Published On: Mon, Jun 17th, 2019

Fatboy Slim debuts unusual collection of smiley memorabilia | Ents & Arts News

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Fatboy Slim has unveiled an art collection which includes hundreds of items of smiley memorabilia he has collected.

The Praise You producer has spent 40 years accumulating pieces including a smiley toaster, cuff links, condoms, clocks, wristbands and shoes.

He has now curated an art exhibition in Lisbon, called Smile High Club, which celebrates his love of the popular symbol.

The musician, real name is Norman Cook, has a giant mural on the roof of his house and owns a tattoo of a smiley face and cross bones – the unofficial logo of Fatboy Slim.

Fatboy Slim's unofficial symbol is a smiley face with crossbones
Fatboy Slim’s unofficial symbol is a smiley face with crossbones

Speaking ahead of the exhibition, he said: “I became aware of the smiley in 1977 on the cover of the first 12” single, Psycho Killer by the Talking Heads.

“Once on my radar, I loved how such a simple image appeared in so many unexpected places in popular culture, both historically and thematically.

“As I grew up through punk rock into club culture, it endured in my experience and imagination.

“Born in the sixties and growing up in the seventies, it has followed me around all my life so it was no surprise to later learn that the smiley was born in 1963, the exact year I came into the world.”

The smiley was created by artist Harvey Ball when he was commissioned by a company to make badges that would improve staff morale.

After staff began wearing the pins, the symbol increased in popularity and more versions were printed.

It has now appeared in various forms throughout generations, including in Banksy’s Grin Reaper piece and in the Watchmen film.

Cook says the smiley face has become a symbol of “happiness, goofiness, stupidity and unconditional love”.

“It’s a bit like the Hawaiian shirt – it’s never quite in fashion but it always comes round again,” he said.

His exhibition features works from The London Police, Ron English and James Joyce.

Jimmy Cauty, who is one half of an electronic duo who burned £1m in 1994, is also taking part.

But the centrepiece of the exhibition will be Cook’s collection, which was painstakingly transported to Lisbon.

“I’ve spent 30 years being a DJ or a musician or a producer and I’m just like a kid in a sweet shop with this,” Cook said.

“I’m a fan of art and I’m a collector but now to be involved and working with artists – I feel like we’re collaborating.

“I can’t draw and I’m colourblind, so I could never be an artist.”

Smile High Club will run at Underdogs Gallery in Lisbon for a month from 21 June.

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