Derek Boshier: David Bowie + The Clash at Pallant House this summer
Artist Derek Boshier’s practice is marked by his engagement with contemporary culture; this has been a consistent aspect of his work since the earliest days of the British Pop movement.
When popular music has invigorated the wider world, Boshier has been present, incorporating Buddy Holly into his painting I Wonder What My Heroes Think Of The Space Race? in Ken Russell’s defining 1962 Monitor piece Pop Goes The Easel, and providing one of the most vivid visual documents of the punk and post-punk era, Clash 2nd Songbook.
The commission arose from a chance encounter with Joe Strummer (Boshier taught the singer at Central St Martin’s in the early 70s). Since The Clash were being managed by another former student, Caroline Coon, Boshier was the natural choice to take on and revitalise pop songbook design.
The Clash songbook shares approaches with those produced by Barney Bubbles for Ian Dury & The Blockheads and John Cooper Clark in this period, manifesting the artistic exchange then being conducted by Boshier and Bubbles – the late graphic designer was concurrently designing the catalogue and poster for the Arts Council’s Boshier-curated group show Lives: An Exhibition Of Artists Whose Work Is Based On Other Peoples’ Lives at the Hayward Gallery.
Simultaneously, Boshier was also collaborating with David Bowie and the late photographer (and Lives participant) Brian Duffy on the sleeve for Bowie’s album Lodger.
By the time of Lodger’s release, Boshier had also designed stage sets for Bowie’s 1978 world tour. These were not used, but a few years later a Houston skyline of Boshier’s – produced when he was in residence at the city’s university – formed the backdrop for the Mick Haggerty design for the cover of Bowie’s 1983 album Let’s Dance.
And, in exciting news for Bowie-philes, the scale models for Bowie’s 1978 stage sets are among the exhibits in this summer’s show Derek Boshier: David Bowie and The Clash, at the Pallant House gallery in Chichester, Sussex.
To coincide with the opening of the exhibition, on Thursday June 28 I will be in conversation with Boshier about Bowie, The Clash, Bubbles and his other musical connections, including the 1962 sketches of Bill Haley, a little known piece for the Pretty Things in the early 70s and the interest in reggae which manifested itself in paintings during Boshier’s Texas years in the 80s.
Exhibition details here.
More about The Ian Dury Songbook and The John Cooper Clark Directory on the Barney Bubbles blog.