Victoria Topping

Screen Shot 2016-10-13 at 10.16.46I just discovered Victoria Toppings work and it’s blown me away – touching on so many elements I love; music, African patterns, synths, records, collage, circles, eyes, crazy detail, textures…. just stunning. She sells hand-embellished prints, originals, cards, slipmatts and wallpaper over at her site – so much there I can barely take it all in. She’s also on Instagram and Mixcloud

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Mongrols – Attack The Monolith ltd LP & London show

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Great line up at one of my local venues this Saturday when Mike Ladd, Strange U, Juice Aleem and Mongrels (Kid Acne & Benjamin) rock up in support of Scotty Hard, the legendary producer currently partially paralysed and facing huge medical bills in the US. Loving that Battle of the Planets-referencing flyer there.

I’ve been meaning to post about Mongrels’ recent ‘Attack The Monolith’ album – the limited vinyl of which is a thing of beauty and still available here. It comes in one of 3 alternative colourways (Gold, Silver or Bronze) hand-pulled screen printed sleeves + risograph insert, inner sleeves plus embossed and numbered on the back. The album features multiple appearances of Sebash from New Kingdom who is now an honourary member. Back in July, on the 20thh anniversary of NK’s 2nd album, ‘Paradise Don’t Come Cheap’, Mongrels made a special celebratory mix

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You Say You Want A Revolution exhibition at the V&A, London

GrannyNewly opened last weekend, the Victoria and Albert Museum in South Kensington plays host to a celebration of the latter part of the psychedelic 60s under the banner, ‘You Say You Want A Revolution: Records & Rebels 1966-1970’. It’s an often stunning and inspiring look back at a small section of the counter culture that we now think of as ‘The Swinging Sixties’, encompassing music, art, fashion, politics, advertising, product design, expos and the space race. What was interesting, in the light of the recent drug-related deaths forcing Fabric to close, was that LSD was mentioned copiously in the quotes as you entered the exhibition and kept popping up throughout, as a catalyst for the many strands of the hippy movement. One national institution celebrates drug-fuelled counter culture in the heart of the richest part of the city just as another is closed in the East End – the irony.

The exhibition isn’t just about the beautiful flower children chanting ‘hari krishna’ and wearing threads from the Kings Road via India either (*slight spoiler alert!*). A middle section brings you down to earth with a bump, confronting you with the more political side of events at the end of the decade, the Vietnam War, racism, The Black Panthers, police brutality, feminism, gay rights and more. The starkness of this section, largely in monochrome, against the multi-coloured blossoming of earlier rooms, is a reminder that it wasn’t all peace and love man, and that the curators weren’t wearing rose-tinted spectacles the whole time.

It was worth the price of admission alone to see Mati Klarwein‘s original ‘Grain Of Sand’ painting up close. I’ve always loved this piece, never thought I’d see it in the flesh but there is was, nestled behind the entrance as I walked in. Absolutely wondrous.

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There is a LOT to see and take in, an associate who works at the museum confided that the curators wanted ‘everything’ but were restricted by time and conservation rules. There was some padding in parts, a section about consumerism and advertising sees corridor walls plastered with ads, interspersed with huge mirrored sections which give the impression of much more in the reflections but ultimately can’t conceal that not much is actually on display. Film and TV is given fairly short thrift aside from a section about Blow Up, a selection of experimental shorts in a walled-off cinema area and the Woodstock footage (although it has to be said that the Woodstock room is very well put together). Underground comics were almost entirely missing aside from one interior spread used to comment on the Manson murders, no Robert Crumb, Zap, Furry Freak Brothers... The Oz trials were mentioned but I didn’t see any copies of the magazine, or IT, or Ink. There was a lot in it but some omissions were glaring.

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Leaving, to the strains of Lennon‘s ‘Imagine’ and a fast cut montage zooming through the decades up to the present day, you’re depressingly but inevitably taken via the gift shop where you’re confronted with sanitised, consumable versions of the era to take home. Most of it is utter tat and the price tags are enough to burn a huge hole through the Levi jeans they seem to think were a good idea to have on sale. Cleverly, and as a sign of the vinyl-resurgence times we currently live in, they’ve released a compilation album alongside the usual book of the exhibition. Unfortunately the cover – a denim jacket covered in band logo badges – is so horrendous it looks like the kind of three quid compilation you’d find in a service station. There are some beautifully executed repro posters but the prices are so exorbitant I’d rather seek out an original, they’d probably only be a little more.
Still, there may not be many revelations or things you’ve not seen before in an era that’s been to widely celebrated already but it’s well worth the entrance fee. It runs until Feb 26th 2017 – more info here.

