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Peter Blake's Alphabet at The Bristol Gallery

Peter Blake's ‘R’ for Rainbow (1991) Screen print

Peter Blake's ‘R’ for Rainbow (1991) Screen print

Press release issued: 22 April 2010

A Hayward Touring exhibition, Alphabet, by Sir Peter Blake comes to The Bristol Gallery this week as part of an extensive UK tour. To coincide with the opening on Saturday 24 April, the gallery will be holding a day of accompanying events beginning with an introduction to Pop Art led by Peter Stilton, a student in Bristol University’s Department of History of Art.

Alphabet is a set of bold and colourful silkscreen prints, one for each letter of the alphabet, produced by the artist in 1991.  Peter Blake emerged in the 1960s as one of the leading British Pop Artists; he is most famous, perhaps, for his part in the design of The Beatles’ Sergeant Pepper album cover in 1967.  Alphabet characterises his method of working, incorporating ‘found’ imagery from postcards, magazines and popular ephemera.  From the familiar Z for Zebra, to the esoteric P for Pachyderm and iconic K for King (Elvis Presley), these screen prints reflect his humour, nostalgia and eclecticism.

Born in 1932 in Dartford, Kent, Blake studied at the Royal College (1953-56) where he was a contemporary and friend of David Hockney.  There he began to explore themes such as circus performers, film stars and the emblematic motifs of children’s games, badges and comics.  During this time he also experimented with abstract planes of colour, juxtaposed with images of musicians, actors and models, including rock ‘n’ roll icons such as Elvis Presley and the Everly Brothers.  In 1969 Blake moved to the West Country and six years later co-founded the Brotherhood of Ruralists.  Since then he has produced more traditional paintings and watercolours alongside his Pop collages and constructions.  He was elected Member of the Royal Academy of Arts in 1981 and was awarded a CBE in 1983.  In the same year, a major retrospective of his work at the Tate Gallery, London was one of the most successful exhibitions ever held there for a living artist.  He is now an active Royal Academician, and was the chief curator of the RA’s 2001 Summer Exhibition.  He lives and works in London.

A selection of limited edition Peter Blake prints will also be available for purchase from the gallery alongside contemporary works by Chris Wood, Craig Ennew, Chris Billington and Jon Newton.

On Saturday 24 April, The Bristol Gallery will be holding a day of events beginning with an introduction to Pop Art led by Bristol University's History of Art Department’s AHRC funded doctoral award postgraduate research student Peter Stilton.  Peter is currently conducting new research on aspects of British Pop Art and the emergence of Performance and Conceptual Art in Britain.  His thesis, British Art 1957-1969: Science under the Spectre of Hiroshima and Sputnik examines how British artists in this period reacted to Cold War fears of nuclear conflict.  His research focuses specifically on the work of Colin Self, Richard Hamilton, Gustav Meztger and John Latham, the use of visual material in the political protest of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) and subversive illustrations of political dissent produced by the 1960s ‘Counter-culture’.

The Bristol Gallery is pleased to be working with members of the University’s History of Art Department in the public dissemination of their research to audiences in Bristol and the Southwest.

Full Programme of Free Pop Art Events

10am-12pm – Peter Stilton (University of Bristol) discusses the history and development of British Pop Art, exploring the movement’s fascination with celebrity, consumerism and youth culture.  Refreshments provided.

From 12pm – Make your own Pop Art. Materials will be supplied and the best piece will be exhibited in the gallery alongside work by the legendary Sir Peter Blake.  Children and adults welcome!

From 3pm – Francis Greenacre, (former Curator of Fine Art at Bristol City Museum & Art Gallery) will recall the first retrospective of Peter Blake organised by the Bristol City Museum & Art Gallery in 1969 and his subsequent friendship with Blake.

Followed by drinks and discussion.

All talks and events are free and open to all.

For further information and to book a place on the talk, please email: or telephone The Bristol Gallery, Millennium Promenade, Harbourside, BS1 5TY on 0117 930 0005

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