Archive for October, 2010

New edition of the Barney Bubbles book out now

Tuesday, October 26th, 2010

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Process a runaway success

Monday, October 25th, 2010

Captain Sensible with Reasons To Be Cheerful

Captain Sensible with Reasons To Be Cheerful.

Saturday saw the final day of Process, with visits from well-wishers and some of the people who made it happen.

We’re proud to say that Process was Chelsea Space‘s biggest show, with attendance at an all-time high and thousands flocking from all over the country, and, indeed, the world.

Factory Records' Phil PenningtonDesigner Phil Pennington.

chaps2Twickenham alumni Jim Bunker, Arthur Robins and Mike Birkenshaw.

visitorsx6Clockwise from top left: Catherine Flood; Roger Klein; Young Kim; Olaf Parker; Jake Riviera; Stephen Goy & Jonathan Madden.

Some of Barney Bubbles’ oldest friends, fellow students and workmates came. So did family members, close acquaintances and musicians and photographers with whom he collaborated.

There were fellow practitioners, graphics experts and other admirers. Importantly, Process attracted hundreds of students, most of whom had never heard of Barney Bubbles before they entered the gallery, but left inspired and enthused at what they encountered.

emmaEmma Gorman

the editor of Eye, John WaltersWith Eye editor John Walters.

Paul, B Syme and DickieWith Belinda Syme and Dickie Lowe.

As intended; this is just the beginning. The V&A is now incorporating Bubbles in it’s next two big shows – Post-Modernism in autumn 2011 and British Design 1948 to date (which will be staged to coincide with the Olympics over the summer of 2012).

Plans are firming up for our exhibition to be held at another UK venue next autumn, and dialogue is also underway with US galleries and instititutions to take it across the Atlantic.

Paul with staff from LDS architectsTalk to architects from Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands.

Paul talks with John ClivedenWith John Clifton.

Here are a selection of photographs of those who dropped by over recent weeks and helped make Process such a success. Thank you. I would like to personally thank Lorry Sartorio for her generosity – once I’ve figured out how to get the photos of you off my phone, Lorry, I shall post them here!

F-Beat and Demon Records' Andy ChildsAndy Childs (ex ZigZag, F-Beat and Demon)

Elvis Costello fan Eric GatlingElvis Costello fan Eric Gatling.

Barney Bubbles exhibition visitors: Elvis Costello afficionadosWith John Foyle (third right) and Elvis Costello aficionados.

Barney Bubbles exhibition: Martina GonanoChelsea Space assistant Martina Gonano.

Dickie with his portrait by BBDickie Lowe with Ersatz by The Imperial Pompadours.

CHELSEA space's Donald Smith with Ken 'Brains' SmithChelsea Space director Donald Smith with Ken “Brains” Smith.

Barney Bubbles exhibition visitors: Jim LatterWith artist Jim Latter.

bubbles_99Photographer David Corio shows his glove-modeling hand on the inner of This Year’s Model.

Aten and Gianna Skinner with Paul Gorman,With Aten Skinner and his mother Giana.

Photos: Donald Smith.

Process: Chelsea students’ stunning response

Sunday, October 17th, 2010

Exhibit from Chelsea art school graphic students reponse to Barney Bubbles exhibition

Exhibit from Chelsea art school graphic students reponse to Barney Bubbles exhibition

Third-year graphics communications students  at Chelsea have responded to Process with a stunning set of works which formed a mini-exhibition at the college last week.

Course director Geoff Thomas-Shaw’s brief was to create three-dimensional objects in response to the show.

Exhibit from Chelsea art school graphic students reponse to Barney Bubbles exhibition

Exhibit from Chelsea art school graphic students reponse to Barney Bubbles exhibition

Exhibit from Chelsea art school graphic students reponse to Barney Bubbles exhibition

Exhibit from Chelsea art school graphic students reponse to Barney Bubbles exhibition

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.

