Illustrations

I have made colourful montages for cruise liners, the Chalke Valley History Festival and make images for book covers. Some using traditional methods, others drawn on the computer or iPad.

Jazz

 

 

I realised as a kid that Jazz record sleeves were so much cooler than the pop stuff. I remember a Modern Jazz Quartet album with a painting on the front. A Miro. And a Charlie Parker Live in Sweden with a beautiful drawing that seemed so cool, so American. I’ve made a lot of paintings and drawings of jazz artists over the years, always remembering the impact that this serious, committed design had on me. It was a style that seemed to say, “This is for grown ups. You won’t get it even if you think you do.” Which is why I still love it.

I was a paperboy in Southsea in 1964 reading an interview with Mike Hugg in the New Musical Express. He played with Manfred Mann who’d just hit the charts and they were sort of serious, polo necks-and-shades sort of serious, and when Mike Hugg described someone in the band as sounding a lot like Miles, well, I thought, this Miles must be pretty cool. Who on earth was going round being talked of in such reverential tones by his first name? This was so intriguing. Two years later I heard Milestones on a car radio. I just knew it was this celestial Miles. It sounded cool. Cooler than Revolver. Cooler than Blonde On Blonde.  I can still remember feeling that I was being given a pension for the rest of my life. Something I could  dig into forever. Something I could dig forever.

Ronnie Scott’s

A montage that I made to commemorate 50 years of London’s  celebrated jazz venue. Mike and Kate Westbrook are there too, undoubtedly two of the most consistently creative artists this country has produced. I first saw Mike in late 1972 with Solid Gold Cadillac. They were playing underneath a pub called the Phoenix in Cavendish Square. I was instantly smitten. The title song, sung by Phil Minton in a Lancashire accent (“All I want’s a Cadillac, not just any Cadillac, I want a golden Cadillac, solid gold from front to back”) was probably the best thing I’d ever seen. Hilarious and mind-blowing, George Khan on tenor, Brian Godding on left-handed SG, and Alan Jackson on drums (“Could you sub me a tenner, Westy?”) I thought that this was so of-the-moment, so perfect, so creative, full of wild possibility and every risk hunted down and taken. My first month in London. I was 22 and I was alive.

 

I’ve loved them ever since. I’m playing Starcross Bridge now, and like Mike’s record from 2016, Paris (Live), it is one of the most moving, reverential pieces of music I’ve ever heard. It’s full of love and life and the shadows cast that make life interesting. It’s pure treasure.

Ornate (Ornette Coleman)

Geoff Appleton played me Skies Of America in 1973. We’d just left college and he was always ahead of the game musically. It was an afternoon at his and Jeanette’s cottage near Hitchen.  We also played Charles Mingus’ Let My People Hear Music and quite possibly Bitches Brew and  side one of Escalator Over The Hill. I put Ornette in this little oil from 1990 in front of a Barnett Newman painting called Vir Heroicus Sublimis.

Jazz goes to collage (detail)

A commission for an American-themed restaurant about 10 years ago. I worked for a little gallery who made the prints look wonderful by encasing them in acrylic.

Another encapsulated map:

Titled (Duke Ellington)

The stories about this brilliant, urbane genius and one of the true masters of the destiny of jazz are legion. His career was rich and lasted decades from the roaring twenties till his death in 1973. After a lull in the 50s, he blazed back into glorious light with a performance at the 1956 Newport festival. Famous for its Paul Gonsalves showboating; it actually shows the band to be a miraculous engine sweetly tuned by the finest musical engineer in jazz.

Snippet shows detail from the jazz collage; Duke and his baritone sax player Harry Carney sit in their car at a level crossing en route to another gig. Duke is discussing something on the radio. It’s taken from a painting called Pacific Union, inspired by Geoff Dyers’ wonderful But Beautiful book of jazz essays. Carney was devoted to the master and died a few months after Duke..

 

Peoplescapes

I started making colourful landscapes a few years ago. In fact they were more about people than the geography they occupied. I was commissioned by P+O to make some lenticular prints for the Azura. A really satisfying and work intensive few months resulted in a selection of big, digitally produced images that celebrated the people of specific locations. Made to animate in selective areas; as you moved past the print, certain elements shifted.

Available as a limited edition signed print here.http://johnnybull.uk/product/istanbul-the-blue-mosque/

Peoplescape detail (Barcelona)

If you know Barcelona at all you’ll know the La Rambla, or Las Ramblas, that highway for people that pushes up from the port through the city and is full of life in its crowded variety and detail. When I was there the human statues were thick on the ground; the ones that move, but only for money. A bit like everybody else, really. But there’s more, much more: there’s someone break dancing to an accordionist just a bit further on. Federico Garcia Lorca said it was the only street on earth he wished would never end.

Peoplescape detail (Shoreditch)

This was a commission from a friend to celebrate their new flat. Shoreditch is absolutely full of stuff to photograph: beautiful buildings, cool graffitti (well, cool-ish in a Banksy-Lite sort of way) and millions of hipsters. They might not be there any more so I’m glad I bearded them in their cool den.

I painted a version of this Penguin classic for the top floor:

 

Uncle Bertie In the RA Summer Show

I painted Uncle Bertie about a year ago and quite liked him. I called him Uncle Bertie In The Jungle (In His Dreams) and when I heard that Grayson Perry was head of selection at the Royal Academy, I thought he might like him almost as much as I did. It’s a bit of a raffle to be honest, so I feel really lucky. He was snapped up on the first preview night, but he was in pretty wonderful company.

James Joyce-ish

I used this ( a smudged accident on Photoshop) to illustrate an event for Blacktooth Productions. Chris Howe, along with Nigel Pike and Mick Kidd organises and writes these recitals with professional actors and musicians around Hornsey in North London.

Repeater Catalogue 2018

A vibrant, violent abstract that came to life on the ipad. I was quite surprised they liked it. Otherwise it would have ended up on a notebook cover. On a T-shirt. Worn by Justin Bieber. Probably.