In Pictures: See Pulp Frontman Jarvis Cocker’s New Gallery Show of Old Marmite Jars, Family Photos, and Odd Memorabilia

May 26, 2022

Jarvis Cocker, the British music icon and ex-Pulp frontman, is the subject of an art exhibition in London marking the launch of his new memoir, Good Pop, Bad Pop. Mounted at London’s art space, The Gallery of Everything, the show charts the creative development of Pulp through an archive of personal objects Cocker excavated from an old loft.

On view through May 29, the exhibition is split across two floors, with the upstairs dedicated to an archive of mementos and ephemera that Cocker decodes in his own “Periodic Table of Influence,” from an old jar of Marmite dating to the 1980s—a rare treasure because it has one of the original metal lids before the company traded them in for plastic—to a star-emblazoned sweater, apparently all the rage in fashion before punk became a thing.

“If it could be represented in visual terms, the contents of my brain would probably resemble the contents of this loft: a jumble of things with no one factor in dominance—it’s the mix that’s important,” Cocker said in a statement. “Seemingly inconsequential items can end up having long-term effects if added to the mix in the right quantities.”

It takes a certain type of constitution to squirrel away a personal archive such as this (there’s even a super vintage pack of Wrigley’s chewing gum in there) with the belief that it might be of interest to a wider public at some point. And indeed, the future rock star’s young ambitions are evident in an old exercise book, in which a teenaged Cocker charted in great detail (and with illustrations) his band’s trajectory to world domination, calling it “The Pulp Master Plan.”

Jarvis Cocker, “Good Pop, Bad Pop – The Exhibition,” The Gallery of Everything.

My favorite part of the show is a collection of broken eye glasses, something I confessed to Cocker I also have lying around in a box somewhere, unable for some reason to part ways with them. “It’s hard to throw something out that you’ve been wearing on your face for so long,” Cocker said. “It would be like throwing away a part of your face, so I get that.”

Downstairs, Cocker’s family history is exhibited through Ektachrome photographs taken by his grandfather Hugh Hoyland, and a partial reconstruction of Cocker’s childhood bedroom where he taught himself how to write songs. The installation includes Pulp posters and lyrics from the Cocker Archive, as well as the key instruments in the band’s development: Cocker’s Hopf guitar, which was a Christmas gift from his mother’s scuba-diving instructor boyfriend; an In Tensai Rhythm Machine radio cassette player, featuring a built in drum machine; and a Yamaha PortaSound PS-400 home keyboard. All three were brought to life in an intimate performance in the space by Cocker and collaborator Chilly Gonzalez. 

The gallery is also selling editioned prints of Cocker’s sketches and drawings, priced at £250 ($315), as well as color prints of his grandfather’s photographs, priced at £350 ($441) and a poster of the Periodic Table of Influences. Proceeds from sales go to support The Museum of Everything, a nonprofit itinerant institution for art.

“Good Pop, Bad Pop—The Exhibition” is on view through May 29 at The Gallery of Everything, London. Jarvis Cocker’s memoir, Good Pop, Bad Pop, is published by Jonathan Cape, an imprint of Penguin Books.

Jarvis Cocker and Chilly Gonzalez performing at The Gallery of Everything. Photo: ©David Owens.

People lining up for Jarvis Cocker’s impromptu performance at The Gallery of Everything, Chiltern Street. Photo: ©David Owens.

Jarvis Cocker, “Good Pop, Bad Pop – The Exhibition,” The Gallery of Everything.

Jarvis Cocker, “Good Pop, Bad Pop – The Exhibition,” The Gallery of Everything.