 

Chrome Anglez history reconstructed

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Inspired by seeing some of my old TCA photos crop up on Facebook via my Flickr account I did something I’ve been meaning to do for years. Back in 1986 I went down to Victoria Park (I think?) for the Capital Fun Day where TCA, Non Stop Artists and more were painting boards whilst Mike Allen and Ritchie Rich played out.

Mode 2 and Scribla were representing from TCA and painted an amazing ‘Roc So Fresh’ piece. It was hard to get photos but I managed a few from the back of the crowd that had gathered to watch. I remember that, almost immediately that they’d finished it, they totally destroyed it, going over it so that, either it couldn’t be taken or so they’d got there before anyone else did.

There’s just enough in the photos I did get that you can assemble an approximate picture of the whole piece untouched. I’ve put several of the photos together in Photoshop so that you can see this lost piece as complete as I have it. If anyone else has better photos I’d love to see them, it’s a classic IMO. Original in-progress shots and more are here

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Kenneth Rocafort on The Ultimates

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Most regular readers will know that I don’t really read many comics published by ‘the big two’, but I do make the odd exception, usually when an artist I like is on a book. The rebooted The Ultimates with Kenneth Rocafort on art and Brit writer Al Ewing is one such title. Rocafort has a unique style with a keen eye for detail that is unlike much of what comes out of your standard super hero monthlies these days. With Ewing pushing a more cosmic agenda so far, it’s given plenty of scope to open up the story to more fantastical imagery with Galactus appearing early on. The cover and spread here are from issue #9 which crosses over to be part of the Marvel Civil War II storyline in places.

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Paolozzi from the Edinburgh Beer Factory

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On my trip to Edinburgh last weekend, one of my missions was to track down a bottle or two of the Edinburgh Beer Factory‘s Paolozzi – mostly for the design of the bottle it has to be said. I only managed to find it on draught in one bar but was surprised at how nice it tasted, a superbly light, clean beer with a slightly sweet taste. On returning home I was sent a link to the EBF website where they sell not only the beer in bottles, but glasses too, in various numbers, all wrapped in glorious Eduardo Paolozzi designs.
You can get boxes of just beer or get them to swap out bottles for glasses and some sets come with coasters and a poster. I ordered a box and it arrived in less than 24 hours and all for under a fiver postage, excellent service and a beautiful set to behold with design touches like the ‘Ta Da’ when you open the box. The box and bottles are so nice you don’t want to throw them away when you’re finished. Find them all here in a multitude of combinations including a tour of the brewery.PaolozziTaDaPaolozziBoxOpen PaolozziBottlesPaolozziBottleTop PaolozziBottleBack PaolozziGlassunwrappedPaolozziWrapperPaolozziGlassTopPaolozziGlassFrontPaolozziGlassDetail2PaolozziGlassDetail

More Dan Lish Egostrip images

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It’s been a while since I featured any of Dan’s work but he’s been churning them out and here’s just a small selection. Above: Biz Markie Below: MF Doom, J Dilla, James Brown, Leaders of the New School, King Tubby, Man Parrish, Melle Mel, Pete Rock and CL Smooth, The Pharcyde, Wu Tang Clan, Invisibl Skratch Piklz, Breakbeat Lou, The Cold Crush Brothers. Buy prints from Dan’s site here...

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RIP Jack Davis

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Where do you begin with Jack Davis? I first saw his work in the UK versions of MAD magazine in the 80s but he had been producing countless numbers of comics, illustrations, record covers and film posters for decades before that. He was one of the original ‘usual gang of idiots’ from US MAD’s inception in the 50s, a regular on Tales From the Crypt, producing the cover for the later issues, as well as war comic Two-Fisted Tales and a ton of other EC Comics. He drew some of the best monsters including the classic Frankenstein which was made into a life-size cut out poster (see below).
He worked for a lot of the MAD-a-like humour titles too like, Sick, Cracked, Help and Panic as well as regular work with publications such as Time and TV Guide. He has a huge body of film posters to his name, It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World being a particular classic, which in turn led to record sleeves for the soundtracks. From here he drew sleeves for music from rock to country to brass bands to soul, I have a particularly great Sesame Street album with Davis art all over it which I’ll post soon.
He was a legend of comic art, up there with Jack Kirby and Moebius, RIP

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Alternate Clockwork Orange posters & book covers

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Whilst researching the Dreaming with Stanley Kubrick exhibition last week I dug into the iconography of A Clockwork Orange, looking up David Pellam‘s classic Droog design for Penguin (above) first revealed several earlier book covers and then the tidal wave of fan film posters. Cogs, eyes, eye lashes, milk glasses and, of course, the colour orange were in abundance. There were several great ones that managed to capture both the era and the menace of the film as well at a very nice Gorillaz droog wallpaper by Jamie Hewlett.COhardbackCOpaperback

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More fire from Gamma Proforma – Divine Styler, Juice Aleem, Deflon Sallahr

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Gamma Proforma are dropping all sorts of treats and freebies on their site, here’s a taster for an upcoming LP on the label from Deflon Shallahr. All artwork by the amazing Will Barras.

