"London Calling" reinterpreted by Tracy Emin, 2010
Photo: Chris Osburn
Ray Lowry: London Calling
Idea Generation Gallery
11 Chance Street
London, E2 7JB
June 18th through July 4th, 2010
Ray Lowry: London Calling at the Idea Generation Gallery in East London pays tribute to Ray Lowry's iconic cover art for The Clash's 1979 album, London Calling. For the show, thirty prominent artists contributed their interpretations of Lowry's seminal album cover. In addition to the artists' takes on Lowry's cover, they were invited to have a look at how he and his ideologies had influenced them. Alongside these works, original sketches, designs for the album cover as well as private sketchbooks, personal letters, previously unseen photographs and painting are on show.
Originally from Manchester, Ray Lowry started his career as an artist drawing for Punch Magazine, International Times and Private Eye. His association with the music press began in the 70s, most notably with NME for which he created a variety of cartoons and illustrations. He met The Clash at Manchester's Electric Circus where they were the supporting act for the Sex Pistols during raucous the Anarchy in the UK tour. A friendship between Lowry and The Clash ensued, and he was invited to accompany them on their 1979 US tour as the band's “official war artist”. According to Lowry, he was overwhelmed to be included in the band's entourage: “Within three weeks I had gone from a fan to one of the band’s intimate entourage. The first time I got behind the wheel of the minibus, with The Clash in the back, I felt a bit awestruck.”
For the sleeve design of London Calling, Lowry borrowed the pink and green lettering from Elvis' debut album. The photograph of used – taken by Pennie Smith – was originally rejected by the photographer for being out of focus. Today it is recognized as one of the rock world's most celebrated images, coming in ninth in a 2002 poll by Q magazine of all time great rock 'n' roll photographs.
To almost the same extent as the songs on London Calling, Lowry's cover inspired his contemporaries as well as subsequent generations. Tracey Emin, Nick Hornby, Billy Childish, Harry Hill and Paul Simonon - as well as original Clash member Mick Jones - are among those in the exhibition. After a world tour, the works will be auctioned with all proceeds going to The Ray Lowry Foundation – a supporter of further education for those from less privileged backgrounds.
The exhibition is one of raw energy and of the legacy of punk rock, remembering not only Lowry and The Clash but a music industry that no longer exists and a rebellious counterculture that's sadly no longer as prevalent.
"Manchester Calling" by Mick Jones, 2010
Photo: Chris Osburn
"London Calling" reinterpreted by Christopher Agnew, 2010
Photo, Chris Osburn
Chris Osburn is an American transplant living in London where he has a blast working as a freelance photographer, writer, consultant, blogger and more. www.tikichris.com