CULTURE / ANTENNA 10 Oct, 2017
For Punk culture lovers, this is a must read. Who is the originator of the printed graphic T…. John Dove & Molly White?
photo: Satomi Yamaguchi
interview: Yusuke Koishi
text: Ryu Nakaoka
John Dove and Molly White, artists who had a strong influence on Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood, were closely involved in the scene of the birth of the legendary store ‘SEX’ and triggered the rise of punk culture and street fashion. They have the distinction of pioneering the graphic T – shirt as a fashion item to the world. It is also important within the context of the history of Street Fashion. John and Molly are holding an exhibition that presents some of their most important artworks at the Diesel Art Gallery.
Yusuke Koishi of KLEINSTEIN Co.Ltd. who worked as curator and creative director of this exhibition, interviewed the two when they arrived in Japan. We look back on an era of turbulence before and after Punk.
First time in history, full graphic print on a Black T-shirt.
First of all, I would like to reflect on the two of them indiviually. It seems that John started in painting and sculpture, and Molly started her career in textile design. They are known to have worked together from about 1966 or 67.
John Dove (J) “I was in Italy in ’66 and the beginning of ’67. I met a guy named Bruno Alfieri in the gallery where the work was exhibited, he was a famous collector of Jackson Pollock and Roy Lichtenstein. From this introduction, we began to draw pictures for comics for his publishing company. Eventually it ceased to be interesting because we were involved in a project that had distribution problems with some very troublesome people. I was never paid and I went back to London without a cent. Then I started drawing illustrations mainly in the magazine “Nova” in London, at that time “Nova” had various top creators from photographers, writers and artists – including Peter Blake – We see Peter now and then but have lost touch with Terry Gilliam who met me at Nova in ’69”.
Molly said “That April, our second daughter Frances was born. I continued my textile design, and was a part-time Art School lecturer. <Painless Tattoo> this was the time we begin the production of (painless tattoo).”
NOVA magazine 1970
Painless Tattoo 1968. photo : John Dove and Molly White
<Painless Tattoo> is a series of clothes that printed tattoo patterns. At this time, I think that the time the two of them started to name WONDER WORKSHOP. What were you making at that time?
Molly · White (M) “I printed on Airforce surplus T-shirts, body stockings, underwear – at that time I was selling the textile design to Liberty and Hull Traders, <Painless Tattoo> became a collaborative production.
Artwork that was once produced as a “fashion item” is a giant print T-shirt that is a masterpiece of the two artists who became artists late in their career.
SID TV BIG T Multiple 2016
by JOHN DOVE and MOLLY WHITE
Sculpture in cotton 288cms x 190cms
with steel hanger 170cms x 87cms
Artist proof no. 1 of 2 A/ps.
── At that time, was there not anyone who was doing such printing on textiles and clothes? Did any influence come from Japan?
M “I do not think anyone was hand-printing images on T-shirts in London in 1966. We drew some inspiration from tattoos, woodcuts and Indigo dyes from Japan.”
J “Initially there were no commercial inks available for screen-printing on cloth. At first we developed our own inks and photo-stencils for printing. In 1969 screen printing inks were first marketed – screen-printing equipment and ink started to circulate for the general public. ”
── Although it is now a famous motif in the world of street clothing, T-shirts with a printed women’s naked torso had not been produced at the time?
M “We created a <Breasts> (breasts) T-shirt in 1969 when we were experimenting with screen-printing photographs. The first thing we did with this Trompe-l’œil method was to create a picture of a Fair-Isle sweater on a shirt so the sweater looked real. We were curious what happens if you put a two-dimensional photograph on a three-dimensional body, what will happen if you return the body that you copied in the picture to the original place? ”
J “The printing technology was simplistic, but we devised and reproduced a complicated pattern that was something indistinguishable from actual knitting”。<Breasts> We used a picture of a friend called Pat Booth who was a famous model. It was her partner James Wedge who made the beautiful photographs。Pat was also managing their shop called “COUNTDOWN” and selling our T – shirts, but when he handed this <Breast> T – shirt to her, she wore it herself first. Naturally it fitted perfectly (laugh). It was like a second skin.”
