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In Conversation at the V&A: Peter Blake

The V&A presented an evening in conversation with artist Peter Blake, championing the launch of his new book and discussing a range of projects, but don't mention THAT album cover…

Written by Sally Mumby Croft

Peter Blake, illustrated by Gareth A Hopkins

Peter Blake is, for the majority, most famous for THAT cover. The one still spawning imitators – frequently seen walking the streets, they can be identified through the wearing of what is now the eponymous band jacket. Blake groaned every time the cover was mentioned. For those, like me familiar with Blake’s influence in graphic design, the talk at the V&A was an eye opener. For all the famous album covers (if you would like the aforementioned album signed, Blake charges a tenner and the proceeds are donated to charity) there were numerous drawing projects showcasing the depth of Blake’s talent that is all to often associated solely with an idea of Pop Art.

Illustration by Gareth A Hopkins

Blake received an incredible introduction to a range of technical skills whilst studying at college prior to the Royal College of Art. Fairly recently Blake reintroduced himself to wood engraving, producing prints based on old carnival illustrations. The outcome was a series titled “Side Show,” which with their dark humour and sense of craft could easily have been made in the 19th century.

The series Under Milk Wood appears to be a labour of love. Blake has produced a watercolour for every character, collages of the 28 different dreams experienced by the characters alongside 60 anecdotes. The words of Dylan Thomas appear within the work.

Whilst the talk was organised to champion the release of Blake’s new book: Design, it was full of fascinating anecdotes and tangents as Blake explained the minute reasoning for the appearance of this figure here or that figure there (specifically in relation to the album covers). What came across was the importance of the ability to collect to his work, the treasure trove of his studio and Blake’s ability to embrace the new, demonstrated through his clear admiration for the powers of the computer.

This was a fascinating insight into a polymath of an artist.


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One Response to “In Conversation at the V&A: Peter Blake”

  1. Cheryl Leigh Jones says:

    where can i find the rest of Peter Blakes ‘Under Milk Wood’ series of watercolours? just finished my own series at ‘White Lion Street Gallery’ Tenby

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