• Thom Yorke, oh shit, 1999

    Thom Yorke

    oh shit, 1999

  • Stanley Donwood, international diplomacy explained, 1999

    Stanley Donwood

    international diplomacy explained, 1999

  • Thom Yorke, self portrait with spiders, 2000

    Thom Yorke

    self portrait with spiders, 2000

  • Stanley Donwood, volcano erupts - hideous scenes, 2000

    Stanley Donwood

    volcano erupts - hideous scenes, 2000

  • Thom Yorke, didcot power station from wittenham clumps, 1999

    Thom Yorke

    didcot power station from wittenham clumps, 1999

  • Stanley Donwood, ziggurat, 1999

    Stanley Donwood

    ziggurat, 1999

  • Thom Yorke, Enid Blyton, 1999

    Thom Yorke

    Enid Blyton, 1999

  • Stanley Donwood, pyramids, scarecows, volcanoes, 1999

    Stanley Donwood

    pyramids, scarecows, volcanoes, 1999

  • Thom Yorke, first lyrics for nude, 2000

    Thom Yorke

    first lyrics for nude, 2000

  • Stanley Donwood, management buyout, 2000

    Stanley Donwood

    management buyout, 2000

  • Thom Yorke, a furnace for the burning of money, 1999

    Thom Yorke

    a furnace for the burning of money, 1999

  • Stanley Donwood, amnesiac cryer, 2000

    Stanley Donwood

    amnesiac cryer, 2000

  • Thom Yorke, i spoke too soon, 1999

    Thom Yorke

    i spoke too soon, 1999

  • Stanley Donwood, for contact with food, 1999

    Stanley Donwood

    for contact with food, 1999

  • Thom Yorke, iranian embassy3, 2000

    Thom Yorke

    iranian embassy3, 2000

  • Stanley Donwood, theater des todes, 2000

    Stanley Donwood

    theater des todes, 2000

  • Thom Yorke, mountains, 1999

    Thom Yorke

    mountains, 1999

  • Stanley Donwood, opposing directions, 1999

    Stanley Donwood

    opposing directions, 1999

  • Thom Yorke, w.a.s.t.e. private army, 1999

    Thom Yorke

    w.a.s.t.e. private army, 1999

  • Stanley Donwood, selling fast, 1999

    Stanley Donwood

    selling fast, 1999

  • Thom Yorke, slightly confused, 2000

    Thom Yorke

    slightly confused, 2000

  • Stanley Donwood, everything in its right place, 2000

    Stanley Donwood

    everything in its right place, 2000

  • Thom Yorke, i saw the sky turn green, 2000

    Thom Yorke

    i saw the sky turn green, 2000

  • Stanley Donwood, after salvator rosa, 1999

    Stanley Donwood

    after salvator rosa, 1999

  • Thom Yorke, come back, 2000

    Thom Yorke

    come back, 2000

  • Stanley Donwood, dream trees & harbinger, 2001

    Stanley Donwood

    dream trees & harbinger, 2001

  • Thom Yorke, trees, 2000

    Thom Yorke

    trees, 2000

  • Stanley Donwood, musical statues, 1999

    Stanley Donwood

    musical statues, 1999

  • Thom Yorke, bird like sparks, 2000

    Thom Yorke

    bird like sparks, 2000

  • Stanley Donwood, dream tree, 2000

    Stanley Donwood

    dream tree, 2000

  • Thom Yorke, study for triangular mountains, 1999

    Thom Yorke

    study for triangular mountains, 1999

  • Stanley Donwood, wounds that don't heal, 2000

    Stanley Donwood

    wounds that don't heal, 2000

  • Thom Yorke, we are not scaremongering, 2000

    Thom Yorke

    we are not scaremongering, 2000

  • Stanley Donwood, old minos, 2001

    Stanley Donwood

    old minos, 2001

  • Thom Yorke, w.a.s.t.e. money furnace, 1999

    Thom Yorke

    w.a.s.t.e. money furnace, 1999

  • Stanley Donwood, exeunt omnes, 1999

    Stanley Donwood

    exeunt omnes, 1999

  • Thom Yorke, downpour, 2000

