Posts Tagged ‘Nik Turner’

Update: Signed copies of the Barney Bubbles book available now for just £20 worldwide!

Tuesday, May 24th, 2016

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Signed copies of Reasons To Be Cheerful, my acclaimed monograph of the radical British graphic artist Barney Bubbles, are now available from my eBay page for just £20 including shipping worldwide, as long as you order through their Global Shipping programme if you are outside the UK.

Buy your copies here.

As well as a celebration of a pop culture great, Reasons To Be Cheerful is recognised as a significant design history, praised by leading magazines and newspapers around the world and voted MOJO’s book of the year . It is also a recommended reference source for graphics communications courses at leading educational institutions.

Reasons To Be Cheerful includes contributions from some of the most important graphic practitioners operating today, such as Art Chantry, Malcolm Garrett and Peter Saville.

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Amazing Hawklord drumhead comes to light after four decades

Thursday, January 8th, 2015
Hawkwind drumhead designed by Barney Bubbles 1972

//Drumhead painted by Barney Bubbles for Hawkwind drummer Simon King’s kit, 1972//

A rare design by Barney Bubbles has come to light after four decades; the psychedelic sci-fi drumhead was painted for Hawkwind when the space rocking Sonic Assassins undertook tours around the world following the success of their Silver Machine single in 1972.

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//Hawkwind – including, from left, Nik Turner, Stacia Blake, Simon King and Lemmy – performing with the drumheads in situ at the Windsor Free Festival, August, 1973. Photographer: Unknown//

Doremi Fasol Latido by Hawkwind - inner sleeve

//12″ paper inner for Barney Bubbles’ packaging for Doremi Fasol Latido, Hawkwind, UA, 1972//

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//Detail of grimacing Hawklord from the Doremi inner//

The design of a snarling apparition – a so-called ‘Hawklord’ as depicted on the group’s album Doremi Sofal Latido – was one of a pair which adorned the front of the twin bass-drums in Simon King’s kit during this period.

Bubbles – charged with “Optics” and effectively the group’s art director – applied an integrated approach to the collective far beyond the remit of just creating album sleeves, posters and other promotional material.

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//Flam Flam: Barney Bubbles drumhead for Glen Colson, 1983//

As mentioned in my Barney Bubbles monograph Reasons To Be Cheerful, the visual impact of painted drumheads appealed to Bubbles; as well as these for Hawkwind, he designed others for Pete Thomas (of Chilli Willi And The Red Hot Peppers/The Attractions), Will Birch (Kursaal Flyers/The Records) and his publicist friend Glen Colson.

The current owner of the amazing Hawkwind drum-head has treasured it for a number of years.

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A fuller version of this story appears on my blog here.

The owner also has the original drumkit, for which offers are being welcomed. These should be directed via the contact mail on my blog (in the About Me section).

Barney Bubbles events at Glastonbury

Saturday, June 4th, 2011
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Front, fold-out sleeve, Revelations: A Musical Anthology, Revelation Enterprises, 1972. 24" x 36".

This year’s Glastonbury Festival will celebrate the work of Barney Bubbles, who created the extraordinary sleeve for the Glastonbury Fayre triple album set Revelations – A Musical Anthology.

Since 2011 marks the 40th anniversary of the Fayre, Bubbles’ biographer Paul Gorman is staging two events at the Festival’s Spirit Of 71 Cafe  to mark the late graphic designer’s involvement with the album, the festival and many of the performers who have played there.

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Moorcock on Ballard, Bubbles, Platt, Paolozzi et al

Saturday, July 10th, 2010

Pedro Marques has posted the second installment of his interview with Michael Moorcock, in which the great man discusses his working relationship with designers not only of his books but also New Worlds, the sci-fi magazine he edited over a long period .

New Worlds, August 1967. Cover: Eduardo Paolozzi.

The interview reveals the mutual respect shared by Barney Bubbles and art director/editor/and later WIRED contributor Charles Platt.