Exhibit from Chelsea art school graphic students reponse to Barney Bubbles exhibition

Exhibit from Chelsea art school graphic students reponse to Barney Bubbles exhibition

Exhibit from Chelsea art school graphic students reponse to Barney Bubbles exhibition

Exhibit from Chelsea art school graphic students reponse to Barney Bubbles exhibition

Exhibit from Chelsea art school graphic students reponse to Barney Bubbles exhibition

Exhibit from Chelsea art school graphic students reponse to Barney Bubbles exhibition

Exhibit from Chelsea art school graphic students reponse to Barney Bubbles exhibition

Exhibit from Chelsea art school graphic students reponse to Barney Bubbles exhibition

Exhibit from Chelsea art school graphic students reponse to Barney Bubbles exhibition

Exhibit from Chelsea art school graphic students reponse to Barney Bubbles exhibition

Exhibit from Chelsea art school graphic students reponse to Barney Bubbles exhibition

Exhibit from Chelsea art school graphic students reponse to Barney Bubbles exhibition

“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.”

Exhibition of Chelsea art school graphic students reponse to Barney Bubbles show

Exhibition of Chelsea art school graphic students reponse to Barney Bubbles show

Exhibition of Chelsea art school graphic students reponse to Barney Bubbles show

Exhibition of Chelsea art school graphic students reponse to Barney Bubbles show

Process is on until this Saturday (October 23).
Come along and say hi.

Exhibition of Chelsea art school graphic students reponse to Barney Bubbles show

Exhibition of Chelsea art school graphic students reponse to Barney Bubbles show

Exhibition of Chelsea art school graphic students reponse to Barney Bubbles show

Exhibit from Chelsea art school graphic students reponse to Barney Bubbles exhibition

Exhibit from Chelsea art school graphic students reponse to Barney Bubbles exhibition

Exhibit from Chelsea art school graphic students reponse to Barney Bubbles exhibition

Exhibit from Chelsea art school graphic students reponse to Barney Bubbles exhibition

Exhibit from Chelsea art school graphic students reponse to Barney Bubbles exhibition

Exhibit from Chelsea art school graphic students reponse to Barney Bubbles exhibition

Exhibit from Chelsea art school graphic students reponse to Barney Bubbles exhibition

Exhibit from Chelsea art school graphic students reponse to Barney Bubbles exhibition

Exhibit from Chelsea art school graphic students reponse to Barney Bubbles exhibition

Exhibit from Chelsea art school graphic students reponse to Barney Bubbles exhibition

Exhibit from Chelsea art school graphic students reponse to Barney Bubbles exhibition

Photos: Donald Smith.

Visit from students at Colin Fulcher’s alma mater

Wednesday, October 13th, 2010

Barney Bubbles exhibition: Graphic communications students from Kingston University

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.

Barney Bubbles exhibition: Kingston students with Donald Smith

Barney Bubbles exhibition: Kingston students and Paul

Photos: Martina Gonano

Process surfs the back-to-analogue wave

Wednesday, October 13th, 2010

Barney Bubbles exhibition: Paul Gorman shows Armed Forces packaging to LCC students

Conversations with students, lecturers and practitioners over recent days have confirmed how the show is surfing the current desire for “analogue” approaches to design.

Barney Bubbles exhibition: LCC Students

During presentations yesterday to students from London College Of Communications and Chelsea we set Barney Bubbles’ work in the context of the golden age of vinyl record sleeve 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.

Barney Bubbles exhibition: Paul Gorman and Patti Smith sleeve

Barney Bubbles exhibition: Chelsea students with Paul Gorman

This has been noted in a comment on the Creative Review report on the show: “Don’t let anyone at Mother see this – they think they discovered the ultra-retro feel,” writes “Devilgate”.

“Amazing” – flood of visitors to Process

Saturday, October 9th, 2010

Process visitors' book

On a page in the Chelsea Space visitors’ book, New York designer Aleksandar Maćašev sums up the reaction to the show we’ve received this week from a flood of visitors, including waves of graphics students, a major British artist, Ian Dury’s biographer, the owner of the country’s biggest spoof news site, one of rock music’s leading record sleeve designers (who has incorporated a section on Barney Bubbles in a new book), and, of course, Billy Bragg.

Maćašev wrote that a visit to the exhibition was the top of his to-do list while in London, and, judging by his response, we did not disappoint. Artist Daniel Sturgis, who has openly acknowledged his debt to Bubbles, was similarly complimentary, as were Will Birch and Paul Stokes, one of the men behind The Daily Mash.

Paul Gorman talking with Will Birch

Studying the ramp wall exhibits with Will Birch.

