“Barney Bubbles is the missing link between
art and culture.”
This autumn Chelsea Space hosts PROCESS, an exciting exhibition focusing on the working practices of one of the giants of graphic design, Barney Bubbles.
The show will contain many never-before-seen items drawn from private collections, including student notebooks, working sketches, original artwork, paintings, books and photography. These were the raw material for videos, record sleeves, t-shirts and posters created by Bubbles for such performers as Ian Dury, Hawkwind, Elvis Costello, The Damned and Billy Bragg (who is contributing a one-off rug with a rendition of the designer's Masereel-quoting cover for his album Brewing Up With).
Bubbles (b. Colin Fulcher, 1942-1983) is cited as a major influence by such contemporary practitioners as Neville Brody, Art Chantry, Malcolm Garrett, Kate Moross, Rob O'Connor and Peter Saville.
Until recently a marginalised figure, his oeuvre has been reappraised in the wake of the publication of Paul Gorman's monograph Reasons To Be Cheerful: The Life & Work Of Barney Bubbles.
Gorman is curating PROCESS, which will demonstrate how Bubbles problem-solved on behalf of his clients by employing powerful symbols and an intense colour sense with bright primaries, stark contrasts, strategies and interventions, such as the deliberate revelation of the printing colour code on the sleeve of Elvis Costello's album This Year's Model (1978).
After five years at Twickenham art school, Bubbles cut his teeth in the mid-60s as senior graphic designer at Conran Design. His idiosyncratic, non-stylised approach was honed via art direction of such publications as Oz, Friends and the NME.
In parallel he emerged as the most audacious record sleeve designer of his generation with such packaging as the giant tri-fold sleeve for The Glastonbury Fayre (1972), the Constructivist cover to Your Generation by Generation X (1977) and the kaleidoscopic Armed Forces by Elvis Costello & The Attractions (1979).
Bubbles delivered advertising campaigns and integrated branding, designed books, artzines and post-modern furniture, painted privately, and created the catalogue and exhibition poster for the important late 70s group show Lives at The Hayward (curated by Derek Boshier).
Coinciding with the London Design Festival, PROCESS will include a programme of events celebrating aspects of Bubbles' work with contributions from collaborators including musicians and photographers, as well as talks, Q&A’s and commentary on his legacy by contemporary designers and graphics authorities.
PROCESS will launch the publication of the second edition of Reasons To Be Cheerful, which was announced as MOJO magazine's Book of The Year in 2010. The new edition includes fresh interviews, images and information investigating hitherto unexplored territory relating to the life and work of this intriguing and elusive figure.