Flip-Top Pictures

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CREDIT: Peter Blake, Your Garden is Looking A Mess Could You Please Tidy it Up

A small contemporary art gallery in Shoreditch, London, Payne Shurvell is exhibiting an interesting selection of photography, painting, video and mixed media, centred on the intriguing and timely theme of the disappearance of print.

An icon of twentieth-century design, the Marlboro flip-top cigarette packet faces an imageless future. Earlier this year tobacco company Philip Morris, who first introduced the flip-top packet in 1955, threatened to sue the Australian government over an unprecedented law forcing cigarettes to be sold in plain packaging. Your Garden is Looking A Mess Could You Please Tidy it Up, a new exhibition at the Payne Shurvell gallery in Shoreditch, takes the flip-top cigarette packet as its starting point for an exploration of printed material in a shifting and visually unpredictable landscape. 

CREDIT: Dick Jewell, 300 American Tobacconists M-Z (photograph by Mark Wright)

CREDIT: Dick Jewell, 300 American Tobacconists M-Z

The title of the exhibition comes from a handwritten note slipped through the front door of curator and artist in his own right Andrew Curtis, a piece of printed material he has treasured since. A personal highlight is Dick Jewell’s 300 American Tobacconists M-Z (1980). The story behind the piece is that Jewell found the Polaroids and black and white photographs, three hundred wonderfully dated portraits of middle-aged business-types, in a shoebox on a rainy U.S. highway.

CREDIT: Sarah Hardacre, Those little bits of soot you can’t sweep up (photograph by Mark Wright)

Other standouts include Leon Chew’s The Crystal Land (2011), five photographs of Crash author J.G. Ballard’s car, screen printed onto steel plates, each corresponding to a photograph of solidified volcanic rock, and Sarah Hardacre’s Those little bits of soot you can’t sweep up (2011), a candid shot of nuns in Salford congregating for a cigarette. Also featured are pieces by Peter Blake, best known for the sleeve design for the Beatles’ album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, and performance artist Bruce McLean.

The exhibiton runs from 4th November to 17th December. Entry is free.

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