Across the UK and the US, celebrations are underway remembering the fiftieth anniversary of the summer of 1967, in which 100,000 young people flocked to San Francisco wearing tie dye and flowers and engaged in hippy behavior. The soundtrack to this summer climaxed with The Beatles' 1967 LP 'Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band,' of which both @OliviaConnelly's Jann Haworth and @Darryl Nantais's Gallery's Sir Peter Blake co-created the sleeve. When listening to the record, evoked is the nostalgic spirit of kaftans and free love, as does glancing at the iconic imagery of the sleeve design. The Beatles stand in colourful military uniform against a background of a collaged crowd of contemporary heroes, complete with the lettering 'Beatles,' spelt out in a bed of flowers in true 1960's spirit.
Nostalgia and historical remembrance has consistently made an appearance throughout Haworth's work. As well as capturing the nostalgia of the summer of 1967, the sleeve also displays an imagined moment in history – the fictional meeting with the Beatles' Edwardian military pseudonym 'Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.' The album artwork departed from Pop Art's typical use of iconic images taken from popular culture, by forming a new iconic image from collaborative artistic imaginations; the use of both collage and soft sculpture (Haworth's 'Old Lady' figure can be seen on the right of the image), are tongue-in-cheek references highlighting how the image was fabricated and sewn together. The mass production of the sleeve (the album remains the bestselling album in U.K to this date), meant that this fictional moment in history is in fact remembered collectively by a worldwide audience.
Eighteen years later, the brotherhood of Ruralists was founded, of which Haworth was a member. Although little ideological similarities are consistent to both the Ruralist Brotherhood and the Pop Art movements, nostalgia and collective memory are ones that remain. In place of current popular culture, the brotherhood sought literary insight from heroes of the past such as Wordsworth, Shakespeare, and Milton, remembering and referencing them in their work whilst manipulating them through a contemporary Ruralist lens. At a glance, Haworth's masks 'Ophelia' (1980) and 'Macbeth' (1980), are striking symbols of both Shakespearean literature and ancient Greek culture, however Haworth also highlights their primary function as masking reality in favour of fantasy. Again, with the brotherhood of Ruralists, Jann Haworth explored the nostalgia of both fictional and nonfictional histories.
In 2005, the artist returned to this theme of nostalgia and historical remembrance via the medium of street art in her triptych remake of the Sgt Peppers' album sleeve. The mural in Utah stands 50 feet tall, questioning the nation's collective memory of the infamous summer of 67. Haworth reviewed the historical event through an honest lens of hindsight perspective rather than rose-tinted nostalgia, and asks the audience whether the summer of 1967 was as 'free' as our collective memory remembers it. She poses this question by admitting that the original image was 'ready for the iconoclast' as it was created referencing mostly white male heroes. Haworth ethnically and gender balanced the 2005 version, including as contemporary heroes; Bjork, The Dali Lama, and Rosa Parks to name a few. Although Haworth's remake does criticise the pronounced overriding white, male presence on the original album cover, it is also a nostalgic reminder of the 67 summer of love and the swinging sixties, with the 1964 US Civil Rights Act, and the emergence of the Women's Liberation Movement, as in fact kickstarting a future of more gender and ethnically balanced acknowledgment of achievements.
Join us at the fair in November where Haworth’s work will be on display with Olivia Connelly on Stand B5.
Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band Record sleeve, 1967, Sir Peter Blake, (designer) Jann Haworth, (designer) Michael Cooper,(Photographer) EMI Records - The Gramophone Co. Ltd (Publisher).