Archive for the ‘Rugs’ Category

Process: Pictures from our exhibition

Saturday, September 18th, 2010

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Process: The working practices of Barney Bubbles uses the three areas of Chelsea Space to guide visitors through the methods by which this master designer realised his audacious creations.

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).

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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.

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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.

All photos Donald Smith.

Barney Bubbles caught in action at work

Tuesday, July 27th, 2010

Barney Bubbles positions wire lettering, west London, 1980. Photo: A. Sales.

Here we have Barney Bubbles setting about creating of the wall-mounted electrical flex and wire construction which adorns the sleeve of Carlene Carter’s 1980 album Musical Shapes.

Quaver and jukebox selector, 1980. Photo: A. Sales.

Quaver with 7" single, 1980. Photo: A Sales.

The arrival of the photos from Antoinette Sales couldn’t be more timely as we prepare for our forthcoming exhibition Process: The working practices of Barney Bubbles.

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.

Tipping a wink to the Pate/Francis & Associates 1960 design for Julie London’s Liberty album Around Midnight, the inner showed Carter reclining on a rug bearing the design of an F-Beat single (by the label’s most prominent act, Elvis Costello And The Attractions).

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.

8"x10" glossy press photo. 1980.

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

Billy Bragg’s rug and the Masereel effect

Sunday, October 11th, 2009

In the early 80s an opportunity arose for Barney Bubbles to spread his creativity into designing rugs.

As detailed in REASONS TO BE CHEERFUL, at this time Barney was already investigating many areas of the visual arts outside of providing commercial art for the record industry: painting, videos, mixed media, collage, mobiles, furniture design and even glass sculptures during a trip to Australia. 

12" inner sleeve. Musical Shapes, Carlene Carter, F-Beat, 1980.

Barney’s friend and patron Jake Riviera explains in Chapter 5 of REASONS that in 1980 the pair encountered an invidual working in the carpet business “who could realise anything we came up with”.

Rug design artwork, 1982. (c) REASONS 2009. Courtesy: Riviera Global.

Barney designed a circular rug like a giant  single featuring Riviera’s F-Beat label for the company’s offices in Acton, west London. This appears on the inner sleeve of Carlene Carter‘s album Musical Shapes.

“Then Barney started to produce original designs,” adds Jake. “By that stage he was taking any opportunity he could to create in other media.”

But there was one rug which was based on a design of Barney’s which he didn’t commission. To explain: in the final year of his life – 1983 – Barney was working as the designer for new indie label Go! Discs, whose priority act was Billy Bragg.

Billy and Barney  shared an admiration for Flemish Expressionist artist Frans Masereel.

“I mentioned to Barney that I loved the guy’s work and of course he got it immediately,” says Billy.

Book illustrations, Charles de Coster's The Legend Of The Glorious Adventures Of Tyl Ulenspeigel. Frans Masereel, 1943.

For the cover design of Billy’s debut album Brewing Up With…Barney recreated Masereel’s signature woodcut technique.

Front covers, 12" albums. Left: Ersatz, Imperial Pompadours, Pompadour, 1982. Right: Punkadelic, Inner City Unit, Flicknife, 1982.

This was realised in the same way as the sleeve designs for his own album Ersatz (in the guise of The Imperial Pompadours) and Inner City Unit’s Punkadelic  Barney used black paper on white.

Front cover, 12" album. Brewing Up With Billy Bragg, Go! Discs, 1984.

In the event Brewing Up was released in October 1984, nearly a year after Barney’s death. The cover depicts two scenes: in one, a light radiates from a house over an industrial cityscape, in the other a contemplative figure sits at a window, lit from overhead. 

Poster, 30in x 20in. For Billy Bragg live dates, 1983.

Barney’s design was also used for Billy’s residency at London venue The Captain’s Cabin.

Rug, 8ft x 2.5ft. (c) REASONS 2009. Courtesy: Billy Bragg.

On Barney’s death, his one-time assistant Caramel Crunch took over designing for Billy, and in the mid-80s commissioned a rug rendition of one part of the Brewing Up artwork.

“My business partner Colin did some stationary for a rug-maker and she made us both rugs as payment,” explains Caramel, who these days goes by her real name, Pauline Kennedy.

“I supplied her with Barney’s album illustration and she made me the rug from that. Then I gave it to Billy as a ‘thank you’ for letting me design for him.”

And a quarter of a century later, it is still going strong, having made the leap to another domestic object, appearing appropriately on tea mugs available from Billy’s site.