It was a pleasure to take tea in Soho last week with John Muggeridge, Barney Bubbles’ friend and colleague at Conran and Teenburger Designs.
Muggeridge has long been a resident of Bolivia, and his visits to the old country are rare. This didn’t, of course, hinder his contributions to Reasons To Be Cheerful, but it was fab finally to meet the man credited on Quintessence’s In Blissful Company as J. Moonman (he and Bubbles contributed the album design including a 12-page booklet).
12″x12″. Page 5, booklet, In Blissful Company, Quintessence, Island Records, 1969.
Page 6, in Blissful Company booklet.
Page 7, In Blissful Company booklet.
Page 8, In Blissful Company booklet.
Page 9, In Blissful Company booklet.
Page 10, In Blissful Company booklet.
Booklet detail: Muggeridge-inscribed lyrics for the track Ganga Mai.
A graduate of the London College Of Printing, Muggeridge joined Conran’s design department in 1966, where he worked with Bubbles (then the company’s senior graphic designer going by his birth name, Colin Fulcher).
As described in Jonathan Aitken’s 1967 book The Young Meteors, the Conran studio was at that point at the cutting edge of the global design business, with 35 employees at its offices in Hanway Place, central London.
Muggeridge became Bubbles’ assistant when the designer launched Teenburger from 307 Portobello Road in the spring of 1969, and worked with him on a run of record sleeve designs, as well as pitches for the opening sequence credits for two or three films.
“The only one I can remember was Women In Love,” says Muggeridge, who has a clear memory of himself and Bubbles sat in an otherwise empty Soho screening room viewing a rough-cut of Ken Russell’s movie. Their proposal didn’t make the cut.
Having studied calligraphy at LCP, Muggeridge’s Teenburger responsibilities included hand-lettering; his italics adorn the In Blissful Company credits.
“I was really Barney’s apprentice,” says Muggeridge, these days involved in the food business. “It was amazing to watch him apply concepts. Ideas emerged fully-formed on the drawing board. Quite often we would work together silently in the studio; there wasn’t a great deal of talk. We just got on with it, while US draft dodgers and all sorts of people traipsed up and down the stairs outside.”
12″ x 12″. Front, Cressida, Vertigo, released February 1970.
12″ x 24in. Inner gatefold, Cressida.
12″ x 12″. Front, Red Dirt, Fontana Records, released April 1970.
Back, Red Dirt.
12″ x 12″. Front, Gracious!, Vertigo, released August 1970.
12″ x 24″. Inner gatefold, Gracious!.
As well as the Quintessence album, the pair produced the designs for the eponymous debut albums by Cressida, Brinsley Schwarz, Red Dirt and Gracious!.
In 1970 Muggeridge was laid low by peritonitis and, after recuperation in Ireland, embarked on the hippie trail with his girlfriend Virginia Clive-Smith (who had also worked with Bubbles at Conran), by which time Teenburger had closed.
During our conversation at Patisserie Valerie, the performance artist Bishi approached us. She had just been one of the crowd of 50 contributing silence to the anti-X Factor single 4’33″ in a nearby studio, and was intrigued by our conversation and the RTBC cover.
There ensued a fantastic cultural exchange: Muggeridge talked about the Barney Bubbles Light Show, which was inspired by a visit he and Bubbles made to UFO while working on an all-night job at Conran, while Bishi enthused about the work of contemporary light-show designers.
She has been performing in Nicholas Immaculate’s “Hindu Tron” suit, which helps her control light and sound by voice and movements.
Postcard (front) with contact frames from Colin Fulcher to Margaret Minay, 1962.
Back 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.”
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.”
The enhanced, revised and updated new edition of Reasons To Be Cheerful is published in the UK this week.
With a remixed cover, the fully illustrated 224-page second edition of the acclaimed biography features many new elements.
There are nearly 60 fresh images in the new book: letters, postcards and photographs as well as sketches, designs and finished artwork for record sleeves, posters, stickers, drumheads, etc.
Paul Gorman has written a new author’s note and afterword summing up the impact of the first edition, and the commentary now includes a chat with foremost US designer Art Chantry about the relevance of Barney Bubbles’ artistic legacy to contemporary design. The new edition is published in the US in spring 2011.
A host of new contributors have been interviewed, from Wreckless Eric to “Record John” Cowell – Bubbles’ one-time room-mate and the half brother of Simon Cowell.
All chapters have been updated with freshly researched information, including never-previously published facts and quotes about Bubbles’ time at art school and his first full-time job at leading British commercial art studio Michael Tucker + Associates.
As an EXCLUSIVE, we are offering signed copies of the new book only from this blog, priced £18.99 plus £5 p&p UK.
Mail for info on postage to continental Europe and rest of world.
To buy your copy click on the button below or visit HERE for details.
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.
Video commissioner Cynthia Lole, Caz Facey, writer Nick Vivian and Jake Riviera view the exhibits.
Donald Smith with writer Chris Salewicz and Jerry Dammers.
Designer Olaf Parker with writer/curator Paul Gorman.
Musician Leo Williams with Paprika and Leo Junior.
Painter and former Kilburn & The High Roads member Humphrey Ocean with the 1977 Psstt! ad featuring himself and Ian Dury.
Jake Riviera, music publisher Peter Barnes, Mick Jones and Nick Vivian.
Kate Moross and her VJing team.
