Andy Dunkley, a fellow-traveller of Barney Bubbles as the Hawkwind collective’s MC and in-house DJ in the 70s, died on April 30 of heart failure. He was 68.
Posts Tagged ‘The Roundhouse’
A pleasurable introduction yesterday to the legendary Jim Haynes at the Chelsea Arts Club affords publication of this shot of Barney Bubbles in the midst of operating his slide projection light show at the Drury Lane Arts Lab in autumn 1967.
Haynes’ establishment of this space for mixed media performance and experimental theatre in September that year triggered a new phase in the development of the arts in Britain.
Soon a network of arts labs sprang up (one launched by the young David Bowie – who had performed his mime show at Drury Lane – in the back of The Three Tuns pub in Beckenham, Kent).
Drury Lane is the place where the Barney Bubbles Light Show came into being. The photograph of Barney Fulcher (as he was styled then) with ink-stained hands and heavy duty projectors was taken by his Conran design department colleague Stafford Cliff.
It shows the 25-year-old graphic designer on the cusp of adopting his new persona and stepping out into a mind-expanding future, taking the light show around other such underground venues as Middle Earth and The Roundhouse.
Jim is in the UK for participation in the Edinburgh Festival; of course his relationship with the city goes back many decades. These days he’s also known for the delightful Sunday dinners he has thrown at his Paris atelier for the past 30 years.
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.
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.
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.
“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.
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).
“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.”
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.”
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.
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”.
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’s release was heralded by an all-day happening at The Roundhouse, for which Barney choreographed the dancers in Sphynx’s stage show.
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.
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.”
- – 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: firstname.lastname@example.org 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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.