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  • davidwills 6:56 pm on September 21, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Add new tag, , Body art, , Curious, Witches   

    In which Barney and Wills paint the witch Nikki, photographed by Phil Franks – and it’s his copyright, goddam it! 

    Copyright © Phil Franks 2008. All Rights Reserved.

    1970, The photograph on the right is by  the esteemed photographer of well lit curves, Phil Franks, and is shewn here as reproduced, reversed left to right, in the magazine Curious. Barney and I (David Wills) are painting Nikki, with Barney on the left of the witch. We are both right handed. The picture has been reversed it left to right. (Probably because I took it out the holder and returned it wrong like.) The lady swallowing fire is included here for your delight.  Art on Nikki was designed by Barney, I was designer and art editor of the magazine wwhich gave work to many hard working illustrators. Reproduced courtesy of Rebecca and Mike’s BB Collection.

     
    • Deepinder Cheema 1:20 pm on November 3, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      I am the subject of the ire regarding copyright. It was I that published the photos by Phil Franks on my http://www.flickr.com site as ‘daevideo’ I used my own personal copy of Curious that I picked up in a junk stall (house clearances) as Tinker in Lovejoy once said – they are reprehensible, but they perform a necessary function. I have to say there is no copyright information inside the magazine, other than the name of a Royal russian personage, but it has been stated that the information was revealed on the JC BB blog – so in my profound excitment that I discovered that I had the very issue of this hitherto unknown to me magazine I published the photo – not thinking this may upset Phil. But I as a huge fan of Frank Zappa have noted that Gail Zappa has used Phil’s image of FZ from the Chunga’ Revenge LP liberally on her products page – selling Ringtones and this image as a ‘wallpaper’ I see no credit for Phil Franks.

    • Phil Franks 3:09 pm on February 14, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      Hi Deepinder,

      Thanks for the headsup!

      I’m contacting Gail Zappa now.

    • Whistler Stag 7:33 pm on June 21, 2012 Permalink | Reply

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  • davidwills 9:55 pm on September 18, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Adam Fireplaces, Add new tag, , Ed Moulton, garden sculpture   

    Dodgy-doings in Hackney 

     

    The lowdown on the up-and-up?

    Sometime in 1967 Barney had told me about a party he’d been to in the East-end, at a family of dustmen in Hackney in London’s East-End. He had been invited by the girls ‘Denise’ and ‘Carol’ (I’m unsure of their names) formerly at the Carnival shop on Hammersmith Road where we’d got supplies for the ‘Sounds good’ event. I was supposed to have gone to the party but didn’t. They were having another knees-up the following year and I went because Barney insisted it would be worthwhile.

     

    When we went to his party in Hackney, Ed Moulton was standing there, a ready-made caricature of the man in the Liverpool deck-chair postcards, standing at the foot of a wide stairway. He was in his 50’s, with balding, black hair; a thin-mustached scrap-metal merchant wearing a loud blue suit and cravat, about 5’ 8”, dark eyes, round face, 180 pounds, leaning importantly against the newel post. Standing on the first step for height, he was welcoming guests. He looked like a man who’d be at the seaside in his roll-upped trousers. When I asked Ed if he was the son of a rag ‘n bone man, he said “Yers, and proud of it. Now I’m in waste-disposal.” I chatted briefly with the blonde at a desk by the side door, who I think may have been ‘Denise’ from the Carnival shop, and left quietly, thinking to contact her later. Never did, and so wrote myself out of that great adventure…

     

    A Dodgy Lad

    I thought Ed Moulton a dodgy piece o’ work, which he was, but Barney said he had a wild side, that Ed was crazy cool. “I don’t know if he’s dropped acid or not, but he sure acts like he does.” … and another time, in 1978, when he was detailing his History, Barney goes, “He said I could do anything – anything! I want to.”

    •••

    Psst! Wanna buy an Adam Fireplace?

    Bert Crowther was related to the Aleistair Crowley family, his Syon Lodge in Isleworth, a commercial garden-furniture sales display, was in the open air, a crazy disarray of aged sculpture and bric-a-brac of uncertain provenance. Barney went once or twice on documentary drawing outings there on Thursdays with Mr. Mathews, one of his favorite teachers at Twickenham. The spooky place was at a crossroads, a good place to bury a wart, close by where Barney had gone to grammar school  (where selection was by IQ at eleven years)

    Isleworth is also the site of a private school that, improbably, Vincent Van Gogh in a brief stay in England, had taught drawing to young women in 1887. They say his spirit wanders yet, painting in the ghostly orchard across the way.

