Monday, 18 July 2016

Rip It Off Me: (A Tribute to Richard Hamilton)

(Image above: The Godfather of Pop Art Mr Richard Hamilton carrying "Epiphany" originally made in 1964 ) and below a new version painted by Paul Hamilton last week.
A while back I curated a group show about Pop Art at The A Side B Side Gallery. I always felt that one of the best contributions in the show was by my friend Paul Hamilton (who writes for The Idler magazine and runs Smoking Ant records). The show was called London, New York, Paris, Munich - Everyone's Talking About Pop Music and Paul Hamilton's work was based on Richard Hamilton's sleeve for record released by The Beatles in 1968 (often called The White Album).
A month ago or so I told Paul about an art show at Studio One Gallery (opening on the 4th of August) which features me collaborating with different artists. I really wanted his 'Beatles Be My Bag (Hamilton Covers Hamilton Cover)' to get a second airing. I asked if he liked the idea of working together on making a shrine to Richard Hamilton. We swapped a few e-mails - I suggested I bought a large canvas and that we painted Richard Hamilton taking his "Slip It To Me Badge" for a walk my plan was that we'd exhibit that next to Paul's bag and add a new Beatles collage (inspired by the one you got with The White Album). Paul had other ideas and suggested we should make a new version of the collage replacing John, Paul, George and Ringo's heads with our own and asked "What about his 'dirty protest' IRA portrait? Remaking that but with Nigel Farage as the prisoner in his little world of shit?" More e-mails were swapped. Paul wanted me to find or make him a circular canvas and at one stage thought the best thing would be to buy a pin cushion. I started experimenting with re makes of the Slip It To Me badge on cardboard.
I made some tiny ones like the image above a few big ones. I was interested in the idea of making 42 circular paintings on cardboard and then getting a badge made of the best one. Paul responded by saying we should make just one really good painting and make a badge of that. He came up with the idea of a painting that copied the Slip It To Me text faithfully and then roughly painting a letter "R" over the the letters S and L and the world "Off" crudely written over the word "to". I felt straight away that it would be better to just have a badge saying "Rip It Off Me". As if by magic (whilst walking in Camberwell) we then found a gigantic piece of cardboard in the street and so Paul was able to paint what he saw as a "a cool-and-aggressive comment on sex and creativity." To my complete surprise, rather than just painting the text, Paul instead insisted on doing a 13 layer painting of different coloured dots. He liked the idea that it would look nothing like the original until it was shrunk down into a badge - it was clear his mind was made up.
I focused on making a Beatles collage that was a response to the original one you get if you buy The White Album.
And then I found a photo of Richard Hamilton carrying a large version of his Slip It To Me Badge and asked my talented and kind photographer friend Alex Wojcik if she would photo Paul and I recreating the pose. Luckily she said yes and took these fab photos...
(Above: Paul Hamilton as Richard Hamilton)
(Above: Harry Pye as Richard Hamilton) If you want to see "Harry and Paul's Shrine to Richard Hamilton" and for your chance to get your hands on a "Rip Me Off Badge" please come to "Life of Pye Part 2" at Studio One
The show also features artistic collaborations made by Pye and Gordon Beswick, Emma Coleman, Buffy Cook, Adrian R. Shaw, Rowland Smith and many others. Find out more about Paul Hamilton's music projects and Smoking Ant records by visiting: and/or

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