A few nice cool modern home design images I found:
That Was the Year That Was – 1967
Image by brizzle born and bred
1967 the continued presence of American troops increased further and a total of 475,000 were serving in Vietnam and the peace rallies were multiplying as the number of protesters against the war increased.
The Boxer Muhammad Ali was stripped of his boxing world championship for refusing to be inducted into the US Army.
In the middle east Israel also went to war with Syria, Egypt and Jordan in the six day war and when it was over Israel controlled and occupied a lot more territory than before the war.
Once again in the summer cities throughout America exploded in rioting and looting the worst being in Detroit on July 23rd where 7000 national Guard were bought in to restore law and order on the streets.
In England a new type of model became a fashion sensation by the name of Twiggy and mini skirts continued to get shorter and even more popular with a short lived fashion being paper clothing.
Also during this year new Discotheques and singles bars appeared across cities around the world and the Beatles continued to reign supreme with the release of "Sgt. Peppers Lonely Heart Club Band" album, and this year was also coined the summer of love when young teenagers got friendly and smoked pot and grooved to the music of "The Grateful Dead. Jefferson Airplane and The Byrds".
UK beat combos as The Searchers, Gerry and The Pacemakers, The Who and The Kinks enjoyed more commercial success.
The movie industry moved with the times and produced movies that would appeal to this younger audience including "The Graduate" Bonnie and Clyde" and "Cool Hand Luke" .
TV shows included "The Fugitive" and "The Monkees" and color television sets become popular as the price comes down and more programmes are made in color.
"Summer of Love"
Memories of the Summer of Love five decades after the event all too often seem to concentrate on the clichéd imagery parodied by Mike Myers in Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery. But such artists as The Seekers are as much a part of the summer of 1967 as The Beatles, and their vast record sales cannot be entirely explained away by their appeal to a middle-aged public. The fact that "Georgy Girl" was the theme song to a popular film certainly boosted its success. It also garnered the only known Oscar nomination for a member of the Carry On team; the lyrics were by Jim Dale.
But this was also the year that Engelbert Humperdinck’s "Release Me" beat the best double-A side in pop history, "Strawberry Fields/Penny Lane", to No 1 in the hit parade, Vicky Leandros sang a much-hummed Eurovision entry, "L’amour est bleu", and Des O’Connor entered the Top 10 with "Careless Hands".
All such songs were ostensibly aimed at the respectable record-buyer, for whom seeing Frankie Vaughan in cabaret at the Talk of the Town was the acme of sophistication. They were also secretly listened to around the world by suburban would-be hipsters who could face no more of the boring passages from Sgt Pepper, or most of The Rolling Stones’ one excursion into psychedelia, Their Satanic Majesties Request. The Seekers provided a real alternative for the teenager who could face no more George Harrison with a sitar or the future Sir Michael Jagger’s determined efforts at decadence.
Buying a Seekers disc could involve a covert, perhaps after-dark, trip to the local electrical store, for admitting that you preferred to spend five shillings and ninepence on the songs of Miss Durham as opposed to those of Mick Jagger amounted to social death in terms of overall grooviness.
Today, The Seekers and their ilk rarely seem to appear on those occasions when British television relentlessly unearths that same Pathé newsreel of Carnaby Street to "celebrate" yet another 1960s anniversary. Instead, their music seems to belong to the provincial England on which the 1950s are rather reluctant to loosen their grip. In 1958, Tony Hancock recorded one of his finest radio half-hours, Sunday Afternoon at Home, a Pinteresque evocation of the miseries of suburban life where every form of entertainment is either closed or broken, and where the laws of time no longer apply. This is the same realm found in the photo archives of local newspapers – yellowing monochrome pictures of short-back-and-sided youths awkwardly lined up in their Civil Defence Corps uniforms; the sea of tweed coats that was the Winchester Young Farmers meetings of the late 1960s; and the local grammar school’s celebration of its rousing success at the county chess tournament.
The local advertisements of the time portray a relentlessly grey world of sales of sensible slacks at the local tailors and barbers offering a short-back-and-sides for a mere 4s 6d. In the papers, you’ll read about the local controversy about the possibility of automatic level-crossing barriers in the very near future, and the searing excitement of Michael Miles (of ITV’s Take Your Pick fame) opening a new shoe-shop – also in the very near future.
In this England, respectable fathers would favour car-coats, listening to Mrs Dale’s Diary and driving Morris Oxfords with starting-handle brackets and leather upholstery rather than sporting a kaftan at the wheel of a psychedelic Mini. Just as in a Ladybird book, red telephone boxes would still require the user to press button A and dial the operator for long-distance calls and, if the railway branch line had escaped the ravages of Beeching, the train arriving at the gas-lit station might still be steam-powered.
This, after all, was the year when David Frost and Simon Dee were still a middle-aged person’s idea of what was young and hip. But 1967 was also the year Derek Cooper published his classic The Bad Food Guide, wherein he memorably skewered the frozen/deep fried/artificial cream/close at 5pm experience of typical British cuisine. The local "all night café" probably closed at 8.45pm. In 1967, a holiday abroad meant loading up the Hillman Superminx with Wonderloaf, lest the honest British tourist be forced to eat foreign food.
Of course, the wireless might provide exciting escape in the form of the all-new Radio 1, but even there, among the ex-pirate ship names, many of the DJs were reliably velvet-voiced middle-aged ex-actors such as Pete Murray. There was also the problem of the "needle-time agreement" with the Musicians’ Union, which limited the airtime devoted to record playing as opposed to live studio broadcasts.
To supplement sessions by leading groups of the day, the station was heavily reliant on its in-house session band and, according to the late John Peel, one of V C Radio 1’s early highlights was the Northern Dance Orchestra’s version of "Hey Joe". At least the band’s middle-aged vocalist did his very best to emulate Jimi Hendrix while wearing a cardigan in order to display his essential youthfulness.
As for British pop television, one of the very few 1967 moments from Top of the Pops that the BBC has thoughtlessly neglected to wipe – only four complete editions from the 1960s survive – boasts The Rolling Stones miming to "Let’s Spend the Night Together". It is an iconic televisual moment, not least for those times when the camera pans to the audience to reveal cardiganed young blades clad in Hank Marvin glasses dancing with grim determination opposite eminently respectable mini-dressed young ladies. Fortunately, the BBC employed DJs with the demeanour of a particularly tolerant housemaster to explain away Jagger/Richards’s more risqué lyrics.
The year 1967 also saw one the Stones’ major controversies. Overshadowing their drugs bust was the infamous "Not Waving Bye-Bye Scandal" of 22 January. Sunday Night at the London Palladium was the jewel in ITV’s light entertainment crown, so the Stones’ decision to commit a foul act of sabotage – not waving goodbye to the audience in the closing credits – was guaranteed to shock prime-time viewers. It also rather helpfully detracted from the question of precisely what such an anti-Establishment group was actually doing there in the first place.
