Wednesday 14 July 2010

Peter Blake

I've met Peter Blake, the Pop Artist, on a few occassions and always found him quiet, charming and enthusiastic. He is probably most famous for the most famous record sleeve ever, The Beatles' Sergeant Pepper album of 1967. I went to his house in Hither Green in 1969 and he showed me the Joe Louis figure that was on the cover and now standing amongst piles of collected material in the front room. I'm a huge fan  of his work; I bought a copy of his tinplate artwork Babe Rainbow in Carnaby Street in around 1967 and it hangs in my studio today along side an original Sergeant Pepper album and a couple of signed postcards.

Between 1946 to 1951 Peter Blake studied at Gravesend Technical College and School of Art, 1950 to 1956 at the Royal College of Art, London, 1951 to 1953 he served in the Royal Air Force. He also studied folk art in various European countries with a research award, 1959 he did collages with pin-up photos, star images, posters, LP covers and trivial images. Between 1960 and 1962 he taught at St. Martin's School of Art, London, 1962 to 1964 at the Walthamstow School of Art. In 1961 he obtained First Prize in the John Moore Exhibition, Liverpool, for Self-Portrait with Badges. In 1963 he married Jann Haworth and travelled to Los Angeles to do drawings for the Sunday Times.

In 1969 he was given his first retrospective by the City Art Gallery in Bristol. He moved to Wellow, Avon, and continued to live there until 1974. 1973 and 1974 he had retrospectives in Amsterdam, Hamburg, Brussels and Arnheim. He was made A.R.A. in 1974 and R.A. in 1981. 1974 to 1976 he taught at the Royal College of Art, London. 1975 he and his wife Jann were founding members of the Brotherhood of Ruralists, who had their first exhibition at the Royal Academy in 1976. He became separated from Jann in 1981 and returned to London. In 1983 he was given a large retrospective exhibition at the Tate Gallery and at the Kestner-Gesellschaft, Hanover.