Posts Tagged ‘307 Portobello Road’

Talking Teenburger: J.Moonman meets Bishi

Monday, December 13th, 2010

moon-teenburgerpaper8″x8″. Livery, Teenburger Designs, 1969.

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).

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12″x12″. Page 5, booklet, In Blissful Company, Quintessence, Island Records, 1969.

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Page 6, in Blissful Company booklet.

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Page 7, In Blissful Company booklet.

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Page 8, In Blissful Company booklet.

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Page 9, In Blissful Company booklet.

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Page 10, In Blissful Company booklet.

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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.”

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12″ x 12″. Front, Cressida, Vertigo, released February 1970.

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12″ x 24in. Inner gatefold, Cressida.

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Back, Cressida.

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12″ x 12″. Front, Red Dirt, Fontana Records, released April 1970.

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Back, Red Dirt.

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12″ x 12″. Front, Gracious!, Vertigo, released August 1970.

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12″ x 24″. Inner gatefold, Gracious!.

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Back, 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.

Call The Tiger – Performance from Bishi TV on Vimeo.

Muggeridge was delighted. “I’m sure Barney would have approved,” he said.

…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

Exhibition and new edition in MOJO

Thursday, August 26th, 2010

MOJO

Read about the forthcoming exhibition Process: The working practices of Barney Bubbles and the new edition of Reasons To Be Cheerful – out in October, new cover below – in the new issue of MOJO.

There are a host of fresh images in the new edition, as well as previously unpublished information and facts about Bubbles’ life and career along with extra contributions, including a chat with Art Chantry and memories from those who knew him, such as “Record John” Cowell.

Half-brother of Simon Cowell, John lived at Bubbles’ Teenburger hq 307 Portobello Road in the late 60s and says: “It’s about time he was recognised but Barney was never one for self-publicity. He was a real hippy. I miss him so much and think of him often.”

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There are many exciting elements to the forthcoming show, which runs from September 14 to October 23 at London’s Chelsea Space gallery. Full details here.

The new edition, which has a new ISBN number as befits the expanded and enhanced book, will be available to order from amazon shortly. We will also be making available signed copies exclusively from this site and will provide full details soon.

Kicking up the dust on Teenburger’s Red Dirt sleeve

Thursday, January 28th, 2010

The current issue of The Word covers former Radio One DJ Mike Read’s sale of his huge vinyl collection.

12in card. Front cover, Red Dirt, Red Dirt, Fontana, 1970. Pic: John KosmicKourier.

A notable item in Read’s glorified yard sale (also discussed on The Word’s excellent website) is the 1970 eponymous album by blues-rockers Red Dirt. Released on the Fontana label, this went as soon as it arrived, ignored by punters and press alike.

Since the 80s collectors’ boom in prog and associated genres, copies of Red Dirt have become increasingly valuable; vinyl authority (and one-time colleague of Barney Bubbles) Phil Smee points out that they are currently go for at least £600 a pop.

Back cover, Red Dirt, 1970. Pic: John KosmicKourier.

Red Dirt’s music has been derided, unfairly we believe. Though sometimes workmanlike,  the quartet’s vigorous brew kept it short and sweet, shining on such tracks as Mellotron and dirty slide-laden opener Memories, the Beefheart stomp of Death Letter, acoustic bottleneck blues Song For Pauline and the mournful I’ve Been Down So Long. Sonically, it’s in line Rod Stewart’s first couple of solo albums as well as those he did with The Faces; this could have something to do with the presence of engineer Mike Bobak (who worked on Never A Dull Moment and Long Player among others).

Red Dirt is blessed with a wonderful cover by Barney Bubbles, whose Notting Hill design studio Teenburger receives the credit.

Barney launched Teenburger Designs at the beginning of 1969 from his abode at 307 Portobello Road; for headed paper he reproduced burger wrappers, with a brown burger in a bun printed on the back. We’ll be revealing an example as one of the additions to the new enhanced edition of Reasons To Be Cheerful; above is the header.

305-309 Portobello Road, London, W11, 1970. Photo: Unknown.

