A big thanks goes to the team at Bayeux Ltd (Terry, Nick, Julie, Iris, Martin and Rob) for their professional excellence in producing the archival Lightjet C-Type prints* for my Pixies retrospective at Snap Galleries new flagship premises in the heart of Piccadilly London. You can find them at 78 Newman Street London W1T 3EP Tel: 020 7436 1066. Bayeux also offer drum scanning facilities as well as a host of archival papers and printing output options. Special thanks to Nick B for his patience in working with my images. They also offered me a free window display whilst the show is on! A hearty thanks to Miguel at Genesis who drum scanned Nimrod’s Son and Surfer Rosa’s #1-3 last year for me.
*A note on Lightjets C-Type prints:
Silver-halide photographic paper is fixed on an internal drum, where three digitally controlled lasers simultaneously expose the photo-sensitive paper (or back-lit transparency medium) with red, green, and blue light. The print is then processed using traditional photochemical means. After which, the photographic print is handled just as any other photo-print. LightJet is a true photographic continuous tone process. Most deliver a final product printed on Fujifilm Crystal Archive or Kodak Endura paper in sizes up to at least 4×10 feet . Other Silver-Halide based materials can be printed on laser driven devices such as the LightJet. (Info courtesy of Wikipedia ).
On the 14th April 2010 there was a small private party to celebrate the opening of my Pixies retrospective 1986-2009 and the first exhibition for Snap Galleries‘ prime London location in the heart of Piccadilly.
Chëla Olea of Warp Magazine interviewed me recently here’s the results:
To coincide with the opening of my London Pixies retrospective 1986-2009, Snap Galleries are introducing a brand range of Limited Edition images in the form of Tablets.
What is a Tablet ?
Tablets are a completely new kind of exclusive, limited edition, freestanding collectible. Each one is a miniaturized three dimensional artwork, small enough to fit in the palm of a hand. Tablets do not require framing and so are ready to display straight out of the box. They sit perfectly on desks, bookcases, shelves, and cabinets; in fact, they look good anywhere. Tablets make ideal gifts and souvenirs.
The inaugural releases from Tablet Editions feature four important photographs from the archives of British photographer Simon Larbalestier, the man who made the photographs that appeared on the sleeves of all the albums released by cult US band the Pixies in the late eighties/early nineties. Produced in finite and exclusive worldwide limited editions, Simon Larbalestier’s Tablets are supplied with a hand-signed, individually numbered certificate of authenticity, which opens out to reveal Simon Larbalestier’s detailed personal recollections of the story behind each classic image, and features rare session image(s) to accompany Simon’s text.
Please click here for pricing and ordering details.
Location: Snap Galleries Ltd Piccadilly Arcade, London SW1 6NH (Opposite Royal Academy of Arts) email@example.com
This stunning Pixies retrospective exhibition for acclaimed photographer Simon Larbalestier brings together, for the first time anywhere in the world, two distinct yet complementary bodies of work by Larbalestier: His historic studio based photographs that appeared on Pixies record sleeves from the 1980s and 90’s, and new images created in South East Asia in 2008/9 specifically for the lavish Pixies’ box set project, Minotaur.
We are very proud to host this stunning Pixies retrospective exhibition for acclaimed photographer Simon Larbalestier. The exhibition brings together, for the first time anywhere in the world, two distinct yet complementary bodies of work by Larbalestier:
• Historic studio based photographs that appeared on Pixies record sleeves from the 1980s and 90’s, and;
• New images created in South East Asia in 2008/9 specifically for the lavish Pixies’ box set project, Minotaur
The Pixies are one of the most pioneering bands of the late 80s and influenced countless musicians, including Nirvana, Pearl Jam and Radiohead. The covers of their five studio albums, all of which featured the surreal photographs of Simon Larbalestier, with graphic design by Vaughan Oliver, were a vital part of the band’s image.
Oliver’s graphic design work has already been the subject of a number of exhibitions. The purpose of this retrospective is to focus on Simon Larbalestier’s photographs in isolation, stripping away the design element and showing them as a coherent body of work in their own right.
