“These tin plates are not just nostalgia, they are vibrant, early twenty-first-century, artifacts in their own right.” and an “...enduring and endearing part of British visual culture of the last fifty years”.

Prof. Brian Webb; “Peter Blake (Design)” pub. ACC 2010


“’Hardcore Pop’ with colours, stripes, that was my invention!

Sir Peter in conversation with Alastair Sooke18th Oct’14

Image © CRE Ltd 2014

In mid 1967, fresh from having finished an album cover for the World’s most famous band, Peter Blake the John Moores prize winner, entered the premises of his favourite west London antiques and ephemera dealer; Dodo at 185 Westbourne Grove. It was the place where, a few years earlier the young artist had managed to acquire a very rare Edwardian ‘Cherry Blossom Boot Polish’ tin sign that he had seen on a Notting Hill Gate wall in the 1950’s and coveted since. On this particular summer’s day, the 35 year old Royal College of Art tutor was to receive an offer he could not refuse. Up and until then Blake had eschewed all opportunities; offered to his fellow swinging London contemporaries to reproduce his work on silk screens or as etchings. However Dodo suggested they commission Blake to produce a limited edition lithograph on tin plate. How could he resist? The resulting work; ”Babe Rainbow’, released the following year in an edition of 10,000 copies, would be Blake’s first ever multiple and it was on tin!

Some forty three plus years later the now Sir Peter Blake (knighted in 2002 for his services to art) has returned to this beloved metal medium. Using latest technology to create a heart-stopping portfolio of exceptionally limited original works the godfather of pop art presents us with ’Hardcore Pop’! Featuring the family of motifs for which he is world-renowned the viewer is blasted with bright emblems and emphatic statements of certainty and hope. In the super-size iconic Motif Suite we find a quadtych of portrait like representations. Each one transferred; on Dutch presses, to a 56% recycled metal substrate, over-glazed and oven-fired, creating a wonderfully rich and warm enamel-like finish.

This process is something he and Dodo could only have dreamed of in 1967!

Accompanying the exquisite suite of motifs is a short series incorporating text that sprang from the relationship with Creatively Recycled Empire* the Portfolio’s commissioners and publisher. These pieces reference Blake’s love of football (Chelsea), love of the city where he lives (London) and his passion for the environment (recycling). Again the super-size lends the work an impressively joyful and confident air that amplifies the individual statements. Although “I LOVE RECYCLING”; was initially just a shoe box lid design which Sir Peter drew for eco-upcycled footwear brand ABOVE+BELOW LONDON, it exudes a degree of wry irony considering the nature of the medium, incorporating as it does recycled soup tins and paint cans. How playful could ‘hardcore’ pop get? In fact the whole tinplate folio as a self contained body of work manages to condense all sources of the pop genre to its very essence and become; “vibrant early 20th century artefacts in their own right”.

While this is work produced in the artist’s self styled ‘late period’, it’s clear Sir Peter is still true to his motto; “always stay ahead of the avant garde”. In a world full of signs and symbols who else would dare to reproduce them on tin? Who else could? Who else should?

Only the Godfather of Pop; Sir Peter Blake C.B.E.!

*Creatively Recycled Empire are a team of West London based ‘situationist recyclers’ known for curating the Mayor’s ‘Love London Recycled Sculpture Show’ that featured work from the likes of Mutoid Waste’s Joe Rush, Ptolemy Elrington of Hubcap Creatures and the wonderful Heather Jansch. They founded the up-cycled Above+Below London footwear line in 2009. While before being the company director; Caroline Read brought the then unknown group; The Stone Roses, down from Manchester to London, introduced them to Pete Townshend and gave them their first gigs in 1984. She is accompanied by her Head of Production; Robert Taylor, a Saint Martin’s School of Art unknown yet of manifold talent! This dynamic duo have collaborated with Dame Vivienne Westwood in 2007 on their footwear brand. Previously they helped save three Tube carriages from the wreckers (later snapped up for the Village Underground E1). They are now planning their next installation...

contact: office(at)creativelyrecycledempire(dot)co(dot)uk





The super-size Tinplate Portfolio by Sir Peter Blake