I Studied graphic design at the London College of Printing, now the London College of Communication, and left in 1966 to take up the post of Art Editor at the counterculture newspaper ‘International Times’. Professional practice, spanning 43 years, has been varied, from painting shop fronts to stage sets, producing conceptual illustration for magazines and newspapers, making posters, textile designs, record covers and book covers to exhibiting and teaching.
Participation in the London Counterculture scene in the mid-sixties provided an opportunity to create psychedelic posters, street murals and editorial graphics for the alternative press, galleries, clubs and events promoting the be-ins, love-Ins, happenings and demonstrations that defined the times and acted as a catalyst for the politics and social change of the period.
Psychedelic posters were produced for the publishing companies Osiris and Big O promoting London events such as the first gathering of psychedelic culture at the UFO club in Tottenham Court Road, the 14 Hour Technicolor Dream concert at Alexandra Palace and the Legalise Pot Rally (1) held in Hyde Park in July 1967.
A developing interest in Eastern Mysticism re-directed pictorial ideas that visualized drug induced states of mind towards images articulating states of consciousness. This new work was influenced by Eastern thought as expressed through Islamic pattern and Hindu narratives amongst other mystical teachings. These ideas appeared in commissions for The Flying Dragon (2), a hippy tea house in Chelsea’s Kings Road, and posters for music events at the Palais de Sports in Paris and the Roundhouse Arts Centre in London.
Changes (part one)
Moved from counterculture to main stream graphics in 1969 with the album cover artwork for ‘Tommy’, the rock opera by The Who (3) after having introduced Pete Townshend to the teachings of Meher Baba. The commission was a natural consequence of our shared interest in Baba’s teachings whose philosophy and principal message of love struck the right note for the times and created, in Tommy, a distinct vehicle for spiritual ideas we both held.
Over subsequent years commissioned work reflected a developing interest in the image as opinion, producing editorial illustration for the latest forms of journalism that where evolving at the time. This included new writing by emerging feminist journalists and weekend supplements produced by established newspapers. The challenge was to create thoughtful illustrated opinion that would complement the written social observations, comments and arguments of journalists such as Bel Mooney, Irma Kurtz, Wendy Cooper and Jackie Gillott, for art editors such as David King at the Sunday Times (4) and David Hillman at Nova Magazine (5).
Changes (part two)
Work continued to evolve. Methods of work adapted to tighter deadlines. The New Scientist Magazine cover (6) was produced at speed to a very short deadline using a more linear, less painterly style. The ICA poster (7) is an example of recent work which explores new ways of working with black and white ideas through the use of the ballpoint pen. A black biro drawing was used to create filmwork for a traditional silkscreen rainbow effect.
Current work comments on everyday experiences using contrasting pictorial ideas and methods of practice. Folktales uses everyday activities to comment on traditional customs and beliefs through studio based ballpoint pen drawings. West London portraits, trees and woodland paths is a project created as A2 gouache sketches, painted on-site over an average of three hours each. The work develops abstract brush marks into factual descriptions and is a primary example of improvised making with a risk of failure.
- The Whitechapel Art Gallery, London
- The Whitney Museum, New York
- The Victoria and Albert Museum, London
- Schirn Kunsthalle, Frankfurt
- Tate Liverpool
- The Barbican Gallery, London
- The Museum für Gestaltung, Zürich
Work is quoted in films such as ‘Almost Famous’, directed by Cameron Crowe, as well as discussed in the pages of Radio Times, Eye Magazine, Mojo Magazine and featured in broadcasts on BBC Radio 4, GLR Radio and BBC Television.
Awards include a D&AD Silver and Joint Gold Award and a New Musical Express Record Cover Award.
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