Alannah Currie: From 1980s synth-pop to 'armchair destructivist'

Ciar Byrne,Arts,Media Correspondent
Saturday 26 April 2008 00:00 BST

Back in the Eighties she was the girl with the hairspray-stiff blonde hair and black cap who intrigued a generation of semi-alternative adolescents.

Alannah Currie, one third of the synth-heavy pop group Thompson Twins, was a fixture on Top of the Pops, which showcased hits such as "Hold Me Now" and "Love On Your Side".

But what happens to Eighties pop stars when the music stops? Some, like the ageing members of Duran Duran or Spandau Ballet, simply waited for the decade to come back into fashion and launched their reunion tours. Currie is making a comeback as well but in a rather different guise.

No longer a Thompson Twin, she has become an "armchair destructivist". Fifteen years after she and her former partner and bandmate Tom Bailey decided to abandon the British pop scene to seek the good life in New Zealand, Currie returns to the public eye next month with an outré art show that combines upholstery and taxidermy.

Under the moniker Miss Pokeno – named after a small New Zealand town that was bypassed by the Auckland motorway – she will display a collection of surreal furniture, which will go on display at the Ragged School in London from 8 May. The pieces include a red velvet armchair, the back of which is cut away to reveal two entwined foxes.

Another pair of armchairs is adorned with leather belts containing gunshot and a small bird.

One of the most shocking items is a chaise longue with a dead swan attached to the armrest. According to the principles of armchair destructivism, the dead animals' function is to unsettle the familiar association of furniture with relaxation.

Currie is a vegetarian and the animals in her work are either roadkill or died naturally. "I'm making chairs to confront ideas of what comfort is," she said. "When you sit on them, you question the notion of comfort: what's behind you, what had to die to make the chair. I have deep-rooted problems with the notion of comfort. The ultimate comfort would be lying in an upholstered coffin."

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