Paul Gorman is…

Studio Prints: At A Printmaker’s Workshop in Kentish Town 1970

Jul 14th, 2015
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//Dorothea Wight picking up groceries in Queens Crescent Market…//

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//…before heading into Studio Prints//

The 1970 BBC documentary At A Printmaker’s Workshop focuses on Dorothea Wight’s fabled Studio Prints in Queens Crescent, Kentish Town.

It is also a marvellous snapshot of London on the cusp of change as inner city areas became invigorated by the arrival of interesting new businesses (with none of today’s dread “regeneration” and its companion property-speak of “creative quartiers” and such).

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‘They had the t-shirt off his back': The 40th anniversary of the creation of the notorious Cowboys t-shirt + the obscenity debate it sparked in the pages of The Guardian

Jul 11th, 2015
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//Nicolas de Jongh’s front-page report, The Guardian, August 2, 1975//

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//Sex Original-labelled Cowboys t-shirt courtesy Hiroshi Fujiwara Collection//

This month – specifically July 26 – marks the 40th anniversary of the introduction for sale of Malcolm McLaren’s notorious Cowboys t-shirt in Sex, the revolutionary boutique he operated at 430 King’s Road with Vivienne Westwood.

The shirt’s status as the most provocative of all punk designs is enhanced by the fact that it made waves immediately: the same day the shirt went on sale, the first customer to wear it in public was arrested. Within 24 hours, the store itself was raided for indecency.

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The Spice Girls: My part in their rise and my non-appearance in the Wannabe video

Jun 24th, 2015

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Just when boys with guitars threaten to rule pop life – Damon’s all over Smash Hits, Ash are big in Big! and Liam can’t move for tabloid frenzy – an all-girl, in-your-face pop group have arrived with enough sass to burst their rockist bubble.

From Music Week, April 1996

I see that next week marks the 19th anniversary of the release of Wannabe. Coincidentally I came across this cutting while ferreting around my magazine archive: the first published interview with the Spice Girls, when they launched the promotional campaign for the single and I was a contributing editor at industry publication Music Week.

I remember quite a lot about my encounter with the five of them at Virgin Records hq in Ladbroke Grove, not least that they afforded opportunities for digs at the full-of-itself British rock cabal which had grown out of the damp squib which was Britpop.

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//It wasn’t me. From Wannabe//

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Funky but chic: Roxy in Kensington Church Street + the Ken Todd connection

Feb 19th, 2015
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//Roxy, 25 Kensington Church Street, 1972. Photo: Masayoshi Sukita//

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//Inside Roxy, 1972: Shelley Martin in a flamenco dress designed by Dinah Adams. Photo: Masayoshi Sukita//

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//Some of the Roxy crowd photographed around the corner from the shop (from left): The late Granny’s co-owner Marty Breslau, whose ensemble includes a Wonder Workshop top; unknown; Shelley Martin; John Knight. Photo: Masayoshi Sukita//

I’ve been aware of the existence of the Kensington boutique Roxy for some time, particularly since the store name was used as the title of the feature on London street fashion in a 1972 edition of Japanese magazine An An.

But my curiosity was pricked recently while browsing that same issue of An An which appears in Freddie Hornik’s scrapbook (see last post).

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Tender + tough: Jean-Francois Carly’s Surrender After portraits

Feb 12th, 2015
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//Rebecca. Photo: Jean-Francois Carly//

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//Ale. Photo: Jean-Francois Carly//

Surrender After is the title of photographer/director Jean-Francois Carly’s show of nudes opening at Forge & Co in east London next week.

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George Cox: The origins of the Diano brothel creeper + samples ordered by Malcolm McLaren in 1973

Jan 20th, 2015
Malcolm McLaren 1972 (c) David Parkinson

//Malcolm McLaren in a previously unpublished shot wearing original 50s George Cox Bingley D-ring brothel creepers to match his detail-perfect Teddy Boy garb. Photo taken inside Let It Rock, 430 King’s Road, January 1972. (c) David Parkinson//

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//Left, Saint Laurent point-toed patent brothel creepers, A/W 2014. Right: George Cox Buckle Diano made to the 1950s last//

Last season’s foregrounding by Saint Laurent of the pointed brothel creeper is just one of a run of examples of fashion brands plugging into the purity of this quintessentially British rock & roll style minted in 1949 by the UK independent footwear company George Cox.

