Achtung 74

The work is an autobiographical interpretation of McKay’s adultescent 1974 world, a passage of time reflected on as a sixteen-year-old leaving secondary school. His chosen palette reflects his interests at this time, the chart music of that year, girls, football, his love of the circus, and the fashion, these memories are set against the unknown life and existence of his peers living in East Berlin behind a wall.

This fractured divide uses comparisons between colour and imagery, currency, postage stamps. There is a narrative of a fictional pen pal romance between a British male youth and a young East Berlin girl, they exchange thoughts and details of each other’s surrounding existence.

The work is also about the uncertainty of adolescence, the energy, vibrance, and the “no reason for concern” attitude.

The work is a limited edition of Screen Prints on Fabriano Unica 250gsm Paper and work on Canvas, using British hit singles from 1974 as titles.

It’s 1974 and 16-year-old Ian McKay has just left secondary school, his adolescent world bursting with chart music, football, fashion and girls. 


For Achtung 74, McKay sets memories of his vibrant yet uncertain youth in east Manchester against the unknown lives of his peers living behind the wall in East Berlin. He imagines a pen pal romance between a British lad and an East German girl, sharing everyday details of their disparate lives as well as their hopes for the future.


Through comparisons of colour, archive imagery, currency, postage stamps and his love of his nearby circus, McKay depicts [captures] this fractured divide in a new series where each work takes a hit single from 1974 as its title.