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Super flyer guys

A new exhibition is celebrating some of the iconic gig flyers and posters that have caught the eyes of music fans on the street

19 September, 2019 — By Róisín Gadelrab

Artwork by Hapshash & The Coloured Coat that features in the exhibition

WHO would have thought that those half-torn layers of gig flyers and posters hastily pasted on lampposts and opportunist snatches of wall spaces had the potential to become precious collectors items?

John Brett, owner of The Bamalama Gallery in Leather Lane, has had an eye for these pieces of pop culture ever since he became interested in the punk scene in the 1970s.

Decades later and he is putting on an exhibition of some choice pieces – some of which come from his own collection – including one advertising a Pink Floyd gig at Enfield College in 1967.

The exhibition mainly focuses on the work of 60s design duo Hapshash & The Coloured Coat – aka Nigel Waymouth and the late Michael English, who were responsible for some iconic pieces of graphic art.

Waymouth also co-founded cult Kings Road boutique Granny Takes A Trip, in 1966.

The exhibition, Bamalama Takes a Trip: A Celebration of 60s Graphic Design, will feature a selection of rare posters (with a mixture of not-for-sale & sale items) plus limited edition Hapshash prints such as their psychedelic “Save Earth Now” poster. There will also be limited edition screen prints of posters for the UFO club on Tottenham Court Road, The Marquee Club on Wardour Street, Granny Takes a Trip and Jimi Hendrix’s work on Track Records.

“It’s basically concert posters, festival posters, all designed in the 1960s, mainly in the style of psychedelic art,” says John, who lives in Camden Town and used to sell records in Camden Market.

“A lot of work was put into it. A lot of those guys from the 1960s never really earned a lot of money from this stuff. Hapshash were just designing these to advertise concerts.”

John met Waymouth via a mutual friend.

“I was always aware of his work and the designs. I collect this stuff myself so I’m always looking,” he said.

John and his brother worked with Waymouth to reproduce some of his and English’s past works, including one of the most popular pieces, the pink and gold UFO poster for the venue of the same name – where the likes of Pink Floyd and Soft Machine were house bands.

“From that I became more involved with Nigel and started representing him and his work, selling his work and reproducing the old designs.We’ve worked together for the last eight years or so.

“Probably in the last 10 years or so ’60s art has become more popular.

“A lot of these posters were just meant to advertise something. They’ve become recognised works in their own right. But they were mainly pasted onto walls to advertise an event.

“A lot of this stuff got trashed, ripped down or pasted over. That’s how I got into this. I’ve still got posters and flyers I ripped off the wall in the 1970s. For me it was like a souvenir. People realised this is a nice piece of art – even now you can go to a concert and buy a T-shirt and sometimes they do signed posters.

“It’s like a memory of that concert you went to or a football match.”

He adds: “I’ve been ripping posters off walls for years. Probably the first one was in 1977 – Generation X at the Roundhouse. I’m always on the lookout for music stuff, mainly from the 1960s or 1970s, psychedelic stuff. Paper’s been around for thousands of years and street advertising’s been around since the late 1800s.

“These days, say a local band is playing in your local pub, now you’ve got social media, a bigger way of advertising. Say your local pub has a band playing, inevitably that gig may have a poster. If that band becomes big, say they were Oasis, then that flyer would become collectible. It’s very hard to predict.

“I still look now but I’m more into the older ones. There is a lot of good stuff out there.”

The collection also includes work by other artists, known and unknown, says John, reading the wording from the rare Pink Floyd poster in his flat: “Enfield College Entertainment Committee Present an experience in sound and colour with The Pink Floyd, March 18, 1967 – 8 old shillings to get in, about 40p to get in.

“It’s all designed by hand, it’s interesting because it’s quite crude, it’s all trashed, rips, folded, I’d be surprised if another one of those exists.

It’s not even listed who designed it.”

Other artists to be featured in the exhibition include Martin Sharp, Mike McKinnerny and Alan Aldridge.

Visit www.bamalamaposters.co.uk

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