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Malcolm McLaren exhibition: Nostalgia Of Mud + Witches + Folkways ethnological recordings from the 1950s

Jul 28th, 2014
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//Front cover, Dances Of The World’s Peoples, Vol 3, Folkways Records, 1958. Design: W. Johnson, printed on paper glued to cardboard sleeve.//

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//Front of four-page song and information sheet utilising W.Johnson’s design, paper, 1958//

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//Invitation card to Paris show of McLaren and Westwood’s Nostalgia Of Mud collection, March 1982. Design: Nick Egan. Courtesy Malcolm McLaren Estate//

The idea is to show in clothes and music that, in the post-industrial age, the roots of our culture lie in primitive societies.
Malcolm McLaren on Nostalgia Of Mud and Duck Rock, 1983

Thanks to Hiroshi Fujiwara for tipping the wink over one of the sources of visual inspiration fed by Malcolm McLaren into the concepts unified by his solo album Duck Rock, the central London clothing store Nostalgia Of Mud and the fashion collections he designed with Vivienne Westwood in 1982-3.

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//Witchdoctor figure from W. Johnson’s design//

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//Figure recast by McLaren and Westwood with Keith Haring adornments on cotton top from Witches collection, 1983. From private collection//

One of the cues for Duck Rock’s investigations into music from all over the world was the series of recordings by enthnological music archivists Ronnie and Stu Lipner released on Folkways Records in the late 50s under the banner Dances Of The World’s Peoples. And McLaren’s appropriation of the naive cover art by W. Johnson – in particular the striking witchdoctor figure – found new form in design collaborations with Westwood, graphics supremo Nick Egan and artist Keith Haring.

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//Nostalgia Of Mud pattern show card, 1982. Courtesy Malcolm McLaren Estate//

McLaren’s brilliance at fusing disparate elements into culture-defining and dazzling artworks is being celebrated next week with the exhibition Let It Rock: The Look Of Music The Sound Of Fashion at the Crystal Hall in Copenhagen’s Bella Center.

The show – which runs from August 3-6 during Copenhagen Fashion Week – will incorporate hundreds of exhibits, many rare and never previously shown to the public, including clothing and objects featured here such as the Witches top, the show cards and original copies of the Dances Of The World’s Peoples LP and catalogue.

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Kate Moross: Make Your Own Luck

Apr 16th, 2014

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The industrious British designer/illustrator Kate Moross is celebrating the publication of her book Make Your Own Luck with a London exhibition surveying the impressive body of work she has assembled to date.

I recommend the book highly, and not just because Moross gracefully thanked me for what little input I may have had. Also, as a fellow dog-lover, it’s great to see that Moross’s beloved Shiba Inus Tako and Ebi are given prominence on the flyleaf.

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Handbags, gladrags, fragrances, films, lectures + twitter spats…Barney Bubbles’ undimmed lightbulb of inspiration

Nov 14th, 2013

//Olympia Le-Tan handbag based on artwork for The Damned's 1977 LP Music For Pleasure, with promotional t-shirt for Fred Burns' documentary Johnny Moped Basically using 1978 lightbulb design//

So potent is the creative legacy of the graphic design master Barney Bubbles – who died on this day 30 years ago – that he is continually cited as an inspiration by contemporary visual communicators, while his name and work is attached to all manner of endeavours.

Recently, Bubbles artworks were chosen by the French fashionista Olympia Le-Tan to lead her exclusive collection of handbags. Meantime Tokyo lifestyle label retaW has named a range of fragrance products “Barney*” in celebration of “the many album covers he was responsible for in the 70s and 80s”.

//Barney* products named after Bubbles by Japanese lifestyle company retaW//

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“Bring me your dented and bent out of shape”: Johnny Moped documentary is on the way

Jun 3rd, 2013

//Johnny Moped, Dave Berk, Fred Berk, Slimy Toad, 1977. Photo: Chiswick Records//

In an age clogged up with boil-in-the-bag popular music documentaries, I’m looking forward to Fred Burns’ Basically, Johnny Moped, about the unpredictable outsider who emerged via associations with The Damned and Chrissie Hynde during the post-punk period to strut and fret his hour upon the stage.

Moped and his band – Dave and Fred Berk and Slimy Toad – were out and about a lot in 1977 and 1978; I caught them a couple of times, once as part of a bigger bill at Camden Town’s Music Machine (now Koko) and another time in the West End (possibly The Marquee).

Their single Darling, Let’s Have Another Baby was (and remains 35 years later) a stand-out song of the period and Barney Bubbles’ artwork for that and other Moped releases and promotional material sealed the deal.

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The story behind a long-lost single sleeve design

Apr 18th, 2013

Read the story behind this obscure record sleeve design – for a single which failed to dent the Top 75 on release 30 years ago – over on the Barney Bubbles Blog.

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Graphics: Simon Haynes’ designs for City Lights Studio 1972

Mar 11th, 2013

//Swingtag, printed card, 4" x 2", 1972//

Artist/designer Simon Haynes has allowed me access to some of the treasures in his archive. Over the next few weeks I’ll be dipping into it and presenting a selection of artworks, display items, stage sets and graphics he has created over the years.

//Design on silk swatch for fabric for shop interior fittings, 1972//

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Feast your eyes on this Barney Bubbles rarity

Feb 4th, 2013

Justin de Blank: 1927-2012

Jan 5th, 2013

//Marque, Barney Bubbles, 1969.//

I interviewed the restaurateur and fine food champion Justin de Blank – who died last month aged 85 – for Reasons To Be Cheerful; de Blank recognised Barney Bubbles’ design talents when the pair met at the Conran Group’s design studio in the 60s.

//Justin de Blank, mid 70s. Courtesy Melanie de Blank.//

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White Noise: Pictures from the exhibition

Jun 13th, 2012

//Shoboshobo's installation faces off with the Barney Bubbles exhibit The Past The Present & The Possible. (c) R. Pelletier.//

The exhibition White Noise: Quand le graphisme fait du bruit – held at Les Subsistances in Chaumont, France – closed on Sunday to the public, though is being visited this week by students, teachers and others from educational institutions.

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Remembering graphic artist David Band

Apr 23rd, 2012

The Scottish Sunday Herald’s Teddy Jamieson has sent me this piece about the late graphic artist David Band, who is probably best known for his work for such 80s groups as Spandau Ballet and Altered Images but established a strong reputation in Australia before succumbing to cancer at the age of 51 last year.

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