Ben Kelly Show offers Hacienda tribute

International Orange, an exhibition of work by Ben Kelly and collaborators, opens today at Kingston Univer sity’s Stanley Picker Gallery. It is inspired by the shade of orange used by the designer for the interior of the Haçienda nightclub in Manchester.

Collaborations with Peter Saville, Graphic Thought Facility, Morph, Michael Marriott and artist DJ Simpson will be displayed alongside dozens of Kelly’s recent solo pieces. ‘Orange is a point of reference rather than receiving blanket coverage in the exhibition,’ says Kelly, who is dedicating the event to the late Tony Wilson, founder of Factory Records and the Haçienda.

‘In one of the last conversations I had with Tony, he told me the Golden Gate bridge in San Francisco is painted using International Orange. This gave me something to work from.’

Among the objects and paintings on display will be the Adidas trainer produced with Saville last year to commemorate the Haçienda’s 25th anniversary. The famous club was demoli shed in 2000, and many of its interior fixtures and fittings auctioned off.

With furniture design duo Morph, Kelly has built a 3D virtual reconstruction of the club, from which stills will be shown. The collaboration with Graphic Thought Facility has resulted in a set of silk-screen prints. Stanley Picker director David Falkner hints that these ‘directly reference Ben’s admiration for Andy Warhol’. Product and furniture designer Marriott built two traditional wooden coracles with Kelly. These will also feature in the show.

Finally, there are five relief abstract works produced with the artist DJ Simpson. The last of these will be finished in situ today for the show’s opening.

The Stanley Picker Gallery is annexed to Kingston University’s history of art, architecture and design school, where Kelly has taught ‘on and off for 25 years’. The university invited the designer to put on his first ever exhibition ‘partly to show people the way that Ben thinks creatively’, says Falkner.

‘It has been a great opportunity to step outside the client-based commercial world and be creative in a manner which isn’t possible within it,’ says Kelly. ‘However, it is produced as work and it has a place in the commercial world if someone is prepared to do some business.’

‘To me, this exhibition belongs to the art world more than the design world, although the two are not mutually exclusive.’

One hundred limited-edition posters produced with Saville will be on sale at the exhibition, priced £45 each.


• International Orange is similar to Safety Orange, but deeper with a more reddish hue
• The pressure suits worn by Nasa astronauts use this colour, as does the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco
• The CMYK colours for International Orange are cyan 0%, magenta 69%, yellow 100% and black 6%

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