Red Dirt is one of a handful of album sleeves attributed to Teenburger; some were executed in conjunction with Barney’s pal from Conran Design in the 60s, John Muggeridge.

The cover image is taken from a wanted poster of Geronimo, the Apache chieftain reputed to have magical powers (though it’s clear the photo was staged – a shackle is visible around one leg) . The Apache stem from the south of the US: Arizona, New Mexico and Oklahoma, where there are federally recognized contemporary Apache tribal governments to this day. Geronimo’s remains were thought – until recently – to have been buried under a stone pyramid monument at Fort Sill in Oklohoma, the state renowned for the presence of – guess what? – red dirt across more than a million acres, in 33 counties no less.  Sand, siltstone and shale weathering account for its hue, apparently.

7in sleeve. Back and front, One Chord Wonders/Quickstep, The Adverts, Stiff Records, 1977.

Barney’s brutal enlargement of the deliberately ragged crop of Geronimo’s face brought out the half-tones, while  the dramatic contrasts are heightened by the sparing  use of the  red “blood” trickles seeping from the bullet holes emblazoning the band’s name on the design.

Poster, 60" x 40". The Damned, Stiff Records, 1977.

This technique really came into it’s own seven years later when applied to the monochrome imagery of early punk, as evinced by Barney’s 7in sleeve for The Adverts’ Stiff single 1977 One Chord Wonders and his large poster for The Damned that same year.

Sunday Implosion celebrates Barney

Thursday, January 29th, 2009

The revival of interest in Barney Bubbles is gathering pace; now an old-school “happening” has been announced in his memory at London’s historic venue The Roundhouse on Sunday, March 8.

Space Ritual 09 artwork by Bruce Fisher

The appearance of Quintessence on the bill affords an opportunity to show exclusively for the first time this late 60s sketch by Barney of himself, his friends in the band and their rehearsal space at his Notting Hill creative commune.

Barney, Quintessence and Motherburger (c) Lorraine Sartorio

The drawing appears in a letter Barney sent to his friend Lorry Sartorio enthusing about the new life he had established in the late 60s at 307 Portobello Road. It was here that Barney began designing record sleeves – his first was a die-cut booklet for Quintessence’s debut album In Blinding Light.

Sunday Implosion is being organised by a group of Barney fans and pals, including ex-Hawkwind member Nik Turner and the band’s one-time manager Doug Smith, both of whom contributed memories and material to Reasons To Be Cheerful. The promoter is John Curd, who also worked with Barney extensively.

The title is a nod to the name of the weekly events held at the venue in the 70s; these regularly featured Hawkwind as well as Barney’s posters and promotional material.

In fact a particular performance by Hawkwind one Sunday afternoon in February 1975 left a lifelong impression on this writer; I stuck my head in the bassbin while they were playing and haven’t been quite the same since.

Courtesy: Matthew Cang Collection

Courtesy: Matthew Cang Collection

A number of former Hawkwind members are gathering under the moniker Hawklords. That aggregation’s dystopian 1978 album 25 Years On benefited from a total Barney package, including a suitably foreboding sleeve, booklet, stage set, choreography and lighting.

Photo: Chris Gabrin

25 Years On booklet cover. Photo: Chris Gabrin

The shebang in March also promises the Space Ritual 09, inspired by the integrated design Barney created in collaboration with his compadre Robert Calvert for the ‘Wind’s 1972 UK tour and subsequent live double. Read all about the amazing Apple label bolero jacket worn by temporary Hawkwind dancer and Friends editor John May on that tour at our sister blog THE LOOK.

Barney came up with the set for Robert’s short play The Stars That Play With Laughing Sam’s Dice, which will be performed at Sunday Implosion by the Pentameters Theatre group. The event also witnesses the return of ace Krautrockers Amon Duul II, whose bassist Dave Anderson was also a Hawkwind member

In old-school style, Sunday Implosion takes place between 3pm and 11pm. Tickets are £30 from The Roundhouse box office  on 0844 482 8008 or here.