Paul Gorman is…

Malcolm McLaren exhibition: The roots of Savages + 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 jersey and cotton with overprinted lettering. Design: Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood for Worlds End, 1982. 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 Savages collection with Vivienne Westwood in 1982.

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, 1982. 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 Savages debuted in October 1982 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.

Read more here.

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The ART SCHOOL and the CULTURE SHED

Jun 18th, 2014

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John Beck and Matthew Cornford’s intelligent and measured book The Art School And The Culture Shed may be a slim volume but it packs a hell of a punch in locating the ravages wreaked on our cultural life over the past 20 years by privatisation, the failings of local councils and town planners and the depredations of property developers.

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//Left: Moseley School Of Art, closed 1975. Right: The site of Sidcup School Of Art, occupied since 2010 by a Morrisons and a car park//

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I Knew Jim Knew: Jim Walrod knows a thing or two…

May 27th, 2014
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//Jacket photograph Terry Richardson with shots from Walrod’s Instagram feed//

Design authority Jim Walrod wears a deep and wide-ranging understanding of his subject – specifically that pertaining to modernism in furniture, interiors, product design and architecture  – lightly.

This is refreshing in a field populated by bloodless experts and humourless know-alls. The founder of important 90s/00s store Form & Function, Walrod -  described as “the ultimate design raconteur” by André Balazs and “the furniture pimp” by the Beastie Boys – is above all an enthusiast.

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The Clash: Rare sketches by Derek Boshier in the Flowers Gallery archive

May 14th, 2014
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//Sketch for songbook cover, 13 x 9″. Derek Boshier 1979 courtesy Flowers Gallery//

While interrogating materials for Rethink/Re-Entry – the monograph of artist Derek Boshier I am editing – I’ve come across many delights, including these sketches in the Flowers Gallery archive for one of the most visually striking documents of the post-punk era, CLASH 2nd Songbook.

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The Face, May 1992: Love Sees No Colour

Apr 29th, 2014
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//Cover: Boy George with Mica + Jade, styling David Mignon, photography Thomas Krygier//

From time to time I’m going to be turning over information and images here as I go through the process of writing my book Legacy: The story of The Face.

Today I spent an enjoyable and enlightening few hours interviewing former editor Richard Benson; during our conversation it became clear that one of the turning points in the history of this significant magazine occurred with the spring 1992 publication of the issue headed Love Sees No Colour.

This coincided with the High Court judgment against the magazine in the unfortunate libel case brought by actor/singer Jason Donovan on the grounds that he had been branded a liar and a hypocrite as a result of the inference that he was gay.

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//The Face May 1992, pp6-7: Nick Logan’s editorial on the right//

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//PP58-59: Left, montage by Keith Piper/Right, Kate Moss by Enrique Badalescu, styling Camille Nickerson + Lucy Ewing//

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//PP38-39: Seen, Gilbert & George, 1989//

The theme of tolerance had been hatched by Benson’s predecessor Sheryl Garratt long before the dispute reached, in publisher Nick Logan’s words, “its unhappy conclusion”.

In terms of the magazine’s narrative, the issue affirmed The Face’s position as the lightning rod of the progress of popular culture in the inclusive 90s.

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//PP76-77: Left, George O’Dowd in his Absolutely Queer T-shirt – “Homophobes are fine. I just don’t want them near my children.”/Right, Rebel MC in Michiko Koshino T-shirt, Ezra Oban + Dominique Kelly in Katharine Hamnett Protect + Survive vests. Photos: Kate Garner + Thomas Krygier//

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//PP82-83: Left (top), Apachi Indian in One World shirt by Paul Smith, (below) Banderas in Love Sees No Colour shirts by Joe Casely-Hayford,/Right, Des’Ree in No To Negrophobia T-shirt by Trevor Norris. Photos: Kate Garner + Thomas Krygier//

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//PP84-85: Left, (top left) Paul Reid in Face Love outfit by Dirk Bikkembergs, (top right) Charlotte Champion + Gabriella Stonebridge in Jean Colonna and Martin Margiela, (below) Colin “Sweet C” McMillan in Love Sees No Colour T-shirt by Gio Goi and Turn Your Nose Up At Racism by Bella Freud/Right, Michael Clark in Nazi Shithead outfit by Leigh Bowery. Photos: Kate Garner + Thomas Krygier//

Designed by Boris Bencic and Lee Swillingham, the issue tipped the hat to those figures who had played a part in the 80s story – Boy George, Paul Smith, Leigh Bowery – and also hit the mark with the generation setting the pace for the new decade, whether it be Joe Bloggs, Kate Moss or Martin Margiela.