Such programmes were broadcast in black and white – in 1967, BBC2 was the first and only channel to provide very limited colour broadcasts, and ITV’s colour shows were for export only. So, for many Britons, the alternative to this monochrome world was their local cinema. There, for a mere 1s 9d, the bill of fare might still include a newsreel and a B-film. The former would typically have a smooth-voiced announcer proclaiming the latest colonial disaster (it wouldn’t be a proper 1960s newsreel without a British sporting victory and footage of at least one governor’s residence in flames). The latter would be one of Merton Park Studios’ Scales of Justice criminal shorts, as fronted by "the eminent criminologist Edgar Lustgarten".
The studio’s 1967 offering, Payment in Kind, offers a fascinatingly bleak view of Wilson-era suburbia, with tallymen in their Vauxhall Victor Supers offering hire-purchase fantasies to bored housewives trapped behind their Tricity Deluxe cookers, combined with the traditional trilby-hatted Inspectors and police Wolseleys, black, with clanging bells. Then, following an Eastmancolor travelogue praising the beauties of Bournemouth as a holiday resort – "Dancing until 11 o’clock! This really is a swinging seaside town!" – there was, at long last, the main feature.
Here, one might at least expect to see some prime 1960s Technicolor clichés, such as the obligatory crane shot of five hipsters zooming over Tower Bridge in a Mini Moke, or general decadence and nudity along the lines of Antonioni’s 1966 Blow-Up. But, of two of the best British films released that year, Bedazzled and The Deadly Affair, the former actually re-affirmed conventional morality (as well as demonstrating that Dud was a far better actor than Pete) and the latter was about a world of middle-aged despair.
Both were inevitably in complete contrast to the 1967 film that was to taint British cinema for quite a while after – Casino Royale. It may have boasted one of the most expensive casts ever, but it also used five studios, seven directors and countless scriptwriters to produce a film where the only abiding memories are of the Herb Alpert theme music and of poor David Niven’s moustache visibly wilting in despair at the strain of carrying one of the most appalling films of this, or any, decade. It was a movie that had most British filmgoers eagerly awaiting the National Anthem that was played at the end of every cinema bill.
Fortunately, that year’s Bond film, You Only Live Twice, was a safe option, with a hero who, as he previously informed us in Goldfinger, would not even contemplate listening to The Beatles without ear-muffs, and who philandered for Queen and Commonwealth. In the 1960s, Commander Bond spent precisely no on-screen time in Carnaby Street, and You Only Live Twice appropriately commences with Bond in the (then) colony of Hong Kong, where British military police in Sam Browne belts control the natives.
Almost as popular as 007 in box-office terms was Carry On Doctor, where the sole concessions to the new age were Barbara Windsor’s miniskirt and Jim Dale combing his hair forward, and that immortal classic Calamity the Cow, an everyday Children’s Film Foundation story of how cattle rustlers in deepest Surrey were defeated by a gang of Italia Conti students led by a notably well-spoken Phil Collins.
In fact, it was often British-set films that subverted or entirely ignored the (American funded) myth of universal hedonism that were the most interesting offerings of the decade; Michael Reeves’s The Sorcerers used the horror-film genre to attack the impulses behind much of Britain’s youth culture, and Nigel Kneale’s screenplay for Quatermass and the Pit was inspired by the experiences of his wife as a young Jewish girl in 1930s Germany. The film’s budget may seem pitiable, but the conclusion of the "ethnic cleansing" of London hasn’t been equalled by films costing 20 times as much. Elsewhere, the Carnaby Street myth was applied by middle-aged film-makers with appalling results, none more so than in Corruption, with Anthony Booth doing his best to copy David Hemmings in Blow-Up with dialogue along the lines of "Freak out, baby!" Far out.
To reduce any era to ill-researched and increasingly banal images is to remove the fascinating ambiguities caused by the fact that periodisation can never be rigid. In 1967, the BBC was still screening The Black & White Minstrel Show. Homosexual acts were partly decriminalised. Forty years ago, Britain was fighting a bloody colonial battle in Aden, unmarried women might still be refused the Pill, and "orphans" would still depart from Tilbury to a new life in Australia. Glossy TV shows such as The Saint or The Avengers continue to peddle a 1960s myth precisely because they were shot on colour film as opposed to countless shows that were recorded on black-and-white video tape, only to be wiped a few years later.
This was a time when millions of viewers might enjoy Thora Hird and Freddie Frinton in Meet the Wife (name-checked by John Lennon on Sgt Pepper) or Hugh Lloyd and Terry Scott in Hugh and I, in addition to the self-conscious radicalism of Till Death Us Do Part. The surviving tapes of such shows, recorded in a cramped studio before live audiences, now appear as hilarious as an edition of Newsnight, but they were as much a staple of the Radio Times as The Billy Cotton Band Show.
Indeed, just as many viewers tuned into Jack Warner in Dixon of Dock Green as they did to see Simon Dee cruising through Manchester in his white Jaguar E-Type for Deetime. It was equally possible to view the ambiguities of The Prisoner and the mysteries of The Mike & Bernie Winters Show together with the enigma that was Hughie Greene in Double Your Money and the reassuringly respectable "Supt Lockhart of the Yard" of No Hiding Place – all on the same evening.
Just as there are Britons who refuse to admit that the nearest they came to the world of Miami Vice in the 1980s was seeing an L-reg Hillman Avenger doing a handbrake turn in Southampton, there are countless citizens in their sixties who should have the courage to admit that their favoured listening of 1967 was not so much "A Day in the Life" as The Seekers’ "When Will the Good Apples Fall" or David Bowie’s "The Laughing Gnome" – for do not all these songs hail from the decade that supposedly celebrated individuality? So, whenever anyone of late middle-age vintage trots out the cliché that "if you can remember the 1960s, you weren’t there", bear in mind that the nearest they came to a freak-out was probably a caffeine overdose in a transport café on the A303.
London was in full swing, hemlines were rising and morals falling. More importantly, all manner of groundbreaking modifications were made to the people’s car – not least a whole host of technical changes that would take the Beetle into next decade… Here’s how that infamous year, and the milestone changes to the Bug, unfolded…
Ken Dodd’s Christmas show is the most watched programme on the box, The Beatles release Sergeant Pepper in a haze of drug fuelled genius, Che Guevara is shot and a man is given a new heart for the first time. The Dartford Tunnel is opened, plans for the creation of a new town called Milton Keynes are revealed and Spurs beat Chelsea 2-1 in the FA Cup Final.
The Summer of Love was a social phenomenon that occurred during the summer of 1967, when as many as 100,000 people converged in the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood of San Francisco. Although hippies also gathered in major cities across the U.S., Canada and Europe, San Francisco remained the epicenter of the social earthquake that would come to be known as the Hippie Revolution. Like its sister enclave of Greenwich Village, the city became even more of a melting pot of politics, music, drugs, creativity, and the total lack of sexual and social inhibition than it already was. As the hippie counterculture movement came farther and farther forward into public awareness, the activities centered therein became a defining moment of the 1960s, causing numerous ‘ordinary citizens’ to begin questioning everything and anything about them and their environment as a result.
