Hola! Hope you're smiling :)
While in Liverpool I will be staying at Denis’ place. Denis who is an artist sent me this story from his blog – “Mubin, check out this drawing from my galleries, there’s an Indian & Liverpool connection.” I think it’s awesome!
It was a commission which came about after I had given a calling card with the very first incarnation of this very website address on it to a stranger in a pub! [Well, I say stranger… he had seen me there sketching during a beer festival, working on what would eventually be The Campaign for Real Perspective (letting their hair down in the Mip & Shitre). And every time he saw me after that, he’d ask to see what I had done with those sketches, which is why I gave him my card once I had my website up and running]. This chap, Chris King, saw my drawings here and asked me whether I could come up with a drawing for him to take as a present for people who run an English restaurant/pub in Penang, Malaysia. In Georgetown, to be precise, where he was going on holiday, Christmas ‘05. He said he wanted a drawing of some of the buildings that make Liverpool distinctive, such as the Liver buildings.
The idea both of us liked the most was a kind of mapamundi, an old skool, two-hemisphere jobbie, with Greek gods supporting the hemispheres. I did a couple of such drawings many moons ago (In fact while I was at uni -final year? 1985-86?- I agreed to do one for a friend’s mum in exchange for a bottle of Jameson’s). But this time we would have Liverpool buildings looming up from out of the seas. So I started it. Cathedrals, Liver Buildings, weird yellow statues, statues of Bill Shankly & Dixie Dean etc. You know, the usual suspects.
Well, the idea started getting a bit out of hand. I had thought of adapting the Greek gods and making them into scantily clad drag queens fit to grace any gay Garlands-type Liverpool nightclub. Very typical. But then I thought of Chris King going through customs in Malaysia, trying to explain away such pornography to a customs officer. Do they have the death penalty in Malaysia? Do they behead people or chop hands off? Would my drawing cause Chris King to be flashed all over the front page of the Liverpool Echo and the Georgetown Mail? So, bye-bye drag queens, hello beatles and buddhas holding up the hemispheres. Except that my beatles had to be dressed as buddhas, and my buddhas as beatles. Naturally.
You can just make out a group of little men along the bottom of the photo above. I was toying with different kinds of lettering for the “From Liverpool…” bit, but didn’t like any of them. One buddha holding the hemispheres up is in a Sgt Pepper uniform, and the rest are in early mop-top collarless stage uniforms, but they were originally gonna be in the skiing outfits the beatles wore on the cover of “Help”. Then I remembered that the beatles on that cover were supposed to be signalling H-E-L-P in semaphore. (They’re not, actually. It’s either NUJV or NVUJ, depending whether you have the UK Parlophone release or the US Capitol one).
And then it hit me – semaphore would be the ideal lettering for the message!
How maritime can you get!? It’s fitting for Liverpool & Malaysia, plus it has that beatles-connection, and you can’t get anything more strongly associated with Liverpool than them.
In the end, this commission turned into a special guest appearance of my Morgens, doing exactly what they were doing in in the Mini Urban Market, and this exhibition poster. This hemisphere drawing turns out to be another Morgens paving/tiling mosaic. There they are, painting buddhas & beatles the wrong colours, tripping up with their wheelbarrows spilling sand everywhere, the foremen walking round with their blueprints, etc.
Incidentally, when Chris King came back from his holiday, it turns out the restaurant he wanted to present the drawing to had closed down, so he gave the drawing to his holiday reps to hang in their office.
Let’s see if I can get Denis to do a tiny art project with me while in Liverpool 🙂 that’d be so amazing!