    Dead men can’t sue

    I think there may have been some connection in about 1962 between Bert Crowther, the sculpture salesman, and our Ed Moulton in some dodgy trade in Adam fireplaces. I asked Barney in ‘83 if Ed was involved with him as a ‘fence’ he said, “Yeah, something like that.” (If any body can verify that I’d be grateful)

    In one memorable conversation in late ’68, but of which I have only a vague pictured memory, Barney asks me in the kitchen if I’d want to work with Ed? I’d forgotten about him by then and didn’t know what he was on about. I go, “Who?” so he says, “Well, he’s kind of not the sort of person you’d… you might find him a bit… your dad wouldn’t approve, would you want to work for someone like that?” So I said “No.” And I didn’t.

    •••

    Pirate Radio in the Teeth of London

    Just before Barney left Leigh Court in early 1969, and was all pretty much packed, Barney takes me back into his room at the end of the corridor. “Top secret” he said, “don’t tell anybody” and there, over towards a blanket half draped across the window as a curtain, no light bulb working, in front of the torn out fireplace, there was an exact paper and cardboard model of one of what, at sea, was once a set of seven Maunsell Sea-forts, built to protecct shipping from Nazi bombers in the Thames estuary, off Southend-on-Sea. They were the original designs from which sea-going oil-rigs are modelled. Barney had decorated his mock-up with Marvel and other comic super-characters – Spiderman especially. About 24 inches high his Maunsell Sea-fort was a strong, glorious sight. This was the result of our trip to the bash in Hackney, and was Ed Moulton’s grandiose idea to create a pirate radio station outpost right in the teeth of London.

    •••

     

     
  • davidwills 5:28 pm on September 16, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Add new tag, , Dan Leno, Graphic archeology, , Shakespeare, Teen drama, World's first music video   

    Barney Bubbles? What a laugh. 

     

    And as imagination bodies forth

    The forms of things unknown, the artist’s brush

    Turns them to shapes and gives to airy nothing

    A local habitation and a name

    – Will Shakespeare messed with by Wills


    “It’s bein’ so cheerful what keeps me goin”

    – Saying of the character, Mona Lott, on the 1940’s BBC radio show ITMA, probably taken from the patter of the King of the Music Hall, comedian Dan Leno, aka Little Willie. Dan Leno was the great -grandfather of the muse for the Elvis Costello song ‘Allison.’ Allison was a beautiful and insightful  woman, a temp (I think) who had worked at Conran with Barney, lived in Fleet in Hants. in 1978, and was a good friend. I think of Dan Leno as a key to the humour and wilfull wit of Barney Bubbles.

    •••

    Over here in the backwoods in San Francisco, I’ve been out of touch with my fellow Londoners from way back. Many have died. Meanwhile, one of them, my old pal Barney Bubbles, has become a blazing icon of graphic design, with his influence felt worldwide. A seminal show of his work in London in 2001 put together by my friends and fellow investigators, the graphic gang, known as Rebecca and Mike, and a book by Paul Gorman, help propel him to a wider audience than the in-crowd who have penetrated his clever anonymity, only to find that the man behind the vast range of his incredible work was totally unknown to them. I am excited at the interest in Barney and amused at the depth of ignorance about the facts of his existence that I know, I feel like an archaeological artifact.

    •••

    World’s first music-video was made on film

    Direct inspiration for Barney to make music videos: I remember the BBC in 1963 or 4, asking for viewer input (that was rare in itself) on how to present music on TV. They couldn’t think of anything presumably. As a result of that, and fully intending to get on the box, Fulcher decides to make a movie to show on television to promote his adopted band, the Muleskinners.

    Walking down the corridor at Leigh Court, Fulcher and Roy pass my open door and Fulcher goes, “You on the bus with us? This is going to be historic, you coming? We’ll be the first to make a music video for TV. It’s a new concept. Let’s go, this is huge!”

    There’s this photo, shown here reversed left to right, where the three of us would-be French movie technicians are stiffly posing in a time released exposure taken my me (in a Grove Hardy print), self consciously cool, in a portrait of, at left, director Fulcher, and his crew; I was ‘producer’ at top, and Twickenham graduate and RCA lecturer, Derek Wallbank, was editor of what was the worlds first music ‘video’– shot on super-eight film.

    At that time I had just moved to Leigh Court from the flat I had shared with Twickenham graduates, class of 1960, illustrators Mick Jackson, and Chris Higson.  I arranged a party for the movie at the flat in Marylebone and Fulcher shot one long scene in Higson’s cramped room on the top floor, above the pong of the fish shop. You can see the window that the movie features, facing west to Marylebone High Street on the corner of Moxon.