This unprecedented gathering of young people is often considered to have been a social experiment, because of all the alternative lifestyles which became more common and accepted such as gender equality, communal living, and free love. Many of these types of social changes reverberated on into the early 1970s, and effects echo throughout modern society.
The hippies, sometimes called flower children, were an eclectic group. Many were suspicious of the government, rejected consumerist values, and generally opposed the Vietnam War. A few were interested in politics; others focused on art (music, painting, poetry in particular) or religious and meditative movements. All were eager to integrate new ideas and insights into daily life, both public and private.
Inspired by the Beats of the 1950s, who had flourished in the North Beach area of San Francisco, those who gathered in Haight-Ashbury in 1967 rejected the conformist values of Cold War America. These hippies rejected the material values of modern life; there was an emphasis on sharing and community. The Diggers established a Free Store, and a Free Clinic for medical treatment was started.
The prelude to the Summer of Love was the Human Be-In at Golden Gate Park on January 14, 1967, which was produced and organized by artist Michael Bowen as a "gathering of tribes".
James Rado and Gerome Ragni were in attendance and absorbed the whole experience; this became the basis for the musical Hair. Rado recalled, "There was so much excitement in the streets and the parks and the hippie areas, and we thought `If we could transmit this excitement to the stage it would be wonderful….’ We hung out with them and went to their Be-Ins [and] let our hair grow. It was very important historically, and if we hadn’t written it, there’d not be any examples. You could read about it and see film clips, but you’d never experience it. We thought, ‘This is happening in the streets,’ and we wanted to bring it to the stage.’"
Also at this event, Timothy Leary voiced his phrase, "turn on, tune in, drop out", that persisted throughout the Summer of Love.
The event was announced by the Haight-Ashbury’s psychedelic newspaper, the San Francisco Oracle:
A new concept of celebrations beneath the human underground must emerge, become conscious, and be shared, so a revolution can be formed with a renaissance of compassion, awareness, and love, and the revelation of unity for all mankind.
The gathering of approximately 30,000 like-minded people made the Human Be-In the first event that confirmed there was a viable hippie scene.
The term "Summer of Love" originated with the formation of the Council for the Summer of Love in the spring of 1967 as response to the convergence of young people on the Haight-Ashbury district. The Council was composed of The Family Dog, The Straight Theatre, The Diggers, The San Francisco Oracle, and approximately twenty-five other people, who sought to alleviate some of the problems anticipated from the influx of people expected in the summer. The Council also supported the Free Clinic and organized housing, food, sanitation, music and arts, along with maintaining coordination with local churches and other social groups to fill in as needed, a practice that continues today.
January – The London-set film Blowup is released in the UK. Director: Michelangelo Antonioni. Stars: David Hemmings, Vanessa Redgrave, Sarah Miles
1 January – England’s World Cup winning manager Alf Ramsey received a knighthood and captain Bobby Moore received an OBE in the New Year Honours.
2 January – Veteran actor Charlie Chaplin opened his last film, A Countess From Hong Kong, in England.
7 January–1 July – The television series The Forsyte Saga was first shown, on BBC Two. The Forsyte family live a more than pleasant upper middle class life in Victorian and later Edwardian England.
15 January – The United Kingdom entered the first round of negotiations for EEC membership in Rome.
16 January – Italy announced support for the United Kingdom’s EEC membership.
18 January – Jeremy Thorpe became leader of the Liberal Party. Thorpe took Liberals to brink of coalition government but resigned as party leader in 1976 after being accused of conspiracy to murder.
23 January – Milton Keynes, a village in north Bucks, was formally designated as a new town by the government, incorporating nearby towns and villages including Bletchley and Newport Pagnell. Intended to accommodate the overspill population from London – some 50 miles away – it would become Britain’s largest new town, with the area’s population multiplying during the 1970s and 1980s.
26 January – Parliament decided to nationalize 90% of the British steel industry.
27 January – The UK, Soviet Union, and USA sign the Outer Space Treaty.
6 February – Soviet Premier Alexei Kosygin arrived in the UK for an eight-day visit. He met The Queen on 9 February.
7 February – The British National Front was founded by A. K. Chesterton (by merger of the British National Party and League of Empire Loyalists).
12 February – Police raided ‘Redlands’, the Sussex home of Rolling Stones musician Keith Richards, following a tip-off from the News of the World. No immediate arrests are made, but Richards, fellow band member Mick Jagger and art dealer Robert Fraser were later charged with possession of drugs.
Around 5:30pm on February 12th, 1967, around 20 police descended on Keith Richards‘ Sussex home, “Redlands”. Of The Rolling Stones, both Keith Richards and Mick Jagger were there at the time of the bust (Brian Jones was supposed to be there too but, according to Keith Richards, he and his girlfriend, Anita Pallenberg, were fighting when they left for Redlands, so they just left them behind in London) Several others had come down for the weekend including The Beatles‘ guitar player George Harrison and his then girlfriend, Patti Boyd, although they had left prior to the raid.
Brian Jones‘ trial took place in November 1967 also resulting in a prison sentence for the accused. However, after appealing the original prison sentence, Brian Jones was fined £1000, put on three years’ probation and ordered to seek professional help.
On this period, Keith Richards said, “There was a realization that the powers that be actually looked upon is as important enough to make a big statement and to wield the hammer. But they’d also made us more important than we ever bloody well were in the first place.”
25 February – Britain’s second Polaris nuclear submarine, HMS Renown, was launched.
27 February – The Dutch government announced support for British EEC membership.
1 March – The Queen Elizabeth Hall was opened in London.
4 March – The first North Sea gas was pumped ashore at Easington, East Riding of Yorkshire.
Queens Park Rangers became the first Football League Third Division side to win the League Cup at Wembley Stadium defeating West Bromwich Albion 3-2. It was also the first year of a one-match final in the competition, the previous six finals having been two-legged affairs.
5 March – Polly Toynbee reveals the existence of the "Harry" letters that allege the secret funding of Amnesty International by the British government.
15 March – Manny Shinwell, 82, resigned as chairman of the Parliamentary Labour Party.
18 March – The supertanker Torrey Canyon ran aground between Land’s End and the Scilly Isles.
29 – 30 March – RAF planes bombed the Torrey Canyon and sank it.
9 July – Alan Ayckbourn’s first major success, Relatively Speaking, had its West End opening at the Duke of York’s Theatre with Richard Briers, Michael Hordern and Celia Johnson.
Hendrix on Fire
31 March – At the London Astoria, Jimi Hendrix set fire to his guitar on stage for the first time. He was taken to hospital suffering burns to his hands.
Not wishing to be outdone by The Who’s Pete Townshend who had performed first and smashed up his guitar, Hendrix opted to set his amp on fire so as not to be accused of copycat behaviour.
He requested some lighter fluid but couldn’t bring himself to destroy the Strat and so swapped it secretly for a less valuable instrument.
The Fender Stratocaster continued to be used on Hendrix’s American tour (his return to the States after moving to the UK in 1966 to make his fortune). It later fell into the hands of his record company managed by James Wright.
