❚ 30 YEARS AGO THIS WEEK the British painter David Hockney made a discovery so monumental that he called it “a truer way of seeing”. I’d gone to interview him about the education cuts Margaret Thatcher was inflicting on British art schools and found myself receiving an exhilarating tutorial while the artist tested his new ideas.
“Have you been to the cubism exhibition at the Tate?” Hockney enthused during a trip to London from his home in Los Angeles. “I’ve been seven times! Suddenly I see cubism differently, more clearly… That’s what I’m only starting to grasp. Cubism is about another way of seeing the world, a truer way. But the moment you grasp it, you can’t give it up.”
Photography had preoccupied Hockney for the previous couple of years and in the week of his 46th birthday, we’d met at a Cork Street gallery during the hanging of his show New Work With A Camera, fresh from its Los Angeles run. Yet on two visits to his Kensington studio that week, fresh canvases on the easel signalled that Hockney had returned to painting. He said: “I had to deal with the ideas that are bubbling away. Cubism is hard enough to grasp, but it’s even harder to do, which actually is why not many people have been able to do anything with it. Starting to paint again is very refreshing.”
Four days later when the resulting interview appeared in the London Evening Standard, he’d been again to the Tate and said on the telephone: “Your article is pretty much the first time I have talked about this – of course I’ve discussed these things with friends but the article does make it clear to people.”
He added: “You must go to the Tate retrospective [The Essential Cubism], it’s marvellous. You go from one cubist picture to another and another. In other galleries, like Moma, you might have one cubist room but go to the Tate show because you’ll never see so many cubist paintings together again. I found I began to develop this way of seeing them, it’s very rich. You do have to stand in front of the Picassos and spend time looking. When you’re physically in front of a cubist painting, once you start looking, especially the early analytical ones, it slowly reveals itself. It doesn’t pounce off the wall.”
The next day, when I returned to his studio with a camera, Hockney had begun yet another huge cubistic canvas which seriously took the breath away. It was a privilege to view the unfinished paintings with their images outlined in charcoal and he remarked that few people get to see inside the studio. I made sure to snap the 1,001 mementoes and influences scattered throughout the space suggestive of a restless imagination. The three substantial conversations I was fortunate to enjoy that week remain a turning point in my own appreciation of art. By a stroke of fate, my presence had provided the artist with a sounding board at the very moment when he urgently needed to kick around some bold new thoughts.
Accidental reunion this month? Blur at the Brits in 1995 when they won four awards
✱ “Blur reunion” scheduled for pre-Brit Awards fundraising gig — as reported at Live4ever: Blur members Damon Albarn and Graham Coxon will be among the special guests at this year’s Brit Awards party, which will take place at the Shepherds Bush Empire two nights before the official prize-giving ceremony (Tues Feb 21), aiming to raise money for the War Child charity. The two bandmates are then set to reunite on-stage with Alex James and Dave Rowntree at the Brit Awards event itself, when they will perform live after picking up the Outstanding Contribution gong… Deejay for the Brit Awards After Party at Indigo 2 is Rusty Egan. +++ ✱ New Head of Central Saint Martins announced — From August 2012 Professor Jeremy Till is to be the next Head of Central Saint Martins within the University of the Arts London. Currently Dean of the School of Architecture and the Built Environment at the University of Westminster, he takes over from retiring head, Professor Jane Rapley OBE who took up the role in 2006. +++ ✱ The Bedroom Philosopher and A Small Press cut the ribbon on The Bedroom Philosopher Diaries, Feb 17 at Trades Hall, Melbourne, Oz — The BPD is a collection of hilarious and melancholic reports from Justin Heazlewood’s (Frankie, Mess & Noise) experiences as a touring folkstar. Read about his epic battles with drunk punters, scatty rockstars, aloof groupies and mostly himself. Feb 17 is a literary danceathon featuring many guests, and of course the Boho Stripped Bare in conversation with himself: “Sometimes performing is like meeting yourself for the first time and not being that into it.” Buy BPD here +++ ✱ 10,000 tickets will be selected by ballot for a star-studded concert at Buckingham Palace, celebrating The Queen’s 60-year reign. The Diamond Jubilee Concert will be produced by the BBC on June 4, 2012. Take That’s Gary Barlow is musical director and artists invited so far include Shirley Bassey, Alfie Boe, Jools Holland, Jessie J, JLS, Elton John, Tom Jones, Annie Lennox, Madness, Paul McCartney, Cliff Richard and Ed Sheeran. Ticket applications are being received between Feb 7 and March 2, NOT first come first served.
