MUTONIA (pt.1)

In the early 1990s, a disused quarry in north Italy was transformed into one of Mutoid Waste Company’s main hubs.
After a number of successful legal battles against eviction, Mutonia remains firmly rooted and continues to reuse, recycle and turn things once cast out and forgotten into mind-blowing art creations.

We asked some questions to a few members of the MWC about their amazing place and community.

In this first part of the interview, Debs Wrekon told us about her story, her art and about Italy’s most underrated art gallery. 

Introduce yourself and your art

“I’m a travelling artist called Debs Wrekon. I divide my time on site in the UK, at an artist community in NE Italy (Mutonia) and the rest of the time on creating artwork on the festival circuit.”

“I’m a self taught metal worker and use scrap metal and other found objects as my main source of material. My artworks range from sculptural jewellery to structures several metres tall.” 

“I work freelance most of the time but do collaborate with groups such as The Unfairground and Arcadia.”

When and how did you get involved with Mutoid Waste?

“I was aware of the MWC through the underground press during the late 80’s and after a chance meeting in my local pub with a few of the group I kind of ran away with their circus.” 

Potsdamer Platz – Berlin (

“After Castlemorton and the summer that followed we decided to drive my old circus truck and meet up with the Mutoid group that was living on Potsdamer Platz in Berlin (which included Joe Rush), that would’ve been autumn 1992. As winter drew on it got (obviously) really cold – I was busking to put food on the table – so when we got invited to Mutonia in Santarcangelo (near Rimini) for Xmas we jumped at the chance and siphoned our way down.”

Joe Rush (

“At that point it was the  Mutoid yard really – the group lived, worked, ate communally; everyone had their own living vehicles but it was definitely all for one and one for all – we even shared the tobacco.” 

Potsdamer Platz – Berlin (

“I came and went over the next 7 years (living full time in Mutonia from Xmas ‘92 until summer ‘94), then in Macchia Nera (Pisa) until spring ‘97, Cascina via Vaiano Valle (Milan)during the summer of ‘97 then Fintech from the winter of ‘97 until some point in 1999). However during all of those years I had a close rapport, coming and going, with Mutonia and made my money from artwork, sculptures and busking.”

Mutonia ( – Photo Credits: Davide Santoli)

Can you remember the first sculpture you made? 

“I was involved in group projects and was responsible for quite a few party flyers and sculpture paint jobs over the years but I started making my own sculptures around ‘97/8” 

“One of the first I made was an alien character (most of my artwork is figurative – I particularly like creating animals) which stood about 1.5 metres tall. He lives in Torino now, bought by the owner/boss of Kappa clothing” 

“I enjoy making small table top pieces the most and the first one I remember selling was a shark made from a motorbike headlight and some meat hooks” 

Is there a piece of art you made that you are particularly proud of, or consider special for any reason? 

“My favourite sculptures are always the one I’m working on – I enjoy the challenge – not all of them end up the way I intend them to be; I suppose if I had to choose favourites it’d probably be my animal trophy heads which involve antlers, horns, skull and metals”

Has it become more difficult to find good usable scrap material for your art in recent years?

“Obtaining materials has become more challenging over the years – changes in the law regarding H&S and waste treatment means I can’t wander in to any old scrapyard, or go knocking door to door for old iron, like we used to. But there are ways round it. I spend time mooching round second hand shops, tat markets and there is ofcourse all the online resources (including eBay!)”

What’s your creative process? Do you see an object and create a sculpture around it? Or do you start with an idea and look for materials to create it?

