We Are Watching: Oz magazine at Chelsea Space

Oz Mag Watching

Chelsea Space at the Chelsea College of Arts in Pimlico has recently opened an exhibition looking at Oz, it’s obscenity trials and the counterculture magazines of the 60s and 70s that sprang up around it. Featuring every issue of both the Australian and British runs, posters, letters, films and all manner of ephemera from the estates of Richard Neville, Martin Sharp, Felix Dennis and many private collections of those who worked on it, it’s a lovingly curated selection by Cherie Silver who was minding the exhibition when I went last week and was eager to answer questions.
If you’ve never seen issues before then here’s a chance, there are some that can be looked through and one wall lays out the Magic Theatre issue, comprised entirely of a stream of consciousness collage. It finishes on July 14th and is free, usually open between 10.30-11am.
* I rather like the graphic above, subverting George Orwell‘s 1984 maxim, unfortunately they could never have foreseen the Big Brother they’d be watching half a century later.

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Alex Ross does The Beatles’ Yellow Submarine

ys_alexross I ran across these the other night, comic artist Alex Ross does realistic versions of the characters from the Yellow Submarine cartoon film. His take on the Love Glove, Blue Meanies and Jeremy the Nowhere Man are quite unsettling but beautiful. The single Beatle images are offered as sets of prints direct from Alex’s site but they’re not cheap! The long image at the top was offered last year by Dark Hall Mansion, see more details here.

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California – Designing Freedom exhibition at the Design Museum

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The California: Designing Freedom exhibition at the Design Museum is an odd collection of art, print, tech, media and curios that flimsily hangs on the premise that it all originates from the state of California. From the screen print innovations of Sister Corita Kent to the Family Dog psychedelic posters to David Carson‘s Ray Gun magazine design and the skate board craze, on to a recreation of the iconic Easy Rider chopper bike, real Hell’s Angel jackets and the Buckminster Fuller-inspired dome-building communities of the 70s. The links are tenuous or non-existent but all point to people following their own path, whether working alone or as part of a movement. The future looms large from the earliest Apple computers to videos gaming design and Google‘s place as a part of our everyday lives. A joy to behold are some of Syd Mead‘s original concept paintings for Blade Runner which were much smaller than I imagined but no less powerful. It’s on until October, well worth a look…

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David Klein, illustrator

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Whilst combing the web for something else entirely I stumbled across the work of the late David Klein. I’ve always been envious of artists who can seemingly use every colour in the palette and not make the result look like a dog’s dinner and there are some wonderful combinations here. His travel posters are lushous examples of a bygone era that occasionally resurfaces when illustrating period pieces like Mad Men. His psychedelic version of Alice In Wonderland is one of the best I’ve seen and there’s an oddity of what looks like six unused prelims for The Exorcist in there too. Visit his website to find out and see more…

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Will Barras at Sector 25

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On Friday night I finally made the pilgrimage to South Norwood, SE25 – not an area of London I’m familiar with – to the little beacon of sound and colour that is Gamma/Sector 25. Run by Rob Swain of the Gamma Proforma label, it’s a bar and gallery representing the music and artists he’s collected around him over the last 15 years and the next step in the evolution of the project. His influence in the area is immediately felt with street pieces in evidence around the location of the bar from artists like She One, Phil Ashcroft and Epod.
Each month he hosts a new display of work entitled ‘Milestones’ where the gallery shows work from an artist he’s worked with and this month was the turn of Will Barras with original paintings from the Divine Styler album Def Mask, his Rammellzee portrait and the upcoming Juice Aleem album among others. Gamma also recently published a book of Will’s work that is well worth getting if you like what you see here. The bar is situated at 14 Portland Road, London, SE25 4PF, nearest train station is Norwood Junction, and is generally open from 7am-5pm, later at weekends.

Below: Details from ‘the coolest toilet in South London’

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Below: Details from the art for Juice Aleem‘s new album, ‘Voodoostarchild’

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Below: Details from a recent commission, definitely channeling some Syd Mead on the car there.

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Below: Details from the art for Divine Styler‘s last album, ‘Def Mask’

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RIP Leo Baxendale

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I was never a Beano or Dandy reader, but this book, Willy the Kid Book 2, as well as Sweeney Toddler when I was a kid, was poured over by me and my brother, we knew every little detail. It took me years to find a copy of Book 1 (and I only just found out there was a Book 3!) and his book, Thrrp! for Knockabout probably wins the stupidest comic ever award.
RIP Leo Baxendale

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The Beatles’ Revolver art & Klaus Voormann

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A random web search threw up the image above, citing that it was a rejected cover for The BeatlesRevolver album. More searching revealed that it wasn’t by Klaus Voormann, whose classic black & white collage and line cover everyone knows, but by photographer Robert Freeman. The Beatles passed over it for Klaus’ work and googling that cover image brings up masses of variations of the final piece, as many by Klaus as by fans who have reworked it for their own ends. Voornman not only did many different versions before he arrived at the final but has revisited it many times over the years as well as creating several works centered around Beatles songs in the same style for various projects.

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The image below visualises ‘Tomorrow Never Knows’, I’ve found some details so that you can see what’s going on a little more easily. There’s also a book, ‘Revolver 50’ that tells the story of how he made the cover.