“When Jimi used to smash a guitar up you would try and rebuild it so he could use it again for that purpose. Pete Townshend smashed his guitar up and put the neck into the amp. Jimi was annoyed at this and asked for some lighter fuel. He just wanted to outdo Pete Townshend,” Wright told The Times.
“He played the black guitar for most of the act and then right at the end he swapped it for a repaired one that he set fire to. At the time the black Fender was his favourite guitar and he didn’t want to ruin it.
At the time of the stunt Hendrix was a big star in Britain but still relatively unknown in the States. A picture of him leaning over the burning instrument was used on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine and the incident went down in rock ‘n’ roll history – helping to turn him into a legend.
The guitar is in relatively good condition aside from a few chips and scratches.The CBS era instrument with contour style solid body and original candy apple case dates from late 1966/67 with rosewood neck and black solid body and white scratch protection.
It will be sold by the Fame Bureau on 27 November in Mayfair, London. It is 42 years since the man widely considered to be the greatest electric guitarist in history died in London aged 27. Another Fender Stratocaster that Hendrix set fire to in 1967 at the Finsbury Astoria was auctioned by the Fame Bureau in January £90,000.
2 April – A UN delegation arrived in Aden because of the approaching independence. They leave 7 April, accusing British authorities of lack of cooperation. The British said the delegation did not contact them.
8 April – Puppet on a String performed by Sandie Shaw (music and lyrics by Bill Martin and Phil Coulter) won the Eurovision Song Contest for the UK.
11 April – Tom Stoppard’s play Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead received its Old Vic premiere.
13 April – Conservatives won the Greater London Council elections.
2 May – Harold Wilson announced that the United Kingdom had decided to apply for EEC membership
5 May – The British-designed satellite Ariel 3, the first to be developed outside the Soviet Union or United States is launched.
The first motorway project of the year was completed when the elevated motorway section of the A57 road was officially opened (by Harold Wilson) to form a by-pass around the south of Manchester city area. The M1 was also being expanded this month from both termini, meaning that there would now be an unbroken motorway link between North London and South Yorkshire.
6 May – Manchester United won the Football League First Division title.
11 May – The United Kingdom and Ireland officially applied for European Economic Community membership.
14 May – The Roman Catholic Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ the King was consecrated.
20 May – In the first all-London FA Cup final, Tottenham Hotspur defeated Chelsea 2-1 at Wembley Stadium.
24 May – The Royal Navy Leander-class frigate HMS Andromeda was launched at Portsmouth Dockyard, the last ship to be built there.
25 May – Celtic F.C. became the first British and Northern European team to reach a European Cup final and also to win it, beating Inter Milan 2-1 in normal time with the winning goal being scored by Steve Chalmers in Lisbon, Portugal.
Shadow cabinet Tory MP Enoch Powell described Britain as the "sick man of Europe" in his latest verbal attack on the Labour government.
28 May – Sir Francis Chichester arrived in Plymouth after completing his single-handed sailing voyage around the world in his yacht, Gipsy Moth IV, in nine months and one day.
29 May – The first Spring Bank Holiday occurred on a fixed date of the last Monday in May, replacing the former Whitsun holiday in England and Wales.
‘Barbeque 67′, a music festival, at the Tulip Bulb Auction Hall, Spalding, featured Jimi Hendrix, Cream, Pink Floyd and Zoot Money.
1 June – The Beatles released Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, one of rock’s most acclaimed albums.
4 June – Stockport Air Disaster: British Midland flight G-ALHG crashed in Hopes Carr, Stockport, killing 72 passengers and crew.
27 June – The first automatic cash machine (voucher-based) was installed in the office of Barclays Bank in Enfield.
29 June – Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones was jailed for a year for possession illegal drugs. His bandmate Mick Jagger was sentenced to three months for the same offence.
1 July – The first scheduled colour television broadcasts from six transmitters covering the main population centres in England began on BBC2 for certain programmes, the first being live coverage from the Wimbledon Championships. A full colour service (other than news programmes) began on BBC2 on 2 December.
4 July – Parliament decriminalised male homosexuality in England and Wales with the Sexual Offences Act.
7 July – In the last amateur Wimbledon tennis tournament, Australian John Newcombe beat German Wilhelm P. Bungert to win the Gentlemen’s Singles championship. The next day, American Billie Jean King beat Briton Ann Haydon Jones to win the Ladies’ Singles championship. The matches are also the first to be broadcast in colour.
13 July – English road racing cyclist Tom Simpson died of exhaustion on the slopes of Mont Ventoux during the 13th stage of the Tour de France.
18 July – The UK government announced the closing of its military bases in Malaysia and Singapore. Australia and the United States do not approve.
27 July – The Welsh Language Act allowed the use of Welsh in legal proceedings and official documents in Wales.
28 July – The British steel industry was nationalised.
July – Astronomers Jocelyn Bell Burnell and Antony Hewish became the first to observe a pulsar.
3 August – The inquiry into the Aberfan disaster blamed the National Coal Board for the collapse of a colliery spoil tip which claimed the lives of 164 people in South Wales in October last year.
5 August – Pink Floyd released their debut album The Piper at the Gates of Dawn.
8 August – Dunsop Valley entered the UK Weather Records with the Highest 90-min total rainfall at 117 mm. As of August 2010 this record remains.
9 August – Playwright Joe Orton was battered to death by his lover Kenneth Halliwell (who then committed suicide) in their north London home.
14 August – The Marine, &c., Broadcasting (Offences) Act 1967 declared participation in offshore pirate radio in the United Kingdom illegal. Wonderful Radio London broadcast from MV Galaxy off the Essex coast for the last time.
17 August – Jimmy Hill, manager of the Coventry City side who have been promoted to the Football League First Division for the first time in their history, announced that he is leaving management to concentrate on a television career.
28 August – The first Late Summer Holiday occurred on a fixed date of the last Monday in August, replacing the former August Bank Holiday on the first Monday in England and Wales.
Herbert Bowden was appointed chairman of the Independent Television Authority.
6 September – Myrina was launched from the slipway at Harland and Wolff in Belfast, the first supertanker and (at around 192000 DWT) largest ship built in the U.K. up to this date.
9 September – Former prime minister Clement Attlee, 84, was hospitalised with an illness reported as a "minor condition".
10 September – In a Gibraltar sovereignty referendum, only 44 out of 12,182 voters in the British Crown colony of Gibraltar supported union with Spain.
20 September – The RMS Queen Elizabeth 2 (the QE2) was launched at Clydebank by Queen Elizabeth II, using the same pair of gold scissors used by her mother and grandmother to launch the Queen Elizabeth and Queen Mary respectively.
21 September – The Conservatives captured Cambridge and Walthamstow from Labour in by-elections.
27 September – The RMS Queen Mary arrived in Southampton at the end of her last transatlantic crossing.
29 September – Cult television series The Prisoner was first broadcast in the UK on ITV.
30 September – BBC Radio completely restructured its national programming: the Light Programme was split between new national pop station Radio 1 (modelled on the successful pirate station Radio London) and Radio 2; the cultural Third Programme was rebranded as Radio 3; and the primarily-talk Home Service became Radio 4.
