19 June 2012 – 7 October 2012
Pallant House Gallery in Chichester, West Sussex, presents an exhibition of contemporary prints exploring record cover artwork as part of a season of exhibitions celebrating art and music.
The season includes the major summer exhibition Peter Blake and Pop Music (23 June to 7 October 2012), alongside Derek Boshier: David Bowie and The Clash (23 June to 7 October 2012) and Artist Pop Stars (23 June 2012 – 7 October 2012).
Prints of Darkness will include original prints by eleven Scottish artists including Christopher Orr, Norman Shaw, The Lonely Piper, Edward Summerton, Mark Wallace and People Like Us, aka international award-winning multimedia artist Vicki Bennett. Published by the Edinburgh Printmakers, the prints have been acquired for Pallant House Gallery's permanent collection of Contemporary Scottish Prints through The Golder-Thompson Gift.
The record cover has for decades been an art form in its own right. It provides a fundamental interface between music and the still image, and has become an essential aspect of musical and visual subcultures. Celebrating the vinyl record as an abiding audio-visual artefact, the exhibition recalls the golden age of the record cover with its references to the imagery of post-psychedelia, goth-surrealistic, art-nouveau designs.
The survival of the record is due in part to its strong visual presence as an object. The visual aspect of newer formats have shrunk to digital downloads. Records are now usually pressed as high quality limited editions, reflecting their limited market and also their collectability. The exhibition showcases how this reduced market for vinyl has encouraged greater creativity in cover design.It also emphasises the role visual art plays in the creation of records. As musical styles and genres continue to diversify their visual identities become more distinctive. References to earlier record cover art or styles are common, drawing on well-established traditions of record cover design.
The heyday of the record began in the late sixties when music was appearing in new and diverse forms. As the music increasingly betrayed an irreverent, anti-rationalist attitude, record covers incorporated Dadaist imagery fused with macabre deathcult weirdness. By the time psychedelia had morphed into prog-rock, record covers had begun re-appropriating symbolism: art nouveau, surrealism, and psychedelia to create a whole new aesthetic.
Many of the artworks in the exhibition offer stylistic designs reminiscent of this golden age of cover sleeves; drenched with intricate, psychedelic patterning and luminous colours. Others are more surrealistic, gothic and with a complex dreamlike quality. Each design is vastly different offering alternative visual journeys and appealing to a range of artistic appetites.
The exhibition was conceived and curated by Sarah-Manning Cordwell and Norman Shaw.