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Seen out and about in Penge

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I found myself in Penge today, which is a rarity, and there was plenty to see in the quiet South East London suburb. The Penge / Pengeuin paste up above doesn’t really trip off the tongue but it’s always nice to see the orange logo. A little further down the road was a fascinating shop, with a colourful mural outside, that looked like it had been shut for many years. Inside the grilled window were old lamps, bottles, heads and all sorts, stuffed to the rafters but locked up and inaccessible.
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Next were a brace of shops with fresh murals on side walls and shutters.
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The local charity shops threw up a couple of fabulous covers, brilliant in their unstyled glory.
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Later, up the road in Crystal Palace, I came across this amazing stained glass window on a church.
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Eduardo Paolozzi at The Whitechapel Gallery

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Continuing the Paolozzi love on this blog, I visited the new retrospective of his work at the Whitechapel Gallery in East London. Over 250 of his works are on display and it’s more than worth the price of admission. Prints, sculptures, paintings, textiles, photos, films and collages stretch over two floors and the breadth of his work is amazing. What’s also apparent in most of it is that it’s barely dated and is quite timeless, his early Pop Art collages being the only exceptions which can be forgiven as he was one of the originators. The technical level achieved in the screenprints is beyond anything I’ve seen as well, I would love to see the original screens for these or the prints that went wrong. Two mediums I hadn’t seen his work in before really stood out: the textiles and a couple of works in wood, the latter, made with different kinds and varnishes, were gorgeous. Highly recommended.

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Beyond 2000AD exhibition glimpse

Beyond2000_poster Beyond2000_progs Beyond2000_records1 Beyond2000_records2 Beyond2000_TimeOutI finally got time to pop into Orbital Comics and see their small but packed exhibition of 2000AD offshoots, tie-ins, cash-ins, memorabilia, music, magazines, toys and so much more. Not having an opening party because it would clash with the comic’s own 40th celebration a couple of weekends ago they’ve decided to have a closing party on Friday March 10th where there will be a podcast recording and music by yours truly among others.
I also just guested on the Big Mouth podcast pre-record, talking about the comic’s legacy which will be available online this coming Sunday. More details as I have it.

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Delta at the Mima Museum, Brussels

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Over the weekend I was in Brussels to play a couple of gigs and was lucky enough to have enough spare time before my train home to visit the Mima museum in Molenbeek district about 20 minutes walk from the Central station where I was greeted by the figure above. Created by Boris Tellegen aka Delta or Mess (in his graffiti days) the construction advertised the ‘friendly takeover’ of the museum he had undertaken over three of its floors.

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Once inside the viewer is greeted with a very different experience to the usual galleries with work around the edges. Boris’ work is all about 3 dimensional space and he has a legitimate claim to popularising the 3D graffiti lettering style in Europe later taken up by artists like Daim, Toast and Loomit. His work also uses collage, layers and exposed sections and the contents of the exhibition are displayed thus.

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His many record sleeves are on display including a few we collaborated on in the late 90s for DJ Vadim and Ninja Tune. I’m also featured in some of the films dotted around the galleries talking about how we met and worked together. For me this was the most interesting room, when he work was a hybrid of letter forms and architecture, always suggesting three dimensional forms, blueprints and later, broken, ripped or smashed structures that give a looseness and random feel to his work.

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You’re forced to peer inside, through or at cross-sections of several pieces which have themselves become part of a larger artwork in what almost seems like an anti-exhibition, hiding more than half of some works in the pursuit of a new way to experience them. See some examples from a 2011 exhibition here.

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His letter figures (extract the name DELTA from some of their forms) remind me of Giacometti, Paolozzi and vintage robots. In fact, on the first floor he adds in some of his inspirations, including a huge collection of toy robots and a page of original art from a Judge Dredd story. When I visited his studio in ’97 one of the first things I saw on the shelf was a Japanese Gundam toy and a Todd McFarlane Spawn robot figure and it all made sense.

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Some smaller figures are hidden inside larger ones including a train set nestled inside the body of a huge reclining figure on the third floor, visible through a glass window. The exhibition is on until the end of May and is a fascinating retrospective of sorts of an artist who keeps on pushing and evolving. Also look out for the incredible ’86-97′ book which faithfully replicates his two graffiti black books created between these years.

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Eduardo Paolozzi mosaics on the Tottenham Court Rd tube platform

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Tottenham Court Road underground station, in the heart of London’s West End, has had a huge influx of Paolozzi mosaics restored and reinstated into the platforms and passageways. The mosaics originally come from elsewhere in the station and had been removed when it underwent huge infrastructure changes over the last few years to accommodate Crossrail. The original platform mosaics are easy to spot as they’re all square gridded tiles but the ‘new’ ones are more freestyle and have been expertly inserted into the walls in spaces not already used. For more info see the short film below.

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Future Shock 2000AD art at the Cartoon Museum photos

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I finally got a chance to see the Future Shock exhibition of 2000AD classic original art the other day at the Cartoon Museum, tucked away in the back streets near the British Museum. It costs £7 and once you’ve navigated past some of the most miserable/bored looking staff you’ll ever see you can peruse the galleries of comic and political art.

As far as pieces by key artists of essential stories and characters go, this is one of the best collections of art you’ll see aside from Rufus Dayglo‘s blink-and-you’ll-miss-it exhibition this coming weekend at Geek 2017 in Margate. The bulk of it comes from long-time collector Wakefield Carter who runs the Barney database and regularly trades or sells original art. All the major names are here, with examples from some of the classic stories too (Dredd Cursed Earth and Dark Judges to name but two) and there’s a lot of it. Shown here are just a few of my personal highlights.

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Upstairs, the regular exhibition is full of classic images, characters and artists too inc. Dave GibbonsLichtenstein-baiting ‘Whaat?’, Watchmen, Batman, Dan Dare and V For Vendetta art and original Leo Baxendale pages.

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