Harry Meadley: It’s like the Wu-Tang Clan… I remember at one point us jokingly talking about a motorcycle club analogy, not in terms of us being outlaws, but in terms of it being an autonomous space, not governed by anything else… It’s like the Weirdo Club could be invited to do something, and then we would get together for it. I’m trying to think of an analogy… It’s like The Avengers. When the world is in need we’ll come together.
David Steans: It’s not like The Avengers, it’s not like Wu-Tang Clan, it’s not like a motorcycle club, it’s not like any of those things.
Harry: No it’s not like them, I agree.
Set up by Matthew Crawley, Harry Meadley and David Steans in October 2012 from their shared studio in East Street Arts in Leeds, with Doug Bowen joining later, the project then moved to Set The Controls For The Heart of The Sun, itself inhabiting the building previously used by Mexico in Leeds. Russian-doll-like, though in a curiously un-convoluted way, the project has always operated through their space being within another space, whilst appearing to maintain a quite distinct identity from the host-space.
Harry: The Leeds Weirdo Club in a way was a response to not really being studio-based artists, but still having a studio, and so having to think about using it in different ways.… It seems like a dead obvious idea, you have a studio, so you can just do a show in your studio, and because it’s your studio you can just do whatever you want. It’s just nice not having any institutional control.
Matthew Crawley: It’s very inward looking too, very self-conscious.
As a result, the project has in part appeared to roll through some productive convolutions of studio and gallery space, a playful meta-studio maybe, with carefully delineated areas of work such as an admin area, a ‘clean work’ area (a highly kitted-out stationery area), and a packing area (stocked with manifold types of tape); their 20 foot MDF workbench painted in an MDF-coloured paint designed by Steans; and an almost absurdly well-stocked, maintained and systematically ordered tool-wall.
Matthew: I think it’s hilarious, I mean, as if we were selling stuff?! We’ve got all this bubble wrap to pack it up for our customer, but when does this ever happen?
Doug Bowen: It was really efficient though.
Harry: We were kitted out to such a degree, we had loads of tools, mainly just for building more things to put tools on. So we had this massive wall that was like a big tool-wall, and so many people that would come for studio visits or something would comment on it, and it got a bit annoying.