    Thom Yorke

    downpour, 2000

  • Stanley Donwood, sex work death, 1999

    Stanley Donwood

    sex work death, 1999

  • Thom Yorke, weird weather, 1999

    Thom Yorke

    weird weather, 1999

  • Stanley Donwood, hostile takeover, 2001

    Stanley Donwood

    hostile takeover, 2001

  • Thom Yorke, barbed wire fence, 2000

    Thom Yorke

    barbed wire fence, 2000

  • Stanley Donwood, gmt land, 1999

    Stanley Donwood

    gmt land, 1999

  • Thom Yorke, i froze up, 1999

    Thom Yorke

    i froze up, 1999

  • Stanley Donwood, merger, 1999

    Stanley Donwood

    merger, 1999

  • Thom Yorke, trust no-one, 2000

    Thom Yorke

    trust no-one, 2000

  • Stanley Donwood, mithras tauroctonos, 2001

    Stanley Donwood

    mithras tauroctonos, 2001

  • Thom Yorke, honeycombs: whirlpool, 2000

    Thom Yorke

    honeycombs: whirlpool, 2000

  • Stanley Donwood, spell against spells, 2000

    Stanley Donwood

    spell against spells, 2000

  • Thom Yorke, erase your mistakes, 2000

    Thom Yorke

    erase your mistakes, 2000

  • Stanley Donwood, seeing no evil, 2001

    Stanley Donwood

    seeing no evil, 2001

  • Thom Yorke, lyrics for idioteque, 1999

    Thom Yorke

    lyrics for idioteque, 1999

  • Stanley Donwood, what’s in the briefcase?, 2000

    Stanley Donwood

    what’s in the briefcase?, 2000

  • Thom Yorke, study of rocks, 1999

    Thom Yorke

    study of rocks, 1999

  • Stanley Donwood, study for cryer, 1999

    Stanley Donwood

    study for cryer, 1999

  • Thom Yorke, das boot, 2000

    Thom Yorke

    das boot, 2000

  • Stanley Donwood, after piranesi, 2000

    Stanley Donwood

    after piranesi, 2000

  • Thom Yorke, dance steps, 2000

    Thom Yorke

    dance steps, 2000

  • Stanley Donwood, to the ultimate, 2000

    Stanley Donwood

    to the ultimate, 2000

  • Thom Yorke, jet projek2, 1999

    Thom Yorke

    jet projek2, 1999

  • Stanley Donwood, success at last, 1999

    Stanley Donwood

    success at last, 1999

  • Beauty and Discomfort

    an essay by Francesca Gavin

    How do you rethink collaboration? It's true to say that Thom Yorke and Stanley Donwood have never worked together in an obvious fashion. Instead, they designed an alternative way of thinking about creativity: two people producing in tandem, working concurrently, continually bouncing images and ideas off each other. Their drawings - which often fed into record covers, Radiohead's expanded website and other visual material - are more like diptychs than duets.


    This exhibition brings together 60 works on paper created by the pair over the course of 1999 and 2000. Neither imagined that the pages torn from their sketchbooks would one day be seen in any formal way. "It was a sort of a form of communicating to be honest," Yorke recalls. "We were thoroughly obsessed with fax machines at the time. I don't think either of us particularly like the telephone." In 1999, the internet and emails were still in their infancy and sharing images online was a long-winded process. Yorke and Donwood would send scrawled faxes instead. "With headed notepaper from fancy hotels, which is always nice experiencing the life of the international jet set vicariously," recalls Donwood wryly. "Loads of expletives and scribblings," Yorke concurs. Over time, the fax imagery disappeared due to the deterioration of the thermal fax paper. "They seemed to fade into nothing," Thom notes.