“These days I work a lot to commission on the smaller sculptures so I know the type of tat I’m looking for – I use a lot of kitchenalia (I like to say it’s a feminist statement!). But sometimes I’ll see a piece and think, for example, “wow that looks like a ducks beak” and so a duck gets “born”. Creating the larger artworks for festivals is a bit more liberating as normally I propose a sculpture (or dry hire those I have) and so that’s down to what materials I find and how they inspire me”

Describe Mutonia and how it has changed over the years

“I got together with Strapper in ‘97 and we moved back to Mutonia in 1999” 

“The yard has changed quite a bit over the years – communal living went out of the window before the turn of the century (!), people have become more settled  and various court cases brought against us by our disgruntled neighbour have changed how the yard looks and functions”


“It’s now recognized as a place of cultural importance – we have a relationship with the Belli Arti and have supporters amongst the artistic establishment. It’s classified as an open air exhibition/living museum – a unique reality in Italy”


How is the relationship with the community of Sant’Arcangelo? Do you think Mutonia has been a positive influence on Sant’Arcangelo and its surroundings?

“I’d like to think we’ve helped to put Santarcangelo on the map and we’re definitely an integral part of its contemporary cultural identity”

“Mutonia is on the outskirts of the town in an old abandoned quarry on the banks of the Marecchia river – we don’t own it and pay a nominal rent fee”

Lyle Doghead – Mutonia

“We all have our own “plots” with quite substantial living spaces and individual artist workshops – even these structures are made from recycled materials; we’ve tried to cultivate as much greenery as possible around these structures – when we arrived it was pretty barren” 

“The group consists of about 20 creatives – not all of them are Mutoids these days. We are sculptors, painters, crafts people, musicians – the vice mayor of our local town lives on site and she’s been instrumental in helping save Mutonia from eviction over the last 10 years. I should add that when she moved on she had no political ambitions at all!”


“On the whole we are welcome and accepted by the locals – after 30 years we’re very much integrated, well known and well liked; several  kids have now been raised and schooled there”

“Over these last 30 years things have changed a lot – when we arrived in Santarcangelo it was an agricultural market town, now it’s become quite “borghese” – lots of boutiques, cafes, bars and niche restaurants. We’ve also changed and diversified – people have developed and honed their artistic styles, we work less and less as a group and network more with other likeminded individuals”

Mutonia is, among many other things, a free-entry open-air art gallery. Do you get many visitors?

“It’s certainly a bit of a tourist attraction – we’re open pretty much every day and there’s usually visitors, weekends and the summer months are particularly busy. It’s not just types who visit but everyone and their granny looking for a cultural hit”

With the world and technology evolving so quickly, what do you think will have the biggest impact on your way of life in the future?

“There was always the underground in Italy and we were always involved with CSOA’s and other political/cultural associations  – that’s definitely been facilitated by the development of the internet and mobile phones” 

“Back in the day we had one land line, now (as pretty much everyone else) we all have smartphones – masses of information (both true and false) and easy access to the whole of the outside world….in your pocket! We are all becoming reliant on that and the “easiness” of it all; but  there is the flip side – it makes us easy to track and monitor and that, I think, will have the biggest impact on our way of life in the future. I know that in this day and age we wouldn’t have got away with some of the things we did back then but I reckon every generation has those that think outside the box and there’s hope!!”

Mutate and Survive


Debs Wrekon
Wrekon – Mutoid Waste Co.
Instagram: @wrekondebs
(Archive photo by DANIELE BARRACO Photography)

To be continued….

“The music everywhere and the concert nowhere”

June 21 is a global celebration of music, performed by anyone and enjoyed by everyone. Here’s a brief history of World Music Day.

Vive la France!!

Paris, November 1981, the newly elected socialist president of France, Pierre Mauroy, hires a composer, journalist, and festival curator called Maurice Fleuret as director of music and dance of the “Ministry of Culture”, headed by Jack Lang.
Fleuret finds that, in France, one person out of two played a musical instrument and begins to dream of an event where “the music is everywhere and the concert nowhere”, a day where, all across France, music would be performed on street corners, squares, bars, clubs and anyone could enjoy it for free. 

