Paul Gorman is…

‘Suburban voodoo is what he did do, so well’: Last two days of Barney Bubbles exhibition at Rob Tufnell London

Sep 22nd, 2017

//Back Cover, Jesus Of Cool, Nick Lowe, Radar Records, 1978. Photo: Bob Bromide. Design © Barney Bubbles Estate//

//Back cover, Darling Let’s Have Another Baby/Something Else/It Really Digs, Johnny Moped, Chiswick Records, 1978. Design © Barney Bubbles Estate//

//Clock, Stiff Records, 1978. Design © Barney Bubbles Estate//

//Front, Life’s A Riot With Spy Vs Spy, Billy Bragg, Utility, 1983. Design © Barney Bubbles Estate//

“In graphics, in the music business at least, Barney pioneered the use of everyday objects in his work. He could see the design and the beauty in the apparently banal”
Suzanne Spiro, artist

The Barney Bubbles exhibition Optics & Semantics at London gallery Rob Tufnell closes tomorrow evening; if you have a chance, do go along and enjoy the late graphic arts maestro’s unique celebrations of the mundane and workaday.

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What’s it going to be then, eh? An ‘unforgettable evening of typewriters, music, rough cider and poison-pen letters’

Feb 24th, 2017

//Anthony Burgess, Chiswick, west London, 1968, with the border collie Haji, “crafty, disobedient, and ignorant of the sexual life, except in perverted forms peculiar to himself […] He had no loyalty, leaving that commodity to us”. Photo: IABF//

Tomorrow is Anthony Burgess’s centenary; would that I could, I’d be in Manchester, specifically at the Engine House, Chorlton Mill, 3 Cambridge Street, home to the International Anthony Burgess Foundation for its celebration of the great fellow with an “unforgettable evening of typewriters, music, rough cider and poison-pen letters”.

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Before We Were Men: With David Gwinnutt, John Maybury, Ian Massey + Jeffrey Hinton at the National Portrait Gallery on March 23

Feb 23rd, 2017

//John Maybury, Crowndale Road, c. 1981. Photo © David Gwinnutt//

//Leigh Bowery, Farrell House, Stepney Green, c. 1983. Photo © David Gwinnutt//

I am one of the guests of the photographer David Gwinnutt at an event being staged next month to coincide with the opening of his forthcoming exhibition at London’s National Portrait Gallery.

Before We Were Men showcases Gwinnutt’s documentation – with hand-held camera and exclusive use of natural light –  of creative London in the 1980s. Among his subjects were the designer/performance artist Leigh Bowery, artists Cerith Wyn Evans, Duggie Fields, Gilbert & George and Grayson Perry and dancer/choreographer Michael Clark.

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Richard Hell + Young Kim present the Performa 15 Malcolm McLaren Award to Edgar Arceneaux

Nov 24th, 2015
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//Edgar Arceneaux making his acceptance speech with the Malcolm McLaren Award. Photo: @performanyc’s Instagram feed//

On Sunday night the performance art biennial Performa 15 culminated with a celebration of  the 40th anniversary of punk.

As part of the event at New York’s Hôtel Americano, the Malcolm McLaren Award – designed by Marc Newson with $10,000 prize money – was presented to Edgar Arceneaux by Young Kim of the McLaren Estate and writer/musician Richard Hell.

Arceneaux won for his experimental play, “Until, Until, Until . . .,” inspired by the controversial appearance by African-American actor Ben Vereen in black-face at Ronald Reagan’s 1981 inaugural celebration.

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//Hell on stage on Sunday night at New York’s Hôtel Americano. Photo: @performanyc’s Instagram feed//

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Weld: Beguiling Brian Griffin considers fashion + feminism in Disegno

Aug 13th, 2015

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//Left: Top in blue suede, JW Anderson for Loewe. Right: White cotton shirt and blue flared trousers, both Kenzo//

Photographer Brian Griffin rarely fails to beguile, as evinced by these portraits from a series produced with stylist Emma Clifton for architectural/design/fashion magazine Disegno earlier this year.

