The Past The Present & The Possible was the title of the section in graphics music exhibition White Noise devoted to Barney Bubbles and curated by Reasons To Be Cheerful author Paul Gorman with artist/curator Sophie Demay and Etienne Hervy, director of the International Graphics & Poster Festival held every year in Chaumont, France.
Posts Tagged ‘Ian Dury’
Selected works by Barney Bubbles will appear in this summer’s group exhibition about the visual language of music, White Noise: Quand le graphisme fait du bruit (When graphics make the noise) at the 23rd International Poster & Graphic Design Festival in Chaumont, France, from May 26 to June 10.
White Noise is being put together by Sophie Demay and Étienne Hervy, the Chaumont festival artistic director and former editor of French graphics magazine Etapes, and includes contributions from a number of contemporary graphic artists – read more here.
Here are some more of Sophie’s shots taken during a recent run-through of potential exhibits:
These two stunning Barney Bubbles posters will be taking centre stage in the graphics section of the V&A’s forthcoming exhibition British Design: 1948-2012.
Today the rehabilitation of Barney Bubbles’ legacy moved a step further with the BBC Radio 4 broadcast of a half-hour documentary about the personal life of this graphic design master.
I was refused a preview copy, having been told last summer by the presenter/writer Mark Hodgkinson that I would not be needed as a contributor. No mention was made of my book, exhibition or this blog.
The exclusion of the latter three projects feels clunky even from an objective P.O.V. (as confirmed by a number of supportive messages).
While I am perfectly content not to have been involved – not my cup of tea, ’nuff said – I am also extremely chuffed that Bubbles and his legacy have reached another staging post in the journey to widespread appreciation.
Next stop: the inclusion of some amazing Barney Bubbles/Ian Dury collaborations in this spring’s big British Design show at the V&A show. Watch out here for exclusives.
Listen to In Search Of Barney Bubbles here.
This Larry Wallis poster design – one of five of the stars of the 1977 Live Stiffs tour – is among 20 or so examples of Barney Bubbles’ work included in Rude & Reckless, the punk and post-punk graphics exhibition opening tomorrow (July 21) at NYC’s Steven Kasher Gallery.
The show samples the collection of New York resident Andrew Krivine, who started accumulating records, posters, flyers and ephemera during family visits to the UK in the late 70s.
I was delighted to receive this boxed Blockhead watch recently.
Of course the typogram on the watch face – which emerges at twelve-fifteen and three o’clock – was designed by Barney Bubbles at the behest of the late Ian Dury, who said in Will Birch’s No Sleep Till Canvey Island:
“I phoned him and said, ‘I want a logo. It’s got to be black and white and square’. Then I heard somebody in his office say, ‘Wow’ and he said, ‘I’ve done it’.”
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.
Studying the ramp wall exhibits with Will Birch.
Will Birch asks about the book and magazine display.
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.
Richard Evans discusses process with Chelsea Space assistant curator Barbara Elting and assistant Martina Gonano.
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.
Students from the Vienna International School.
Students from London College Of Communications.
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.
Physiognomy was a preoccupation of Barney Bubbles and a recurring theme; he worried at the representation of the human face and tackled it from many angles. There are hundreds littered across his work, rendered in unusual arrangements and assembled from unlikely elements.
Here, in the first of a series of blogs by guests, the US designer Vic Fieger selects his Top Ten Barney Bubbles Faces:
Armed Forces: there he is, Barney himself, in the best place to hide: where everybody can see you. He seemed never to back away from portraying his big nose (see also Fast Women & Slow Horses), which makes up 70% of this self-portrait. The presentation of the eye utilises one of Barney’s favourite tricks: the repositioning of an oval shape. Most of his ovals have the same dimension ratio, and were likely cut or drawn with the use of a drafter’s stencil for isometric circles.
The Blockhead logo for Ian Dury and crew is of course one of his best-known. Everything is as clear as can be: eye/nose/eye/mouth. The letters are unaltered and of uniform size, save for the elongated L, and the arrangement of them is all it took to makes this word into a bona fide blockhead. Is it just serendipity that the letter-forms seem to present a mouth of misaligned and rotten teeth, framed by the round C and D?
There is similarity to the back of the 1981 re-issue of Dury’s What A Waste. In the square, white this time, the (still perfectly horizontal) mouth is the negative space of a double-edged razor which has wandered from the front cover. And is that another Eye Of Horus, gazing at the title of the B-side, perhaps just waking up to it?
The fellow who adorns the sleeve of Nick Lowe’s I Love The Sound Of Breaking Glass is made of metal; his mouth is a utility knife, his nose a pair of tweezers, and he sheds a pop pull-tab tear. A circular saw frames the face, the negative space this time providing the outline of head and neck.
The opposite end of the spectrum is represented by the sleeve for The Inmates’ seven-inch Me And The Boys. Here Barney subtracts rather than adds, removing different lengths of teeth of a plastic comb for the chiseled profiles of the titular mates. Stray hairs left in the combs provide – what else? – their hairstyles. This theme is extended to the rear of the sleeve, where Betty Lou (the B-side) is a long-haired beauty. There’s no paper wrapping (like for each of the Boys), so we have a female comb posing nude.
Ingrid Mansfield-Allman’s Stop Wasting Your Time has a thick stripe taking up half of the front cover, which consists of a grid with a black dot at each eighth intersect. The portion above is black, below is white. A precise calligraphic swash eases down the left side. Together, these elements present the veiled visage of woman as funeral attendee, her lips formed from the dense, compact letter forms of Haettenschweiler. They spell the record’s title, as if this character is saying: “He’s gone now, so what are you waiting for?”
Haettenschweiler is also used in Barney’s letterhead for Elvis Costello. While the O’s are big, bold and circular, the rest of Costello is pushed together in this typeface – type face? – to complete his trademark horn-rims. The capital “E” is stretched down for the outline of his head and the coif is made up of the “LVIS”.
Another letterhead, for F-Beat, presents the face of a clown from the most primitive of shapes. The lowercase “B” is represented as a mostly filled-in circle for one eye and the other eye is the clown’s painted cross from a lowercase “t”. The “A” is a red triangular nose, the “E ” a square formed by identical and equally-spaced parallel rectangles (another of Barney’s recurring devices) and the longer portion below the horizontal line of the T suggests face-paint running down a harlequin’s face: the tears of a clown, maybe?
Howard Werth’s 4D Man sleeve is particularly smart: an eight-pointed star and a bold pink numeral 4 which rotates at intervals of 90deg to form the part of the star, but also, in its upright form, is an angular profile. The rest of the star forms a spiked mohawk hairstyle, and the placement of “MAN” can be seen as a shorn scalp. Whether the D is an eye or an ear isn’t clear.
Another drawn up from geometric sources is the test-pattern man of Roger Chapman’s Mango Crazy album. It’s quite hard to tell exactly what’s going on here; for instance, which direction is he facing? His mouth and chin seem to be in opposite directions; his eyebrows can be discerned, but which are his eyes: the red dots or the white? Does each eye have two dots, one of each color? Is he shown in the action of casting his gaze aside? Just pondering all of the possibilities here is enough to make a man, er, go crazy.
Come to think of it, are any of these faces at all? They’re grids, bits of metal, letters of the alphabet, combs, and so forth. It’s part of human nature to see faces where they don’t actually exist, but Barney Bubbles envisioned them like nobody else I have ever come across.