I used to live in Bournemouth, and when I did I enjoyed watching and writing about local music. One of the bands I most enjoyed seeing perform were Henry’s Phonograph, a flamboyant, psychedelic, new wave combo from Wimborne who sported (especially on the slender frame of lead vocalist Frederik Tyson-Brown) a fine array of taches, cuban heels and general military getup. Fred move to London to study art, the band continued for a while I believe, but there my knowledge begins to muddy.
Trawling the web yesterday I happened upon Fred’s website, a simple tumblr site displaying very little except his artwork. One or two of the older images I recognised from many years ago – album artwork perhaps – but I very much enjoyed the effect his art had on me. As Fred says below, this is not fine art (not that I’m in any way an expert) but imagery which sets out to conjure up emotions, feelings and to simply stir a response. In my case it does this brilliantly.
I love the contrast in its use of vulgarity on the themes of sex and war, in particular the futile attempt to glorify war by use weapons as sexual objects, thus mocking both warfare and the ever-present advertising notion that ‘sex sells’. If Murdoch were to be put in charge of BAE Systems (maybe he is?) ‘Blown’ would be his next front cover and ‘Howitzer Honey’ on its inside page. Much of Fred’s art is social commentary continuing on the theme of mockery by titillation. ‘What the Returning Officer Saw’ and ‘Bullingdon Boys’ are perfectly crude nuggets of boisterous smut, its targets perfectly hand-picked. His most recent pieces paint a more poetic picture, juxtaposing visions of war with carefully chosen classic, historical imagery.
I asked Fred to write a few words about his art and what inspires him…
“My work crassly explores the relationships between war, sex and politics. I don’t profess it to be intelligent, fine or high art, more a way to conjure a cold war fetish that satisfies my interests and passions on those three subjects. The medium of Photomontage allows me to subvert the tangible, I repossess the violence captured in war photography, images of our past and present and turn them into something perhaps not beautiful, but at least visually, horrific and humorous, stirring and erotic. I am compelled to produce these images out of feelings of desperation at the horrors of history, the terror of our present and a positive hope for the future.”
To browse through Frederik Tyson-Brown’s catalogue of work take a look at his website.
Oh, and he continues to make fine music too.