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.”
Visit Maisie Parker’s site here.