In 2007 Johnny Marr stated that “the seven-inch single, as an entity, is an absolutely powerful, possibly otherworldly, object.” A man who truly understands this is British artist Morgan Howell of Supersize Art. Fellow of the Royal Society of Art, Morgan Howell’s series of 45RPM paintings have been generating a huge amount of interest. Morgan Howell’s work celebrates the art of the 7″ single and recreates that iconic musical format in the form of supersized paintings, enlarging classic 7” singles into 27” x 27” forms.
Howell doesn’t just paint the images on a flat surface, but fully recreates them as sculptural pieces – hand-painting them and giving the bags crumpled and creased edges to reproduce that authentic ‘distressed and well-used look. The Supersize originals and prints even have a grooved vinyl disc and a fine art paper label.
Howell’s original paintings have attracted a cult following amongst musicians and music industry moguls. His recreation of David Bowie’s ‘The Jean Genie’ single sleeve sits proudly on the wall at Sony Music; ‘Yesterday’ by The Beatles is at the iconic Capitol Building in Los Angeles. Well-known owners of his works include Ozzy Osbourne, Neil Diamond, Lord Lloyd Webber, Elvis Costello, Ray Davies, Don Letts, Jerry Dammers, Ian Brown, Johnny Marr, Damon Albarn and Billy Gibbons. A matched pair of his paintings of The Beatles double A-Side ‘Hey Jude’ and ‘Revolution’ fetched £20,000 in an auction at Abbey Road studios, The Eagles’ ‘Hotel California’ and The Clash single ‘White Man in Hammersmith Palais’ were sold in aid of Children in Need.[[jpg205442]]PledgeMusic caught up with Morgan at his studio in St. Albans and asked him about the Supersize Art project. He started by explaining exactly how he creates these unique works of art:
I always try and work from the original 45. I photograph and enlarge it, trace everything in pencil in the negative. I then inspect the sleeve to see how it is constructed, where the glue flaps are etc. and then cut that shape out of canvas and fold and glue together. The pencil is then rubbed down to give me a guide to paint to. I inspect the record and then work with a model maker who creates the bespoke grooved disc, which may have raised bumps, 3 or 4 slots or may even have been ‘dinked’ with a spider centre. The latest pieces even have the scratched markings on the runoff. The label is hand painted onto paper and then the whole thing is constructed. Then the fun begins as I recreate 50 years of wear and tear. It is absolutely essential that I listen to the song repeatedly through the whole process, which can take around 3 weeks or so.
Which ‘single’ have you produced has given you the greatest pleasure in terms of personal, or maybe professional, appreciation?
When I was three, on a family trip to London, I was in the back seat of my Father’s overheating Ford Zephr in Savile Row. There was a snarl up as some band was playing on the roof. It was 30th January 1969. 45 Years later my paintings of the double A Side ‘Get Back’/’Don’t Let Me Down’ were displayed in the Piano Room at BBC Radio 2, later going on to sell in a gallery which was formally The Beatles’ Apple Tailoring on the Kings Road. That was pretty cool.
Do you have a short anecdote that you can share with us in terms of one of your pieces of art and maybe the actual artist that it depicts?
In 2012 I was asked to supply three Rolling Stones pieces to be used as a backdrop for the Stones 50th Tour interviews with The BBC. We Turned up at The Dorchester in a borrowed and very tatty Volvo estate. The doorman wouldn’t open the door and we had a standoff until the cars were backed up onto Park Lane. The valet eventually parked the Volvo, we met The Stones and Mick and Keith signed 2 of the pieces which I still own. The other was bought by Andrew Lloyd Webber.
And finally, what ideas do you have in mind for future art projects?
I have a list of 45’s which I think are hugely important in terms of music but also our cultural history. I am endlessly searching out the perfect copies to paint. If anyone out there has a ‘Johnny B Goode’ on Chess with a Detroit or Chicago record store stamp on the dog-eared plain brown bag, I’d be very interested…
A selection of different size prints has been assembled for Morgan’s PledgeMusic campaign. All prints on offer are numbered and hand-signed. Starting with the (unframed) 8 Colour A3+ size paper print, moving to a box framed 3D Oversize print construction (limited to 9 copies only) and sized at 410mm x 410mm. The Supersize print is also a 3D model, constructed on canvas with a 27” grooved vinyl disc, printed fine art paper label and sized at a wall-covering 810 mm x 810mm. The Supersize editions have a bespoke Art Glass box frame.
The Supersized Art PledgeMusic campaign includes prints of titles by The Beatles (‘Love Me Do’, ‘She Loves You’, ‘Yesterday’); The Rolling Stones (‘Satisfaction’ and ‘Brown Sugar’); David Bowie (‘Rebel Rebel’, ‘Heroes’ and ‘Life On Mars’); The Jam (‘A Town Called Malice’); Blondie (‘Heart Of Glass’); The Specials (‘Ghost Town’); Madness (‘Baggy Trousers’); The Clash (‘White Man In Hammersmith Palais’); T. Rex (‘20th Century Boy’); Black Sabbath (‘Paranoid’) and The Kinks (‘Waterloo Sunset’) amongst others.