Archive for June, 2010

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

Neat Neat Neat show at Paul Stolper

Tuesday, June 29th, 2010

The Term Reality: Collages 1970-2010, the current exhibition at London’s Paul Stolper Gallery, is to the excellent standard maintained by this leading artspace with contributions from the likes of Peter Blake, Damien Hirst, Peter Saville and our great friends John Dove & Molly White.

The Damned, Simon Periton, 2002.

At last week’s private view, Stolper revealed that the piece on which the show turns is Simon Periton‘s The Damned, since it acknowledges the first collage, Picasso’s 1912 composition Still-Life With Chair Caning.

Still-Life With Chair Caning, Pablo Picasso, 1912.

The Damned is from Periton’s period of producing intricate paper cut-outs (which he christened “doilies”) and is of course based around the front cover of Neat Neat Neat, the second single by – who else? – The Damned.

Front cover, Neat Neat Neat/Stab Yor Back/Singalonga Scabies, The Damned, Stiff, 1977.

Periton – whose recent work includes The Beezlebag for “art-eco-fashion” brand Issi and a few years back the cover of Pulp’s Hits collection – was intrigued to find out that the Neat Neat Neat sleeve is a key work for Barney, since it marked his re-entry to the fray in February 1977.

Front cover, Hits, Pulp, Island, 2002. Simon Periton/Sadie Coles HQ after photographs by Willie Seldon.

As Stiff Records and punk rock went nationwide, Barney introduced a purposeful clarity which not only elevated the label out of the pub-rock cheekiness of it’s early months but set the tone for the new wave picture sleeve boom of the next few years. In doing so, Barney also laid the foundations for the richest and most triumphant phase of his own career.

Simon Periton at last week's private view.

Periton has now moved away from cut-outs to painting on glass; The Damned dates from 2002. Read all about him and his work in Michael Bracewell’s monograph, and, if you’re in town, catch The Term Reality; it’s on until August 3.

David Allen: From A(rtouble) to Z(eros) and back

Tuesday, June 15th, 2010

In June 1978, the British graphic artist David Allen was introduced to Barney Bubbles backstage after a gig at LA’s celebrated Sunset Strip club Whisky a Go Go.

12in sq sleeve. Front cover, Kill City, Iggy Pop & James Williamson, Radar, 1978.

“It was most likely some punk rock-a-thon; The GoGos, Devo, The Dickies?” says David, who has been based in New York since the mid-80s and recalls that Barney’s friend and label boss Jake Riviera was present, as was local  music champion and Bomp! owner, the late Greg Shaw.

Back cover, Kill City.

“I had been an avid reader of Friends and NME, grew up in north-west London when seeing Hawkwind was no big deal, and was at the first Glastonbury Fayre, so could critique the pyramid fold-out blindfold in a box,” says David.

24in x 36in paperboard. Unfolded outer of Revelations - A Musical Anthology For Glastonbury Fayre, Revelation, 1972.

“Like many, I was exposed to Barney’s work from an early age without being aware of who was responsible,” says David. “It was Greg Shaw who identified that the anonymity he aspired to was high art, Duchamp-esque for the mid-70s. Around that time, if a clever record cover had no credits, you assumed it was a Barney Bubbles.”

Poster 20in x 30in. Freedom Of Choice, Devo, 1980.

At The Whisky, the fellow artists compared notes. “Barney was dressed like an eye test, black-and-white striped shirt and trousers, not quite matching,” recalls David. “We were both sober enough to make sociable conversation and had some common ground.”

7sq in. Front cover, Kill City/I Got Nothin', Radar, 1978.

A connection was Kill City. This collection of Iggy Pop and James Williamson demos (with contributions from David Bowie) had been released earlier in 1978 by Bomp! in the US and Radar in England, housed in David’s first album sleeve.

Back cover, Kill City/I Got Nothin'.

As explained here, when the lead track was issued as a UK single, Barney created a Warholesque sleeve and gritty promotional campaign.

David graduated from Harrow College Of Art in 1976 having studied graphic design with a “strong illustrative leaning”. A fan of Roxy Music, David Bowie, Kilburn & The High Roads, Dr Feelgood and Kokomo, he’d hung out at Biba’s Rainbow Room, Dingwalls, The Hope & Anchor and The Roundhouse, then high-tailed it to LA via a stop-over in Manhattan.

Poster celeebrating 30th birthday of The Masque, 1997.

“After a year I had found my way into the Hollywood punk scene  – see Live At The Masque: Nightmare In Punk Alley – doing graphics for bands and clubs,” says David, whose commissions included the logo and sleeves for singles by the great “Mexican Ramones” The Zeros, whose founding member Robert Lopez is over in Europe in his incarnation as the fabulous El Vez next week.

7sq in. Back and front cover, Wild Weekend/Beat Your Heart Out, The Zeros, Bomp! Records, 1978.

“I shared a rundown mansion with punks including Margo from The GoGos, John and Exene from X and Jonh Ingham,” says David. “X did their first ever show in my living room. Todd Rundgren was there, and Darby Crash started a spaghetti fight”

GoGos photosession art directed by David Allen. 1978.

By this time David was involved in the late Claude Bessey‘s Slash magazine and was soon  hired as art director of Bomp! the label and magazine. When he  met photographer Jules Bates at The Masque one night, the pair launched design company Artrouble.

Late 70s: Jules Bates (left) and David Allen.

David recalls that the late 77 arrival of The Damned’s Music For Pleasure in it’s Barney-designed sleeve grabbed his attention.

Slash number 7, January 1978.

“I’d already been using abstracted typefaces for a while at Slash,” says David.  “But Music For Pleasure raised the bar on legibility vs illegibility. Like all of his work it is a great ‘design’, but with a sophisticated visual subtext delivered with sharp wit.”

In the wake of the encounter at The Whiskey, David returned to Britain and visited Riviera, who commissioned a logo and stationery for his company.

Logo/stationery header, Riviera Global, 1979.

“I met him in his tiny office and  got the idea to design a huge factory with it’s own nuclear reactor as the company logo,” says David.”For the font I chose Profil, as used for signage at London Airport in the 50s.”

During that visit, David also caught up with such Barney admirers as Malcolm Garret, Al McDowell‘s company Rockin’ Russian and George Hardie, though by this time Barney was focusing on designing his furniture range so was unavailable.

12 sq in. Back and front, Freedom Of Choice, Devo, Warner Music, 1980.

Back in LA, Artrouble developed with illustrator/make-up designer  Phyllis Cohen, producing such work as Devo’s Freedom Of Choice, a number of sleeves for The Dickies, Kim Fowley’s Snake Document Masquerade and The Motels’ Four Square.


12sq in. Front cover, Snake Document Masquerade, Kim Fowley, Antilles, 1979.

“We designed for everyone from Shawn Cassidy to The Gap Band, Earth Wind & Fire to The Surf Punks, Chaka Khan to The Weirdos,” he adds.

Having moved to New York in the mid-80s, David worked at such publications as Soho News, East Village Eye and High Times, and has more recently painted and manages Sorceress.

“I still get the odd record cover and just returned from a six-week study of the Mayan empire in central America, so hope to be painting again soon,” says David.

6sq in. Front cover, Greg Shaw tribute CD, Bomp!, 2006.

David reserves particular affection for Greg Shaw,  a pivotal figure in American independent music who died aged 55 in 2004. “Greg was a soft-spoken Valley kid without whom very little of note would have occurred in the lives of many young people back then,” says David.

For the Artrouble archive, go here.