Produced in an all-hands-to-the-pump atmosphere, with Logan and Garratt in daily court attendance and the all-too-real prospect of forced closure as a result of the huge legal bills resulting from the Donovan case, The Face May 1992 is a cracking issue, one which stands up as a consummate example of journalistic excellence achieved under duress.

Legacy: The story of The Face is published by Thames & Hudson in autumn 2015.

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Q: What does the Sun Ra perfume Prophetika smell like? A: The Future!

Apr 18th, 2014

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//Prophetika: Based on an ancient formula with hints of Cairo, Chicago…and Casseopia//


One day I’ll write a post justifying my view that Kicks #6 is the hands-down greatest music magazine of all time, but for now it’s worth recording that the folks behind Kicks  – namely Miriam Linna and Billy Miller – continue to, er, kick out the wildest music and related stuff via their Norton Records and Kicks Books imprints.

To coincide with the publication of the first volume of the trilogy Prophetika – which gathers together a trove of unpublished poetry and prose by the intergalactic visionary Sun Ra – Kicks Books (“The publisher, the parfumier”) has announced a fragrance of the same name which draws on an ancient formula “invoking a mirage of memories and mysteries and inciting a call to action”. Apparently there are hints of Cairo, Chicago…and Casseopia.

The perfume comes in a deluxe 0.5 oz Italian glass bottle in a presentation box and is just $13 – buy your’s here.

FB friend Joss Hutton nailed it with his response to the question as to what Prophetika smells like: “The Future”. Of course.

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There’s a shindig to launch the book and niff at NYC’s St Mark’s Church next Friday. Details here.

Visit Kicks Books here and Norton Records here.

Sun Ra in performance with his Arkestra and in interview in Helsinki 1971:

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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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All The Way From Louisville: Leee Black Childers

Apr 7th, 2014

The last time I saw photographer/manager Leee Black Childers – who has died aged aged 69 – was fleetingly, a year or so ago at the crowded launch of his book and exhibition at London’s The Vinyl Factory.

The first time I saw Childers was at The Speakeasy at a March 1977 concert by his charges The Heartbreakers. The poster for that gig, featuring his London rooftop portrait of the band, hangs behind me as I type.

That night and for the rest of his London stay over the next couple of years this Southern gent could be spotted at such haunts as The Ship in Wardour Street, his presence notable for lacquered pompadour, authentic sharkskin suits and slick black winklepickers, his reputation bolstered by the knowledge that Ian Hunter had dedicated Mott The Hoople’s All The Way From Memphis to Childers – who, in fact, was raised near Louisville, KY – and that he created the apocalyptic collage on the inner gatefold of David Bowie’s Diamond Dogs LP (which now appears spookily prescient of the devastation of 9/11).

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//The inner gatefold of my well-worn copy of Diamond Dogs showing Childers’ apocalyptic photographic collage//

Childers appeared awfully frail at the Vinyl Factory launch, so news that he had been rushed to LA’s Cedar Sinai hospital during another bout of book promotion a few weeks back was worrying but not unexpected.

In conversation in 2009 Childers revealed a promotional plan for his book then in preparation: he wanted it to be published after his death so that he could be utterly honest about his extraordinary life and set of acquaintances. The promotion would consist of a series of pre-recorded chat show appearances, all ready for broadcast as soon as he expired. He wondered whether the likes of Jay Leno and David Letterman would be up for it.

Well, it wasn’t to be. The book came out and though unwell he appeared to be enjoying being back in the spotlight.

I am told Childers’ archiving was ramshackle and can find no website dedicated to his photographic work. This is shame because no one was embedded in and simultaneously chronicling the demi-monde of glitter, glam and punk, of Warhol’s Manhattan, Iggy’s LA and McLaren’s London, in the manner of this charismatic soul.