New Worlds August 1969. Cover: Charles Platt.

“Barney and Charles lived a few blocks from one another in the Portobello Road and its environs, where the offices of New Worlds and Frendz were situated virtually side by side,” says Moorcock, whose 1975 album The New Worlds Fair is housed in a Barney Bubbles sleeve.

12in sleeve. The New Worlds Fair, Michael Moorcock & The Deep Fix, UA, 1975.

Later on in the decade the New Worlds art director was Richard Glyn Jones.”By the time [Barney] was at Stiff Records, he had more work than he could handle and I never wanted to overload him, he was such a sweet guy,” says Moorcock.  “But I would have used him if I could.”

Stacia, second left, with fans at Harlow Town Park, August 1974. Photo via Bassmonster 2 at Hawkwind Free Forums.

I was thrilled that Moorcock was available to make many valuable contributions to Reasons To Be Cheerful, not least because I clearly remember him intoning excerpts from Warrior On the Edge Of Time oonstage with Hawkwind at a 1974 free festival in Harlow New Town, surrounded as I was by members of the Windsor Chapter, all of us captivated by the onstage antics of Stacia and Nik Turner (playing his sax dressed as a frog, naturellement)

Since we’re on the subject of MM, I’d also like to urge you to check out the recently published and wonderful John Coulthart-designed compendium of Moorcock’s writings, Into The Media Web.

Barney’s t-shirts from Alfalpha to Hawklords to Wangford

Wednesday, November 18th, 2009

Prompted by the forthcoming regrouping of Hawklords at Nik Turner’s Barney Bubbles Memorial Concert on Sunday November 29, here’s yet another exclusive: Barney Bubbles’ sketches for a front-and-back-printed t-shirt for the Hawkwind splinter group’s 1978 dystopian project 25 Years On.

Hawklord t-shirt design Barney Bubbles, 1978. (C) Reasons 2009.

These were drawn in the bottom right-hand corner of an otherwise blank sheet of one of his pads, and feature the heraldic/masonic symbols Barney  incorporated in the concept album’s design.

Hawklords booklet 1978. Design/Concept: Barney Bubbles. Photography/Concept: Chris Gabrin.

As detailed in Reasons To Be Cheerful, years before merchandise became an ancillary money-spinner for the music biz, Barney was integrating his Hawkwind approach by providing tees for the band and gig-goers based on his designs for X In Search Of Space, Space Ritual and Doremi Fasol Latido and the Hawkwind/Man 1999 Party US tour poster.

Lorry Sartorio 1964. Design/Concept/Photography: Barney Bubbles. (C) L. Sartorio/Reasons 2009.

As we’ve noted here, Barney first designed t-shirts in 1964, creating one worn by his girlfriend Lorry Sartorio for a poster he made for college band The Muleskinners (featuring his pal and Face Ian McLagan).

Alfalpha t-shirt detail, 1976. (C) Jeff Dexter.

In 1976 he supplied an amazing logo design for his friend Jeff Dexter, then co-managing Hawkwind with Tony Howard and also looking after an ill-fated combo Alfalpha. This logo appeared on badges Barney created in conjunction with his friend Joly McFie of Better Badges and t-shirts in fluorescent pink on black with a diamante in the text. “They were very kool – made by his other mate Alan Holden from Sunrise Studios,” says Jeff.  

Ian Dury t-shirt, 1978. (C) Ian Dury Family Estate/Reasons 2009.

And when punk and new wave took off, Barney provided many t-shirt designs for his friends, such as this Lissitzky-informed Ian Dury tee from 1978.

Back, Imperial Bedroom US tour t-shirt, 1982. (C) Reasons 2009.

By 1982 Barney was contributing not only his album covers but also detail from the artwork to t-shirts, such as the “bedbug”  which appeared on the back of the top fronted by his Imperial Bedroom painting for a US tour by Elvis Costello & The Attractions.

Front, Hank Wangford Band sweatshirt, 1983. (C) Reasons 2009.