Music Day 2015 – Springfield Park – London

On the 21st of June 1982 the first “Fête de la Musique” takes place in Paris. The rules are simple: it has to happen on the summer solstice, and access to all performances and venues must be FREE of charge, no tickets can be sold.
It was a global success and 38 years later, the “Fête de la Musique”  is celebrated in over 125 countries worldwide. Et Voila!!

What happened in the UK??

Back in London, in 1982, Margareth Thatcher didn’t get that memo. Perhaps her director of “music and dance” had a day off? Or perhaps, the people who enjoyed DIY music events had already plenty of choice in the UK (we hear that Stonehenge free festival on summer solstice was pretty good in the 80s!!).

Music Day 2015 – Springfield Park – London

Nothing happened for a decade until Mick Jagger teamed up with the, at the time, Minister of State for the Arts, Tim Renton MP.
In February 1992, they announced the first “British National Music Day”, to be held that year on June…..28 (??). Coincidentally that was the same date as Glastonbury festival so the decision to link the two events was made. 
The following year, the B.N.M.D. became a two-day celebration, taking place on June….26 and 27. Again, coincidentally, Glastonbury weekend.
Coca-Cola sponsored a live broadcast where independent radio stations were linked to many venues across the country. The event won gold at the Radio Academy Awards for Outstanding Special Event.

Music Day 2015 – Springfield Park – London

British National Music Day took place again in 1994, 1995 and, finally,1996 when, on June…30th it was renamed “National Music Festival”. The event lost its momentum and the 1996 edition was branded a failure.
And that was it. 

2012, the year Music Day came back to the UK.

London, June….21st (Yaaay!) 2012. An impromptu street party in Shoreditch was held by a bunch of musicians, event organizers, DJs and VJs from the Free-Party scene. It was a success and was to be repeated in the following years. 

The absolutely incredible “Big Lad” (formerly “Shitwife”) – Music Day 2015 – Springfield Park – London

On Sunday 21st June 2015  a massive, independent, DIY free event took place in Springfield Park, London. Free-party crews and sound-systems took care of the entire event planning and production, the likes of Skinnyman, Inja, Step 13, Big Lad and many more talents performed to a beautiful and diverse 1500+ strong crowd, under the sunshine. It was an EPIC day! A beautiful example of what can be achieved when money is put aside and passion at the forefront! 

“Skinnyman” on stage 2 – Music Day 2015 – Springfield Park – London

In 2017 “Make Music Day” was born, a UK-wide coordinated event with support and funding from national organizations. Hundreds of free concerts kept happening every year but deep down, everyone was waiting for a summer solstice falling on a weekend. It’s taken 5 long years and, guess what, 21 June 2020 is on a Sunday (Yesss!!!). 

My Bad Sister – Music Day 2015 – Springfield Park – London

Unfortunately, this is 2020 (boooo!!) so, for obvious reasons, the big open air free festival had to be cancelled. The expression “what a shame” has been invented specifically for this moment. However, the show must go on, so this year we’ll witness the  very first ONLINE Music Day!! There will be thousands of live streams to check out (here).
However, there’s one streaming event that’s very special for us at Proton Art, firstly because it’s organized by the same people that brought back Music Day to the UK in 2012, and secondly because it would have been another epic day in a London park with us involved, if 2020 didn’t get in the way!

Mc Ishu killing it with “Step 13” – Music Day 2015 – Springfield Park – London


Renegade Picnic is an independent, DIY culture infused, crowd-funded, volunteer-run free music festival. On 21 June Renegade Picnic will be live streaming for Make Music Day. 

Renegade Picnic - Proton Art - Underground art and events

6pm start!!


LINEUP so far:

*** The Great Malarkey

*** Lilith Ai

*** WondR WomN

*** Holly Flo Lightly

*** Dinosaur Skull (aka 2 members of Werecats)

*** The Ethical Debating Society

*** Samba Sisters Collective

*** Daisy Roots Dancers

*** Chuck SJ

DJ sets from:

*** Bustawidemove


For more info check:

Happy Music Day everyone!!

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