5 October – A Court in Brighton was the first in England and Wales to decide a case by majority verdict (10 to 2) of the jury.
10 October – Simon Gray’s first stage play, Wise Child, opened at the Wyndham’s Theatre, London, with Alec Guinness, Gordon Jackson, Simon Ward and Cleo Sylvestre.
11 October – Prime Minister Harold Wilson won a libel action against rock group The Move in the High Court after they depicted him in the nude in promotional material for their record Flowers in the Rain.
25 October – The Abortion Act, passed in Parliament, legalising abortion on a number of grounds (with effect from 1968).
30 October – British troops and Chinese demonstrators clashed on the border of China and Hong Kong during the Hong Kong Riots.
October – St Pancras railway station in London was made a Grade I listed building, regarded as a landmark in the appreciation of Victorian architecture.
2 November – Winnie Ewing won the Hamilton by-election, the first success for the Scottish National Party in an election for the Parliament of the United Kingdom.
5 November – A Sunday evening express train from Hastings to London derailed in the Hither Green rail crash, killing 49 people.
7 November – Boxer Henry Cooper became the first to win three Lonsdale Belts outright.
18 November – Movement of animals was banned in England and Wales due to a foot-and-mouth disease outbreak.
19 November – The pound was devalued from 1 GBP = 2.80 USD to 1 GBP = 2.40 USD. Prime minister Harold Wilson defended this decision, assuring voters that it will tackle the "root cause" of the nation’s economic problems.
27 November – Charles de Gaulle vetoed British entry into the European Economic Community again.
28 November – Horse racing events were called off due to the foot-and-mouth disease outbreak.
30 November – British troops left Aden, which they had occupied since 1839, enabling formation of the new republic of Yemen.
1 December – Tony O’Connor became the first black headmaster of a British school, in Warley, near Birmingham, Worcestershire.
5 December – The Beatles opened the Apple Shop in London.
10 December – Ronald George Wreyford Norrish, George Porter and the German Manfred Eigen won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry "for their studies of extremely fast chemical reactions, effected by disturbing the equlibrium by means of very short pulses of energy".
11 December – The Concorde supersonic aircraft was unveiled in Toulouse, France.
12 December – Rolling Stones guitarist Brian Jones, 25, won a High Court appeal against a nine-month prison sentence for possessing and using cannabis. He was instead fined £1,000 and put on probation for three years.
22 December – BBC Radio 4 panel game Just a Minute, chaired by Nicholas Parsons, was first transmitted. It would still be running more than forty years later.
We look back at the poster company that became a phenomenon
Image by brizzle born and bred
Tennis Girl sold more than two million copies
Tennis Girl was the photograph of the moment a beautiful young woman gracefully raised the flap of her pristine tennis whites, and scratched her bum. Thirty five years on, it remains one of the biggest-selling posters of all time, and news that the now 52-year-old model has been reunited with the image for an exhibition celebrating tennis-related art will surely send many men of a certain vintage scurrying down memory lane and knocking urgently on the doors of their teenage bedrooms.
The image, printed in 1976 by now-defunct poster retailers Athena, was for much of the 70s and 80s a staple feature in the digs of many a lustful young undergraduate, and has since sold more than two million copies.
Although we have never been introduced, many of us know this lady a little better than we should.
Her cheekiest of poses on a sunny tennis court way back in the 1970s remains one of the world’s best selling posters.
The shot was taken at the now defunct Birmingham University courts at Edgbaston on a hazy September afternoon in 1976. Chewed tennis balls belonging to her dog were scattered across the court.
The white summer dress and other items related to the iconic 1970s Tennis Girl poster sold for £15,500.
Fieldings Auctioneers said dozens were interested in the lot, which had a guide price of £1,000 to £2,000.
Ms Butler, who lives in Worcestershire, was not paid for her modelling.
The dress was on show at Wimbledon before it was auctioned.
The tennis racquet from the photo, the dress, a 1979 poster and a 1980s limited edition canvas print were auctioned on the day of the ladies’ singles final.
Fieldings Auctioneers said an anonymous buyer on the phone claimed them following interest from "registered bidders from all over the world", with the furthest away being in New Zealand.
There were eight phone lines open, a "handful of committed people" at the sale room in Stourbridge and "tens of people" interested on the internet, it said.
Director Will Farmer said although there was a guide price, the auctioneers never knew what the lot would go for.
He said: "We have nothing to compare it to because it’s unique – nothing like it has been sold before.
"You’re buying a slice of history and what price is an icon?"
Ms Knotts, a friend of Ms Butler, said she was "kind of amused" by the interest in the poster over the years.
The 55-year-old barrister, who lives in Winchcombe, Gloucestershire, said she did not know the dress was on the poster until her sister at university saw it in 1978.
Asked about the auction, Ms Knotts said: "I am astonished because when I made (the dress), I was saving money and it’s made a lot of money.
"It was cheaper to make your clothes than to buy them then, so I used to make quite a lot of clothes.
"You go to a dinner party and people will say ‘what’s your claim to fame?’
"And that’s the one I’ve always come up with."
Elliott went on to sell the image rights to Athena but retained the copyright, earning him an estimated £250,000 in royalty payments. Two million copies were sold worldwide.
Athena’s first shop was opened by Ole Christensen in Hampstead in July 1964, and then bought into E&O PLC, by Chairman, Douglas H. Bayle. He expanded Athena to some 60 shops, making sure to keep the ethos on fine art reprints.
The company’s popular success divided opinion amongst intellectuals and art critics who were uncertain as to whether these works were too vulgar and populist to be considered art.
The chain was sold off by E&O, in 1977 and then was acquired by the Pentos Group before Athena went into administration when it failed financially in 1995. Athena’s last shop Exeter, Devon will cease trading on 21 September 2014, bringing it’s high street presence to an end, e-commerce company under the brand name of Vivarti (with the byline "powered by Athena") continues to trade.
By far the most successful Athena Poster of all time was “Man and Baby“. First hitting the stands in 1986, it appealed to girls of all ages, it captured everything that the stereotypical teenage girl in particular aspired to.
Shot in monochrome, the image displayed a great looking man, with a well built nude torso holding a smiling new born baby. The chiselled looks of the man smiled at the infant, as so did the baby. It was not only the retail chain’s biggest hit, but the record breaker in the history of poster sales in the United Kingdom.
Truth behind THAT Athena poster
Each decade has its iconic poster. Man and Baby, which sold at auction for thousands this week, was the defining image of the 1980s, capturing the then nascent New Man and making fortunes in the process.
By the photographer Spencer Rowell’s own admission, Man and Baby, or L’Enfant, is "a bit cheesy". There’s a cute baby, but the eye is drawn to the buffed and muscular male specimen cradling said infant in his lap.
It made model Adam Perry a hit with the ladies, and a fortune for the photographer and the poster shop Athena, selling more than five million copies.
