Monday, January 30, 2012

Flint and Food

On Thursday we went to the Pure Evil gallery in Shoreditch, London for the opening of Kev Foakes (aka Strictly Kev's) exhibition of album artwork from 'The Search Engine', a collaboration between him and Henry Flint, who made the drawings in ink and allowed Kev to colour them up.

The resultant album imagery you'll have already seen on the previous blog post ('11 Years In The Making'), but there's never anything like seeing artwork in the flesh, and we were able to stare at Henry's drawings one inch from our noses, and drink in the black ink at close range. Henry Flint is a comic book artist who works mainly for 2000AD. You'll see Judge Dredd makes an honorary appearance below, and his comic book work has the writhing, muscly appearance you'd associate with big superheroes wielding massive weapons and snarling metal-headed foes.


But the stuff he did for Kev is personal work. It's still writhing but much more 'organic' looking - creatures stroll through the images, faces appear, and you can see the evidence of a family of ink pens allowed to do what they fancy, rather than the strict, carefully-spaced and space-filling narrative work of 2000AD. See here where he's scratched into the ink with something sharp (this was on tracing paper):

This is the main image Kev used in creating the artwork - lonely spaceman, charmingly knock-kneed and delicate hand held aloft. Kev's deleted the inkblots under his massive back pack (wouldn't be done if I was in charge!):

In other work on show, little people leap and hide and faces loom out of shapes and corners. Henry sometimes works with his daughter Rosalie, who contributed to a couple of pieces on show. She draws, and Dad fills in the details! Can you spot Rosalie's bits?

I took a swig of beer and made myself brave enough to approach Henry with a few questions. I'm not one to wander right up to 'famous people' or those I look up to, especially when there's a queue of other people doing the same, preferring to watch from afar and speculate. But I wanted to know what tools he uses. As usual I shouldn't have fretted about appearing a goon; Henry was quietly charming and not at all the Comic Book Uber-Geek I foolishly expected. He talked me through all of his different pens - 'whatever comes to hand' was a common theme! - but the answer was mainly fine liners and the odd Rotring. He didn't mention an ink, but I think he must have one in his artillery in order to get those splats. I felt bad for not buying his book, but we'd just spent the last tenner on... of these, a limited run of 30 postcard-sized records, which were, for obvious reasons, in high demand on the night. We managed to get one, but the pile was gone only an hour later. Check it: tiny but playable grooves on an A6 full colour plastic postcard. Sweet! (we haven't played it yet...not sure whether we will!) Number 22 of 30.

The night had the same warmth and joy as the Planetarium event, Kev beaming with the contentment (and relief) of a man for whom everything's gone smoothly, and he can relax a bit finally. We know that feeling from doing any shows ourselves, and in particular the immense amount of work that goes into producing one, and we've often wondered why Kev's not held or been part of a show of his visual work before. 'Look at me having exhibitions!' he was finally able to beam as we walked in. Indeed Kev - except you hired the Planetarium and made a record with one of your music heroes! Matt Johnson (The The) was at the show, but nerves forced me to turn back as before I could tell him 'if it wasn't for your albums I doubt I'd be doing this job' (but that's another blog...!)

A contented Kev with a deserved beer:

Henry and his wife:

And this photo could have been taken at any time at any Ninja gig in the last fifteen years - lights on faces, music too loud to speak over, a chilly underground room...and check the old banner! Ah... (Kev also made a 12" slip mat on his inkjet, colourful and cute and sitting on his little record player on the stage. it was still there when we left, but it had 'cheeky souvenir' written all over it!)
Right then Kev, thanks for everything - we'll be expecting you to top that lot next time, OK?

You can read about Henry Flint here:

and DJ Food here:

and his and Henry's collaborative album artwork is for sale as prints here:

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