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Divine Styler remixed: Over the coming weeks Gamma will be dropping the complete set of Def Mask Remixes, grab the digital album for free and each week you’ll receive a new track. Here’s Mophono‘s take on ‘Carriers IQ’

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Second track from the forthcoming Juice Aleem album…

Daydreaming with Stanley Kubrick

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The Daydreaming With Stanley Kubrick exhibition started a few weeks back at Somerset House in London’s West End and it’s well worth a look. Curated by James Lavelle, it features many familiar names that hint that his phone book must be a thing to behold. Artists, film makers and musicians from around the world have contributed but with over 40 pieces to look at there’s always going to be some stronger than others.

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For the most part, I enjoyed the more literal, graphic interpretations; the hexagon-patterned floor from The Shining, Space Invader‘s Rubix-cubed Alex from A Clockwork Orange and Doug Foster’s homage to the stargate scene in 2001, ‘Beyond The Infinite’ – a mesmerising widescreen kaleidoscope that constantly shifted to a soundtrack by UNKLE. I was surprised there wasn’t more reference to Hal from 2001 outside of some of the graphics for the exhibition branding though and there was a missed opportunity to do something with Kubrick toys seeing as James has had an affinity with them for so long.

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One of my favourite pieces was Philip Castle‘s 70s airbrushed illustration for the original film of Alex with dentures in a glass. Unfortunately this was represented as a slide blown up rather than the original painting but it still had enough presence, menace and period textured beauty to outshine most of the other exhibits.

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Elsewhere, several installation pieces were the most successful in invoking Stanley’s spirit. A vertical pulsing strip of LED lights by Chris Levine burned images onto the retina from the end of a corridor so that, when you looked away, you saw split second flashes of Kubrick’s face. A ‘breathing’ camera by Nancy Fouts, sat eerily in another corner, rasping in and out to itself. A room of 114 wireless’ all tuned to the same channel in a dimly-lit workshop created a WWII-like atmosphere and the exhibition guide revealed that a huge cast of celebs had made the soundtrack playing through the tinny speakers. Peter Kennard‘s ant-war collages were further bolstered by additions from Dr. Strangelove although it felt largely transplanted from his recent Imperial War Museum exhibit with some added Kubrickisms.

Possibly equal to Foster’s AV piece was Toby Dye‘s small room showing four different scenes from The Corridor, each one using a Kubrick technique of focus pulling in or out of a centralised corridor. This, when shown full frame on each of the four walls, gave the viewer a sense of unease or vertigo as the walls appeared to shift around them. Very effective if off-balancing. David Pellam‘s classic Droog design featured twice, once in the show branding and once in Paul Insect‘s updating of his work, ‘Clockwork Britain’. An iconic design, connected with Kubrick by the simplification of his visualisation for the Droogs, it sits alongside the Shining carpet as a graphic motif instantly connected to his films. A VR headset with interior 2001 space station scenario was also installed but the queue was just too long so don’t head to it at peak weekend hours if possible.

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John Mahoney

john-mahoney-a-random-page-01a I just discovered John Mahoney‘s work via the latest issue of Heavy Metal magazine – which now has a new lease of life with Grant Morrison installed as Editor-in-cheif – these are scenes from his psychedelic ‘novel’, ‘Zentropa‘. His style reminds of elements of Moebius, Egon Schiele or Hans Bellmer‘s multi-limbed dolls. He also sculpts in both real and virtual applications and has worked as a concept artist for many big hollywood films. Learn more here

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Smut and Jeff comic kickstarter

Smut n Jeff promoThis is a new comic Kickstarter from Kody Camberlain (remember Punks – the comic that I raved about last year?) This time round Kody is writing rather than illustrating. It’ll be a 5 issue, 32 pgs per issue, series if it gets funded and I think many of a certain age will identify with the story’s angle, below:

“SMUT AND JEFF is not a porn story, it’s a story about scarcity. It’s an homage to the quest for those unattainable treasures of youth before the internet took hold of humanity. A time when search engines were librarians and encyclopedias. Beyond that, and unknown to many, there was a secret underground of information spoken softly in certain areas of the cafeteria and the movie theater parking lot. With enough information, a bold teenager might venture into an unknown neighborhood to purchase a hip hop album the stores wouldn’t dare carry. SMUT AND JEFF is a tribute to those noble quests of the 80s, and the adventurous youth that dared embark on the adventure.”

Read the 6 page preview and then maybe check out the different packages on the Kickstarter? You can get original art, meet the creators or even be drawn into the book

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