Sayonara Leee.

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‘The second nastiest little man I have ever met’ – John Deakin: Under The Influence + The Lure Of Soho

Mar 31st, 2014
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//Deakin drinking, 1960s. John Deakin, courtesy Robin Muir//

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//The cover of the new book features this 50s portrait of author JP Donleavy//

“The second nastiest little man I have ever met” – Barbara Hutton

“He was a member of photography’s unhappiest minority whose members, while doubting its status as art, sometimes prove better than anyone else that there is no doubt about it” – Bruce Bernard

The documentary portraiture of British fashion photographer John Deakin from the 1940s to his death in the early 70s is poised for a fresh round of appraisal with next week’s opening of the exhibition Under The Influence at London’s Photographers’ Gallery.

This coincides with the publication of Robin Muir’s companion book of the same title.

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//Girl In Cafe, late 1950s. (c) John Deakin, The John Deakin Archive 2013//

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//Tony Abbro of Abbro & Varriano, newsagents, Dean Street, Soho, 1961. (c) John Deakin, The John Deakin Archive 2013//

Muir is Deakin’s foremost proponent, responsible for 2002′s A Maverick Eye. This collected Deakin’s so-called “street photography” in London and on the Continent compiled during bouts of employment for British Vogue. As the title suggests, the new book focuses on the inhabitants of the stamping ground most associated with Deakin’s lush life: Soho.

On Deakin’s death in May 1972, his friend and subject Bruce Bernard rescued what comprises Deakin’s body of work in this field  from a set of tatty cardboard boxes under the bed in his Berwick Street flat.

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‘The impossibility of fair play in democratic society because of loneliness’: Emmett Grogan on To Tell The Truth

Mar 12th, 2014
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//Emmett Grogan, contestant 2 on the CBS gameshow To Tell The Truth, 1972//

Emmett did enough, rest assured. He proved with his existence that each of us could act out the life of our highest fantasies. This was his goad and his compassionate legacy. Don’t minimise it or let yourself off the hook of his example by quibbling over details. Think about what you read, but more important, as Emmett would have said, “Dig yourself!”.

Peter Coyote, introduction to Ringolevio: A Life Played For Keeps, 1989.

I’m a recently converted disciple of Emmett Grogan.

I was turned on to Grogan’s epic meta-memoir Ringolevio by the persuasive pairing of beat music entrepreneur Kosmo Vinyl and writer Steven Daly when hanging out with them in a series of New York bookshops last year. By the time I was home a few days later I’d devoured Ringolevio’s 500 pages twice and still refer to it constantly. It is a masterpiece.

This morning this absolute delight appeared as if from out of the blue: Grogan – in his capacity as founder of The Diggers – promoting the newly published Ringolevio by participating in a 1972 episode of the guess-the-guest game show To Tell The Truth.

And naturally Grogan does tell the truth. Asked to differentiate between hippies and Yippies he caustically defines the latter group as attracted to “morons like Abbott Hoffman and Jerome Rubin”.

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//My copy of the New York Review Of Books 2008 paperback edition. Cover: Grogan on the steps of the San Francisco Municipal Courthouse, 1966. Photo: Bob Campbell/San Francisco Chronicle//

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//First edition, Little, Brown, 1972. Jacket: Larry Rivers//

Grogan also tells host Gary Moore – who praises the Larry Rivers cover of the first edition of Ringolevio – that he is working on a new book, entitled The Impossibility Of Fair Play In Democratic Society Because Of Loneliness.

Put-on or not, the sad fact is that this was just one of a number of Grogan’s projects which failed to see the light of day in the wake of Ringolevio. As Peter Coyote wrote in 1989: “Emmett’s road petered out at the end of the line of the Coney Island subway April Fools Day 1978 – where his body was found, dead of an overdose.”

Bob Dylan subsequently dedicated his album Street Legal to Grogan’s memory.

TTTT from Eric Noble on Vimeo.

If you don’t already own a copy do yourself a favour and buy Ringolevio.

As Coyote also wrote: “Think about what you read, but more important, as Emmett would have said, “Dig yourself!”.

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