Graham Higgins Illustration - Literate Graffiti Dept.


April 12, 2010

12-4-10 pinboard

I must have been about 16 when this was taken, which makes it…1969? Who by, I wonder? It’s my room in Wilford Lane, Nottingham, before we moved to Surrey a year or so later.

I came across this in a box of random photo-wallets when I was moving my stuff from a garage to this flat, and looking through them today I’d put it aside to show my son when he drops by. Dad, young. It’s hard to imagine.

The wood-effect wall is wallpaper. The pinboard was made of cork tiles stuck to the wall. I’m wearing jeans and cufflinks; I must have briefly taken off my school tie.

I realise that almost all of these images were taken from Sunday papers’ colour supplements.

Tiny Tim; Che Guevara; John’n’Yoko; Robert Redford posing as The Sundance Kid; John Mills in a still from Oh What A Lovely War; an unknown dame with luxuriant red hair. Is that a photo of Oscar Wilde that they used in the Eleanor Rigby still from Yellow Submarine (which I never saw on a cinema screen)?

For my art college interviews I spent a furious weekend making a board-book of A Day In The Life off of Sgt. Pepper’s and used the John Mills photo for the page ‘…the English Army had just won the war’. This means I must have gathered my cut-outs to take with me when the family moved.

Three Don McCullen photos – one of an African war atrocity and pinned to it, type snipped from another magazine: ‘Black is Beautiful’. Did he also take the colour shot of the Buddhist monks at the roadside?

Under the atrocity exhibit I see the corner of a Michael Heath cartoon: it was a row of uniformly grim-faced Russian generals on the balcony over Red Square, with bombers in a fly-past overhead and the might of the Soviet Defence Capacity no doubt rolling past below. ‘Stop laughing, you’ll start me off in a minute!’

I had to enlarge this one to see what it was over my shoulder, two figures silhouetted against a window: two Glasgow boys display a machete and a sword used in local territorial disputes.

Young Duke Ellington. Really didn’t have a clue about ‘cool’ but the photo is it.

A full-page shot of a pastrami on rye – bread for us was white and sliced, brown bread was a minority taste; the wholemeal revolution was yet to come. This was exotic fare. Pinning it up made it pop art.

Her Majesty, mounted, by Gerald Scarfe.

Head close-up of a slaughtered horse in a French abbattoir. Above it, a speed-launch accelerates away with its pennant flying suspiciously flat-on, so probably from a Navy recruitment ad.

Two pictures of deer; Highland stags on a postcard from Scotland and a backlit African model with big cute Martian ears.

John Heartfield anti-Nazi photomontage; photo of Nazi officer with two glamorous molls, possibly a daring fashion-shoot.

A Victorian Greek romantic painting of the women watching the fleet departing for Troy.

My own graffiti: Don’t Revolve – Evolve. Clearly I was already seeing myself as a future shaper of the counterculture. Start on button-badges; work your way up to profound theoretical paradigm-shifts reified in the social fabric.

The orange patterned poster rolled up at the bottom right was a giant Madame Tussaud’s poster.

I’d not thought about my shifting photo gallery for these years and yet all these images are instantly familiar. This was what we did before we had the internet.

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