Rammellzee show at Laz Inc. London

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So, there’s a Rammellzee exhibition running right now in the middle of London at LazInc. until 10th November. Lots of 80’s and early 90s canvases from private collections, the likes of which have never been seen in the U.K. Overall (much like Basquiat) there’s never a full piece which I truly love but I love what Ramm stood for and all the stuff he strung together to make his world. Little details spring out and there were a couple of pieces with with his line drawings in that were nice (see further down).

Really though I went for the opportunity to actually see this stuff in the flesh, to see a largely hidden part of the more abstract end of graffiti that’s not really been documented. You can see him visually searching for things, he’s trying all sorts, even painting on a carpet at one point, and to see that was enough. Sadly no battle suits or letter racers but this is a pretty decent collection for free and I’m not holding my breath for the Red Bull Arts New York exhibition to come to these shores any time soon.
LazInc. Sackville, 29 Sackville Street, Mayfair, London, W1S 3DX

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John Vernon Lord at the House of Illustration

JVL_BeneathTheTreefullThe John Vernon Lord exhibition of Ulysses, Finigan’s Wake and Alice in Wonderland illustrations just started at the House of Illustration in Kings Cross. What I didn’t realise when I visited was that his huge 1966 masterpiece, ‘Beneath The Tree’ was also on display and it was breathtaking to see in the flesh.

The details visible in the original, not possible to see in the version printed in his Drawn To Drawing book, were many, from tiny messages written along tree roots to hidden numbers and miniature details in the shadows. Worth the price of admission alone to finally see this incredible piece which usually resides in the collection of the University of Brighton.

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Orla Kiely at the Fashion & Textile Museum

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Orla Kiely can probably lay claim to having an item of clothing or home ware in most 30 to 40-something homes I’d wager. From the ubiquitous bags seen on every yummy mummy to the stem-printed jugs, jars, towels and bedspreads infiltrating kitchens, bathrooms and bedrooms in any discerning middle class household, you see her patterns everywhere in all sorts of shades. Personally I’m not into flowery prints but Kiely continues to thrill me with her never-ending range of retro-modern colour palettes and there’s just enough for a male fan like myself to buy for the home without it looking too feminine. Her current retrospective at the Fashion & Textile Museum in Bermondsey is chock full of two decade’s worth of designs, a total Orla overload.

I love her patterns, preferring the more geometric ones with autumnal colour schemes.

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OK hallEntering the museum you’re confronted with huge flower prints and cases of bags, I couldn’t pull these off myself but love the pattern designs.

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Next are several corridors with an explosion of Kiely products for the home including pattern design concepts (some still forthcoming) kitchenware, toys, stationery, mugs, wallpaper, luggage, books… You name it, it’s there with an O.K. pattern on it. In their colour-coded glory it’s quite something to behold, you want to steal it all but a whole house of this would be overkill.

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The main room consists of huge versions of dresses, as if made for giants, guarded by life size rotating block models that shift outfits like a children’s mix and match book depending on their alignment. The oversize garments are offset by handmade dolls wearing the same outfits in miniature, lining the walls. This was an interesting concept in showing off a collection but it didn’t work for me after the complete overload of the previous corridors of kitchen and homeware. The wow factor was initially there but very little was contained in the biggest room on closer inspection, they’d crammed it all in the preceding space because they needed the height to show off the hanging frocks.

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Last but not least is a wall of bags, followed by a photo retrospective of various seasons and styles. Kiely has a great eye for modernising old 50s/60s and 70s styles and colour combinations whilst continually reinventing key logos and patterns from previous lines. It doesn’t always work but her hit rate is high and the body of work has a definite personality and flow to it that makes it unmistakably hers. I came away only wishing she’d one day hit the late 60s and do her take on psychedelia and flower power, what a riot that could be.

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Andy Votel exhibition – STOP MAKING SÉANCE

JWArchitectPromodetails One day last Autumn a mystery package arrived containing various Finders Keepers records and one very special, handmade 12″ of Jane Weaver‘s ‘The Architect’ single. One of an edition of 10, it’s a thing to behold; a test pressing hand-labelled with a paste up cover containing one of my favourite designs of last year (see this post).

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Being one of the people urging the designer to make prints of one of his posters for Jane’s Manchester gig I was gutted when my copy got lost in the post over the Xmas period. Luckily a replacement is soon to be on its way. The ‘architect’ of these creations is one of my favourite contemporary designers, Andy Votel, who will be exhibiting some previously unseen self-initiated full size paintings / collages in Manchester from the 25th at Electrik in Manchester.

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From the press release: “Writer, DJ, designer, broadcaster, label boss and anti-musician Andy “Votel” Shallcross displays a series of original personal works created, at home, in October / November 2017.  
Based around contemporary “fakelore”, reducing influences of European science-fiction art, scholastic illustration, post-pop-art, Plakatstil and mid-century graphic design Andy uses simple methods of painting, collage, deletion and recontextualisation for these one-off, large format placards.
Adopting a recurring patchwork method found in all of Andy’s multi-discipline “magpaic” activities, the running narrative and aesthetic format used in STOP MAKING SÉANCE can be described as pictorial-anagrams, which Votel playfully refers to as Andygrams. Having designed over 200 record sleeves in over 20 years of his graphic design day-job these singular quick-fire situation-abstractions are not intended for large-scale reproduction or as communicative graphic-design thus retaining a freedom previously unexplored in Andy’s visual work and will be on display for short residency in Manchester, Gothenburg and Barcelona in early 2018.”

Check out this interview with Oi Polloi for more info and images

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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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