Flyposting: From Makeshift Advertising To Fine Art

What was once a just means of promoting a band or artist, is now a celebration of illustrations of quirky and beautiful designs, soon to be featured in an art show...
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What was once a just means of promoting a band or artist, is now a celebration of illustrations of quirky and beautiful designs, soon to be featured in an art show...

There are gig posters and there are gig posters – and FLYPOSTING is an exhibition of the latter – namely hand-printed visual delicacies from eleven contemporary designer/printmakers, many of whom can be found between the covers of Clay Hayes wonderful books, Gig Posters (Volume 1&2).

Supplemented by archive material dating as far back as1968, with a hand-painted, one-off poster by Bill Nelson (for his pre Be-Bop Deluxe, underground band, Global Village), and bolstered by the prints of present-day art students, the exhibition at THE Gallery at Flannels in the centre of Leeds is lively exploration of the world of poster art spanning five decades.

Championed by pioneering printmakers such as Hatch Showprint of Nashville (whose posters for The Mekons appear in the exhibition), and led astray into the world of psychedelia and counter-culture by the likes of Wes Wilson, the art of the hand-produced poster has made it’s way through the DIY attitude of Punk to it’s current incarnation - a blend of highly decorative and often whimsical imagery laced with an inherent beauty that is its own invention.

What was once a just means of promoting a product, in this case a band or artist, is now a celebration of illustrations of quirky and beautiful designs – all born out of a labour of love. Although there is a proliferation of designer/printmakers out there, this is definitely not big business - in the text of her poster for New York band, The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart, the Dutch designer Mara Piccione merely declares that the band played ‘a brilliant show at Ekko on 7th June 2009’ – something that reads more like an epitaph than a means of making a fast buck.

What was once a just means of promoting a product, is now a celebration of illustrations of quirky and beautiful designs.

Amongst the roster of bands represented in the exhibition you will find the likes of Captain Beefheart nestling up against Boxhamsters, Mirror Boys, Beirut, Joe Strummer, Ash, Franz Ferdinand, Bjork, Tuneyards, I am Kloot and numerous others – all rendered in a wide variety of styles and imagery – the one thing linking them together being that they are all hand-printed with love.

FLYPOSTING may only be scratching the tip of the iceberg, but it’s a very satisfying scratch.

THE Gallery at Flannels is co-ordinated and curated by the Creative Arts Faculty at Leeds City College and shares it’s space in the centre of Leeds with the Food Academy at Flannels (also run by the college) who serve quality food at reasonable prices. It is the aim of the gallery to create a programme of joint exhibitions that showcases the work of new emerging artists alongside that of established artists who have both a national and international reputation, and future exhibitions include OTHER WORLDS, LANDeSCAPE NORTH and CIRCASEVENTIES – an examination of the Leeds Art School of the seventies that the artist Patrick Heron called ‘the most influential Art School in Europe’ – there will also be an OPEN exhibition calling on people from the region to submit work.

FLYPOSTING runs from March 6th – May 6th and features the work of: Switchopen, Jacknife, Mara Piccione, Two Ducks Disco, Luke Drozd, Petting Zoo Prints & Collectables, Graham Pilling, DötsPrinthaus with Stuff & Things, Horse, Tom Lacey and Hatch Show Print – with posters from the archives of Ben Denning, Bill Nelson, Geoff Clout, Johnny Jumps the Bandwagon, Paul Connor, Tony Minnion and Babara Joseph.

The exhibition is also run in conjunction with the excellent Leeds International Artists Book Fair (March 9th& 10th) at the Parkinson Building, Leeds University.

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