Archive for the ‘Painting’ Category

Maisie Parker’s 1962 postcard from Colin Fulcher

Sunday, November 28th, 2010

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Postcard (front) with contact frames from Colin Fulcher to Margaret Minay, 1962.

maisie-cardbackBack of card. Courtesy: Maisie Parker.

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.”

One of these portraits along with text was featured in Reasons To Be Cheerful; another was an exhibit in recent exhibition Process: The working practices of Barney Bubbles.

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maisie-sketch2Above: Maisie Parker portraits + musings, sketchbooks, 1962. Diana Fawcett Collection.

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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.

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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!”

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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.

Blue Genes, Kursaals + Fry’s 5 Boys

Monday, October 4th, 2010

birch-bluegenesDrumhead 1982.

One of the most satisfying aspects of staging Process has been engaging with visitors who knew Barney Bubbles personally.

Film producer Linda Gamble dropped by last week; she worked at Virgin Records in the 70s and 80s and knew Bubbles via her then-boyfriend Will Birch.

Touchingly, Linda brought a thank-you note Bubbles sent her and Birch in 1982 for a record player they had given him. The note – in an envelope proclaiming “Bring Back The Birch” – accompanied a painted drumhead which Bubbles suggested could either be used in performance or placed on the wall as an artwork.

“I kept this note all these years because Barney was such a great guy,” says Linda.

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As detailed in Reasons To Be Cheerful, around this time Birch commissioned sleeve designs for his band The Records as well as a cover for a compilation of tracks by his previous outfit Kursaal Flyers. While working together he and Bubbles had entertained themselves by creating an imaginary beat group, The Blue Genes.

In his note, Bubbles recommended referring to Merseybeat or Andrew Lauder (who had reissued such gems as The Merseybeats’ Beat & Ballads via F-Beat’s catalogue wing Edsel).

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12″ sleeve. Front cover, Chocs Away, Kursaal Flyers, UK Records, 1975.

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Back cover, Chocs Away, Kursaal Flyers, UK Records, 1975.

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Credit details, back cover, Chocs Away.

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Left: Fry’s packaging, 1968. Right: Fry’s 5 Boys 1902.

Birch first met Bubbles in 1975, when the designer produced the sleeve for Kursaal Flyers’ debut album Chocs Away.

Developing the chocolate aeroplane theme of the cover, Bubbles cast the five Kursaals on the back as variations of Fry’s 5 Boys (who appeared on the confectionery company’s packaging from 1902 until a marketing overhaul the year after Chocs Away’s release).

For his credit, Bubbles chose “Grove Lane”, after the street/neighbourhood where Kursaals’ manager Paul Conroy shared a flat with photographer Adrian Boot.

By the early 80s, the designs for Music On Both Sides, In For A Spin and their attendant singles captured Bubbles during his final reductive phase, relying on repetition of primary shapes and restricted palettes.

Thus The Records designs centred on jukebox lozenges and stars, while that for In For A Spin arose from a visit of Birch’s to Bubbles’ studio in January 1983.  “The title came out of a discussion I had with Barney,” says Birch. “I remember him alternating between sketches of a ‘spin dryer’ and aeroplane propellers,  as in ‘taking a plane up for a spin.”

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12″ sleeve. Front cover, Music On Both Sides, The Records, Virgin, 1982.

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Back cover, Music On Both Sides, The Records, Virgin, 1982.

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7″ sleeve. Front cover, Imitation Jewellery, The Records, Virgin, 1982.

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12in sleeve. Front cover, In For A Spin, Kursaal Flyers, Line, 1983.

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7″ sleeve. Front cover, Radio Romance, Kursaal Flyers, Line, 1983.

Thanks to Linda Gamble for bringing in the note and providing us with an opportunity to present yet more fantastic designs which we were unable to include in Process.

The show is on for another three weeks (until October 23), open Tues-Sat, 11am-5pm.

More photos from the Process private view

Tuesday, September 28th, 2010

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Courtesy of Chelsea Space director Donald Smith, here are some more photos underlining what fun was had at last week’s private view for Process. These and others will soon appear on the Chelsea Space site.

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Video commissioner Cynthia Lole, Caz Facey, writer Nick Vivian and Jake Riviera view the exhibits.

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Donald Smith with writer Chris Salewicz and Jerry Dammers.

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Designer Olaf Parker with writer/curator Paul Gorman.

