Cosmic Slop is one of Leeds’ most important and iconic nights of the last decade. Beginning as a fundraising party for local charity MAP, the event quickly became a cult dance favourite, its eclectic music, infamous sound system and artistic environment gaining wider recognition whilst retaining its original underground vitality. Johnny Cosmic, creator of the vibrant and challenging images that perfectly showcase Cosmic Slop’s positive vibe and social ethos, describes the story and displays the art…

Music… Art…Production

MAP is a registered charity which delivers bespoke courses in art, design and music production for young people who have difficulties accessing mainstream education. With a combination of creative programmes, innovative technologies and hands-on experience, MAP offers opportunities for students, residents, artists and volunteers to be involved in the teaching, learning, developing and bettering of themselves and others. By enabling the sharing of skills and experience between diverse members of the Leeds community, MAP has created a platform for mutual encouragement and inspiration amongst individuals, and has evolved into a wider arts hub, unique to the area. After completing courses at MAP, many of the students go on to pursue careers in the arts, and often return to MAP as volunteers, demonstrating its overwhelmingly positive impact.

Music is…love

Cosmic Slop was conjured by Tom Smith in 2009. The night is a platform for the collective good that MAP creates, and embodies all that the charity stands for, ethically, musically and artistically. The ideology confronts the traditional music bourgeois and pumps the funds back into the MAP charity. Sounds are discovered, loved and shared by passionate DJs through a renowned DIY sound system that has been built organically and grown with the night, as has its cultish following. Cosmic Slop has the feel of an underground private party where every social chameleon is welcomed and has endless possibilities of evolving into something new, a better future. By raising questions to the music and engaging the crowd to think about the messages within the lyrics, this is an equally interactive, thoughtful and joyous experience, escaping in an artistic utopia.

The art behind the heart

Johnny Cosmic has been Cosmic Slop’s resident artist from almost its infancy. Believe it or not, the link in the name is purely coincidental! The art, akin to the night, is expressive fun that also aims to be challenging and thought provoking. Never one to shy away from controversy, Johnny uses the images to question global issues and confront politics through parody. The style has parallels to Punch magazine’s satirical social commentary, mixing comic illustration and horror characterisation with a pinch of whimsy and humour, to present significant ideas of modern society. Much like the night it represents, the art exudes a raw energy that embraces the alternative, celebrates the individual, powers the collective, and also makes you smile.

Illustrations: @johnnycosmicofficialart