It’ll End In Tears

Above: This Mortal Coil It’ll End In Tears, 2018 release
Concept and art direction by Ivo Watts-Russell and Nigel Grierson; Photography by Nigel Grierson; Design by Vaughan Oliver at V23; Design assistance by Ervin Esen

I've just received CD copies of the three reissued albums by This Mortal Coil, the ‘supergroup’ formed in 1983 by the founder of the record label 4AD, Ivo Watts-Russell. This Mortal Coil was a studio project that featured a large rotating cast of supporting artists, many of whom were associated with 4AD, including members of Cocteau Twins, Pixies, and Dead Can Dance, but also featuring non-4AD artists such as Howard Devoto and dance diva Alison Limerick. The project released just three full albums: It’ll End In Tears (1984); Filigree & Shadow (1986); and Blood (1991). The sound quality on these remastered CDs is astonishing: originally released as part of a highly limited boxset back in 2011, these new versions differ by being UHQCDs (Ultimate High Quality Compact Disc) rather than HDCDs (High Definition Compatible Digital). The deluxe CD editions are manufactured by the Ichikudo company in Japan, and are packaged in striking high gloss gatefold paper sleeves which are printed and hand-finished to a very high standard. The sleeves include an inner sleeve (with plastic bag to protect the CD), a booklet, and an OBI band with information in Japanese. The artwork is quite different to the original vinyl versions: although it uses the same imagery, it has been ‘reimagined’ by by Ivo Watts-Russell and Vaughan Oliver, 4AD’s in-house designer and the subject of a new book (on my Christmas list!) published by Unit Editions.

Above: This Mortal Coil Filigree & Shadow, 2018 release

Concept and art direction by Ivo Watts-Russell and Nigel Grierson; Photography by Nigel Grierson; Design by Vaughan Oliver at V23; Design assistance by Ervin Esen

Above: This Mortal Coil Blood, 2018 release
Concept and art direction by Ivo Watts-Russell and Nigel Grierson; Photography by Nigel Grierson; Design by Vaughan Oliver at V23; Design assistance by Ervin Esen; Colour photography by Claire Lazarus

The original album sleeves were very luxurious with a host of special finishes including spot varnishes and metallic inks – in comparison, the later, standard 4AD CD releases looked very basic: generic printed paper in a jewel case with the CD printed in black only. I only have vinyl copies of Filigree & Shadow and Blood, despite It’ll End In Tears being my favourite TMC album. It’ll End In Tears was a single album unlike the doubles that followed it and its sleeve was less lavish, which may explain why I never bought it (I always was – and still am – a sucker for a well-designed and produced album sleeve). I did have a cassette of the album that someone taped for me so I hunted it out from the big box of tapes that I have kept, but not played, for many years. The cassette, with The Teardrop Explodes’ Kilimanjaro on side two, was taped in 1984, when I was in my first year studying painting at the Slade School of Fine Art in London. Like all of my cassettes from that time, the tape of It’ll End In Tears has a cover that I created for it, in this instance, using Letraset (Bodoni) and a heavy rough card stock. It obviously owes a big debt to Peter Saville. Heavily influenced by Factory, The Sound Foundation, or ‘TSF’, was an imaginary record label that I invented with my schoolfriend, Mark. All of my cassettes were designed as releases from The Sound Foundation and were given catalogue numbers – this cassette is labelled ‘TSF Product Number 30’. The idea of numbering was something I learned from Factory while the idea of music as ‘product’ was a typical post-punk obsession. I stopped adding to the TSF catalogue when I got my first iMac and was able to quickly burn CDs – I still designed sleeves for the CDs but the obsessive numbering stopped along with the idea of The Sound Foundation.

Looking at this cassette more than 30 years later, I can still see what I was trying to achieve with the design: a high-end finish in homage to the Factory aesthetic but made using lo-fi techniques. I’m amazed at my patience in setting all the type in Letraset and I marvel that I must have wasted so much time making it. I’m a bit embarrassed by my Factory-inspired pretentiousness (some of the other cassettes that I dug out earlier have cringeworthy ‘sleevenotes’ that I wrote) but I have to say that, on the whole, I am quietly impressed with this little piece of DIY design.