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Musician Leo Williams with Paprika and Leo Junior.

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Painter and former Kilburn & The High Roads member Humphrey Ocean with the 1977 Psstt! ad featuring himself and Ian Dury.

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Jake Riviera, music publisher Peter Barnes, Mick Jones and Nick Vivian.

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Kate Moross and her VJing team.

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Clothier Lloyd Johnson whispers to arts event organiser Michael Barnett while musician Bruce Marcus chats to the V&A’s Catherine Flood.

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Mick Jones and Jerry Dammers.

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Nick Lowe talks Barney.

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Chelsea College’s Nobby Graham and Lloyd Johnson.

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Writer/filmmaker Paul Tickell looks on as artist Bruce Maclean strikes a Blockhead pose.

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Musician/writer Dave Barbarossa and his wife Alison view the music press ads.

 

Bazooka + Brody launch their barrage on London

Friday, September 17th, 2010

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Last night the Bazooka exhibition/collaboration with Neville Brody opened at London’s Aubin Gallery.

Curated by Stuart Semple, the show is part of the Anti-Design Festival‘s counterblast to the London Design Festival.

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With one room dedicated to two giant screens beaming a compilation of artworks, the Bazooka archive is represented from the 70s to the present day in a tradermark barrage of imagery collaging Dada, punk, reportage and commentary concerning everything from domestic abuse to Islamic fundamentalism.

Brody brings his typographical magic to bear on the series of new pieces, which are printed on industrial synthetic rugs produced especially in Belgium. These contain slogans such as “The abyss also gazes into you”.

“It brought us great pleasure that the manufacturer should be producing such work,” Bazooka’s Loulou Picasso told us. Barney Bubbles – with whom Bazooka collaborated on Elvis Costello And the Attractions’ Armed Forces sleeve – would surely have approved.

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The work at second left in the photograph above contains an element from the cover of Bazooka’s ground-breaking January 1978 Libération supplement Un Regard Sur Le Monde.

Bubbles’ personal copy of this publication is on show in our exhibition, as is an original of The NME Book Of Modern Music, which signalled his absorption of some of Bazooka’s artistic approaches.

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Utilising the comic strip visual vocab of the underground press and the Paris événements, Bazooka continue to blaze their trail in the digital age with their site Un Regard Moderne.

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Bazooka is at The Aubin Gallery until October 3.

Exhibition and new edition in MOJO

Thursday, August 26th, 2010

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Read about the forthcoming exhibition Process: The working practices of Barney Bubbles and the new edition of Reasons To Be Cheerful – out in October, new cover below – in the new issue of MOJO.

There are a host of fresh images in the new edition, as well as previously unpublished information and facts about Bubbles’ life and career along with extra contributions, including a chat with Art Chantry and memories from those who knew him, such as “Record John” Cowell.

Half-brother of Simon Cowell, John lived at Bubbles’ Teenburger hq 307 Portobello Road in the late 60s and says: “It’s about time he was recognised but Barney was never one for self-publicity. He was a real hippy. I miss him so much and think of him often.”

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There are many exciting elements to the forthcoming show, which runs from September 14 to October 23 at London’s Chelsea Space gallery. Full details here.

The new edition, which has a new ISBN number as befits the expanded and enhanced book, will be available to order from amazon shortly. We will also be making available signed copies exclusively from this site and will provide full details soon.

Coming soon! The Barney Bubbles exhibition!

Wednesday, June 30th, 2010

Exciting news – the Barney Bubbles exhibition opens in London this autumn.

PROCESS: The working practices of Barney Bubbles will run from September 14 to October 23 at leading London gallery Chelsea Space.

PROCESS will present many fascinating exhibits  – some displayed for the first time in public – to pinpoint Barney Bubbles’ approach to the body of design work which has cemented his reputation as one of the greats in his field.

By examining  Bubbles’ activities from leaving art school in the early 60s to his death in 1983, PROCESS also traces an important strand in the development of the practice of graphic design.

Situated as it is within the grounds of Chelsea College Of Art & Design in the shadow of Tate Britain, Chelsea Space’s hosting of PROCESS will provide students of design and the visual arts and other creative disciplines – as well as the visitors to the home of British art – with vital insights into pre-digital working methods across the range of media.

Delineating the stages of production, PROCESS will also investigate the ways in which Bubbles conjured brilliance by his unique conflation of references and influences.