Among the first stylistic innovators to take the design out of Teddy Boy revivalism and apply it to contemporary fashion was Malcolm McLaren, who had been selling creepers for a couple of years at Let It Rock, the boutique he operated with Vivienne Westwood, by the time he visited the Cox factory in Northampton in November 1973. Here he ordered samples for six styles, some of which went into production for sale at 430 King’s Road.

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Of ties and men: The neckwear connection between Bryan Ferry, Malcolm McLaren and David Parkinson

Jan 17th, 2015

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//Malcolm McLaren, 1973. Photo: David Parkinson. Bryan Ferry, 1976. Photo Richard Wallis//

A couple of years back I showed examples of photography by the late David Parkinson to car-nut graphic design maestro Jules Balme; I knew he would be interested in the incorporation of a 1959 Cadillac Eldorado in a 1973 Let It Rock fashion shoot.

What drew Balmes’ eagle eye was not the car fin detail, but the fact that Malcolm McLaren in the shot below sported a tie of the same distinctive Atomic-style 50s pattern as worn by Bryan Ferry in the video clip for his 1976 solo hit Let’s Stick Together (and subsequently on the sleeve of the compilation of the same name rushed out to capitalise on the single’s success that year).

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//McLaren and models in Let It Rock attire – right are examples of the so-called “Alan Ladd” and “Jazz” suits – photographed in Acre Lane, Brixton for Club International by David Parkinson, summer 1973//

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The Return Of The Saint: Cameo by The Saints + directed by Peter Medak at The Marquee…but is that Shinny in Seditionaries?

Dec 3rd, 2014
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//Is this Shinobu Kanai aka “Shinny” in a Seditionaries top in Episode 9 of the first series of The Return Of The Saint, broadcast November 1978?//

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//Kanai  in The Great Rock N Roll Swindle, 1980//

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// As “Japanese Woman” in the opening sequence of Insignificance, 1985//

Currently doing the rounds of the punk groups on various social networking sites is this clip from the cheesy 70s revival of classic 60s British television series The Saint.

Entitled The Arrangement, episode nine of The Return Of The Saint was broadcast on November 5, 1978 and starred such UK TV drama stalwarts as Carolyn Seymour, seen here looking glam in a car in Soho’s Wardour Street outside The Marquee where the great Aussie band The Saints are crashing through Swing For The Crime from their Eternally Yours album.
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Malcolm McLaren’s 1969 Goldsmith’s paintings go on show for the first time

Oct 7th, 2014
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//Berries – 8 Yellowy Green Female Forms, Malcolm McLaren, 1969. Mixed media,
5 x 4’. Photo (c) Barry Martin/Malcolm McLaren Estate//

“I started out in art school as a painter. I studied there for eight years and most of my education was based around the visual arts. I learnt all my politics and understanding of the world through the history of art.”

Malcolm McLaren speaking on British arts documentary series the South Bank Show, 1983

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//I Will Be So Bad, Malcolm McLaren, 1969. Oil on canvas, 15 x 12”. Photo (c) Barry Martin/Malcolm McLaren Estate//

Among the exhibits at Let It Rock, the Malcolm McLaren room at this autumn’s group exhibition Art In Pop at Magasin in Grenoble, are never-previously exhibited photographs of the late cultural iconoclast’s paintings taken by his teacher Barry Martin during McLaren’s student days in the 60s.

These are discussed in this extract from the exhibition introduction:

In the summer of 1969, at the end of his first year of the fine art course at London’s Goldsmith’s School Of Art, the 23-year-old student Malcolm Edwards showed 10 or so gestural paintings, mainly oils on canvas with some integrating text statements and others used as the basis for mixed media experimentation incorporating chicken wire, hammered wood planks and, in one case, an inverted paper envelope against depictions of leaf forms.

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//Map Of British Isles With Yellow Star And Hole, Malcolm McLaren, 1969.
Oil on canvas, 7 x 4’. Photo (c) Barry Martin/Malcolm McLaren Estate//

During a 90-minute critical review by his teacher Barry Martin, Edwards (soon to revert to his birth-name of McLaren) declared his rejection of the limitations imposed by traditional art forms, in particular painting.

