The Art of The Mixtape @ The Proud Archivist

As mentioned in my #100daysoftriangles Week Nine summary, last Wednesday I was invited to the private view of Horace Panter’s exhibition; The Art of The Mixtape.

If I’m being honest, at first I didn’t recognise the name ‘Horace Panter’ – I just thought he was an artist with an interest in music history. That, and a thumbnail image of a cassette was enough to sell it to me. Maybe I’m ‘too young’ to know the name? But of course I know The Specials, and I bet almost everyone knows their hit Ghost town? Horace is most famously known as a music man, but it seems he’s always had art at heart. I love a good story, so after a bit of digging I discovered that The Specials formed whilst whilst studying Fine Art at University. And it definitely explains why Horace is so good with a paintbrush:



They’re pretty impressive as a collection – the entrance to the exhibition displays them as wallpaper which shows a nod to Warhol-esque Pop Art. But getting up close to the originals at full size shows the individual beauty of each piece. Each brush stroke carefully laid down, each letter perfectly serif-ed (if that is a term?) and it’s a pretty hard task to paint typography freehand. I even managed to spot a triangle, which featured as #59 in #100daysoftriangles:

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It’s weird for me to think that a lot of teens these days will never have used or maybe even seen a cassette. Maybe they don’t even know it existed – a lost format like the floppy disk!? For me it brings back fond memories of recording the top 40 on a Sunday evening. I would sit by my radio for about 2 hours waiting to record my favourite songs from the chart, compiling my own ‘mixtape’. Looking back now it was filled with ultimate cheese – Busted, McFly and god knows what else, but it made me happy! My cassettes were very raw, overlapped on so many different songs and I was rubbish at timing the recording to stop before the radio DJ started speaking over the top. But it was unique, very exciting and the done thing back then. (Oh god, how old am I sounding right now?)

Being in a band, Horace would have used cassettes in a very different way – for demos. On this, he says that “demo-cassettes often contained the bare bones of songs that went on to become classic pop hits but they were essentially disposable things. I often used to tape over them, making them into my own mixtapes.” 

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It was lovely to see people of all ages appreciating the pieces. I unfortunately was feeling quite feverish so I couldn’t stay too long, downed my drink and headed home to bed.

For music and art lovers, I’d definitely recommend a trip to The Proud Archivist in Haggerston to see The Art of The Mixtape. Catch it before 30th June or see more of Horace’s art on his website.

Let me know if you pop in – there’s a competition to win a pair of Doc Martens too btw! I’d recommend taking a visit to The Proud Archivist this summer anyway – a lovely location next to the canal and perfect for enjoying the sunshine!


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© Natasha Nuttall | January 2022

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