” If there were a ‘fifth Pixie,’ it would have been Simon – his work so suited what they were doing.” Vaughan Oliver, Pixies graphic designer
Simon Larbalestier chose to include a macabre photograph in his final degree show at London’s Royal College of Art in 1987. Inspired by Gustave Flaubert’s haunting work The Temptation of St Antony, Larbalestier had created an elaborate and slightly unsettling scene in which a bald headed man with an outrageously hairy back sat with his back to the camera, face obscured. Parts of the scene covered by a silk drape, into which a fish had been nailed. Pixies graphic designer Vaughan Oliver attended the show, saw the image and knew instantly that it fitted perfectly with the brief he had received from Pixies front man, Charles Thompson (aka Black Francis). That photograph was used on the cover of the 1987 Pixies EP Come On Pilgrim. Larbalestier’s photographs subsequently appeared on the covers of the Pixies four studio albums; Surfer Rosa, featuring a beautiful dancer in an elaborately staged set featuring dark drapes, a fish, a crucifix and a smashed Pixies guitar head; Doolittle, with its halo-clad stuffed Monkey on the cover, together with a series of portraits referencing the macabre lyrics and showing textures, decay and desolation in a lavish inner lyric booklet; Bossanova, with its Pixies planet and finally Trompe Le Monde, with its surreal bulls’ eyes Decay, isolation and the visual impression of time ravaged objects were key elements in Larbalestier’s work, and photographs from this early period were created using what Larbalestier describes as his ‘scientific approach’. This was characterised by elaborately staged sets, where images were shot mainly on black and white film on large static cameras, and then sepia toned later in the darkroom to add feeling and atmosphere. Early work such as Come on Pilgrim and Surfer Rosa were shot on Polaroid type 55 film, which yields both a positive print and a negative image that can be used in an enlarger. The distinctive patterned borders of type 55 film served to heighten the sense of decay and otherworldliness.
“Everything about the Pixies imagery was constructed, often built as a small set as in the Doolittle series or a life size collage set for the Surfer Rosa series. Everything was sourced and built from scratch in front of the camera lens. The vision was a constructed one – not a document of real life.” Simon Larbalestier
The exhibition features rare images from these early sessions, and visitors to the gallery exhibition will also be able to see, for the first time, Simon’s original type 55 polaroids from Come on Pilgrim, and Surfer Rosa. These original polaroids have never been exhibited before, and include a number of unpublished outtakes from those important sessions.
On the face of it, the contrast with Larbalestier’s recent work on the Minotaur project could not be greater, but in many respects there are strong parallels.
Minotaur is the title of the recently released Pixies’ box set: a collaboration between The Pixies, Vaughan Oliver, Simon Larbalestier, and US box set pioneers Artists in Residence.
“I like that the sheer size of Minotaur moves it into the category of being an art object as opposed to being just a CD box set. It’s not necessarily something you’d put next to your stereo, but on your marble coffee table with your other art books.” — Pixies’ Charles Thompson ( Black Francis)
Minotaur pushes the boundaries of how the Pixies body of music can be presented as a lavish and coherent whole. Oliver and Larbalestier have used the same music as inspiration, but applied a 21st century perspective to create a completely new body of photography and designs for Minotaur. Oliver set out to give Minotaur a coherent look and feel, rather than simply putting five album packages, that were designed at different times under varying circumstances, into one box. This was an opportunity to go back through the themes and the ideas covered at the time of the five albums, and treat them in a deeper, more substantial way. Larbalestier approached Minotaur using very different techniques to those used for the original Pixies’ album sessions. For Minotaur, he worked on location in South East Asia, chosen because it was perfect setting for the macabre and surreal images he was looking for. He used a point-and-shoot digital camera, and worked in colour as much as black and white. Working outside the studio setting gave him access to people, places and material that he simply would not have been able to photograph if he had adopted his previous ‘scientific approach’.
“Simon shot some amazing images that I think will surpass what we did first time around. His new work is full of power, it carries a very strong visual poetry. Simon has the ability to imbue the inanimate with emotion, with sensibilities.” Vaughan Oliver
Despite the differences in approach, there are common threads running between the original images and the new pieces. A neon sign in the form of a bare breasted dancer is very much a 2008 take on Surfer Rosa. Unusual juxtapositions of subject matter, religion, decay, death and texture still play a key part. Hair is a good textural example: the two photographs that bookend the show chronologically (1986’s Nimrod’s Son – that man with the hairy back used on Come on Pilgrim – and 2009’s Minotaur – a close up portrait of a bull, and the last photograph Simon took in Thailand) both feature hair in abundance. Visitors to the gallery will be able to examine the Minotaur box set, which will be on show throughout the exhibition.
I was recently interviewed by Charles Banaszewski of Spray Blog. Screen grabs of the interview are pasted below but please go here for the article itself.
COMING SOON an interview in Warp Magazine (Mexico) this will be in print and not online.
Last week my good friend AK Kimoto passed away whilst en route to the FotoFreo Festival in Perth. AK had spent several years documenting small and isolated communities in Afghanistan. His website showcases a very small fraction of these intimate and sensitive photographs. Go here to visit the site. A tribute to AK is found here put together by Stuart Isett. I’m sure Ak wouldn’t mind me posting this screen grab from his website, along with some photographs I took when we were all together for the Angkor Photo Festival, Cambodia 2007. Rest in peace my friend.