＜Breasts＞T – shirt also made into sculpture. At the exhibition we also sell the works.
BREASTS BIG T Multiple 2016
by JOHN DOVE and MOLLY WHITE
Sculpture in cotton 260cms x 165cms
with steel hanger 170cms x 87cms
Artist proof no. 1 of 2 A/ps.
Meeting Malcolm McLaren, Vivienne Westwood
── Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood opened “SEX” at 430 Kings Road in London, which is now the store of Vivienne Westwood in the name of “Worlds End”, at that time, ” It seems there was a store called Paradise Garage (Paradise Garage). Were you also involved in that?
photo : David Parkinson
Courtesy of Trevor Myles archive
J “OK, it’s a bit complicated but I will explain what happened, at 430 there was first a shop named” MR FREEDOM ” originally operated by Trevor Myles and Tommy Roberts. After that, he opened a new shop he called Paradise Garage in the same place in 1971. This shop is a new idea, various designers were close to Trevor. We had the new T-shirt collection that needed a place like this to develop. This was the first time we had a contact from Trevor.
<WILD THING> (Note: Black T – shirts printed with leopard ‘s head images and similar representative works, at the time was technically difficult and innovative) when I was about to start working with Paradise Garage and talked with Trevor to stock the T-shirts, Molly was with Dinah Adams in the shop studding the T-shirts with rhinestones brought from the US. After that we delivered the Leopard Head Jackets now known as the Iggy Pop Jacket.
<Iggy Pop Jacket> (Note: a shiney leatherette jacket printed on the back with the <WILD THING> leopard worn by Iggy Pop) Paradise Garage had lots of our designs but Trevor had the worst reputation for payments right! (laughs) – we never got paid…..but Paradise Garage was a brilliant outlet for our Rock’n’Roll designs”.
WILD THING Scrap Book
© John Dove and Molly White
A photograph by Mick Rock used for the sleeve of Iggy and the Stooges’ album “Raw Power” (1973). From here, this jacket began to be called <Iggy Pop Jacket>.
The print (top centre) of the <WILD THING> leopard head. The left and right animal skin pattern was designed in 1969.
The Day-Glo animal skin prints were first made into T-shirts in opposition to the wearing of real fur. It is a pioneer of today’s global penchant for animal skin prints.
BIG LEOPARD, BIG TIGER 1986
by JOHN DOVE and MOLLY WHITE
Screenprints on Somerset Satin 350grms.
92cms x 92cms. Float-mounted.
Framed 108cms x 108cms.
Artist proof no. 1 of 3 A/ps.
── Did Malcolm and Vivienne also be around that time?
J ” I always hear this question (laugh) – we really don’t want to discuss Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood …Anyway, back to the Garage…it became impossible to get in touch with Trevor, apparently he had hired out a concession in the shop to McLaren while escaping on honeymoon in Jamaica on the proceeds. Then Malcolm took over the property of Paradise Garage entirely, the original store with exterior walls in green. Paradise Garage represented the avant-garde. Molly and I had begun to paint the interior black. Malcolm and his associates brought in furniture and radios of the 50’s and later decorated the interior in a 50’s style – the clients were the ‘Edwardians’ (note: Teddy Boys used that style of clothing from the reign of King Edward VII) We were upholstering the changing room door at the time when Malcolm showed us a phoney contract. Paradise Garage soon closed. Malcolm and Vivienne reopened the shop in 1972 as Let It Rock. The new shop was changed to a Teddy Boy’s shop. We had stopped placing our T-shirts, Jeans and sweaters in the store. We would not have remained at Paradise Garage with the Teddy Boy style – we were not very fond of that culture. We often talked with Malcolm and Vivienne after that, in fact, we got to know each other. Later when Vivienne began to design her own clothes, she immediately showed great talent. When we talked to Terry Jones of ID, he told us Vivienne had a collection of our WONDER WORKSHOP T-shirts. Maybe she collected them at Trevor’s store.”