    Rocker goes crazy in teen drama

    The movie had a thin plot about a rocker who smashes his guitar because some bird (girl) ditched him. While we were making a scene at Dave Pether’s house in Hounslow, Colin went on about about how the black and white changes to color in the Wizard of Oz and we should do it in this movie. I said I thought it a good idea but that it had been done. To Colin that didn’t matter, it was just a source. The end of the movie was shot through lettering reading ‘The End,’ drawn by me on a steamy door, with a lace curtain, in a cafe down by the site of old Twickenham railway station, west of the road, next to the Station Hotel.

    I don’t think Fulcher liked the edit, the sound was never dubbed and I never saw the finished movie.

     
    • rebecca and mike 9:21 pm on August 14, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      NICE… this blog is going to be a special Barney Bubbles place… looking forward to the next installment, and the one after that, and the one after that…

    • davidwills 3:27 am on August 15, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      Ill be away for a week in Seattle Washington, but have prepared some more thrilling installments…

    • John Coulthart 3:16 am on August 16, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      Welcome to the WordPress world!

    • pat 1:06 pm on September 6, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      Hello David
      I knew Barney fairly well for a few years in the late 60s early 70s when we were living in Portobello Road and your reminiscences reminded me of him and that time. 307 was a ‘happening place’. We were good friends then and shared some moments of joy and despair. Good times – some times.

      I came across some letters from him and Giana the other day which prompted me to search and so found your site. Do you by any chance have an address for Giana?

    • rebecca and mike 3:21 pm on September 6, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      hi pat,
      great to see another name appearing here.
      at david’s request we’ve just emailed you giana’s details. 🙂

    • Phil Franks 7:41 pm on September 8, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      Is that Pat Mescal?

    • davidwills 8:28 pm on September 8, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      Kathy Moon says we should all get together, in Canada, London, or on line or…

    • rebecca and mike 8:03 am on September 10, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      Phil… Yep, that’s Pat Mescal!

  • davidwills 3:02 am on August 28, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Add new tag, , Blind Lemon Jefferson, ITMA, Modukar house, wallpaper   

    First off, a quick history 

     

    Fulcher LivingUnits


    Modular house, 1963, balsa wood and card model. Made in Mr. Gould’s class up in the tower at Twickenham art school (now called ‘Richmond’ art school for some reason) during Fulcher’s, “I can do anything I want,” last year of school. The house was designed, as can be seen in the model, to be built in ‘T’ sections, attached to each other and extending as far as required, which is still a good idea and not something I’ve ever seen done. Each ‘T’ section has two central uprights with cantilevered floor and roof on either side, bolted to the next section and so on. Fulcher said he’d like to be an architect, but “I can’t be bothered with all that math.”

    Photograph, from glass negative 4 x 5ins taken by Fulcher in John Mortimer’s class.

    Copyright 2008 estate of Colin Fulcher/Barney Bubbles.

    •••

    First off, a quick history: Beginning in 1958, Fulcher and I studied three dimensional construction, called ‘display,’ and graphics at Twickenham art school (I was in the year above him) on the outskirts of London, then we did creative stuff in the sixties. We went to Ireland with my brother Peter – where Fulcher got run over by a coach and two; shared an apartment and, with a crewe of creative passers-by, we were the A1GoodGuyz. Colin changed his name to Barney. I visited New York, he did San Francisco. We worked together for a bit, I tagged along on his light show.

    We designed a Thea Porter invite; Inspector Burge Investigates was a poster of post cards I drew, and that Barney and I provided with  ‘cut-up’ captions from books; a race car magazine for McClaren; Oz #12 magazine; and a Nova magazine.

    We went different paths in ‘69, and after I left London for San Francisco in 1973, I visited and always paid my respects. We’d catch up on our various doings, I went Australia, so did he. Every time I came back to London from San Francisco we’d chat, right up to my last visit with him in May 1983.

    (I visited London in 1974, ’75 ’76 ’77 ’78 ’83 and many times after ’84)

    The details of the Fulcher/Bubbles career are really quite a story. Sums up a lot about the time. Will Birch’s ‘…Canvey Island’ book got it right when writing about outposts of hip, he mentions our old apartment at Leigh Court, on (or ‘in’ as some would have it) Avonmore Road, West Kensington, London, W14.


    Check out that telephone!

    Colin Fulcher on the phone arranging supplies in ’65.

    Photograph Copyright 2008 David Wills

    •••

    Barney worked harder than anyone I’ve ever met. He lived thinking creatively; used laughter as a tool. We’d say, “Cheap and cheerful.” A maxim that helped guide us both at work.He said everything he did referenced back to the Blues. The one word he chose to live by, in an exercise at school set by teacher, John Kirby, was “change.”