Bow Gamelan Ensemble Poster

Bow Gamelan Ensemble: Great Noises That Fill The Air Poster

Designed by James Brook for Cooper Gallery, Dundee, 2018

Poster | 420 x 297 mm

This is a poster I designed for Great Noises That Fill The Air, the first retrospective of influential artist collective Bow Gamelan Ensemble (Anne Bean, Paul Burwell and Richard Wilson) at the Cooper Gallery, Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design, University of Dundee. One of the curatorial ambitions for this exhibition is to ‘bridge a connection between Bow Gamelan Ensemble’s historical work and their ethos of collaboration, improvisation, conviviality and antagonism and our present moment’, so the brief for this poster was to ‘convey the liveliness of the collective’s practice through the activation of archives and not situate their work in the past’. I have created a bold layout using Industry Inc, a striking contemporary typeface designed by Mattox Shuler in 2014, alongside an image supplied by the artists. The poster was designed in a range of colour ways and was re-worked, at a smaller scale with different proportions, for an advert that appeared in Frieze magazine.

The exhibition runs from 26 October 2018 - 15 December 2018.
Click here to visit the Cooper Gallery website.

Ollie Dook: Of Landscape Immersion Book

Ollie Dook: Of Landscape Immersion

Edited by Claire Feeley

Published by Jupiter Artland, 2018

Designed by James Brook

ISBN 978 1 9164 8690 4

Softback | 130 x 195 mm | 48 pages
Printed in Wales by Gomer Press Ltd on 150gsm Munken Pure
with a cover of 320gsm Pop’Set 30% Recycled Lime Tonic

Of Landscape Immersion is Ollie Dook’s first outdoor work, created as part of Jupiter Artland’s programme to support emerging artists in the production of outdoor work. Focusing on the Jupiter Artland landscape, the animals and the parameters that house them, the artist has created a new work depicting the contained boundaries that form visitor experience. Reflecting on parallels shared in zoo enclosures, fabricated microclimates and imagery drawn from the BBC series Planet Earth, Dook has fabricated a sculptural enclosure that both mirrors our experience of observing natures forces whilst also positioning us – the audience – as a spectacle to be observed.

This limited-edition artist’s book is a record of Ollie Dook’s work, containing photographs of the installation at Jupiter Artland by Ruth Clark alongside essays by Nicky Wilson and Michael Lawrence, and an interview with the artist by curator, Claire Feeley. A major part of the book is an expanded illustrated essay explaining the concepts of landscape immersion by renowned zoo landscape designer Jon Coe.

Edinburgh Art Festival Commissions Programme Leaflets

Edinburgh Art Festival Commissions Programme Leaflets

Designed by James Brook for Edinburgh Art Festival, 2018

Set of 4 leaflets | 210 x 165 mm – flat size 210 x 492 mm | 6 pages roll folded
Printed by Allander, Edinburgh, on Cocoon Offset 160gsm

This is the fifth year that I have been invited to design printed material for the Edinburgh Art Festival’s Commissions Programme. This year, there was no over-riding theme that united the commissions so the Festival felt that a book was not appropriate, instead I was asked to design a series of interpretation leaflets that shared a common visual language. The brief was to create something open, clean and spacious with a wraparound front and back cover image for each leaflet. I added a coloured strip at the top of each leaflet to carry information about each commission: there were originally going to be different colours for each artist but were finally refined to a single shade of grey. The Art Festival suggested that I use a contemporary sans serif typeface so I typeset the leaflets in Aktiv Grotesk with minimal changes in size and style to keep the clean feel. The grid allowed for differences in layouts on the inside spread of each leaflet; this was decided by the images and copy supplied and from input from the individual artists. In order to maintain continuity with previous years, the size of the leaflet is the same as the last three books that I designed for the Festival; it is also printed on the same paper stock.

The Art Festival Commissions Programme supports Scottish and international artists to ‘develop ambitious new projects as part of the Festival. Our focus is on bringing artists into conversation with the city, taking work out of formal gallery settings and into public spaces, often offering rare public access to key buildings or sites, and always engaging local residents and international visitors alike in citywide debates around wider social issues’. The 2018 programme featured new work by Ross Birrell & David Harding, Ruth Ewan, Shilpa Gupta and Adam Lewis Jacob.

Ross Birrell & David Harding: Triptych

Ruth Ewan: Sympathetic Magick

Shilpa Gupta: For, in your tongue, I cannot hide

Adam Lewis Jacob: No Easy Answers




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