Twenty-one years after its release, at auction on Thursday, a print of the image went for £2,400 – considerably more than the price paid in the late 1980s by scores of students and young professionals keen to brighten up rented walls.
There were a great many Athena posters which made into the best sellers through this time, as prepubescent and puberty ridden bedrooms became swathed in iconic images and photographs of the age. Held up by vast amounts of putty adhesive and stick back plastic, Athena retail did far more than boost its own standing.
As success fuelled success, more mainstream images were brought into the mix. Superstars such as Michael Jackson, Madonna, Led Zeppelin and the like were soon appearing on prints in the shops. Reproductions of famous artists, notably Salvador Dali too were favourites.
There were still a great many memorable Athena posters that the company went on to commission however; all of which were well received by consumers if not the critics. Indicative of the Nineties for example was a title called Beyond City Limits.
Another black and white print, the image showed a man dressed in leathers sat astride a motorbike. Accompanying him was a blonde woman in typical sultry pose, who’s submissive body language and the presence of the motorcyclist’s hand resting on her leg was perhaps a little outdated with the times. In many ways therefore, it could be construed as a precursor the fortunes of the company as a whole. The tide was turning.
As the nineties came, there was a sizable shift away from posters, and all things printed in general. The digital age had arrived. Art, real art, still had its place of course, but populist designs mass made for the consumer market did not. It was Pentos that would ultimately own the company when it failed
in 1995, but the brand and the memories still live on.
Shadows of “The Tennis Girl” are still seen today. Notably the image of one time tennis star and now full time clothes horse Anna Kournikova acting out her own example. Though for maybe a little more class, GQ magazine’s example with Kylie Minogue is a touch more significant in the grand scheme of things.
“Man and Baby” has inspired when greater though. Whilst Nick Kamen could argue he too inspired the classic blue jeans and rippling torso look, it is perhaps this poster that really drew it. A near naked man, a cute and cuddly baby and camera are all that is needed n many regards to sell practically anything. Indeed, many a new father has probably had a photo similarly taken themselves.
Athena Posters itself has long since drawn away from the public profile it once enjoyed, and many would say the retail industry is poorer for it. However, the stark truth is that it was a brand which just failed to develop with the times. Most industries are harsh, the retail industry perhaps more than most; eating up competition whenever the opportunity strikes. Woolworths, C&A, Army & Navy, the list of failures is ever growing.
There is still life though, as an online art retailer, renamed as Vivarti. Though a number of Athena Poster stores still live on too; but strangely not near the London home. Shoppers wanting Athena posters will have to head to Bristol, Cheltenham, Exeter, Harrogate, Plymouth, Yeovil or York.
How these stores survived administration is unclear, so perhaps at a point in the future they will populate the wider UK retail scene again, only time will tell. But it will probably be worth producing a poster or two.
the poster company that became a phenomenon
It was a turning point for a certain generation: the fading, Blu-Tack’d Snoopy posters were ripped down from the bedroom wall, the teddy bears and dolls pushed firmly to the back of the wardrobe, childish things put away once and for all. In their place went the pin-ups of some fantastically cool and grown-up pop group – Blondie, perhaps (David Cassidy now long forgotten) – and, importantly, the Athena poster, that quintessential mark of the aspiring adult. They were glitzy, glittering, high-living images: airbrushed, scarlet-lipped ladies sipping neon cocktails; chic Parisian beauties with poodles in tow; exotic birds of paradise perching on palm trees. The Athena posters that adorned the bedroom walls of the early 1980s held, for the thousands of British teenagers (girls, mostly) who bought them, the promise of a brave new grown-up world – sophisticated, glamorous and indisputably modern.
Teenage years being tender and formative as they are, it is perhaps no surprise that those who are now in their 30s, and working in influential positions in fashion and photography, have been drawing on the 1980s – and specifically the Athena look – for inspiration. It began with the Chloé spring/summer 1999 show, when designer Stella McCartney sent models down the catwalk wearing two distinctive items: a T-shirt and a bikini, both printed with airbrushed images of sunsets and palm trees. Very 1980s, very Athena and very popular: they became the bestselling items in the Chloé collection. Now such prints are everywhere, from high street to market stall, and the trend shows no sign of abating: designer Martin Kidman has chosen the Athena airbrushed look – bleached-out face, garish make-up – to illustrate the cover of his autumn/winter 2001 brochure.
The revived interest in Athena images is part of a wider phenomenon that has seen mass market and amateur art being reclaimed by the art establishment (the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London staged an exhibition devoted to amateur art last year). A recent book by the designer Wayne Hemingway, Just Above The Mantelpiece: Mass-Market Masterpieces (Booth-Clibborn Editions), devotes a chapter to the Athena phenomenon. Like the rest of the prints in the book – Vladimir Tretchikoff’s Green Lady, JH Lynch’s Dusky Maidens, the "big-eyed children" series – the Athena art showcased represents what real people, as opposed to art collectors, were choosing for their homes in the latter half of the past century.
It is not just early 1980s teenagers who have fond memories of their first Athena moment; the company had already played a part in the first tentative attempts at interior decoration of an earlier generation. When it was established in 1964, Athena was an original idea and its founder, Ole Christiansen, a pioneer. The dedicated outlet was a new notion and took off quickly, just as retailers such as Tie Rack and Sock Shop did a couple of decades later. Athena was, at its start – as successful retail companies tend to be – the height of chic. It was a time when art was obsessed with the ephemeral and the consumerist, and pop artists such as Lichtenstein and Warhol were creating works inspired by advertising billboards and consumer packaging.
Athena’s timing was impeccable. It started with a single shop in Hampstead, offering fine art reproduction prints – Dali, Monet, Van Gogh, Picasso, Lowry, Constable – alongside works by unknown artists and images of the popular icons of the time. They sold in their tens of thousands for 36 shillings (£1.80), framed or "blockmounted" for 50 shillings (£2.50). The first Athena shop was an essential port of call for swinging Londoners, attracting the same crowd as Terence Conran’s fledgling Habitat and Barbara Hulanicki’s groovy Biba. The late 1960s and early 1970s were also a time when students and young couples had more disposable income than before and were keen to make their homes resolutely un-square and distinct from their parents’. Amid the beanbags, swivel armchairs, wicker furniture and paper lampshades, they needed something for the walls: a Salvador Dali melting clock, perhaps, or a Che Guevara, a Jim Morrison or a Jimi Hendrix surrounded by multicoloured, psychedelic swirls. Athena had it all.
Things were progressing nicely for Athena. The company expanded to become a poster manufacturer as well as a retailer and then, in 1977, came the Tennis Girl. The mildly titillating photograph of a knickerless girl in tennis whites, wistfully scratching her bottom, was a phenomenon unlike anything before in the poster trade – estimates of its sales vary from 375,000 to 2m. This came as a surprise to photographer Martin Elliott, who attributes the poster’s success to its "schoolboy appeal". The image has since become a symbol of its era and the tennis girl has been much parodied over the decades by cartoonists in the likes of Viz magazine, as well as by political satirists (one depicted John Major in a similar pose). Every time Wimbledon comes around, Elliott says, enquiries come flooding in – this summer, Anna Kournikova posed for the cover of a magazine in tennis girl mode, and the poster featured in an exhibition in Bradford entitled Pert Pets And Sultry Sirens: The Most Popular Prints Of The Late 20th Century.