✱ Guitar hero Johnny Marr has a tip-top new website … And in a video interview he’s thrilled to bits with the new Signature Jaguar he’s been developing with Fender — read more. +++ ✱ Anything goes at Wearable Art, the London Fashion Week special at Egg, Feb 18, 22–10:00 — Hosted by Malice, Wearable Art promises a mélange of design and performance and music from London’s most fashion friendly and visual DJs including a Frequenza Records showcase with Alex D’Elia, Nihil Young and CJ Hartmann, Larry Tee, Jodie Harsh… +++ ✱ Madonna’s 2012 World Tour starts Tel Aviv May 29, ends Atlanta GA Nov 17, calling at London July 17, Edinburgh July 21, Dublin July 24, NYC Sept 6 and LA Oct 10 … Madge, you’re a fool if you approve standing tickets for Hyde Park going on sale between £175 and £5,000 EACH! … Meanwhile 12-track edition of MDNA goes on sale March 26.
Lloyd Johnson Modern Outfitter exhibition, 2012: entrance to Johnson’s shop in Kensington Market from 1973 designed by Mojo Creative. On display, red leather-fronted ponyfur jacket, La Rocka 1984; gold leather fringed biker jacket, Mex Tex 1986; blue and red fleck zoot suit 1981
✱ Lloyd Johnson The Modern Outfitter exhibition is at The Chelsea Space, 16 John Islip Street, London SW1 until Mar 3 — Read Robert Elms’s blog: “His King’s Road shop, with the scooter parked outside, was part of the hub of wild boutiques, along with Vivienne Westwood, Boy, Antony Price and Rockit, which made Chelsea the place to be throughout the punk era.” Lloyd Johnson will be at The Chelsea Space every Wednesday throughout the exhibition. +++ ✱ Hot news! Pulp reissue their weird and groundbreaking first three albums on Feb 20. Then Jarvis and friends head for the States. We have the tour dates for Pulp in the US — plus Spain again in May. Can this be the year Pulp and Jarvis start delivering some answers? +++ ✱ Ringo Starr’s 17th solo studio record, Ringo 2012 was released on January 31. Of the nine tracks two are covers, Think It Over and Rock Island Line, and two are new versions of his own songs, Wings and Step Lightly. +++ ✱ At Facebook Richard Strange announces: “What a year it’s been… getting married to my amazing wife, Kelly, and culminating Jan 24 with the exciting launch of A Mighty Big If and Don Boyd’s online arts channel, HiBrow. My guests Alison Jackson and Richard Wilson were nothing short of inspirational, and having Gary Kemp [above] play three songs with me was the icing on a delicious cake. Thank you all!”
✱ Led by film maker Don Boyd, HiBrow is a highly personalised online platform for the performing and visual arts — Launch highlights include Edinburgh’s Traverse Theatre performing David Eldridge’s All Is Vanity; the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra performing Mahler’s Fifth Symphony; 2011 World Book Night readings and interviews presented by Graham Norton; coverage of the 2011 film festival in Burkina Faso; Raf Bonachela Company’s dance performance of The Land Of Yes and the Land of No; Gavin Turk in conversation with Richard Strange; and previews from the Tate St Ives. +++ ✱ Kid Creole & The Coconuts headline at The Apple Cart Festival 2012 in London’s Victoria Park E9 on June 3. Comedy, art, cabaret, magic — plus Billy Bragg, Jeffrey Lewis & The Junkyard, Marcus Foster, Marques Toliver, Martin Creed, Noah & The Whale, Penguin Café, Stornoway & more. +++ ✱ Last month, the Preston-based Laboratory Project launched a new album Taste Masters 3 featuring Two Weeks Running, MC Tunes, Saturday Night Gym Club, Salford Jets, Twin Planets, Pangaea & Drew Smith. +++ ✱ Singer Tony Hadley announces: “My wife and I are pleased to announce the safe arrival of our beautiful baby daughter born on February 6, 2012.” +++ ✱ The definitive history of 80s clubbing We Can Be Heroes is throwing a Soho party Feb 22 where you can meet Graham Smith and co-author Chris Sullivan and buy signed copies downstairs at the The Sun & Thirteen Cantons, 21 Great Pulteney Street, W1F 9NG. From 7pm until late, with Sullivan on the turntables… View video of Sullivan telling his “Ribald tales of excess”. +++ ✱ i-D magazine launches its Pre-Spring 2012 Whatever The Weather issue with covers inspired by the Chinese Year of The Dragon, Pan Yan [left] shot by Chinese fashion photographer Chen Man… Fashion forecasts for the season ahead include Wolfgang Tillmans on London Fashion Week and Juergen Teller at Pam Hogg’s Paris show, while Hedi Slimmane shoots Dylan Riley (don’t ask which one). Music includes Azealia Banks and the Albanian Rita Ora … Here at Shapersofthe80s Dazed and i-D hipster sounds go head to head +++ ✱ Bowie’s friend Wendy spotted herself dancing in the newly discovered Jean Genie video — read her story here at Shapersofthe80s. +++ ✱ Spandau bass player Martin Kemp returns to UK TV screens as a stylish gangster in the hit peaktime BBC1 drama series, Hustle, viewable on iPlayer until Feb 17. Martin talks about the show, veteran American actor Robert Vaughn, and being directed by one of its stars, Adrian Lester, in an interview at Cultbox +++ ✱ Released Jan 30 on DVD: the moody psycho-thriller Martin Kemp’s Stalker — Amazon sold out early so visit Martin’s Facebook page. Signed poster cards also available…
At Shapersofthe80s view video interview with Martin as the popstar talks about becoming a movie mogul … and read how he got blood on his hands during his his directorial debut. +++ ✱ Taking in London’s Albert Hall on Nov 26, the Human League XXXV Tour kicks off Nov 23, 2012 from Brighton with 14 UK dates so far. +++ ✱ Submotion Orchestra, the live 7-piece from Leeds whose Facebook interests include “Jazz, Grime, Classical, Dubstep, Soul, Dub, Garage, Improv” announce their third headline tour March 12–17 from Fac251 in Manc via Scala London to Bristol Fleece, to promote a hotly anticipated new single and second album. Here’s Angel Eyes…
Listen at Soundcloud to their Finest Hour – The Remixes available now on iTunes featuring versions by Goth-Trad, Planas, Phaeleh, Synkro, Laxx, SeeMore Productions, Eddie Ranking and Jack Sparrow … “Submotion Orchestra carry both the funk and the groove into new dimensions” — The Word +++ ✱ On sale now: Rewind The 80s Festival in Henley-on-Thames returns for a fourth successive year Aug 17–19 at Temple Island Meadows with Kool & The Gang, OMD, Grandmaster Flash, Rick Astley, Soul II Soul, Five Star, Starship, Jimmy Somerville, Sinitta, Tony Hadley, Marc Almond, Midge Ure and Adam Ant and The Good, The Mad & The Lovely Posse. Plus festival fun from silent discos to live karaoke … Also, Rewind Scotland — The 80s Festival at Scone Palace, Perthshire July 20–22, with 80s recording artists who include ABC, Holly Johnson, Marc Almond, Midge Ure, Squeeze, Jimmy Somerville, Altered Images, Five Star, Go West, Limahl, Village People and Adam Ant. +++ ✱ PopJustice has gone ape for two Nordic beauties: 16-year-old Swede Amanda Mair [pictured] whose debut album is “a nonstop amazeathon” while expressing “high hopes” for a new album from Norwegian electro-pop goddess Bertine Zetlitz, “whose last studio album is one of the best of the modern pop era”. +++ ✱ The massive new exhibition of vibrantly coloured landscapes by David Hockney is not, he insists, a retrospective, but mainly new work responding to the unique skies over Yorkshire. The show concludes with an eye-popping series of “cubistic” multi-screen cine films of exactly the kind he was proposing to Shapersofthe80s in his 1983 landmark interview when he revealed “Suddenly I see cubism differently, more clearly”. Read it inside. +++ ✱ The February issue of Dazed & Confused heads to Harlem to hang with 24-year-old rap sensation A$AP Rocky … Plus four interviews with groundbreaking designers Meadham Kirchhoff, Kris Van Assche, Kim Jones and Christopher Kane … Online at Dazed Digital: profile of John Brockman, vanguard of intellectual fashion. +++ ✱ Spandau Ballet now offer a UK download bundle of three club and dub mixes of their anthemic hit single Gold at a special price … Paul Oakenfold’s BMX Remix of Gold on sale at iTunes and at Amazon Downloads +++ ✱ View the ♫ pre-Olympics music video of the Gold BMX remix and read the story behind it here at Shapersofthe80s. +++ ✱ Feb 19 from 8pm: Spandau’s songwriting Kemp brother is interviewed on Absolute 80s radio about The Lyrics of Gary Kemp to be published on March 27 by the Lyric Book Company, featuring all the songs the guitarist has written over four decades, including club anthems To Cut A Long Story Short, Chant No.1 and True — discover why Kemp found it “hard to write the next line” here at Shapersofthe80s. +++
“ The Royal Academy of Arts in London has never been host to an exhibition quite like David Hockney’s A Bigger Picture. The academy has a history dating to 1768. The one-man show, which runs from Jan 21 to April 9, is a tour de force. It consists almost entirely of new work, using both low-tech media such as painting and the latest high-tech tools. Hockney approaches the time-honored subject of nature in a fresh, contemporary way. The result is spectacular.
