Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Hapshash takes a trip – Nigel Waymouth exhibition

I appropriated this love-it-hate-it Sixties print from my parents' house many years ago. It's the most unlikely thing for them to ever have owned – but I guess even parents were young once. I've always had it on the wall in my bedrooms because it's a bit saucy – though it took a while to notice quite how suggestive it was. 

Strange and kinky as it is, I've really grown to love it. This week, I got sent some preview images from a new exhibition of Sixties art at the Idea Generation Gallery; Hapshash Takes a Trip, featuring the work of Nigel Waymouth. 

Waymouth was one half of the legendary design duo Hapshash & the Coloured Coat (the other half was Michael English). The duo's psychedelic posters were commissioned by the music venue the UFO Club, to promote live performances by the likes of Pink Floyd, Procol Harum and Jeff Beck. The pair met when Waymouth designed the shop-front for English's Granny Takes a Trip boutique on the King's Road. They also famously designed record covers for the Who, among others.

Scroll down to see why I made the connection with the print that hangs above the stairs in my bedroom (see again, in situ, below). I don't know who the artist behind mine is, and my parents don't remember where it came from. If any readers can shed any light – I'd love to know... 


According to the exhibition notes, each poster often contained, "subversive content such as mystical symbols, sexually explicit elements and dissenting messages hidden within their psychedelic swirls." I wish I knew the history of my own print, which does exactly that (as you'll see the longer you look at it).

Meanwhile, from the show...

Tomorrow - My White Bicycles (silkscreen), 1967 A promotion for their 1967 single which was inspired, according to their drummer John ‘Twink” Alder, by the Amsterdam Provos who began a programme of free white painted bicycles long before Mayor Boris Johnson’s idea. They played regularly at UFO. It was one of the very first Hapshash posters. (From exhibition notes)
The Soft Machine Turns On A Canterbury band, consisting of Robert Wyatt, Kevin Ayers, David Allen and Mike Rattlidge. The band was named after the William Burroughs novel of the same name. Like the Pink Floyd they were a much enjoyed UFO house band that also went on to further success, particularly in France where their early Prog Rock/Jazz style played well to the french appreciation for the avante garde.



Crazy world of Arthur Brown (silkscreen), 1967 Another regular performer at the UFO club., Arthur Brown had studied philosophy and law at London University and Reading University before developing his wild act of coming on stage with a blazing brazier on his head and singing his hit song, “FIRE”. The performances owed something to Screaming Jay Hawkins but was way ahead of Alice Cooper and Marilyn Manson.




CIA vs UFO

The designs were heavily inspired by the San Francisco psychedelia of the era, and the Art Deco artists who inspired that – such as Alphonso Mucha and Aubrey Beardsley. The V&A Museum shop has a good collection of prints by both artists, from £15 (A4 size). 

Prints from the exhibition will be, through the Idea Generation Gallery's Culture Label online shop Culture Label shop from Sept 7, earliest, in time for the show.

Vaguely connected, if this era is your kind of thing, you might like the tips in How to get the 70s look (minus the lava lamp). 

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