The city of London is the latest stop in Sir Peter Blake’s incredible ‘World Tour’ series. The London Suite is the newest creation in a continuing city-collage series which the godfather of British Pop has been developing for the last few years. The suite pairs postcard views of city sights with a crowded assortment of Blake’s motley visitors. The result is an extraordinary collection of imaginative snapshots of a city that has been visited by the world this summer.
The prints, inspired by vibrant and historic London, are silkscreen, signed limited editions of Blake’s beautifully crafted collages. The collages themselves are composed from postcards, found photographs, engravings, second-hand book illustrations and vintage children’s literature cut outs. They are a development of an aesthetic made famous in 1967 with Blake’s cover design for the Sgt. Pepper’s album, and affirm his mastery of the collage technique.
The London Suite culminates in a magical history tour of the British capital, with characters and figures spanning centuries filling the familiar landscapes. Unsurprisingly, Blake has ingeniously woven tongue-in-cheek juxtapositions to build beautiful, apt and comic portraits of the city; Westminister Abbey is overrun with animals, Piccadilly Circus is swarming with comic book superheroes, and the Thames is crowded with an eccentric collection of vessels reminiscent of the river’s Jubilee display.
Although the collages use familiar source material, the butterflies, dancers, and cultural icons have taken on a new guise and the works appear incredibly current and contemporary. One print, Petticoat Lane, is teeming with images of women from all different nationalities, cultures, and ages, and not only functions as a fascinating rendition of London’s rich history, but also as a witty snapshot of the city’s present day, tourist saturated state.
Blake has turned his extraordinary vision and collector’s eye on to the British capital city and the result is an entirely appropriate, beautifully detailed, nostalgic fusion, brimming with celebratory theatricality.