── What was your relationship with Vivienne?
J “It was not a relationship – we didn’t meet very often but when we met it was a friendly meeting. Vivienne was cutting standard T-shirts up into tremendous shapes using chains and studs to assemble the parts. She had no education with design or manufacturing so she couldn’t help breaking the rules in an original fashion. We loved the new clothes and she gifted many of them to us. Later when Malcolm was in New York he was crazy about the Dolls (Note: America’s rock band played an active part in the 1970s Glam and Punk Rock beginnings) and Malcolm was following them (note: Malcolm McLaren became a manager of New York · Dolls) For a while Malcolm didn’t meet with Vivienne – When he came back from the Dolls’ French tour, they visited us at our studio”.
── What were you talking about there?
J “V&M wanted to talk about a collaboration with us. They were especially interested in changing the shop from the Teddy Boy culture to a more challenging concept. They wanted to stock our new photo-collage printed T’s. We discussed the story of DaDa-ist art and pornography. Vivienne was investigating sex fetish clothing (note: to use for alternative sexual acts). She was interested in the idea of shaking off the taboo – she saw that people were buying their fetish-wear in brown paper bags ‘under the counter’ – she talked about making this style of clothing more accessible through opening a new shop and closing Let It Rock”.
─ ─ I see. they were attracted to the clothing not acceptable to be worn in public?
J “Vivienne said she thought such clothes were beautifully made, tailoring suits according to customers’ taste but maybe with latex linings to have that feeling in secret – the latex skin inside the clothes, the maker listens to fine details the customer wants and makes sex clothing according to personal taste.”
─ ─ It was about the year 74?
J “Yeah, 1974. Vivienne wanted to bring the sex clothes of the underground to the surface. Malcolm wasn’t too interested in Vivienne’s thoughts but he was quite interested in the boxes of Punk Rock records I had next to the jukebox and the Breasts T-shirt we had on the wall”.
M “After Paradise Garage was gone, we started selling clothes at a store called” Granny Takes a Trip ” that was at 488 Kings Road. The store’s directors were Gene Krell and Martin Breslau. We were fine about moving our collection to Grannys – they had an amazing clientele of Rock’n’Roll heroes from all over the world. They stocked our designs in New York and LA too. …and we got paid!”
J “At that time Grannys were supplying artists such as the Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix, Marc Bolan and Paul McCartney. Around the same time, the store called “Ians” in Greenwich Village in New York stocked our designs. “Colette Neville Pret-a-Porte” in Paris distributed our T-shirts and jackets to the rest of the world”.
Strawberry Jacket is worn by Paul McCartney.
PAUL McCARTNEY & THE STRAWBERRY JACKET. ‘Sounds’
April 21st. 1973.
─ ─ American stars such as Iggy Pop might have found your work at these stores?
J “It seems that Iggy had not been very interested in fashion (laugh), but when we asked Trevor if he could remember Iggy buying the jacket, he said “No – everyone looked the same to me in those days John.” Later, Iggy said he’s purchased it from Kensington Market in ’72 so it may have been stolen goods or stock from the shop then sold in the market (laugh). I heard that David Bowie was looking after Iggy at the time so he could have made the purchase for Iggy.
─ ─ It is my opinion that the origin of the early street culture, punk grew gradually from the beginnings that Paradise Garage and Granny Takes a Trip had developed with the Rock’n’Roll music scene with John and Molly and Vivienne besides a lot of other interesting people who were making clothes in the UK? People who’s names have been forgotten till now?
STRAWBERRY T-SHIRT NOAVENUE EDITION ¥59,000
EDITION：30. (Available at the exhibition)
J “Yes, from those early days the designer Dinah Adams who worked with Trevor at the time of Mr Freedom and Paradise Garage then at Granny Takes A Trip – she was a close collaborator and a good friend – she was important and should not be forgotten. She created shirts, jackets and blouson from our printed fabrics – some of them we customised together. Dinah was a talented designer but her drug addiction eventually created a bridge between us that we couldn’t cross. Sadly later she died of an overdose. We dedicated a chapter to her on the Wonder Workshop website.