    ‘ITMA’ was a 1940’s war-time, BBC radio show, where Mona Lott gloomily said, “It’s bein’ so cheerful what keeps me goin’. ” That’s what my aunt Rene used to say too, in her ironmonger’s shop in Cwmfellinfach, Monmouth, South Wales – so those words, “It’s bein’ so cheerful…” came along with the old wallpaper books she gave me,that I gave to Barney in 1969 – and that he later used for the presentation roughs for the “Do It Yourself’ Ian Dury covers.

    Delta blues guitarist Blind Lemon Jefferson was a Fulcher favorite and he said it was a Blind Lemon guitar chord “fiddly,” as he called complicated chord riffs, that Barney said he taught Jerry Garcia on a visit to San Francisco. But I never heard him play a song all way through. Barney had depth and many skills. But most of all, if you met him, he was very, mind-bendingly, funny – and usually to good purpose. He used laughter as a tool.

    Trying to remember all this from way back is a challenge, others will remember far more than I do – if they’re still around that is. I do recognize as true what artist, and fellow Next Whole Earth Catalog designer, Kathleen O’Neill, pointed out, “You could make it all up.” But I’d like to emphasize that the quotes from Barney are actual, I can hear his voice like a recording.

    Because he changed his name, he is referred to as both Colin Fulcher and Barney Bubbles, according to the time frame. Here goes.

     

     
    • Phil Franks 12:56 am on August 30, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      The book is “No Sleep Till Canvey Island” by Will Birch, not “Will Durst”.

      Keep it coming David!

  • davidwills 3:34 am on August 23, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Add new tag,   

    Nabbed! 

    Barney caught in mid grin 1966.

    Barney caught in mid grin 1966.

    Photograph Copyright 2009 David Wills. We were painting the bus, I seem to recall, so this might be ’67, taking time out in Leigh Court, playing games surprising each other.

     
  • davidwills 11:26 pm on August 22, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Add new tag,   

    The night of the living-heads 

    There i am, a Friday, I just come back from work at DPB$Tuck Advertising in Marylebone (Tuck died in 1880, these guys had been around), to find Fulcher, Lorry and John Muggeridge applying face paint, and Burge (who disdained the make-up) all preparing for the Alexandra Palace allnighter, to meet up with the look-alike inspiration for Austen Powers, the now the prolific book-designer, Stafford Cliff. Ron Bowman, was the driver. It was to be an epic occasion. An all night, non-stopper. Total environment. And the first time Barney took acid. I took photographs of the preparations thinking for posterity, and here we are.

    I really don’t care to stay up late unless provoked, this tends to lend a bright daytime view of the world’s events, colors my life, I didn’t go. Barney was still a Fulcher then, for a while he became sort of plain ‘Barney’, he used the Bubbles tag on OZ12 in around November ’67 after a few months of his regular Light Show at the Speakeasy.

    There’s Barney, still half plastered (not me though, I was still innocent of acid use, I didn’t do the acid, Mr. DeBlanc, until much later in ’70) at the table around noon on Sunday, sitting, very groggy. Barney mumbles off about his Alexandra palace experience. “… all-night. Was a blast,” hunches shoulder, leans elbows on table, with red-white and well-lubricated eyes, “y’know, could’a be better, Pink Floyd were great. Got kind of thin in morning, filled up later, great Occasion.”

    (I’ll check in at Wiki later for mo facts)

    It was around then I think, maybe a couple of weeks earlier, (so much for my memory, it was in 1965) that Barney and I went to a really cool concert, a 7PM (early!) and the second concert by the Pink Floyd, in the small wooden Ladbroke Groove All Saints church-hall, max. cap. 350, tops – with a thousand heads packed in. Advertised in some magazine, it was a time long ago – a time before Time Out. But there were a thousand Heads, non-straights all, (where straights were those not Heads.) All packed into a throbling-jizade (Spanish for ‘steak’) of glory: lights flashing, bubbles burbling lazily, movies, nudes, and the perfectly cast apoplectic-cleric. He pulled the plug. Boos. Exit after a rockin’ eff you.

    •••

    I went for a walk in the lunch hour, sat on a bench by a bush, Regents park north of Marylebone High Road on a Friday, I had a joint of that foul mixture, the tobaccco-hashish 75/25 blend, which, as the assassins knew, obliviates danger. Lit it, and, having puffed, wandered back into the concrete. And, in classic tune-in, turn-over-a-new-leaf fashion, I quit the art department. Norman Berry gave me a sabbatical to go to New York for an appointment with big-bear Milton Glazer, who wrote me nice introductions all over town, I never went back. But I digress.

     
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