When his friend from the 60s counterculture days Sam Hutt – aka Hank Wangford – started to make waves on the UK music scene around the same time, Barney not only supplied album artwork but also came up with a wonderful range of t-shirt designs which mixed Argyll knitwear and grey marl with cowpoke.

Back, Hank Wangford Jogging With Jesus t-shirt 1983. (C) Reasons 2009.

Tickets for the Barney Bubbles Memorial Concert at the 229 Club, London on Sunday November 29 are available here.

The power of the pyramid and the mystery of the three circles

Tuesday, June 30th, 2009

The application of geometric symbols was an important element of Barney Bubbles’ visual language.

Detail from label, I Can't Stand Up For Falling Down, FBeat XX1, February 1980.

As pointed out in Reasons To Be Cheerful, Barney’s use of symbolism throughout his career underlines his consistency of approach and undercuts notions of a clear division between his 60s/70s “hippie” work and that produced after joining Stiff Records in March 1977.

The presence of symbols also effected a “signature” for this artist who opted for anonymity and avoided credits in his later years.

A fine example are the three triangulated circles which surfaced in February 1980 as a tiny detail on the label for I Can’t Stand Up For Falling Down, the hit single by Elvis Costello & The Attractions which inaugurated Jake Riviera’s FBeat Records. Next they appeared on the double A-side promo for the label’s second single, Splash (A Tear Comes Rolling Down) by Clive Langer & The Boxes, though were gone by the official release.

B-side of From Head To Toe, Elvis Costello & The Attractions, FBeat, 1983.

Thereafter, the circles crop up on releases by Costello and Nick Lowe up until Barney’s death in 1983. However, the symbol was not used in the label copy for releases by other acts on FBeat, including Lowe’s collaborative projects with Dave Edmunds in Rockpile such as Seconds of Pleasure or The Attractions’ “solo” effort Mad About The Wrong Boy.

Triple gatefold cover, the Glastonbury Fayre, Revelation, 1972. Advert, Frendz 33, 1972.

So what to make of this repeated, if selective, use?  The pyramid and triangle were sources of fascination in line with Barney’s interest in Egyptology and Norse mythology, as evinced by such projects as The Glastonbury Fayre and in various forms for Hawkwind and band-member Nik Turner’s solo projects.

"Pyramid power": Cut and fold inserts, The Glastonbury Fayre, Revelation, 1972.

The three overlapping circles convey many meanings,  drawing on the potency of Sacred Geometry as well as the work of “The Great Geometer” himself, Appollonius of Perga.

From advert for Xitintoday by Nik Turner's Sphynx, NME, April 22, 1978.

In Christian terms, they represent the Holy Trinity, and in combination with triangles signify alchemy. Intersecting and tangental circles occur in Masonic mathematical calculations – Barney’s father Fred Fulcher was a mason and the compass, used to draw circles, is a key symbol in Freemasonry.

Left: Symbol for the Holy Trinity. Right: The Borromean Rings.

The three interlaced circles are also known as the Borromean Rings (since they  decorate a particular Baroque palazzo on one of the three northern Italian islands owned in the 17th Century by the Borromeo family).  A form of the link was used by the Vikings and is known as Odin’s Triangle.

Left: Alchemical sign. Right: Odin's Triangle.

More recently, three interlinked rings have been employed to define business leadership and corporate management structures.

Contemporary versions used in sociology and management models.

The explicit use of this symbol during the FBeat period comes into focus when one considers Barney’s ongoing preoccupation with power – hence also the variants on crowns and other regal insignia. The strength in the three interlocked circles lies in their unity; if one is broken the potency is lost.

My interpretation is that the three circles – fuelled by the energy of the pyramid and imbued with multiple layers of meaning – represent the powerful interplay between Jake Riviera, Barney himself and the priority artists Elvis Costello and Nick Lowe: this was a time when management, design and music were all reliant on each other and firing on all cylinders.

What’s yours?

