the other day we went into london to see a derek boshier exhibition. do you know him?..he’s the one who designed that great sleeve for bowie’s lodger. his peers are people like peter blake who did the sgt peppers album sleeve and allen jones who inspired those sexy sculptures in clockwork orange. during the punk period derek boshier curated an important event where he displayed folk working in graphic design, photography and comics alongside accepted artists, in order to press home the idea that the term artist should be perceived beyond those standing by an easel holding paintbrushes. derek believes all human beings have artistic potential. one of the talented people he shone a light on was barney bubbles who did strong record sleeves for folk like ian dury, devo and hawkwind…barney bubbles also did that neat music video for the specials ‘ghost town’… poor fella wrestled with bipolar disorder and gassed himself.
one of the lovely things about our recent resurge in vinyl records is many of the sleeves are finally being reassessed as legitimate works of art in themselves. at the time many fine ones were just passed off as decent record covers, but lots of it was spectacular, even if the music inside them was sometimes less so.
i love this picture of the day they shot david bowie’s lodger album cover..he’s raised on some very uncomfortable scaffolding, and then has a slab of glass laid over him to bring about a disfigured effect. the aesthetic of it conspires to keep bowie relevant during those harsh punky seasons without literally turning him into a punk..it really is top banana…he’s not trying to look cute or pretty…he isn’t suffering from what i call ‘cuteness disease’ where artists become slaves to their own vanity rather than serving the greater good.
there’s a couple of things on lodger that i love…a ballad called fantastic voyage….it’s so heartfelt…the other one is ‘boys keep swinging’ the track sounds very raw and brian eno got that feeling by getting the slick session players to swap and play unfamiliar instruments,thereby giving it a youth club amateurish feel…no established star in recording studios during the 1970’s would have dared think like that.
y’know a funny thing is how many folk fear that art galleries might be a bit bourgeois,but in my own limited experience,it’s rarely the case. after we left the gallery showing derek boshier,we nipped into another one i love called the halcyon ..they represent bob dylan, and right now they’re showing these joyous blow up photographs of pele the footballer in his prime. some of them are treated with glitter,while others are atmospheric night shots of him on playing fields in super fit condition..they’re showing in both galleries which face each other on conduit street… everytime we go in, someone who works there casually gets a conversation going and then lavishes us with entertaining information about the art on the walls and floor…a lovely scottish girl enthusiastically gave up a good half hour of her time…she even encouraged me to take photos..it was anything but bourgeois.
high end clothes stores are far more intimidating, [if you allow them to be] … in fact, further down the road from the halcyon gallery, we walked past a shop selling patek philippe watches, and when i attempted to take a photo of the window, a security man told me it wasn’t allowed… silly old bouncer.
after the galleries, thomas blew my mind by wondering if on the spur of the moment we could have high tea at claridges without booking, and we did.. i’ll surely write about that later.