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Barney Bubbles designs go regional at the National Museum Cardiff + Ludlow Fringe Art Trail

Jun 16th, 2015
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//A doozy: This point-of-sale design by Barney Bubbles for Elvis Costello & The Attractions’ 1980 LP Get Happy!! is among rare rock posters on show at Mod Lang in Ludlow. Photo: Paul Bradshaw//

The regions are where it’s at these days, so we are told, and naturally Barney Bubbles designs can be found in the thick of it.

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Malcolm McLaren in Witches trenchcoat on the steps of the British Museum 1983

Jun 9th, 2015

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This portrait of Malcolm McLaren was captured among the columns outside the entrance to London’s august British Museum by Andy Rosen in 1983.

In the photograph taken during promotion of the Duck Rock album, which was released at the start of 1983, McLaren sported a rare trenchcoat design from the Witches collection he and Vivienne Westwood debuted on the catwalk that spring.

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Malcolm McLaren exhibition: The roots of Savage + his copy of Mable Morrow’s folk art book Indian Rawhide

Jul 30th, 2014
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//Malcolm McLaren’s copy of Mable Morrow’s Indian Rawhide: An American Folk Art, published by Oklahoma University Press as part of the Civilization Of American Indian series in 1975//

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//Annotated page showing design for a parfleche (painted hide) of the Dakota//

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//Savages dress in thick marl and cotton with overprinted lettering. Design: Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood for Worlds End, 1981. Private collection//

Among the most revealing exhibits at the Malcolm McLaren show Let It Rock is the cultural iconoclast’s copy of a folk art book which proved a rich source of reference when he came to design the Savage collection with Vivienne Westwood in 1981.

McLaren’s consistent approach to creative activity always began with deep research (from the first publicly recognised manifestation, the Teddy Boy outlet Let It Rock, to his final film artworks Shallow 1-21 and Paris: City Of The XXIst Century).

And in the early 80s, McLaren’s copy of Mable Morrow’s Indian Rawhide, published by Oklahoma University Press in 1975, proved inspirational for this lifelong fan of Native American Indian culture.

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//Assiniboin parfleche design collected on the Fort Belknap Reservation, Montana//

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//Savages soft jersey top with contrasting armpit inserts and neck yolk. Designed by Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood for Worlds End, 1981. Private collection.//

McLaren’s recasting of this folk art in the sphere of fashion aligns his work in the 70s and 80s with the post-modern practice of appropriation which infused all spheres of artistic endeavour at the time, from literature to film and fine art. It is arguable that he and Westwood were the first and the greatest to incorporate the approach in clothing design.

When Savage debuted in October 1981 at Olympia’s Pillar Hall in west London, the repurposing of Native American tribal prints across a range of fabrics and garments – some overprinted with block capital slogans such as “Breaker” and “Girly” – and meshing with contemporary urban black culture and streetwear proved groundbreaking in fashion terms, as can be seen in this film commissioned for the event by McLaren:

 

Indian Rawhide and the clothing featured in this post are among the many rare and unique exhibits in Let It Rock: The Look Of Music The Sound Of Fashion, which is at the Crystal Hall in Copenhagen’s Bella Center from August 3-6.

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The Face book announced in The Bookseller

Jul 23rd, 2013

The return of Kix: Fu Manchu by The Lee Thompson Ska Orchestra ft Bitty McLean

May 6th, 2013

Dave Robinson, one of the British music business’s towering figures, has sent me this lovely pop-reggae tune from Madness man Lee Thompson’s project.

It’s great for this sunny Bank Holiday; Bitty McLean is on top vocal form.

Fair takes me back to seeing Madness in their North London Invaders incarnation support a jazz-rock trio (!) at Camden Town’s Dublin Castle, and before that the graffito ‘Kix’ emblazoned around 70s teenage nexus Golders Green tube station (courtesy of Thompson).

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