Clothier Lloyd Johnson whispers to arts event organiser Michael Barnett while musician Bruce Marcus chats to the V&A’s Catherine Flood.
Mick Jones and Jerry Dammers.
Nick Lowe talks Barney.
Chelsea College’s Nobby Graham and Lloyd Johnson.
Writer/filmmaker Paul Tickell looks on as artist Bruce Maclean strikes a Blockhead pose.
Musician/writer Dave Barbarossa and his wife Alison view the music press ads.
The image is the artwork for the “Hamer & Sickle” logo Barney Bubbles created for Lowe’s 1979 album Labour Of Lust, spin-off single Cracking Up and music press ads/tour promotion etc (Nick had recently come into proud possession of the Hamer bass which Bubbles “snapped” into three).
And there’s a continuous soundtrack of the music for which he designed, from Cressida to Costello, from Hawkwind to The Damned, from Iggy Pop & James Williamson to Red Dirt.
In the entrance to Chelsea Space is selected ephemera – adverts, badges, music press ads, stickers – as well as books, magazines and other finished artwork and designs, including the rug made in the image of a panel on the cover of Brewing Up With Billy Bragg.
There is also a showreel of 10 of the videos directed by Bubbles (including two never publicly displayed before: Incendiary Device and Darling, Let’s Have Another Baby for Johnny Moped).
A face-off is conducted between Elvis Costello (in 1977′s Warholian 60″ x 40″ Live Stiffs poster) and Chuck Berry (in the form of the wall-mounted sculpture created by Bubbles for music publisher Peter Barnes) at each end of the ramp.
On the ramp wall are posters, sleeves and other exhibits denoting approaches, recurrent themes and areas such as art direction, colour usage, application of symbols, photographic treatment, geometric arrangement, etc.
In the main room there is no finished artwork, excepting a copy of Damned Damned Damned with it’s deliberate printing error, and an NME Book Of Modern Music to demonstrate from whence Bubbles was taking his design leads at the time of production.
Sketches and proposals, along with personal effects, influences, paintings and sketchbooks rest on plinths and trestles colour-schemed to a typically exuberant Bubbles palette.
The walls are lined with pen and ink artwork, PMTs (Photo Mechanical Transfers), proofs, proposals, paste-ups, photography, etc. There’s a guide to the technical aspects of producing artwork in the pre-digital age, as well as a professional CV.
If you get the chance, do drop by; we’re around a lot of the time so can be on hand to talk you through the show and answer any questions.
Video and music track listings for the show are available here.
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.
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.
Tony collaborated with Barney on the design, providing the lettering and layout, as well as styling Carter (for whom she also designed stage wear).
With Chalkie Davies behind the lens, the cover shoot took place in the west London house Tony shared with her then-husband (and Barney’s friend and patron/F-Beat label boss) Jake Riviera.
“Barney set it up in our dining room in Oxford Road,” says Tony in Reasons To Be Cheerful. “I designed and set the graphics on the back. Barney had taught me how to lay down Letraset and make the placement and spacing impeccable. I had fun with the “N” for Notes, “S” for Selections and “P” for Personnel. In the self-effacing Bubbles tradition, there was no artwork credit.”
12in album. Front cover with sticker, Musical Shapes, Carlene Carter, F-Beat. 1980.
12in album. Back cover, Musical Shapes, Carlene Carter, Warner Bros. 1980.
12in inner sleeve, Musical Shapes.
12in album. Front cover, Around Midnight, Julie London, Liberty, 1960.
Winding away from the three-legged Dansette, the five flexes (all ending with upturned plugs) feature the album title picked out in wire and blue and red balls. These also appear to be notation; can anyone interpret what they convey musically?
One of Tony’s photographs shows that there was a try-out with a diner jukebox selector. On the back cover, a bread bin replaced the Dansette.
The sleeve was decorated with many references to the newly-launched label: on the front, Carter stood on a floor strewn with promo copies of the single version of one of her father Johnny Cash’s most popular songs Ring Of Fire (with a label incorporating Barney’s symbol of three interlocked rings and also his encircled copyright “C” familiar from designs for others such as the album’s producer Nick Lowe and Johnny Moped).
The Musical Shapes sleeve drove home the F-Beat identity by featuring the variants of the house singles bags Barney produced for Riviera.
These 7″ paper designs, based around insignia and decorations from Riviera’s office jukebox, utilised the stark colour overlays and contrasts noted across Barney’s work by such contemporary practitioners as Art Chantry.
7in house sleeve. Ring Of Fire/That Very First Kiss, Carlene Carter, F-Beat. 1980.
7in house sleeve. Ring Of Fire/That Very First Kiss, Carlene Carter, F-Beat. 1980.
7in house sleeve. Splash (A Tear Goes Rolling Down)/Hello, Clive Langer & The Boxes, F-Beat. 1980.
7in house sleeve. Good Year For The Roses/Your Angel Steps Out Of Heaven, Elvis Costello & The Attractions, F-Beat. 1981.
7in house sleeve. Head To Toe/The World Of Broken Hearts, Elvis Costello & The Attractions, F-Beat. 1982.
In line with the treatment he received from other American record companies, Carter’s US label Warner Bros tamed Barney’s design for fear of illegibility; the full-bleed front cover was given a white border for the artist credit and album title. In addition, the inner was dispensed with altogether.
Meanwhile, the US press kit included a standard 8″x1o” b&w shot of Carter from the Oxford Road session, and posters were given away with both the American and British versions of the release.