33. THE HENDRIX SUITE Part Three – ‘Flying–V’s & Guerilla Art’

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After the stripes and the mural had been established as the design basis for ROOM 5001 at the Cumberland Hotel, we began the process of collating and co-ordinating all the other items needed to complete the ‘WOW’ factor for the project.

Although the budget had considerably increased it wasn’t limitless and so a great deal of time was spent by all of us to ensure the highest standards were constantly maintained within the new budget. I worked on finding art and creating my own work for the room; Cynthia and Mary concentrated on researching and finding the furniture, fabrics and interior elements the room needed. This was no easy task. The suite had to be opulent and luxurious, rich in texture and colour and true to the period – although Cynthia and Mary decided a ‘modern take’ on the 60’s was a positive creative approach. G-plan furniture, candlewick bedspreads, Indian throws and a cornucopia of hippy memorabilia may have been an accurate representation of a 60’s interior but hardly one to inspire Hendrix fans or to fulfil a brief for the luxury and sense of decadence the suite demanded.

Opulence, decadence, luxury, lavish fabrics, customised furniture and original art – all to reflect the flambuoyance of Jimi Hendrix – point in one direction: expense. In the quest to provide the highest quality, the room design changed constantly as Cynthia and Mary found new materials and items of furniture that were more exciting, more authentic or had been supplied by people eager to be involved in the project. Although this was, for me, at times frustrating – having to constantly re-think and re-design much of my artwork (and where it would be placed most importantly) – it meant the design was ‘progressive’ and not bound by pre-conception alone.

I thought the room needed much more psychedelia and found two one-off, ‘artist’s proofs’ of a very limited edition by a Brighton artist called Screen Prince … represented by the wonderful Art Republic

I loved them – a perfect modern ‘homage’ to the original iconic poster from the 60’s. I presented them to the Cumberland Hotel and the response from everyone at the meeting was extremely positive – so I bought them. Unfortunately, at the last minute – a few days after I’d had them mounted and framed – Mary and Cynthia decided they shouldn’t be in the room as they ‘weren’t good enough‘. Not in my opinion obviously! I was very surprised at the sudden change in mind at such a late stage but, by this time, I’d taken more of a back seat on the project – not because I cared any less or that the quality of my contribution would be diminished in any way, but I did sense fundamental differences which I believed could cause problems. I wanted a more adventurous environment (more Rock’N’Roll I suppose) where Hendrix imagery became an integral part of the interior design not just the art on the walls. It was hugely disappointing to abandon ideas I’d presented but I did recognise, as I’ve said before, the room was not an art exhibition or an egotistical showcase for Andie Airfix. I guess that’s why I work as a designer in the music industry – not as an interior designer.

A great friend had an idea for the Hendrix Editions though. In a wonderfully anarchic reverse-take on guests removing objects from hotel rooms, she has seriously offered to book the room for a night and put the editions up on the wall! Genius.

Don’t Steal Bathrobes – Infiltrate & Add Art.

Watch that wallspace !

Flying V’s & Limited Edition Prints

There had to be a guitar. How could there be a room dedicated to the world’s greatest guitarist without one? Inconceivable. I did manage to track down the original FLYING V – famously hand-painted by Hendrix himself. I discovered the FLYING V actually goes on tour and what’s more astonishing – wherever it’s displayed it’s accompanied by two ‘bodyguards’. It’s the kind of security level usually reserved for Heads of State or Crown Jewels. So … no way of borrowing that for the opening night then.

I was very generously ‘gifted’ a Flying V guitar through GAK Guitar Shop in Brighton – and in stepped ‘Zoli the Magnificent‘. Between us (mostly Zoli) we created a perfect replica …

It was certainly a labour of love … every coloured section on the body of the guitar was vectored and templated by Zoli so each could be individually applied to the facia where the design appeared – NOT all over the guitar. The result was as finely-tuned as the original guitar must have been.

Before we get to the Airfix Edition, there’s another contribution I love. It’s a detail but, as they say …

During one of many flying visits to the room as it was under construction (mostly to triple-check the measurements for the mural it has to be said – I had paranoia on a level unprecedented!), I wandered up to the room as a Hendrix fan would who’d booked the room for the night to see if there was anything we’d missed. There was. Coming out of the lift I couldn’t find the room amongst all the other identical doors and numbers in the corridor. Concentrating entirely on the interior we’d missed an important trick – the exterior. It was soon rectified …

The edition I created, specifically for the Hendrix suite, was based on the Rolling Stone cover image used on their Hendrix commemorative issue in 1970 …

Rainbow Haze‘ is based on the colour palette we’d established for the room and contains affectionate references to Andy Warhol and the Beatles ‘White Album’ . It was a real joy to create. Hopefully it captures the essence of the 60’s – the colour, style and format from a period in art history which introduced the concept of ‘multiples’ as a new art form – a saleable item that would find its way into numerous homes and not just a few select and elitist galleries. For many artists it also introduced the use of innovative print techniques which allowed such an adventurous and challenging concept to flourish. Thankfully – It still does.

In the next blog …

WIN an Edition. Click here for Edition details

Later …

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