Just as many thirtysomething women now look back fondly at the Athena images of glossy sophistication that were so prevalent in their impressionable teens, so, it seems, many men feel a similarly affectionate Proustian rush when confronted with their first poster purchase. And, as it has turned out, the "schoolboy appeal" of the 1970s tennis girl dovetails with the mood of laddism in current popular culture. In one episode of the TV sitcom Men Behaving Badly, the tennis girl featured prominently in a nostalgic 1970s flashback sequence and last year it was parodied on the cover of GQ magazine with Kylie Minogue as model. The appeal of the original, says GQ editor Dylan Jones, was that it was "playful and quite affectionate, not aggressive. We wanted to do something that was ironic as well as iconic – it was successful because it was sexy, clever and it appealed not only to men who remembered the original poster but also to those who were attracted by the image itself." The issue turned out to be GQ’s biggest ever seller – perhaps not surprising, given that the current mood of men’s magazines owes much to the louche playboy sensibility that was fashionable in the 1970s.
Athena’s sales went off the boil after the tennis girl frenzy passed. It wasn’t until airbrushing techniques became fashionable in the early 1980s that the company’s fortunes turned around, thanks to the dreamscape, fantasy-world style of gloriously kitsch prints such as Unicorn Princess, Beach Lovers and A Dolphin Moon. These owed much to Stephen Pearson’s fantastically tacky Wings Of Love, given cult status by its appearance in Mike Leigh’s 1977 film Abigail’s Party.
Unicorn Princess was a huge success with pre-teen girls, due to its combination of fairy-tale subject matter and the essential horse factor. Horses have always featured heavily in mass-market art, from Tretchikoff’s Wild Horses to Violet Skinner’s Galloping Horses of the early 1960s, and Unicorn Landscape, Running Free and Horseman’s Dream were just some of the equine Athena pictures to score. Recently, Stella McCartney picked up on the horse factor in her Athena-influenced creations which, along with the airbrushed palm trees and pineapples, featured rearing horses in silhouette.
The "Kiss series" that so inspired designer Martin Kidman was another big hit for Athena. Created by Syd Brak, an artist from an advertising background, it was planned specifically to appeal to teen and pre-teen girls who, Brak says, "aspire to maturity and sophistication". Pictures such as First Kiss, Forget Me Not and Long Distance Kiss all contained some mini- narrative that chimed with the adolescent psyche, hinting picturesquely at the dramas of teenage melancholy, lost love and heartache. The icy, mysterious girls, their faces bleached out, their eyes smothered in electric blue eye shadow and their lips a streak of glossy red, inspired many imitations with cheap make-up. They also apparently inspired last year’s homage to the 1980s in the Face magazine, which featured on its cover a photograph of airbrush-style perfection. The same photographer, Solve Sundsbo, followed it up with his recent ad campaign for hip design house Bottega Veneta – the collection, needless to say, inspired by 1980s style.
The technique of airbrushing over photographs had already emerged on the sleeve of David Bowie’s Aladdin Sane and as the look gained popularity, airbrushed illustration began to take hold. It was the tail end of punk, when the overly made-up Debbie Harry and Madonna were the icons of choice, and when a streak of pink hair and a slash of heavy eye make-up were all that remained of a movement that had once prided itself on its grubbiness and realness.
Inevitably, the airbrush trend ran its course and by the end of the 1980s, the backlash had begun. Chris Meiklejohn of Meiklejohn Graphics, the company that supplied Athena with around 70% of its original artwork through the decade, says that in the 1990s, clients even stipulated "no airbrushing". But the advertising and graphic art industries are, like fashion, cyclical. With the 1980s aesthetic back (for now, at least), the advertising industry can’t get enough of airbrushing – Pepsi is just one of the brands to incorporate the method in recent campaigns. Andrew Farley, a 1980s Athena artist, is making the most of the resurgence: he has just designed a new range of images, due to appear in the coming months on the T-shirts of a new generation of teenagers.
But as Athena frenzy takes hold, interest in fashion circles has expanded beyond the airbrushed-print look. Even from the early days, when Che Guevara was the pin-up, figures of legend have been Athena staples – after the Kiss series, Brak went on to enjoy follow-up success for the company with his airbrushed depiction of Marilyn Monroe and James Dean in an American diner. This has not been lost on the fashion pack – a recent issue of Vogue focused on a new trend, Heroine Chic: "It’s icon T-shirts a go-go." Kate Moss favours a Marilyn T-shirt with her denim miniskirt and fake fur blouson jacket, while others among the model/party-girl circuit, snapped out on the town, have emblazoned on their chests the likes of Hendrix, Elvis, Dean and Che Guevara – all Athena stalwarts. And where Moss leads, others tend to follow: expect a rush of icon T-shirts on the high street before long.
The black-and-white posters that had been so consistently successful at Athena segued into a trend for monochrome photography with a nostalgic spin. The message was "This Is Art" and it was calculated to appeal to the aspirations of the poster-buying public. "The perception was that if you had this poster on your wall, then you were culturally aware," says Roger Watt, chief art director of Athena between 1986 and 1994. The 1950s were "happy hunting ground" for the company. The contemporary take on the style, "incorporating romanticism, an atmospheric setting and a 1950s look", as Watt puts it, was offered in photos such as Grant Sainsbury’s Bad Company and Nevada Rider – moody models in leather on big bikes, evoking a sultry, Brando-esque machismo. Beyond City Limits by Alwyn R Coates was another huge seller, a black-and-white picture, colour-tinted, depicting a male and female model on a motorbike – shot in Surrey with a dramatic fake sky superimposed. It was a veritable nostalgia-fest: Sheila Rock’s images of young couples in retro clothing, shot in moody lighting, recalled Doisneau’s The Kiss, a classic shot from an earlier era that had already been a big Athena seller. Many of the pictures were accompanied by typography, in the high-brow style of an exhibition poster, thus imbuing the image with a cod cultural significance.
It wasn’t all about nostalgia, though. Athena was also tapping directly into the mood and aesthetics of the moment – the most famous television ad of the time showed the brawny Nick Kamen stripping off his Levi’s in a 1950s launderette. Magazines such as the Face and Arena used monochrome fashion images, notably the work of the Buffalo group, led by the late Ray Petri. Athena was no longer setting the trends but rather offering a watered-down, commercially acceptable version of a look that had begun in a purer form in the style press. In one particularly bizarre photographic series, Cool Kid, toddlers were dressed up in the 1980s uniform of Dr Martens boots, MA1 flying jackets, spiky hair and shades – a bastardisation of an innovative series of pictures in the Face, styled by Petri, of young model Felix.