Space Ritual ’09 cancelled

Friday, May 15th, 2009

The ambitious plan to celebrate Barney Bubbles’ and Robert Calvert‘s involvement in the Hawkwind legacy has come to nought with the cancellation of the all-day concert Space Ritual 09, due to take place at London’s The Roundhouse on June 7.

Front cover, Hawklords booklet, 1978; poster by Bruce Fisher for cancelled event.

The brainchild of former Hawkwind wind instrument player Nik Turner, the event was to include a rendition of the band’s Space Ritual stage show from 1972, as well as the splinter group Hawklords’ 25 Years On album from 1978. There were to be appearances by reunited fellow travellers such as Amon Duul II – whose ranks included Hawkwind member Dave Anderson -and  Quintessence, as well as a performance of a 1976 play written by Calvert and featuring a stage set by Barney.

Barney's front covers for Space Ritual, Hawklords, UA, 1973 and 25 Years On, Hawklords, Charisma, 1978.

Space Ritual 09 had already been delayed once; due to take place on March 8, that gig was pulled at the last minute by Turner after he suffered a back injury.

Barney-designed "Lohengrin" banner for Nik Turner, Space Ritual tour, 1972.

“The change of show date meant various acts and production events are unable to be present,” reads the press statement released today.  “While there has been a concerted effort by all concerned, it has not been possible to find replacement performances. As such, both Hawklords and the promoter feel that to pare down the event would not warrant a £30 ticket price and have made the unhappy decision to cancel the show. All tickets are refundable from point of purchase.”

Commiserations to those looking forward to the event, particularly Trudi Woodhouse, who won our competition for free tickets.

Meanwhile Hawkwind, steered by founder Dave Brock,  is playing a number of dates this year in celebration of its 40th anniversary, including a show in old stamping ground Notting Hill. Taking place at the Porchester Hall on August 29, this too promises to be a happening. Tickets have sold out.

Sphynx: Symmetry, symbolism and shape

Wednesday, February 25th, 2009

Ahead of The Roundhouse celebration on March 8, Nik Turner has posted a set of reminiscences about his exciting creative relationship with Barney Bubbles.

These provide us with an opportunity to reveal exclusive images surrounding one of Nik and Barney’s most intriguing collaborations (which also centred on a multi-media happening at the same venue).

As covered by his stellar contribution to Reasons To Be Cheerful, Nik’s friendship with Barney began at the dawn of the 70s when they were introduced by the late writer and performer Robert Calvert.

 

Hawkwind Love & Peace poster (c) N. Turner.

Hawkwind Love & Peace poster (c) N. Turner.

“We struck a chord in each other,” says Nik. “Barney came along to a Hawkwind gig and saw that my vision of the band’s spirit embodied a lot of the concepts and ideals to which he related. After that he was happy to apply his creative energy, designing the Peace & Love poster for us, and then the X In Search of Space album sleeve, log-book and concept.”

Full-page advert for X In Search Of Space, Oz 38, 1971.

Full-page advert for X In Search Of Space, Oz 38, 1971.

Barney realised the visual identity of Hawkwind on every level as the space-rockers progressed through the first half of the 70s. When Nik left the band in 1976 he embarked on a trip to Egypt. “That was in part inspired by the common interest Barney and I had in Egyptology and ancient civilisations,” Nik explains.

“While there I recorded flute music inside the King’s Chamber of The Great Pyramid, and this became the album Xitintoday by my new group Sphynx.”

Xitintoday promotional poster. (c) N. Turner/Reasons 2009.

Xitintoday promotional poster. (c) N. Turner/Reasons 2009.

Barney agreed to design the album sleeve and booklet on condition that he applied the principals of concrete poetry (where typographical arrangement is as important as the words in conveying meaning).

Barney’s mastery of typography had long enabled him to communicate depth of meaning in this way, so concrete poetry became a natural area of investigation for a visual artist fascinated by symmetry, symbolism and shape.

These, of course, were central to his other abiding interests such as cosmology and Egyptology, as evinced by the poster he designed to promote the release of Xitintoday, which is constructed around a favourite symbol of Barney’s, The Eye of Horus.