    This fax exchange grew. Both had carried notebooks with them since art school. "Mine was usually the same lyrics repeated page after page after page, with slight alterations. Stan's seemed to be Mickey Mouse turned upside down or something hurting it," Yorke recalls. Eventually, these books became their way to save ideas to share. Each saw something in the other: Donwood was emerging from a visual art language and beginning to experiment with writing prose. Yorke was moving away from focusing on lyrics to drawing. Both were grappling with an energy that existed between text and image.


    Fragments of text and unfinished images are continuing tropes in both artist's work: scrawled attempts at capturing energy, emotion and thought. "I think we both try to loosen each other up in different ways," Yorke observes. "There was just a lot of work. A lot of toing and froing. A lot of sifting around the same things again and again until something spoke." While Radiohead's website had become a hub for different ways to use this material, both Yorke and Donwood had also begun to think about text in a different way - somewhere between slogan, lyric, poem and prose. They namecheck Barbara Kruger and Jenny Holzer as strong influences, two artists who use text in bold and demanding ways.


    "I collect one-liners like the ground collects autumn leaves. It just happens all the time. I just hear things all the time, and I'm making notes about them. Stan is much better in the story mode than me," Yorke points out. "Somewhere in the middle of all that, Stan could see value in what I was doing as a coherent thing. I'm a lyricist, so in a way I'm only looking for what works musically: whatever actually fits with the movement of the vowel sounds and syntax of the song and the rest of it is just left. Then suddenly, I wasn't, because we were contemplating it as part of the general output."


    Stanley would sift through Thom's work and vice versa. Both had been extremely prolific and Donwood compares it to pinning the tail on the donkey, "If you're not going to get the tail exactly where it needs to be, it's going to be somewhere interesting." The fragmentary nature of their approach brings to mind the ideas of William Burroughs and Brion Gysin around 'cut up' as a methodology for creation, also the work of Dadaist poet Tristan Tzara: meaning created through disorder and reworking.


    These drawings are largely black and white, a style that shifted noticeably when the pair worked on album imagery. They were works in progress, moments in time. "They were more like states of mind," Yorke considers. "Music had all this weird baggage to it. And I needed a form of expression. I was doing landscapes just for the therapy of observing something." Many of the drawings came from their respective dreams. "You'd wake up in the morning and try to capture something before it faded away," Stanley explains. "The dream thing was a key communication between both of us back then. It was like a way in, for want of anything," Thom agrees. "It was really just a nice place to start on stuff."


    The work was created in the period just after the release of Radiohead's album OK Computer and while Kid A was being recorded, which was a time of personal upheaval. Cue images such as Self-portrait with Spiders or depictions of stalagmites and stalactites in a hallway or vampiric bears or war in the Balkans; the aim was to draw things to make them go away and, as a consequence, there's something deeply intimate about peering into the artists' minds.


    The pair have avariety of aesthetic approaches also evident in their own work. At this time, Donwood was fusing influences from Robert Crumb and underground 1960s' comics with Piranesi and architectural drawing while Yorke was fascinated with the irreverence of the Chapman Brothers and the collage approach of The Beta Band. Both were interested in playing with new technical possibilities through scanning and photoshop, very expensive technology back then. "It was still quite unusual to be able to just draw something, scan it and then do stuff with it," Donwood explains. "I learned very quickly you could scan a drawing and if you just invert it, it becomes white on black. It's instantly 10 times better." They were turning up the texture of the paper, cranking up the levels in drop down menus. There was a freedom in their approach. 


    Music - or rather the expanded audience and spaces where music was promoted and experienced - was another way for Yorke and Donwood to communicate their ideas. Both were against the pretensions of the art world and preferred to focus on a very different mass audience. "What I was wanting to do at the time was utilize Radiohead's fame as a canvas to put our ideas as big as possible in as many people's faces as possible. Using the record shop as a democratic Art Gallery and advertising hoardings as basically propaganda spaces," Donwood explains. Music was a Trojan Horse for both of them to do whatever they wanted. "We were being completely indiscriminate. I think we still are to be perfectly honest," Yorke says.