Paul Gorman talks Barney with Will Birch

Will Birch asks about the book and magazine display.

Process - Paul Gorman with Chelsea students

With Paul Stokes (far right) and Chelsea students.

And designer Richard Evans, who has been art director for The Who for more than 35 years, came along for a viewing, bringing with him his exciting new book Art Of The Album Cover, which has a section dedicated to Barney Bubbles’ achievements in this sphere.

Process - Richard Evans explains the process to Barbara and Martina

Richard Evans discusses process with Chelsea Space assistant curator Barbara Elting and assistant Martina Gonano.

Process - Richard Evans with his  book The Art of the Album Cover

Richard Evans with his new book open at the section on Barney Bubbles’ album sleeve designs.

Students from courses at Chelsea, Hastings, London College Of Communications and the Vienna International School took their time to absorb the insights into Bubbles’ working methods provided by the exhibits in the main room.

Process - students from the Vienna International School

Students from the Vienna International School.

Matt Boyle with students from the London College of Communication

Students from London College Of Communications.

Process - Chelsea students

Students from Chelsea College Of Art & Design.

“I found it fascinating and informative (more than most of the LDF and ADF!),”  writes Jonathan from Sussex Coast College Hastings. “Because of the layout, you get the sense of ‘this is his work’ and then you walk round the corner and…’this is how it was done’. It’s not just a show of his finished pieces – it goes deeper than that.”

Process is on until October 23.

Photos: Donald Smith.

Billy Bragg: “Barney Bubbles lives!”

Tuesday, October 5th, 2010

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Billy Bragg dropped by the exhibition today; here he is with the rug he contributed (featuring, of course, one of Barney Bubbles’ Masereel-quoting designs for the front of 1984’s Brewing Up).

billy1

Bill wrote in the visitor’s book:”Beautiful, hand crafted, timeless, exciting. Barney Bubbles lives!”

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.

Barney---bring-back-the-bir

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).

chocsa

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.”

birch-musica

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.

birch-imitationa

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

Birch-KursaalA

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

birch-radioa

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.

Visit from Kingston illustration students…

Sunday, October 3rd, 2010

Kingston illustration students visit Process: The working practices of Barney Bubbles

The breadth and variety of visitors to Process over the last week pays testament to the growing interest in the work of Barney Bubbles.

A couple of days ago students on the illustration course at Kingston University spent a lot of time studying the various stages of artwork in the main room. “I can’t believe this was all done by hand,” exclaimed one. “It’s so rare you get an opportunity to study such great work in such detail.”

Kingston illustration students visit Process: The working practices of Barney Bubbles

Kingston illustration students visit Process: The working practices of Barney Bubbles

…and a Chelsea Arts Club private view

Sunday, October 3rd, 2010

Chelsea Arts Club Barney Bubbles exhibition private view

On a sunny morning a few days before the visit from the Kingston students, Chelsea Space director Donald Smith and Sandra Higgins of The Chelsea Arts Club arranged an extremely agreeable private view of Process.

Chelsea Arts Club Barney Bubbles exhibition private view

This was followed by lunch and a chat about Barney Bubbles’ legacy, with input from some of his closest friends. Also contributing was artist Jim Latter, who knew Barney Bubbles via Quintessence; Latter had been a typographer who gave it all up to throw in his lot with the band as their tour manager, working with Bubbles when he put on light shows for Quintessence at venues such as Notting Hill’s All Saints Hall.

Latter sometimes stayed at Bubbles’ creative commune 307 Portobello Road. “I remember our conversations revolved around typography and geometric abstraction,” says Latter. As exclusively revealed in the new edition of Reasons To Be Cheerful (out this month), Bubbles himself received a strong grounding in typography at rigorous commercial art studio Michael Tucker + Associates in the early 60s.

Latter moved on to run the gallery at another legendary London venue where Bubbles worked his light show, The Roundhouse, before returning to fine art. Latter’s work continues to betray his proccupation in the subject matter of those conversations more than 40 years ago.

“What’s fascinating for me about the exhibition is that it shows Barney also never lost his interest in those topics; in fact the later artwork is all about that,” says Latter. “What a wonderful testament to a wonderful guy.”

Photos: Donald Smith.
Chelsea Arts Club Barney Bubbles exhibition private view