I was reminded today of a time past, a Facebook post of a photograph taken in 1969 of The Beatles, it started me thinking about that era of English culture. I had always wanted to be an artist, well not sure I knew exactly what an artist was at 4 or 5 but certainly had decided that apart from being centre foward for England as a day job, my full time job would be to make pictures all my life.
We lived on the side of a mountain, my parents were early hippies, although the term had not yet been defined. My father worked in the forest and we kept a menagerie of animals and grew our own food (which included said animals). I used to sit at the edge of the forest and day dream for hours, captivated by the red and white mushrooms that grew around (then I had little idea of their true potential). Fast forward a few years and I am living in the market town of Stafford, boring and mundane a place as one could ever live. I was always thirsty for learning but never quite found what to do with it.
It was Sgt Peppers that changed all that, suddenly I realised there was a word, a pursuit that transcended everything, changed everything, made everything make sense. The word was “creativity’, to be creative, to create, a symbiosis of rational thought and the imagination, making ideas real. Creativity was transforming everyone, it was shared. Creativity became something that everyone was part of, and that was ‘Sgt Peppers’. Here was a vehicle of cultural change that everyone was talking about, so different but people got it, not the reactionary denial so often following change but an embracing, at least with my peers. So for the benefit of Mr Kite I want to share some Peppers.
Lottie wheres Wally?
I remember being on a coach to Plymouth for some school outing, a charabanc to exotic places! It was must have been an upmarket coach because it had a radio and during the journey ‘Penny Lane’ and then Strawberry Fields’ were played. You have no idea (as Lottie would say) how profound and world changing that moment was. If one can say a moment changed your life I can truly say this did. I could imagine these places as if they were mine and yet all the kids on the bus were also part of this imagined world. The discussion last the whole journey, never had I seen this company so energised by something creative, they usually wanted to pull legs off things.
There was a guy across the street from me used to carry a copy of ‘Peppers’ wherever he went, this became something of a fad at our school and showed you were where it was at man. My neighbour Steve Clewlow became a close friend over the following year and we used to sit and discuss this album for hours. It opened up doors of perception that never closed, art, music, philosophy you name it it was all encapsulated in that glossy cover by Peter Blake (I went on to be taught by him at the Royal College of Art), the hidden messages in the vinyl, the Eastern thoughts of George, the political and society challenging John, we thought Paul a hanger on and Ringo there for god knows what reason. Paul of course was a driving force but hey we were radicals, fanatics for this cultural shift. If you want to hear the creative process in action watch these video clips from the 1992 South Bank show on You Tube.
Pete Nevin 1969