PROCESS will be complemented by a series of events, including an opening party, talks, q&as and performances from musicians, designers, photographers and others who worked with Bubbles.

We’ll be unveiling details of that programme over the coming weeks, so keep your eyes peeled. Already we’ve agreed participation with quite a few people, some of whom will be speaking publicly for the first time about their association with, and appreciation for, the work of this intriguing and elusive figure.

Chelsea Space is the place where The Clash, B.A.D., Carbon Silicon and Gorillaz mainman Mick Jones launched his installation The Rock & Roll Public Library, which has evolved as it has toured other spaces.

Similarly we’re looking for PROCESS to be the first manifestation in a rolling series of  Barney Bubbles shows over the coming years.

For more info on the exhibition keep in touch by subscribing here and contacting us at info@barneybubbles.com

Bang! When Barney Bubbles brought Berlewi to Generation X

Saturday, December 5th, 2009

One of the key works by Barney Bubbles is the 7″ 1977 sleeve  for Your Generation/Day By Day, the debut single by British punk band Generation X.

Left: 7" sleeve. Front cover, Your Generation/Day By Day, Generation X, 1977. Right: Composition In Red, Black And White, Henryk Berlewi, 1924. Lodz Museum of Art.

Designers such as Peter Saville and Malcolm Garrett discuss the design’s importance in near-epiphanic terms. 

“We saw the sleeve and received a very clear signal,” says Peter in his essay in Reasons To Be Cheerful. “Mr Barney Bubbles – whose work we already knew from Hawkwind and Stiff – was saying: “‘Constructivism has my blessing.’ Our response was: ‘Yes,  this is the way’.”

Front cover, 7" sleeve. Your Generation/Day By Day, Generation X, Chrysalis, 1977.

Here we discussed how the band’s co-manager Jonh Ingham’s chance encounter with Barney sparked the commission.  Barney was able to accomodate Jonh’s freshly acquired interest in constructivism and, at the same time, nod to the band’s self-designed t-shirts. 

Now the exact source of inspiration has been identified by Dutch writer and Barney fan Jan Vollaard and Doris Wintgens Hotte, curator at the Stedelijk Museum in Lakenhal, which is hosting the exhibition Theo van Doesburg And The International Avant-Garde.

It is a work entitled Composition In Red, Black And White, one of 12 by the Polish artist Henryk Berlewi to accompany his 1924 manifesto Mechano-Faktura, which proposed that painting be “designed” according to the principles of modern technology and mechanical reproduction.

Back cover, 7" sleeve. Your Generation/Day By Day, Generation X, Chrysalis, 1977.

Berlewi was associated with many of the important figures of the post World War 1 Continental art movements and was later recognised as having pioneered op-art, the abstract geometric work adopted by the fashion industry as decoration in the 60s. In photographs by Edward Hartwig he is surrounded by models in op-art dresses.

Jan showed Doris the Generation X sleeve as part of his preparation for tomorrow’s presentation on Barney’s integration of the work of van Doesburg and his peers such as Berlewi.

Composition In Red, Black And White. Henryk Berlewi, 1924.

“Doris was surprised and intrigued,” says Jan. “Right away she took me to see Berlewi’s painting and explained  his manifesto of mechanical constructivism and the way in which he captured movement and form in abstract, square-cornered compositions.”

Generation X guitarist Tony James surrounded by self-designed t-shirts, 1977. To the left is his own version of Barney's "45". Photo: Ray Stevenson.

The Your Generation sleeve is one of the clearest examples of Barney’s distillation of art history references. Using Berlewi’s painting as a springboard, Barney reassembled the elements into a multi-layered  piece which accurately expressed the visual minimalism and energy of the punk period, led by the “45” pun on the rpm of the 7in single contained within, and the geometric representation of a record being played from above. 

Henryk Berlewi surround by his paintings and models in "op-art" dresses, 1966. Photo: E. Hartwig.

Berlewi is important as an exemplar of Eastern European Jewish graphic art, which would also have chimed with Barney’s Jewish roots. Yiddish scholar Seth L. Wolitz  has discussed how, under the influence of El Lissitzky in the early 20s, Berlewi  moved from expressionism to constructivism, meeting along the way Van Doesburg, Moholy Nagy and the German Dadaists.

His work was recognized by the avant-garde art dealer Herwarth Walden, who published the manifesto Mechano-Faktura in his publication Der Sturm in 1924.

