20 October 2009

Season Sickness/Visually Enhanced

28 Asvina - Year 1931 (Saka Era)

Urgh. My first cold of the year. I've been really good the past 10 months avoiding various flus and bugs. I suppose I had to ingest at least one airborne virus sooner or later. I ended up calling out of work for three days last week. It's one of those head colds...plugged-up sinuses, mild fever and achy muscles. I feel a bit better now, but I'm still not fully recovered. I did manage to drag myself back to work this week, like the good little wage-slave that I am. Ah well, hopefully this means that I've paid my illness dues for another year.

I was trawling eBay looking for LPs, when I thought I would check for some vintage psychedelic posters from the late 60s. I was specifically looking for art from the UK psych scene, particularly from Hapshash and The Coloured Coat and Martin Sharp. To my amazement, there are some available - though mostly cheaper reprints of the 60s originals. I tried a Google search and found a few independent art dealers with small stocks of 1st printings. I warn you, though, if you're in the market for a copy, they're not cheap. A first printing of Hapshash's Pink Floyd/CIA v UFO poster in excellent condition will cost you about £300 and a near-mint copy of Sharp's Donovan metallic poster are going for around the £400/£500 mark. The rarer Hapshash posters, like the one for the Fifth Dimension club in Leicester, or the UFO Coming poster, may go for even more dosh now. Hapshash also created a couple of posters for OZ Magazine - one called Catherine and The Wheel Of Fire (pictured above) and one called Position 69. I managed to get my hands on a copy of the "Catherine.." poster by buying (not cheaply) an original OZ issue off of eBay. It's in good shape...a bit creased here and there, but the colour is still intact. I'm going to have it archive-framed at some point.

I only just discovered now that Michael English, half of Hapshash, passed away on 25th September of cancer--a loss of a great artist. A website is dedicated to his artwork over the years - though, curiously, it doesn't mention his death. You can purchase his 1970s posters, usually mundane objects air-brushed in amazing detail, for fairly decent prices on eBay and elsewhere on the web. I've ordered used copies of both of English's books, 3-D Eye and Anatomy Of Illusion. His partner in the collective, Nigel Waymouth, is still on the planet and also has a site. Waymouth is selling reprints of the more famous Hapshash posters, but I haven't e-mailed him to ask about prices.

Besides Hapshash and Sharp - the Dutch collective The Fool were psychedelicizing art in the UK in the late 60s. They were responsible for the (in)famous mural on the exterior of The Beatles' Apple boutique in London - as well as Eric Clapton's trippy Gibson SG guitar (he played it while a member of Cream) and Procol Harum's 1967 stage clothes. They also designed part of the set of Wonderwall, Joe Massot's groovy 'Swingin' 60s' film, starring Jane Birkin and featuring a soundtrack by George Harrison--and even appeared in a party scene. The Fool weren't quite as prolific as the others in poster creation, but the few they did publish seem to be quite excellent to me. The A Is For Apple poster is probably the most well-known. You can buy a reprint from the official Beatles on-line shop for a modest price (originals fetch about £250-£300 now). I bought one and it's quite good. It's a digital scan, so the colours probably aren't quite as bright as on a vintage '67 printing. They're printed on heavier card stock, rather than thin poster paper, so they're sturdy.

When The Fool split in 1970, Barry Finch and Josje Leeger moved to Amsterdam and are still together, though I don't know if they still create artwork. Marijke Koger, one of the original members (Barry and Josje joined after the others moved to London), moved to America, got hitched and still creates paintings and prints. She too has her own website, where you can buy original paintings (pretty costly) or reprints of some of her 60s poster designs. The reprints are giclees, but the quality seems to be good. I can't give a first-hand assessment, because I haven't purchased any at the moment. Simon Posthuma, also one of the Fool founders, moved back to Holland and also has a site, but there doesn't appear to be anything for sale.

There's a few other notables from the English psychedelic art scene. Alan Aldridge, who created drawings for The Beatles and illustrations for various magazines. Mike McInnerney, the cover artist for The Who's Tommy album (see the link for the details of his "Tommy" artwork) and several Oz and International Times issues. He doesn't have a website or even a Wikipedia page, so I'm not sure what he's up to these days--keeping a low profile, certainly. John Hurford also contributed to Oz and created a few gig posters, of which originals are pretty much impossible to find now. There is a book available covering most of his late 60s and early 70s work, as well as his creations to the present.

American psychedelic posters seem to be all the rage at the moment, too. I'll cover the U.S. scene in another post. If you've got any Hapshash or Sharp art you want to sell, give me a shout.

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