It’s Nice That asked me to discuss my 5 most treasured books for their Bookshelf feature which you can read over on their site in full .................. and here Ive included snaps of each individual book for some indepth background to the hardbacks that have been key in my life...........
A Bit Of Rough – Julie Verhoeven
Julie is one of my favourite artists of all time for 3 reasons – her work is identifiably unique in its purity, her style cultivates and celebrates colour, she embraces humour and executes it with a nuance, which translates with a sophisticated sheen. “A bit of rough” has imagery of all her mixed media disciplines as a really neat monograph of adventures in illustration, sculpture, fashion design and film. The introduction by Francesca Gavin is a succinct and brilliant explanation of the mind behind the inexplicably prolific talent. My copy is particularly precious because I received it in the post, painted in neon coral acrylic and signed as a present - which was a very exciting surprise!
Jungle Fever – Jean Paul Goude
I discovered Jean Paul Goude’s humorous genius vision via his art direction for Grace Jones records and this book catalogues his early career showing everything that led up to this time. It’s almost like a sketchbook with scans of exquisite early naive illustration and crude cut-n-paste collage which all led to his eventual highly polished and epic photographs. My favourite section of the monograph is the subcultural photographs of 1970’s New York where he captured the vibrant and radical styles of Latin teenagers. I found this book in the public library when I lived in Harlem, and now I’ve managed to find a copy for myself! It’s my most considered and treasured investment!
Skinhead – Nick Knight
Nick Knight is an artist very important to me not only for his inspirational pioneering photography but also his altruistic approach to nurturing new creatives with his platform SHOWstudio. To see his very first publication from 1980 (the year I was born) is a fascinating insight into where he started off with his journey in producing iconic visuals. This ode to a subculture is his own subjective vision of skinheads rather than a factual historical documentation, which makes it of more significance and importance in my mind. He has an innate gift of connecting with his subjects to reveal and expose a personality, which you see perfectly in these engaging portraits of an otherwise wary, marginalised genre.
Leigh Bowery – Violette Editions
I got this book at a crucial time in my life when I was 18 and I knew instinctively what made me happy but wasn’t sure if it actually elsewhere in the world. Thankfully the legacy of Leigh Bowery answered my hopes that there were other freaks out there, and in this instance dedicated their life to bravely creating and communicating an exceptional vision. This is the ultimate collection of photography that documented his complete works, collated from his friends and collaborators personal collections. If I ever have a day of self-doubt or disillusionment this is a steadfast and reliable antidote to ignite the flame of following my dreams.
A Chequered Past – Peter Schlesinger
This is Peter Schlesinger’s visual diary of the 60’s and 70’s, which depicts his days spent with partner David Hockney and close friends Ossie Clark, Celia Birtwell, Manolo Blahnik and Paloma Picasso etc. It just so happens that he was at the epicentre of a group of soulmates who were each of outstanding creative influence. This period of proximity to intimate passages in time results in beautifully relaxed, atmospheric and honest snapshots. The vivid hues of his film literally seize the sparkling settings of the azure swimming pool waters that we know so well from Hockney’s paintings. It’s so lucky that Peter was there to conscientiously record each majical moment from Cecil Beaton at Reddish House to Robert Mapplethorpe in Paris, to Andy Warhol in Monte Carlo. The scenes and scenarios are enchanting and his particular eye for proportion in positioning the people and places makes this a captivating classic.