When he was approached by Nik, Barney had already embarked on developing a series of concrete poetry artworks in 12″ x 10″ frames for a group exhibition which he was helping to organise at his London squat. He also planned the printing of a limited edition of a poem which consisted of one word:  “nowhere”. This appears in the booklet he designed for Xitintoday as do many other examples, such as the word “day” made up of repeated use of the word “night” in white on black.

Sketches and word pictures. (c) D.Fawcett/Reasons 2009.

Examples of Barney's concrete poetry. (c) C.Fawcett/Reasons 2009.

As this page of drafts and notes shows, Barney was fascinated by the form. Among the options are the Xitintoday cover’s constellated tiny pentagrams created from the word “twinkle”.

Big star: detail from Xitintoday;s front cover

Big star: detail from Xitintoday's front cover.

Barney’s interest in concrete poetry was stimulated by his relationship with the photographer Frances Newman, who was later to marry his friend Brian Griffin. Newman’s partner had been Tom Edmonds, the concrete poet who died in 1971 and contributed to the important collection Gloup And Woup along with such exponents as Bob Cobbing, John Furnival and it’s most celebrated figure, the Benedictine monk Dom Sylvester Houedard.

Xitintoday front cover, Charisma records, 1978.

Xitintoday front cover, Charisma Records, 1978.

Xitintoday’s release was heralded by an all-day happening at The Roundhouse, for which Barney choreographed the dancers in Sphynx’s stage show.

Do not lick this dot. Summer 1978. (c) G. Colson/Reasons 2009.
“Do not lick this dot’, Summer 1978. (c) G. Colson/Reasons 2009.

Billed as Nik Turner’s Bohemian Love In, this featured an eclectic supporting cast, including ex-Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah band member Roger Ruskin Spear and his robots, former T. Rex member Steve Took’s Horns, punk poets Patrik Fitzgerald and John Cooper Clarke, sci-fi author Michael Moorcock and Tanz Der Youth, the band briefly led by The Damned‘s Brian James.

Both John Cooper Clarke and Tanz Der Youth also benefited from Barney designs; the former with his songbook Directory 1979 and the latter in the shape of the sleeve for his Radar single I’m Sorry, I’m Sorry.

Im Sorry Im Sorry by Tanz Der Youth, Radar 1978

I'm Sorry I'm Sorry by Tanz Der Youth, Radar, 1978.

Among the attendees at The Bohemian Love In were Calvert and Hawkwind founder Dave Brock, both then putting together new  group Hawklords and recording dystopian concept album 25 Years On.

Hawklords postcard 1978.

Hawklords postcard 1978. Pauline Kennedy Collection.

They brought Barney on board and, working with photographer Chris Gabrin, he moved away from concrete poetry into bleak futurism and monochromatic expressionist territory to which he applied the new punk day-glo spray-can aesthetic. This is covered extensively in Reasons, as are the rest of Nik’s collaborations with Barney, through the releases by his band Inner City Unit to the extraordinary Ersatz under the guise of The Imperial Pompadours.

“Throughout this period I lived with Barney off and on, in various studios and houses,” says Nik, who is organising the event with another of Barney’s friends, promoter John Curd.  “We always had wonderful times together, full of inspiration and creativity, weird, wild and wacky. I’ll always remember him as being a great fan of object trouve, and feel a debt for all his help and inspiration over the years.”

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– – COMPETITION – –

Two free tickets for The Roundhouse event

This week we are giving away two free tickets for The Hawklords/Space Ritual 09/Barney Bubbles Memorial event at The Roundhouse on Sunday, March 8.

Grab a chance of winning them by sending your answer to the question below to: thelook@rockpopfashion.com by midnight GMT on Sunday March 1.

We’ll announce the lucky winners the following day.

Q: Who recites Sonic Attack on Hawkwind’s The Space Ritual Alive in Liverpool and London?

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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.