The style might be borrowed, but for the thousands who bought it, it represented something "cool". As consumer goods go, the poster is a fairly reliable indicator of changing popular tastes and aspirations, and while Athena fell in and out of fashion over the decades, the company always had a knack of tapping into popular preoccupations. It consistently encapsulated the mood of each era, even if it did so, in later years, by reducing it to a lowest common denominator.
One such defining image came in 1986, with the release of a poster entitled L’Enfant, also known as Man And Baby, showing a bare-chested man, cradling a baby. Like Tennis Girl before it, L’Enfant seemed to take on a life of its own and was bought by hundreds of thousands of people. At the time, Spencer Rowell, the photographer who took it, was cynical about the whole "new man" phenomenon. "This idea that suddenly men were going to be different, I thought it was a load of cobblers," he says. Yet, looking back, there was a zeitgeisty feel to the picture – just as the tennis girl had encapsulated a particularly 1970s mood of sexiness for thousands of teenage boys, so L’Enfant represented something quintessentially of the moment for their female counterparts. The message was a new one, as Rowell concedes. "Men had always been supposed to cope under pressure and never cry – then there was this idea that it was okay to be in touch with your feminine side, that your girlfriend wouldn’t think badly of you if you had a quick blub."
In the years that followed its success, Rowell says L’Enfant became a "creative millstone" – he was interested in doing something more "dark and meaningful". Now, he says, he is rather proud of the image: it was a job well done, well crafted, well lit. And then, of course, there was the casting. Paul Rodriguez, the art director responsible, was gay and was, Rowell says, "looking for certain attributes", but he also had a knack for spotting a generic look in a model, a timeless, universal appeal. The identity of the baby in L’Enfant is not known, but the male model, one Adam Perry, has not been shy of publicity. Now in his mid-30s, Perry has become best known for his claim that he has slept with 3,000 women. He was named "the world’s most promiscuous man" by one glossy men’s magazine and, aptly, he posed in a condom commercial.
No single poster has rivalled L’Enfant since in terms of sales, yet, Rowell says, nothing was ever done to "push" it; it became successful simply by word of mouth. "That doesn’t happen now. Anything that’s going to become iconic today will become so simply because enough money and hype have been put into it. Very few things become iconic in a natural way."
Unsurprisingly, Athena was soon after more of the same from Rowell: "Usually a guy with not very many clothes on, or wafting around looking really sensitive on a beach, or holding flowers – stuff like that." The idea was to present pictures of "people living a life that doesn’t really exist", couples under water with dolphins, men larking about on idyllic beaches. Although there was a certain homoerotic quality to some of the pictures, Rowell says their main appeal was to teenage girls. Plus, he adds with a laugh, "black-and-white photography goes with any wallpaper or paintwork".
Although L’Enfant continued – and continues – to sell, the monochrome photography trend at Athena began to wear thin. By the beginning of the 1990s, it had had its day.
Views differ on when and why it all started to go wrong for Athena. Some point the finger at the mid-1980s, when the company was bought by corporate group Pentos. Hemingway, in Just Above The Mantelpiece, argues that, "like many great concepts, when Ole Christiansen sold Athena to a big corporation, the spark was lost". Roger Watt agrees: in the early days, he says, the merchandise was chosen by a haphazard reliance on gut instinct, but as commercial pressure increased, the process became "more scientific". Others say that the company went downhill when Rodriguez died in 1993, while Chris Meiklejohn, who feels Athena lost its way post-airbrush boom, suggests it was a victim of its own arrogance. "Athena started to believe that what it was was important in itself, without renewing itself."
In the early 1990s, when the recession kicked in, money was very tight, Watt adds. Pressure from Pentos increased and "as the parent company grew, we had to become more accountable. We had to justify our strategy to the board of the plc and the MD."
The retail arm of the company ran into problems, with many of the stores not breaking even, particularly those in shopping centres, where rents were high and there was little foot traffic. Original photographic and artwork commissions were cut back, and the company invested instead in numerous licences for movie and other brand merchandise. There was still the odd original work – such as the "fractal optics" series or Dylan, the rabbit from Magic Roundabout, with the caption "Rave On" – but Athena in the 1990s came mostly to rely on big-name licensing deals: Batman, Disney, Warner Brothers, Sonic the Hedgehog, Thunderbirds and the World Wrestling Federation. When a range of Star Wars merchandise bombed, it was a wake-up call for the company.
Athena was spiralling deeper and deeper into debt, and it proved impossible to stem the losses, which reached £5m in the first half of 1994. The rents for the shops were just too high to support the business and at the end of the year, Pentos took the unusual step of putting the stores into receivership, fearing that its losses would drag down the rest of the group, which includes Dillons bookshops. The "ring-fencing" of the subsidiary company ensured that creditors such as landlords would be prevented from claiming money from the parent group. One Pentos insider was quoted as saying at the time, "If a leg has gangrene, you can’t wait too long before cutting it off" and though a receiver described the action as "immoral", it was certainly legal and not unprecedented. The result? A handful of viable outlets were sold to independent buyers, but most of the 157 stores closed.
the poster company that became a phenomenon
It is unlikely that Britain will witness a phenomenon like Athena again, certainly for the time being. Watt doesn’t see much of a future for the poster industry: "It’s a new generation now, a digital age, and kids prefer to download stuff themselves from their computers." Not many stores stock posters now, he says, because the browser racks take up too much space and, besides, "The kind of social interaction kids used to get going down to the high street on a Saturday afternoon with their friends has been replaced by email and text messaging and computer games." Add to this the current preference for clean-living minimalism and it’s hard to see an imminent resurgence of poster mania.
While the 1980s fashion revival looks set to run for a while yet, Athena won’t be back – which is perhaps just as well. It had its time and is probably best remembered in a golden glow of kitsch-imbued nostalgia. If you really want to revisit the old days of Athena, you can always get down to your nearest designer or high street store to buy the T-shirt or the bikini – and wear it with a knowing, grown-up, tongue-in-cheek attitude. Or forget the irony and just relive that youthful rush of aspiration and promise.
Join me by the fire
Image by Stuck in Customs
I notice that good interior design, once rare, now is pervasive. Something has happened in the last 10 years that has enabled the best interior designers in the world to get their work spread widely. It’s snowballed because now everyone has high expectations everywhere they go.
When I stayed in Houston, I went to The Magnolia hotel, since it was recommended by Tablet Hotels, which is my favorite hotel booking site. I normally don’t like giant hotels that are impersonal and predictable. The hotels in the tablet line seem to put a premium on good design and are more along the "boutique" specialty locations. Often, I find, they are cheaper than the Hiltons and Hyatts of the world too.
The other half of good interior design is that it is traditionally very difficult to capture in a photograph. Have you ever been somewhere really cool, taken a shot, then gotten home and said, "well it was much cooler in person!". I think the problem lies in the detailed textures and light levels that change on a small scale. The eye can pick it up, but the typical camera method can’t. Of course, this HDR method I use and describe in the tutorial is perfect for picking up the subtleties of the textures and light.
In other news, the nice people at Fotoflot sent me a sample of their work using one of my photos. I put up some photos here that you can check out.
From the blog at www.stuckincustoms.com