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Friday, May 15, 2009
Win Oasis Art Collages by Michael Spencer Jones
Sarah Tierney has news of a Confidential readers' evening at Richard Goodall gallery where Michael Spencer Jones' iconic images of Oasis are on display.
Wandering around this exhibition of Oasis cover art, you're struck by a strong sense of familiarity. From the shot of Liam lying prostrate on Bonehead's living room floor on the cover of Definitely Maybe, to the semi-submerged Rolls Royce on Be Here Now, Michael Spencer Jones's photographs are a visual shorthand for the mid 1990s. If you had to pick an image that sums up Britpop – that optimistic era when we liked our political leaders as much as we liked our pop stars, chances are, it'd be one of these.
Michael Spencer Jones worked with Oasis from 1993 to 1998 when the band's influence was at its height. He remembers it as an exciting but pressurised time; “Coming up with a great image that the band were happy with and you were happy with was the most challenging thing,” he says. “You're working under pressure to create an image that you know is going to be around for a long time.”
It's difficult to say whether the images on display at the Richard Goodall Gallery have stayed in the collective consciousness because they were so widely seen in the 1990s, or because they have a power in their own right, outside of the music that came with them. It's probably a bit of both. Spencer Jones mixed elements of surrealism with the classic iconography of rock'n'roll: guitars, cars, champagne and girls, to create a style that was distinctly and recognisably 'Oasis'. The ultimate rock band with a bit of humour and cultural referencing thrown in.
He says his favourite image is the cover from Definitely Maybe but he also likes Be Here Now. If there was ever a cover image that asked to be analysed by over-attentive fans, it's this one. It's full of visual symbols: clocks, telescopes, gramophones, telephone boxes...with the band looking equally incongruous amongst it all. When a tabloid journalist smuggled his way onto the photo set and published a picture the next day, the papers pounced on the date on the calendar: 3 September – the day the second world war started.
Says Spencer Jones: “They were saying, what is this? Why are they making reference to the outbreak of the second world war? But that wasn't the case at all, it was just an arbitrary date that just happened to go on the calendar.”
It was actually Spencer Jones' guess at the date the album might be released. Noel had requested they have the release date on the cover, but at the time of the shoot, they weren't sure when it would be.
Other images seem designed to create a feeling rather than invite speculation on their meaning. For example the grainy black and white shot of a suburban house half hidden by overgrown trees on the sleeve of 'Live Forever', and the image of the Arizona desert on 'Whatever'.
It's a diverse collection on display, but what links all the images is their desirability to Oasis fans and music memorabilia collectors. With this in mind, Spellbound Publications have brought them together into a portfolio comprised of 10 original limited edition photographs of Oasis’ sleeve artwork, including Definitely Maybe, (What’s the Story) Morning Glory?, Be Here Now and seven of their single covers, plus a 198 page large format book called Out of the Blue – The Oasis Photographs. This includes photographs that Spencer Jones took of the band on tour, in the studio and off duty, and is a definitive pictorial record of the band during this era.
There's no doubt that Oasis fans will want to own this portfolio and book. It will also appeal to those who want to invest in artworks that they feel a particular connection to – after all, the Britpop kids are now all grown-up with money to spend.
Whether you're interested in investing or not, you're invited to come and see the artwork for yourself at a special readers' evening that Confidential is holding at the exhibition next Thursday (21 May). You'll be able to chat to Michael Spencer Jones about his photography and working with Oasis, and peruse the gallery with a complimentary glass of wine or beer. It's free and it'll be held at the Richard Goodall Gallery on High Street, near the Market Restaurant, in the Northern Quarter, from 6.30pm to 8pm.
We've also got five Oasis collages by Michael Spencer Jones to give away, worth £95 each. To be in with a chance of winning, fill out the form by clicking here and scrolling down (UK ONLY).
via L4e / Source: manchesterconfidential.co.uk
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