Many of these works have been collected by Damien Hirst since 2012.
From that point, Malcolm and Vivienne’s SEX will be opened in 1976 – are you and Dinah Adams the godparents of the legendary shop “SEX”?
J “The word” SEX “became a hot topic when Malcolm and Vivienne first visited our studio, it was in 74. It was just when they were drawing up the idea of a new store. During our discussions I referred to a time in the 60’s when we were working in Munich, we were flown to Hamburg and asked to design the cover of Germany’s “Stern Magazine”. Stern was planning a story on the ‘Sexual practices of the German people’. It was a strange project where the Stern editorial had carried out national surveys with academic researchers then planned to run the article in instalments. What I proposed was a design that portrayed the word “SEX” in pink on a black background to extend over the entire cover. The editor and the design team were very pleased, but when it became a question of order and morality the distributors would not allow the design. They were not happy with how a multiple display on a newsstand would appear with so many pink images of the word SEX – SEX, SEX. (laughs) My partner Bill Fallover re-designed the cover with a pin-up girl”.
Vivienne and Malcolm liked this story and named their store “SEX”.
STERN MAGAZINE COVER DESIGNS 1968.
… ….I heard from John earlier that the word “punk,” already existed from that time, could you tell us a little about the time when Malcolm formed Sex Pistols?
J “In the 1960s there was already Iggy Pop in the USA and there were lots of bands like The Velvet Underground, The Seeds, The Standells and The Sonics. We loved the Love’s “7 and 7 Is ” as the first punk rock record. Before the word punk rock was used in England, the music was already called punk rock in the United States in 1970. At this time,” Who Put the Bomp “, a fan magazine, introduced the term punk rock – another fanzine “Flash” published a Punk Rock top ten list in 1972. Malcolm heard the term first in our studio when we showed him our collection of Punk Rock records. When the Sex Pistols formed, Malcolm invited us to the practice sessions, then the gigs – one in December 1975 at Chelsea School of Art – then the 100 club in ’76. At Chelsea they had a cool reception but we enthused about the band and suggested some more interesting numbers like “Stepping Stone’ by the Flys and “What’cha Gonna Do About It,” by The Small Faces. At that time, Glen Matlock was the leader of the band and the foremost contributor to the songwriting.
── How did you get the information?
J “Since we had T-shirt connections in the United States in addition to Grannys, we made visits (a friend Richard Moore, lead guitarist of the Troggs lived in California). In London another friend, Ted Caroll at Rock-On, had been importing Punk records from the US since ’71. After investigating American Punk Rock at first hand in New York, Malcolm guided the Sex Pistols to become the most important Punk band in the UK. When we discussed the Sex Pistols future at the 100 club, I talked about how the Beatles played around Liverpool and Hamburg for years before they made it, Malcolm said they were going the fast route! Perhaps we had a small positive influence on the meteoric rise of the Sex Pistols but it was really all down to Malcolm’s entrepreneurial genius and the Pistols talent.
KITSCH-22 Photos : Andy Sotiriou, Norrie MacLaren.
─ After that, John and Molly will open a shop called “KITSCH – 22” in 1976. What kind of store was this shop?
J “KITSCH-22 sold printed jeans of MODZART (Modzart) label in addition to T-shirts. The name of the shop came from the address …22 Woodstock Street and was from the English phrase” Catch-22 ” (means that everything is between two worlds of mutually conflicting or dependent conditions). KITSCH means art, objects, or design considered to be in poor taste but also can be appreciated in an ironic way. I invented the name KITSCH-22 to obscure the evaluation of others. The store was a great experience and had potential economically. The interest from the rest of the world suddenly overcame the retail idea, our time was taken up by increasing number of orders. Our staff grew so we erected a portable building to increase the studio. We were overworked”.