    Much of this work is violent and scratchy, fed by nightmares, mental unrest, politics and discomfort. Yet it also contains elements of humour, cuteness and beauty which is what makes the drawings stand up 20 years later. The tension between pleasure and discomfort endures.

  • About the Artists

  • Thom Yorke Thom Yorke (b. 1968) is a musician, artist, composer and activist. He is best known as lead singer...

    Photograph by Alex Lake

    Thom Yorke
    Thom Yorke (b. 1968) is a musician, artist, composer and activist. He is best
    known as lead singer and songwriter of Radiohead: the group have won several
    Grammy and Ivor Novello Awards and have released critically acclaimed music.
    Radiohead’s work is widely regarded as some of the most celebrated and
    influential work of recent decades. The band have been inducted into the Rock
    and Roll Hall of Fame and their work sits in the US Library of Congress.
    In November 2021, as part of anniversary celebrations of the influential
    Radiohead albums Kid A (2000) and Amnesiac (2001), the albums were
    combined with a third disc of unreleased material in a triple album, KID A
    MNESIA. The release accompanied Yorke’s two-year long project with artistic
    collaborator Stanley Donwood and producer Nigel Godrich, to create the KID
    A MNESIA Exhibition, an interactive audio-visual experience with music and
    artwork drawn from the two albums. In the same month, Yorke & Donwood
    also released two books, KID A MNESIA and Fear Stalks The Land. The former
    celebrates the process and artwork created for Kid A and Amnesiac, the latter
    compiles notes, lyrics and sketches from that period. Yorke lives and works in
    Oxfordshire, England.

  • Stanley Donwood Stanley Donwood (b. 1968) is an artist best known for his work made for the band Radiohead, for...

    Photograph by Rowan Farrell

    Stanley Donwood
    Stanley Donwood (b. 1968) is an artist best known for his work made for the
    band Radiohead, for whom he has created almost all album covers and
    promotional materials. Born in Essex, England, he studied Fine Art at the
    University of Exeter where he first met Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke. The
    lifelong collaboration between band and artist was initiated when Yorke asked
    Donwood to contribute art for Radiohead’s original My Iron Lung EP (1994).
    Donwood’s paintings, drawings and prints address socio-political issues, often
    employing satire that draws comparisons to Hogarth, Insa and Banksy. He has
    been the official artist of the Glastonbury music festival since 2002 and has
    won two Grammys for his artwork for Radiohead’s albums Amnesiac and In
    Rainbows. Donwood’s art has been the subject of a book, There Will Be No
    Quiet (2019), published by Thames & Hudson. He has written and illustrated
    several books of short stories, including Humor (Faber, 2014). He has exhibited
    at galleries in the UK, USA, Australia, Italy, Spain, Japan and the Netherlands,
    as well as at the Bonnefantenmuseum in Maastricht. He lives and works in
    Brighton, England.


    oh shit

    international diplomacy explained
    self portrait with spiders
    volcano erupts - hideous scenes
    didcot power station from wittenham clumps

    enid blyton

    pyramids, scarecows, volcanoes
    first lyrics for nude
    management buyout
    a furnace for the burning of money

    amnesiac cryer
    i spoke too soon
    for contact with food
    iranian embassy3
    theater des todes
    opposing directions
    w.a.s.t.e. private army
    selling fast
    slightly confused
    everything in its right place
    i saw the sky turn green
    after salvator rosa
    come back
    dream trees & harbinger

    musical statues
    bird like sparks
    dream tree

    study for triangular mountains
    wounds that don’t heal
    we are not scaremongering
    old minos
    w.a.s.t.e. money furnace
    exeunt omnes
    sex work death
    weird weather
    hostile takeover
    barbed wire fence
    gmt land
    i froze up
    trust no-one
    mithras tauroctonos
    honeycombs: whirlpool
    spell against spells
    erase your mistakes
    seeing no evil
    lyrics for idioteque
    what’s in the briefcase?
    study of rocks
    study for cryer
    das boot
    after piranesi
    dance steps
    to the ultimate
    jet projek2
    success at last