 

Forty three years later, Barney recast Berlewi in the frenetic context of punk-rock. In the process he inspired not just Saville and Garrett but also Neville Brody, Al McDowell and successive waves of rock music-mad art students to delve into the art movements of the early 20th century and forge a new design aesthetic.

A Henryk Berlewi archive has recently been launched; Wolitz is among the board members. You can find out more here.

Meanwhile full details of Jan Vollaard’s presentation are here.

Van Doesburg and the Dutch connection

Saturday, November 28th, 2009

Next Sunday (December 6), as part of  the current exhibition Theo van Doesburg And The International Avant-Garde: Constructing A New World at Leiden’s Stedelijk Museum in Lakenhal,  music journalist Jan Vollaard will be investigating the influence of van Doesburg’s work on Barney Bubbles’ designs.

Cover. Exhibition catalogue edited by Gladys Fabre and Doris Wintgens Hotte.

Jan, who has also written this feature about Reasons To Be Cheerful in Dutch daily paper NRC Handelsblad, will be hosting the talk and q&a from 2pm at the Scheltema complex, which is a two-minute walk from the museum at Marktsteeg 1 and Oude Singel.

The exhibition has been mounted in co-operation with London’s Tate Modern, where it will be housed from February 4 to May 10 next year as the UK’s first major show devoted to the Dutch artist who was central to the foundation of the De Stijl movement and magazine. 

Dada At 45rpm by Jan Vollaard, NRC Handelsblad, November 27, 2009

The city of Leiden is appropriate; this is where De Stijl was founded and also where van Doesburg established his short-lived art review Mécano in 1924. Here, as editor, he assumed the name I.K.Bonset, which some have claimed is an anagrammatic pun for the Dutch phrase “Ik ben sot” – “I am drunk”  – or the phonetic joke “I’m crazy”. The pseudonymous Barney would surely have appreciated either. Van Doesburg was in fact born Christian Emil Marie Kupper.

It’s believed that van Doesburg used the Bonset name to distance his more rational work from the Dada-infused content of Mécano, which broke rules in favour of absurdity and spontaneity. The front cover of Mecano 3 was quoted for the sleeve for Nick Lowe’s 1978 single I Love the Sound Of Breaking Glass

Magazine cover, letterpress on paper, 6in x 5in. Mecano no 3 by Theo van Doesburg, 1923.

There are many other examples of Barney’s appreciation and reinterpretation of the work and practices of van Doesburg and his milieu.

Theo van Doesburg, 1883-1931.

As revealed in Reasons To Be Cheerful, a painting for Barney’s friend Diana Fawcett contains an axinometric projection similar to that created by the great modernist Gerrit Reitveld for the Schroder House in Utrecht.

Left: Axinometric projection for Schroder House, Gerrit Reitveld, 1924. Left: Diana Fawcett with Barney Bubbles 1981 painting, 2008.

Diana was instructed to hang the painting at a 45-degree tilt, reproducing the quadrant which recurs in van Doesburg’s work. Around this time it also appeared on sleeves for Blanket Of Secrecy and Elvis Costello & The Attractions.

7in sleeve, paper. Say You Will/Feather In My Hand, Blanket Of Secrecy, FBeat, 1982.

Among Reitveld’s furniture  at the Schroder House is a version of his Red Blue chair of 1917. This informed the “turbo” chair Barney designed  for Jake Riviera in 1981.

Left: Chair from Reitveld Schroder House, 1924. Right: Turbo chair designed by Barney Bubbles, Editions Riveira, 1981.

“Van Doesburg believed that the boundaries between painting, architecture, photography and other disciplines should be abolished and become part of a single, compressed, modernist worldview,” writes Jan. “Bubbles endorsed those principles and combined his work in magazines and record companies, furniture design, painting, advertising work and directing (primitive) video clips.”

7in sleeve. I Love The Sound Of Breaking Glass/They Called It Rock, Nick Lowe, Radar, 1978.

With the focus on van Doesburg’s influence on the international avant-garde, there are more than 300 works by 80 artists, including paintings, sculpture, scale-models, furniture, posters, films, typography  and magazines to illustrate what Barney himself exemplified: versatility, tirelessness and the interweaving of various disciplines.

Artists whose works are on view include El Lissitzky, László Moholy-Nagy, Kurt Schwitters, Henryk Berlewi and Piet Mondrian

Full details of the exhibition can be found here; those interested in attending Jan’s presentation should visit this page.