More Than a Pony Show

Matt Stokes

WTPATW Matt Stokes - Gallery front window
WTPATW, Matt Stokes (2017) Photo credit: Jamie Woodley
Matt Stokes’ works begin with an immersive research process that explores the social structures of the place he is working in, resulting in the production of films, installations and events.

These outcomes hold collaboration at the centre of both their formation and philosophy, often being made directly with people from the collectives they are celebrating.

For More Than A Pony Show Stokes worked with five bands spanning generations of the punk/DIY music scene in Plymouth to create a film installation that poignantly explored punk’s legacy of protest and resistance, whilst charting the decline of live music venues in the city. In the film we saw the bands stage a reoccupation of important music venues lost, or in a period of change.

The Bus Station Loonies play in the city’s recently closed bus station, once the location of The White Rabbit and Tramps. A cafe during the day, Tramps was regularly transformed into a gig venue at night. The loss of The White Rabbit, which attracted major touring bands as well as supporting the local scene, has left a noticeable void in the city. All-female band, Suck My Culture, occupy the front room of a local resident’s flat in Stonehouse, on the site of The Metro Club and previously, the legendary Van Dike Club. Piss Midget are crammed into the storeroom of Billabong, previously Woods Club, which hosted the notorious ‘Anarchy Tour’, which featured The Sex Pistols, The Clash & The Damned. The Damerels perform in the much-loved Nowhere Inn, whose landlord Phil Cawse recently passed away. Phil, a long-term advocate for the alternative music scene (and latterly a member of The Bus Station Loonies), established the Nowhere Inn to be a haven for the local music community. Finally Crazy Arm busk outside the side entrance of the infamous Cooperage, closed for years and standing derelict.

Whilst the city centre scene is being pushed outwards, thankfully other venues including The Underground and The Junction are taking on the mantle to provide a space for the alternative music scene to endure.

Built upon direct contact with people in Plymouth, More Than A Pony Show provided a framework that resulted in moments of unexpected intimacy with its human subjects and served to memorialise the development of the city itself, reminding us of what is lost, as well as gained, through urban regeneration.

More Than A Pony Show included a crew of Plymouth College of Art Staff, graduates and local musicians.


More Than a Pony Show was part of the multi-site, multi-partner exhibition We The People Are The Work, a major visual arts project in Plymouth that explored ideas of power, protest and the public.