and the Crock of Gold", which will be limited to 1,000 copies, provides a visual backdrop to MacGowan's eccentric music career.
The book was curated by MacGowan's wife Victoria Mary Clarke and is described as a "labor of love" for the famous Irish musician, featuring abstract snippets dating back to his childhood and taking audiences on a journey through six decades of revelry. The book also features 20 unpublished lyrics.
Clarke told IrishCentral that the book came about following a conversation with Johnny Depp, one of MacGowan's closest friends, during the production of the "Crock of Gold" documentary two years ago.
"Johnny asked me if Shane had any more drawings," Clarke told IrishCentral. "He actually has one of Shane's drawings on the wall at his place in France. He thought that we could animate the drawings for the film because [director] Julien Temple is really into animation.
Clarke later discovered more than 3,000 old sketches, drawings, and unpublished lyrics and stories stashed away in a box in her mother's attic and set about painstakingly piecing them together into a cohesive narrative.
"It took two years. Can you imagine how difficult it was with 3,000 pieces of paper?
"We were working in a small office, so we had them on the floor and we were just piling them up according to rough themes. We had a pile of erotic stuff, a pile of poetry, a pile of Pogues stuff, a pile of religious stuff. It was quite hard to organize it."
MacGowan told IrishCentral that he would start sketching whenever he received an inspiration, using items such as receipts, shopping lists, airplane sick bags, and napkins to map out his inner thoughts.
"He used to draw on the walls at home quite a lot, and doors," Clarke added.
Clarke said the discovery of the treasure trove of drawings, sketches, and hand-written lyrics was like " having a diary that comes to life".
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"It was really interesting because it had so much from our own life. It helped me to remember stuff that I'd totally forgotten. There was a lot of stuff done on Pogues tours, on airlines, and hotel stationery. I could see which hotel we were in at the time and see the itineraries from the tours."
The Pogues frontman drew inspiration from violent Hollywood movies, religion, Irish republicanism, immigration, and sex, with art critic Waldemar Januszczak claiming in the book's introduction that readers would probably see "the world record broken for the most fellated penises in one tome".
Januszczak writes that eccentric musicians often become mundane when they delve into the artistic world, forgetting their rebellious side and becoming "all respectable on us". Not Shane MacGowan, though.
"Whichever way you twist him, he will never be anything other than a wild Irish drinking rebel with the alcohol-rich waters of Rain Street running through his pin-cushioned veins," Januszczak wrote.
Clarke believes that it is "impossible" for MacGowan to be mundane because "the way he thinks is just too weird".
"Shane's stuff is controversial, weird, blasphemous, or whatever you want to call it, but it's authentic."
Johnny Depp wrote in the foreword that the book demonstrates MacGowan's " propensity for the wild, for the absurd, for the political, for the beautiful".
MacGowan and Clarke will be holding exhibitions around the world once the book is released, with events planned for Tokyo, Belgrade, New York, and in a London hotel owned by British musician Pete Doherty.
The couple plan to create a digitally immersive experience, digitizing the numerous drawings and sketches and allowing audiences to examine the artwork as if they were inside it.
"Like a hologram," MacGowan said.
The digital experience will feature some of MacGowan's music, while certain smells, such as that of beer and cigarette smoke, will be pumped in to create a full sensory experience.
"Most of the art shows touring the world don't have music to go with them. This will have music and it will probably have smells," Clarke said.
MacGowan and Clarke have been together for 36 years and have collaborated throughout, with Clarke previously working on the acclaimed memoir "A Drink with Shane MacGowan".
"It's been really important to my life," MacGowan said of his relationship with Clarke. "She's the girl for me."
Click here to pre-order The Eternal Buzz and the Crock of Gold.