M “That’s right”
J “When we started to help manage the shop too, our production time was lost. Since it started to feel that all was too busy to concentrate on the demands of retail, we received a notice from our partners at the same time and accepted the store had to close in 1979. Coincidentally the same time that Vivienne closed ‘SEDITIONARIES’”.
── In 1979 when SEDITIONARIES ended, it was a break in the punk movement?
J “I think that it was a milestone when the creative spirit of the 70’s came to an end”
── What kind of label did you act from the 80’s?
J “At the request of the shop” BOY ” in Kings Road London, the owner John Krivine asked us if we would merge our collection with BOY and design a catalogue. We called it ”BOY BLACKMAIL “. We had closed the store but KITSCH – 22 and MODZART also had customers around the world, so distribution was increased. We also sold the BOY BLACKMAIL collection to Shinko Music even in Japan.” We split with BOY later in the 80’s and moved to Kensington and Chelsea but continued to design and produce printed T-shirts and Jeans up till the 21st Century when we began to wind things down.
SENSIBILITY AND WONDER 2017
by JOHN DOVE and MOLLY WHITE
Acrylic Paint on fibreboard and wood.
177cms x 78cms x 5cms
Bas -relief sculpture with the same name as the exhibition “SENSIBILITY AND WONDER” (2017). Although it is a painted artwork, it has the illusion of appearing in a photograph as an actual neon. In recent months, John and Molly are also focusing on sculptural works expressing these neon word pieces with painting.
── After that, you both started to work as artists, as you are now. How was that done?
J “We had already stopped fashioning pieces, the printed T-shirt as art was finished anyway,”
M “Did you say you were doing gardening? (laugh)”
J “We have a very lovely country house (laugh)”
── How did you meet Paul Stolper, owner of the current affiliated gallery?
J “We were publishing works with several galleries in London including the Aquarium where Jamie Reed was the main artist (Note: Sex Pistols’s” Be Yourself Away !!). Paul caught one of our exhibitions at the galleries handling our work so when we contacted him, he was pleased to have us join the Paul Stolper Gallery. Later Jamie Reed also joined. Paul’s gallery is wonderful, it was great we decided to participate in a gallery situation also representing Damien Hirst and Peter Blake.
____From that point, I met you both in London in 2012 and worked with you on other projects (Comme Des Garcons WONDER WORKSHOP Iggy Pop Jacket at the Trading Museum and the NOAVENUE E edition the WONDER WORKSHOP Strawberry Fields Jacket, then came to your exhibition. During the contemporary artist period, I wanted to listen more to the story of the 2000s but forty years up until that were too full, I could manage a talk about artists in ten minutes (laugh). There are still a lot of things I want to hear, but unfortunately the time has gone. Let’s talk about the rest at Sushi bar later off-the-record (laugh)”
J “So we can say the title of this interview is “40 years in 10 minutes?” (Laugh)
John Dove & Molly White (John Dove & Molly · White)
“SENSIBILITY AND WONDER (SENSIBILITY AND WONDER)”
Duration: in progress ~ Thursday, November 9
Venue: DIESEL ART GALLERY (Diesel Art Gallery)
1-23-16 Shibuya, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo cocoti B1F
* Within DIESEL SHIBUYA
Curator: Yusuke Koishi (Yusuke Koishi – KLEINSTEIN CO., LTD.) kleinstein.com
Creative planning. KLEINSTEIN CO., LTD. Representative. After going through Comme des Garcons, he currently produces, designs and consults domestic and foreign brands. He is also involved in collaboration, curation, criticism and writing to connect contemporary art and fashion. When a member of Comme des Garçons, the “Biotopological Scale-Juggling Escalator” (New York) which the Reversible Destiny Foundation presided over by Shusaku Arakawa + Madeline Gins (Madeline · Gins) created in DOVER STREET MARKET NEW YORK and with John Dove for this exhibition In collaboration with Molly White, he is in charge of the project “Iggy Pop Jacket ” (2013) with PAUL STOLPER GALLERY (London).