‘Oh Manchester, so much to answer for ’, quipped Morrissey in 1984 Moors murders-inspired song, Suffer Little Children.
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.
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.
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.
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’ 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.
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.
The Manchester Connection runs until 25 November at The Movie Poster Art Gallery,1 Colville Place, London W1