For more than 25 years Vaughan Oliver has been creating seductive graphic works combining word and image for some of the world’s most influential contemporary musicians, developing distinctive visual vocabularies to accompany the careers for artists as diverse as Pixies and Cocteau Twins as well as more recent work for the likes of Scott Walker and TV on the Radio. His designs form part of the Victoria & Albert Museum collection and have been exhibited in Paris, Tokyo, Los Angeles and Athens.
Slightly off the Ground presents a personal selection of his iconic music posters from early works with 4AD to the present day, the exhibition providing a rare overview of the themes and influences that underpin the practice of this inspirational graphic alchemist. The specially devised gallery installation, evocative of the street setting where the posters would have been first encountered, is designed together with his long term collaborator Chris Bigg, and will be sound-tracked by the music that inspired the resulting designs.
Oliver says of developing this exhibition:
“When I first started designing posters the streets were alive with cutting edge work designed for the independent music scene. Posters by Peter Saville, Neville Brody, Malcolm Garrett, Martyn Atkins and C More Tone vied for your attention and set a very colourful fabric for the city with their illicit expressions. As that period gave way to a cleaning purge by the City ¹s Council and a creeping conservatism in the music industry the vibrant skin was peeled away. A new generation of designers were denied a public canvas. The art of graffiti replaced this ink on paper. In the age of the download the visual aspect of presenting music would seem to be less important than it was. The exhibition reminds us of the special relationship between a carefully considered graphic design and its musical partner. In the same way that a successful package for the music can enhance the listener ¹s appreciation of the music then a good poster can be an exciting gateway to the listening experience. When the poster draws your attention, reflects the music and leaves an impression then it ¹s doing its job. Pulling on a personal archive of around 200 posters the exhibition is a celebration of this lost art, including street posters for clients in music, theatre and dance, smaller posters for record shops and galleries and commissions for limited editions.”
“Vaughan Oliver & v23 Poster Designs” published by v23, available from the gallery during the exhibition.
A limited-edition print poster is available to purchase from the gallery during the exhibition.
Artist Talk 5pm Wednesday 17 January (booking essential)