Paint a Vulgar Picture

‘Oh Manchester, so much to answer for ’, quipped Morrissey in 1984 Moors murders-inspired song, Suffer Little Children.

The Smiths, This Charming Man
The Smiths, This Charming Man

Manchester music and design have been thrust into the spotlight recently, (not that they ever really left), with the V&A’s current post-modern exhibition, featuring many of Peter Saville’s Factory Records designs; the recent Stone Roses reformation and the upsetting appropriation of The Smith’s Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want on the John Lewis Christmas ad.

The Smiths, How Soon is Now
The Smiths, How Soon is Now

Drawing together many of the iconic images produced from the city in the 1980s and 1990s is the selling exhibition The Manchester Connection that opened in London’s Movie Poster Art Gallery at the weekend.

The Smiths, Sheila Take a Bow
The Smiths, Sheila Take a Bow

Saville and Ben Kelly’s creations for Factory Records are shown alongside many of The Smiths’ instantly recognisable images, which were designed largely by Morrissey himself, who painstakingly often took a month on each one, collaborating on art co-ordination and layout  by Jo Slee and Caryn Gough at Rough Trade.

The Stone Roses, Fools Gold
The Stone Roses, Fools Gold

For their Fools Gold cover, Stone Roses guitarist John Squire created the image using his own painting of a dolphin, which as then photographed through ripple glass to create the water-like effect.

The Happy Mondays, Pills Thrills and Bellyaches
The Happy Mondays, Pills Thrills and Bellyaches

The Happy Mondays’ 1990 poster for Pills, Thrills and Bellyaches was designed by Central Station design, presenting an all-singing all dancing collage of candy wrappers. In a reflection of the ridiculousness that surrounded the band (for instance,their attempt to record their second album Yes Please in Eddy Grant’s house in Barbados, which resulted in the band selling all his furniture to buy crack, and not actually writing and music); Factory Records paid for the designers to fly to Los Angeles to collect the wrappers, to create the poster. Perhaps unsurprisingly, shortly after the album’s release, Factory Records was officially declared bankrupt.

New Order, Movement
New Order, Movement

Saville’s poster for New Order’s album Movement uses an adaptation of Fortuno Depero’s artwork; while his omnipresent, much-aped design for Unknown Pleasures uses an image from an edition of the Cambridge Encyclopaedia of Astronomy of successive pulses from the first pulsar dying star ever discovered.

 

Joy Division, Unknown Pleasures
Joy Division, Unknown Pleasures

The Manchester Connection runs until 25 November at The Movie Poster Art Gallery,1 Colville Place, London W1

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  • Paul Hornsby November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    Small but exquisitely presented exhibition,
    I really enjoyed it.

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