The Past The Present & The Possible was the title of the section in graphics music exhibition White Noise devoted to Barney Bubbles and curated by Reasons To Be Cheerful author Paul Gorman with artist/curator Sophie Demay and Etienne Hervy, director of the International Graphics & Poster Festival held every year in Chaumont, France.
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Selected works by Barney Bubbles will appear in this summer’s group exhibition about the visual language of music, White Noise: Quand le graphisme fait du bruit (When graphics make the noise) at the 23rd International Poster & Graphic Design Festival in Chaumont, France, from May 26 to June 10.
White Noise is being put together by Sophie Demay and Étienne Hervy, the Chaumont festival artistic director and former editor of French graphics magazine Etapes, and includes contributions from a number of contemporary graphic artists – read more here.
Here are some more of Sophie’s shots taken during a recent run-through of potential exhibits:
This 100-second career resume has been created by Lisa Whitaker, who is currently studying graphics at Leeds College of Art.
The DVD – housed in an “inside-out” sleeve and accompanied by a poster – came out of a course brief for a collection of 100 design objects in which she compiled album sleeves, including Bubbles’ design for Imperial Bedroom by Elvis Costello And The Attractions.
“I am fascinated by this talented man and his links to other creative people,” says Whitaker. “My moving image piece Barney Bubbles Inside Out pulls together the research and is aimed at graphic designers, record collectors and music lovers as a way of spreading the word about inspirational figure.”
Whitaker’s backgrounder on the project is here.
We’re indebted to Barney Bubbles’ fellow Twickenham art school student Maisie Parker for providing the chance to post this precious hand-made card dating from 1962.
Bubbles, then 20-year-old Colin Fulcher, sent it to Parker – then Margaret Minay (whose maiden name he misspelt) – following a photographic modeling session in his bedroom in Whitton, Middx, for a putative project for Queen magazine.
There is no evidence to suggest the exercise reached publication, though portraits of Parker appeared in a college sketchbook, along with musings on art and life.
At one point on Saturday October 27 1962, Fulcher writes: “It is now 9.30 in the evening and we have decided to go up the pub, Margaret and me.”
Bottom left: Portrait in Process exhibit vitrine, Sept-Oct 2010. Photo: Andi Sapey.
Parker, a West Country-based artist, was in the year below Fulcher. “I was aware of him from the very start of my time at Twickenham,” she says.
“He was very distinctive looking, quite loud and laughed a lot in the canteen,” she says. “But I was such a mouse I was terrified of speaking to anyone other than a few classmates. It wasn’t until my second year that he actually spoke to me, and then it was to joke about something or other.
“I was aware that he made the tickets for the end of term dances that we had on Eelpie, and remember discussing with a few other people how we were going to dress up for the Cowboys & Indians bash.
“I lino-printed raw linen with Wild West designs and made myself an Indian squaw costume, along the lines of the ticket design.”
Parker’s postcard provides another piece in the jigsaw of Barney Bubbles’ life and work: the self-portrait he drew on the wall of his bedroom in the early 60s. In Reasons To Be Cheerful brother-in-law Brian Jewiss recounts how this was subsequently covered over during redecoration. It has never been seen publicly…until now.
After teaching art and design in London secondary schools for a number of years, Parker is currently studying for a degree in fine art. She clearly recalls the conversations recounted in Fulcher’s sketchbook texts.
“I was very politicised; my family were incredibly left-wing, and musicians,” she says “I’d also just blown nearly all my grant on a leather coat!”
The students shared a love of jazz; in fact on the evening of October 27 1962 Fulcher records they listened to Thelonius Monk’s 1960 album At The Blackhawk.
“I kept a lot of the cards I received from him, though over the years most have disappeared,” says Parker. “One was particularly funny and ‘Colinish’: he knew I’d gone to a Thelonius Monk concert and did a little painting of who he thought was Thelonius Monk, but in fact was Stevie Wonder…he cracked up when I told him.”
Visit Maisie Parker’s site here.
Course director Geoff Thomas-Shaw’s brief was to create three-dimensional objects in response to the show.
Mindful of Bubbles’ educational experience working with paper and card as part of a display course at Twickenham School Of Technology in the late 50s and early 60s, Thomas-Shaw’s brief also paid attention to Bubbles’ work in the pre-digital age.
Thus, students were steered towards producing designs “analogue in terms of origination, utilising paper-based materials to reflect the non-dependency of digital influences in Barney Bubbles’ original artwork”.
Recognising some of the designer’s primary concerns, Thomas-Shaw also recommended they consider Bubbles’ use of scale, colour, texture and mode of display.
Chelsea Space director Donald Smith and I are bowled over by the quality and vision of the results.
“I’m incredibly impressed by the ways in which the students interpreted the brief; by their skill, wit and dexterity; and also by how well they had seemed to understand the original work,” says Donald Smith. “Their exhibition is impressive in its own right.”
Process is on until this Saturday (October 23).
Come along and say hi.
Photos: Donald Smith.
Today Process received a visit from a very special group of students.
They are on the foundation graphics course at south-west London’s Kingston University. “The exhibition has particular resonance for us,” says lecturer Andy Cade. “We run this course from a studio in Richmond Upon Thames College, formerly Twickenham Art School.”
It is here that Barney Bubbles (then Colin Fulcher) studied for his National Diploma in Design (NDD) between 1958 and 1963.
I and Chelsea Space director Donald Smith angled our talk about the show around the vocational course Bubbles undertook and how this helped form his practices when he came to problem-solve on behalf of his mainly music business clients later in life.
With some of Bubbles’ fellow Twickenham students coming in for their own private view next week it has been great to connect with different generations from his alma mater.
Photos: Martina Gonano
Conversations with students, lecturers and practitioners over recent days have confirmed how the show is surfing the current desire for “analogue” approaches to design.
“Our students found the presentations really inspiring,” says Monica Biagioli of LCC’s design faculty. “Many will be coming back on their own to explore the exhibition further.”
They and other visitors have responded with delight to the hand-crafted nature of the preparatory artwork on display.
Of course, this was by way of necessity; Barney Bubbles died just two months before the introduction of the Apple Mac (and before the widespread application of desktop publishing in the 80s), but nevertheless such practices are not only back on the curricula but also again filtering into contemporary graphic design.