Hockney has also come up with a more hi-tech kind of picture created by multiple, high-definition cameras set at slightly different angles. The result is a moving photo-collage: a bigger picture because it sees more, from varying points of view. Most of the films on show are landscapes, though the most recent is a dance spectacular, shot on 18 cameras in Hockney’s studio. It gives a wonderful festive finale to the exhibition, in which Hockney paints the stage in sumptuous color, and shoots the action like a combination of Pablo Picasso and Busby Berkeley ” … / continued online
“ [Hockney] is commanding new technologies in a countercultural quest to prove that painting, in an age dominated by conceptualism and installation, can be as theatrical and monumental as any 21st-century spectacle. ”
“ Hockney is best known as the raunchy Californian sensualist who painted sun-kissed boys gliding through the azure swimming pools of Los Angeles in the Sixties. And yet here he presents himself as a modest pastoralist, content to hymn the bounty of nature with quiet exultation – dancing, like Wordsworth, among the daffodils. Once inspired by distant destinations such as Egypt, China and America’s West Coast, he now seems happy pottering about a neglected nook of England. The prodigal son has returned to within 65 miles of Bradford, where he was born in 1937, and settled down. The internationalist has turned parochial. The radical has come over all conservative … Perhaps it’s a generational thing, but I don’t understand paintings like these. Fresh, bright and perfectly delightful, they are much too polite and unthinkingly happy for my taste: if they offer a vision of arcadia, it is a mindless one… ” / continued online
HOCKNEY REVEALS A ‘new vision of the world’ IN OUR OWN INTERVIEW 30 YEARS AGO
❚ WHILE IN LONDON FOR A FORTNIGHT in 1983 David Hockney says that he has resumed painting after a two-year break pursuing photography. The freshly primed canvases in his London studio testify to the urgency with which he wants “to deal with the ideas that are bubbling away”. He lobs in a shocker: “I’ve looked at some cubist paintings for 25 years without understanding them. Suddenly I see cubism differently, more clearly. And my experiments have led me to a couple of theories of my own . . .”
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MORE INTERESTING THAN MOST PEOPLE’S FANTASIES — THE SWINGING EIGHTIES 1978-1984
They didn’t call themselves New Romantics, or the Blitz Kids – but other people did.
“I’d find people at the Blitz who were possible only in my imagination. But they were real” — Stephen Jones, hatmaker, 1983. (Illustration courtesy Iain R Webb, 1983)
“The truth about those Blitz club people was more interesting than most people’s fantasies” — Steve Dagger, pop group manager, 1983
“See David Johnson’s fabulously detailed website Shapers of the 80s to which I am hugely indebted” – Political historian Dominic Sandbrook, in his book Who Dares Wins, 2019
“The (velvet) goldmine that is Shapers of the 80s” – Verdict of Chris O’Leary, respected author and blogger who analyses Bowie song by song at Pushing Ahead of the Dame
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VINCENT ON AIR 2022
✱ Deejay legend Robbie Vincent returned to JazzFM on Sundays 1-3pm in 2021… Catch Robbie’s JazzFM August Bank Holiday 2020 session thanks to AhhhhhSoul with four hours of “nothing but essential rhythms of soul, jazz and funk”.
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UNTOLD BLITZ STORIES
✱ If you thought there was no more to know about the birth of Blitz culture in 1980 then get your hands on a sensational book by an obsessive music fan called David Barrat. It is gripping, original and epic – a spooky tale of coincidence and parallel lives as mind-tingling as a Sherlock Holmes yarn. Titled both New Romantics Who Never Were and The Untold Story of Spandau Ballet! Sample this initial taster here at Shapers of the 80s
CHEWING THE FAT
✱ Jawing at Soho Radio on the 80s clubland revolution (from 32 mins) and on art (@55 mins) is probably the most influential shaper of the 80s, former Wag-club director Chris Sullivan (pictured) with editor of this website David Johnson
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