British Underground Press of the Sixties at the A22 Gallery

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Just opened at the A22 Gallery in Clerkenwell is an exhibition supporting the British Underground Press of the Sixties book by Barry Miles and James Birch that collects the covers to all (big claim I know) the major magazines of the late 60s and 70s together. The exhibition features much more than just the magazines though with archive posters, badges, promo material and memorabilia collected together in a mass of psychedelic colour and badly registered print.

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Oz, International Times, Frendz, Gandalf’s Garden, Black Dwarf, Ink, cOzmic Comics and more all feature and it’s a wonder to behold. Some of the covers verge on pornographic and serve to remind of more anarchic and sometimes unsavoury times. The book is spectacular, highly recommended at £35 from Rocket 88 and is also available at the gallery with a deluxe edition containing vintage copies of original undergrounds for a silly money price too.

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Pink Floyd at the V&A Museum

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It’s taken me an age to post these because life is currently getting in the way in the form of moving and renovating a new home. The Pink Floyd exhibition, ‘Their Mortal Remains’ at the V&A Museum, is very much worth seeing even if, like me, Pink Floyd don’t mean much to you. I swore off them for a long while due to ‘Another Brick In The Wall Pt.2’ being no.1 for so many weeks as a child and finding myself utterly sick of it.

But the fickleness of youth only lasts so long and I found myself gradually checking back through their back catalogue, picking up the odd cheap LP here and there and finally realising why everyone raves about ‘Dark Side Of The Moon’. This exhibition highlights exactly what a forward-thinking, visually aware band they were, adapting as their fame and venue sizes increased, their sleeve concepts becoming ever more outlandish as budgets made pre-photoshop surrealist montage possible. The amount of artwork and props present attest to a group with a very strong concept behind each album, courtesy of the Hipgnosis team of course.

Starting at the beginning and travelling chronologically through their career we enter a time tunnel and emerge inside a version of the UFO club circa ’67 complete with pulsating liquid light ceiling, psychedelic poster gallery and films. Rooms concentrating of Syd Barratt, Wish You Were Here, Dark Side of the Moon and more eventually give way to a stunning display of Animals and The Wall-era stage props and art. The 80s side of things were less my bag but the concepts were now reaching gigantic proportion and are impressive as last bastions of the sort of excess that just doesn’t happen any more now that we can do all these things digitally. The final room with a surround performance of their reunion at Live8 was very moving and a perfect way to end this retrospective. Go and see if before it ends on October 15th!

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British Underground Press of the Sixties book and exhibition

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Forthcoming exhibition and book from Rocket 88 publishing with a lovely looking book of all the UK British underground press covers and associated memorabilia including (finally) some of the underground comics of the era associated with them (CoZmic Comics, Nasty Tales etc.). Pre-order the book now and find out more at britishundergroundpress.com

Franco Grignani at the Estorick Collection of Italian Art

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There’s not much to say about this post really, I’ve posted about Franco Grignani before, quite recently. The Italian designer has been featured in a couple of exhibitions in London this year, the second of which has just opened. Just look at these images and then go and see this wonderful artist’s work, it’s on display at the Estorick Collection of Italian Art on Canonbury Sq. in London. The simplicity and precision of execution is simply breathtaking.

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We Are Watching: Oz magazine at Chelsea Space

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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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Barbara Brown at the Whitworth Gallery, Manchester

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Just before I played my recent Selected Aphex Works AV set in Manchester recently I got the chance to nip out to the nearby Whitworth Gallery and see the Barbara Brown retrospective. She’s one of my favourite textile designers, embracing Op Art in her work for her 15 year run designing for Heals. The material was presented in huge rolls to stunning effect, it’s free entry and on until December, plus in the basement, there’s an equally beautiful Lucienne Day exhibition too (see other post).

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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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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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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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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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Swifty Book launch at the Exposure Gallery

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Ian ‘Swifty’ Swift and Gamma Proforma launched the book they’d been working on for 2 years last night at the Exposure Gallery on Little Portland Street, London (opposite the Heavenly Social). Packed to the rafters with faces I recognised from over the years (Ross Allen, Neville Brody, Chris Allen…) it was a resounding success even though I couldn’t stay long. The book in question is huge and everything you’d want in an overview of the man’s career – go get it here now before it sells out.

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Boris Tellegen / Delta exhibition at MIMA in Brussels

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A retrospective exhibition of the extraordinary artist Boris Tellegen aka Delta opens in Brussels this week for nearly 4 months at the MIMA museum. Promising ‘A Friendly Takeover’ there should be a broad spectrum of his work from sculpture, painting and constructions. I contributed images and filmed memories of our time collaborating on DJ Vadim’s ‘Life From The Other Side’ album for Ninja Tune. I’ll be visiting Brussels next month so hope to post a full report, certainly one of my favourite artists working today.

Future Shock 40 years of 2000ad poster

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Two different 2000AD original art exhibitions mark the comic’s 40th anniversary this coming Feb. The first opens at the Cartoon Museum  in 13 days for 3 months. The second is on for a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it 3 days mid Feb at Geek 2017 at Dreamland in Margate and, I believe, is mainly culled from Rufus Dayglo‘s incredible collection – certainly one of the best I’ve ever seen.2000AD40thMargate

Maps of the 20th Century exhibition

MOL PlaymapThe British Library is currently hosting a fascinating exhibition of maps – no!, come back! really! Not just everyday maps of towns, cities, countries and continents but also metro maps, moon maps, curious cartography of imaginary places, mind maps and Beatles guides to Liverpool. Maps & The 20th Century is on until March 1st.

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The graphics adorning the floor & walls that guide you around the exhibition are as captivating as the contents too.

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