McLaren subsequently destroyed all but one of the works. In a symbolic statement the exception, the largest canvas – the 7ft tall Map Of British Isles With Yellow Star And Hole, into which he had already kicked a sizeable hole – was left to rot in the summer rain in the yard at the back of the college. Eventually it was torn apart and taken away by the dustbin-men.

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//The Intangible Manipulation Of Minds, Malcolm McLaren, 1969. Mixed media, 4’6″ x 4’6”. Photo (c) Barry Martin/Malcolm McLaren Estate//

McLaren dedicated his remaining two years at Goldsmith’s to organization of events and film-making, one about his hero, the early British rock’n’roller Billy Fury merged into an unfinished commentary on consumerism centred on the history of London’s main commercial thoroughfare, Oxford Street.

In doing so McLaren was inserting himself into the lineage back to Duchamp which included such figures as the Dutch Situationist Asgar Jorn, who had proclaimed “Painting is dead” in 1958, and in particular Andy Warhol, who explained his sponsorship of The Velvet Underground in 1967 by saying: “Since I don’t really believe in painting anymore we have a chance to combine music and art.”

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//Leaves, Nature And Cuts, Malcolm McLaren, 1969. Mixed media, 4 x 3’. Photo (c) Barry Martin/Malcolm McLaren Estate//

McLaren later described his decision to open the boutique Let It Rock in London’s King’s Road on exiting the art school system in 1971 as “jumping into the musical end of painting”; here McLaren blazed the trail dictated by his formidable art education by creating new artworks as fashion pieces out of the juxtaposition of found objects.

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//Words Trapped In Brick Compartments With Prostrate Figures, Malcolm McLaren 1969. Oil on canvas, 5 x 4’. Photo (c) Barry Martin/Malcolm McLaren Estate//

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//14 Pink Figures On Moving Sea Of Green, Malcolm McLaren, 1969. Oil on canvas, 12 x 15”. Photo (c) Barry Martin/Malcolm McLaren Estate//

Thanks to Barry Martin for his insights and assistance in putting together the Malcolm McLaren segment of Art In Pop. Martin continues to practice as an artist and sculptor; this is his website.

Art In Pop, which opens on Saturday, is curated by Magasin’s Yves Aupetitallot with John Armleder, Young Kim of the Malcolm McLaren Estate, John Miller and I. The exhibition runs until January 4, 2015 at Le Magasin, Site Bouchayer-Viallet, 8 Esplanade Andry Farcy, 38028 Grenoble.

Details here.

 

 

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Zippo Records: 13th Floor Elevators mural, Cope’s Droolian LP, MC5’s motherfuckers tee + The Conqueroo Dog

Sep 18th, 2014
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//13th Floor Elevators mural inside Zippo Records, Clapham Park, south-west London, mid-80s, courtesy Pete Flanagan//

Pete Flanagan, owner of the long-gone Zippo Records in Clapham, south London, has sent me this photograph of the shop interior.

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//Front cover, Droolian, Julian Cope, Zippo/Mofoco, 1989//

It sums up everything that was wonderful about this unique space, where Pete established a hub for like-minded souls. With staff including Edwin Pouncey (aka Savage Pencil), Pete also released otherwise hard-to-find records via his own independent imprints. These included Heartland, 5 Hours Back and MoFoCo for Julian Cope’s towering LP Droolian.

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//Droolian’s back cover//

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//Zippo’s distinctive price label (this from The Many Faces Of Gale Garnett, an obscure 1965 release on RCA)//

I bought a lot of music and also an example of every one of the short-run t-shirts Zippo sold, including my favourite, this MC5 number (other owners, and there can’t be many because they were printed in very limited numbers, include Bobby Gillespie).

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As a local I was a Zippo regular with our Battersea hound Tom. Pete christened him “The Conqueroo Dog” after the four-legged friend on the cover of his reissue of the Austin band’s 1968 release From The Vulcan Gas Company.

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//Front cover, From The Vulcan Gas Company, The Conqueroo, 1968/reissued 1987 on 5 Hours Back//

When Zippo closed I bought a whole load of stock and had a few happy years trading in vinyl as a sideline, until my back gave out.

Pete’s still at it, running Soho Music which is now on eBay – see here.

I bumped into Edwin P a couple of years back; he was in the company of another great person who was also a former Zippo staffer. Can’t for the life of me recall his name but hopefully he’ll see this and get in touch.

See what Savage Pencil is up to here.

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