Sunday, 19 June 2016

Swop Shop - Jo Brocklehurst 1970


                                                                        SWOP SHOP
                                    FASHION IS FOR HIM AND HER

I think a lot of us can identify with this one, most couples have probably borrowed an item or two from each others wardrobe at some point in a relationship or failing that, will have at least shopped for ourselves in the clothing departments of the opposite sex on occasion..either way, I love these illustrations from The Boyfriend book (1970). But what really interests me about them is the illustrator's name! It's signed as Brocklehurst, the signature runs vertically up along the girl's right trouser leg, it's pretty small print, so i've enlarged it in the third scan for your perusal...because the only artist that I am familiar with who worked under that name is Jo Brocklehurst - most widely acclaimed as chronicler of subcultures and nightclub life in the 1970s & 1980s. Anyone who is aware of her output from that period will know that the work is completely different to what you see here, it's much rawer and in a similar vein to that of Egon Schiele. I can actually remember the first time that ever I saw it, I was still in school at that stage, but from one singular image I knew instantly that whoever this person was they definitely had their finger on the pulse of life outside the mainstream and immediately wrote the name on the inside of my art folder for future reference (I still have it btw, see final photograph). If you google search Jo Brocklehurst online, the only images which regularly show up are the drawings from the punk & club scene crowd of the 1980s even though she had a long career ever since graduating from art college as a teenager, first working as a commercial artist before moving into fashion illustration & then lecturing later in life, while continuing to work on personal projects throughout. According to her close friend and muse Isabelle Bricknall, she had in fact documented the emerging bohemian/counter culture scene in London as far back as the 1960s and had been drawing people in clubs since the 1950s before then. I've never actually seen examples of any of it, these illustrations from 1970 are the earliest representation of her 'other' work that I am personally aware of to date. Apparently, she was in the process of curating a museum of her own work at her home in Westbere Road towards the end of her life, but since her death in 2006 the ownership of much of it has been the subject of an ongoing legal dispute and the rest are scattered amongst friends. As a prolific artist who worked constantly over a 50 year period, documenting subculture from within the epicentre of each scene as it was actually happening from decade to decade, I think this unknown work sounds like it has the makings of a really interesting retrospective on many levels, now more so than ever before, much has changed in London over the past ten years and we increasingly move further away from the uniqueness of these eras in all respects with each passing day. While researching material for this post, the same information turned up time after time, she was a very private individual judging by any of the accounts given, and mostly they were obituaries written shortly after her death with the exception of one in depth article by Tom Jenkins for Vice UK last year (see links). However, I decided to have a last look for current news articles and i'm pleased to say that i've found one! There is a forthcoming exhibition at The Gallery Liverpool featuring the work of Jo Brocklehurst and photographer Sheila Rock later this year, it's called Typical Girls and runs from the 19th of August - 4th September 2016.








She will borrow...his knee-length socks, his watch, his black trousers, his tie (worn squaw-like round her head), his troubadour shirt, and in mad moments, will dab his aftershave behind her ears. 



                                                                  The artist's signature (1970).



Jo Brocklehurst's signature on the front of a poster advertising an exhibition of her London Drawings in 1984. Almost identical to the example from 14 years earlier. I can also see some traces of similarity in the execution of the features between this girl and the chap below.
               



He will borrow...her hairdryer, her rollers, her belt with enormous buckle, her waistcoat, her boots, and no one will recognize it as being hers!




                                 Jo Brocklehurst in Rome, 1966. Photo courtesy of Fershid Bharucha.




My old school art folder with insert of Jo's name in bottom right corner, written on the inside on the day that I first discovered her (as mentioned earlier). The folder itself is in pretty shabby condition these days, it's falling apart, there's a lot of Bowie still on there though, along with David Sylvian, Mick Karn, Steve Strange, Edwyn Collins & Eddie Cochran, among others.





                                               
               
                                      
                                                IMAGE CREDITS & LINKS
Images scanned for the Sweet Jane blog from the Boyfriend book 1970 with thanks to Brad Jones, all illustrations by Jo Brocklehurst. Art Folder photo by Sweet Jane. Remembering Jo Brocklehurst, the Artist Who Documented London's 1980s Anarcho-Punk Squatters here, Discover more about the artist Egon Schiele here, Read an excerpt from Sex and Unisex: Fashion Feminism, and the Sexual Revolution by Jo B. Paoletti on Pop Matters here & visit the author's blog here, The New York Dolls rocking some outfits from Biba in 1973 here, The white dress Mick Jagger wore for the 1969 Rolling Stones' Hyde Park concert epitomised the swinging Sixties, says Mick Brown hereYou'll find fashion & anti-fashion, street style and much more on the excellent Ted Polhemus in the 21st Century website here, and Shapers of the 80s - British youth culture at its finest here, His and Hers - the 2010 exhibition exploring the relationship between gender and fashion over the past 250 years is still available to view on the FIT archive here. and finally, Where Were You? Dublin Youth Culture & Street Style 1950-2000 by Garry O'Neill here & here.

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