Thursday, March 11, 2010

Hanging's too good for 'em

Remember those Athena prints that brightened up your suburban bedroom in the Eighties?

Things like the one to left? Dreadful, churned out, stylised nonsense that when you look at it now sums up the spirit of the age. Technology, communication, mad hair, Bowie-manque make-up... it's all there. If I found one of these at a jumble sale I think I'd have to buy it. *makes not to go straight onto eBay*

I used to have one in which was depicted in this cartoonish way a large American car was seen from the rear view travelling down some clearly Californian boulevard lined with palm trees. At the wheel was an Eighties fox with angular hair and possibly, saucily, bare shoulders. It was so sunny, so modern, so aspirational. So dated.

Look, at the one in which someone's using a telephone that is attached to something. And it's inexplicably melting. Must be all that hot phone passion. Show that to kids today and they'd have no idea what it all means. It's a museum piece.

What do people put on their walls now? I remember as a student having the one where a couple are hand in hand running over a bridge with the New York skyline behind them. I thought it was incredibly stylish. I also had the one with James Dean in a mack called Boulevard Of Broken Dreams. And then were was the one that all girls had with the bare-chested man holding the baby.

If you went into any one of millions of branches of Athena these and more were at your disposal: the woman and the sailor kissing in Times Square on VE Day or the old women having lunch in a Fifties diner, called Cafe Society IIRC. They were usually American in subject matter. We wanted it then as we want it now. You never had pictures of a chip shop in Rotherham or a couple skulling on Lake Windemere.

What's the trend today? Isn't it time for the long-mooted (at least by A Kitten In A Brandy Glass) Sara Moon revival? Or the faux stained-glass willowy ladies? What about Pierrot?

I saw this interesting programme recently about people who turn out art for mass sale. It's all ghastly. Generic photographs of sunsets over boardwalks or nasty flowers or scenes of French towns. But it sells like hotcakes, adorning the walls of every Barratt home from Kinross to St Ives. It's art for those who need something to fill a gap on a wall but don't really have the time or imagination to think about it. The programme said as much and I don't think that's too harsh a conclusion. It's not in my home and I bet it's not in yours either. We are of course on a higher cultural plane entirely, aren't we. Of course we are.

So what was on your bedroom wall back then? And what's on show today?


Cocktails said...

Those Athena prints are dreadful. Fortunately I'm too young for them. Instead I had a picture of Paddington Bear, then a lovely poster of Michael J. Fox. Sigh...

Now I am insufferably arrogant and have an RCA grad exhibition print that my mate did and a selection of photos that I took myself. You know, the my exotic travels et moi' type...

Simon said...

As a student my walls were mainly big old Rodney Matthews posters (bought from Athena, I must confess) surrounded by postcards, magazine clippings and cartoons plus a few choice gig flyers.

Today our bedroom walls have a selection of holiday snaps, a generic "rose on canvas" that previously served time in the lounge and a faded set of hand-drawn via an overhead projector cherubs I did when we were feeling all romantic a few years back.

Ishouldbeworking said...

Ooh, I had one of those lurid Athena ones featuring two girls with geometric makeup - I'm sure it's still up in the loft, actually, if you want to make me an offer for it, F-C. It's almost certainly got huge resale value on the 'vintage' market. I NEVER had the 'man with baby' shot, NEVER.

These days our walls are adorned by Lomo photos by me which have been transferred to canvas, and black-and-whites by hubby. We've also got a couple of original abstracts done by a local artist (don't worry, I'll find my own way to the Poncey Step.).

Clair said...

I remember having a big Simple Minds Speed Your Love To Me graphic poster in NEON ORANGE, and a collage of a pic of Morrissey from a pic I got from the NME. I also had a collage of postcards; Pre-Raphaelite ladies, Biff cards and postcards friends had made for me. In the kitchen, we had a Vesta curry calendar, and a pic of Morrissey from Smash Hits, with a kitten on a plate, on the fridge.

Nowadays, I only have water and damp on my walls at home, which is another story.

Mondo said...

A Man Who Fell To Earth poster, Roy Lichtenstein's Whaam! A signed Brian Eno/Russell Mills Apollo poster (won in a Starzone comp), a cork pinboard with various flyers, postcards etc..a giant T Rex Slider poster.

3 panels of original art from 2000 AD (Ron Smith: Judge Dredd), this Tom Murray Ltd Edt Beatles photo signed by Tom, this Paul McDonald print, a signed Jamie Reid limited print of this ..and a Lord Denby order

And I finally found a copy of this which is soon to be framed with my article for Word Mag about it alongside.

Original sheet music also looks fab framed (the covers not the notes) we've got Pistols, Beatles, Kate Bush, Stones which are regularly rotated

Five-Centres said...

Do did out that poster, ISBW and we'll see what we can do.

I'm picturing you all at home now, surrounded by your favourite prints.

Think of me looking at my favourite picture, an official photograph of King Baudouin of Belgium.

Bright Ambassador said...

Then: Taxi Driver, Pulp Fiction, Metallica Master of Puppets, Pink Floyd The Wall, pictures cut from Viz calenders.

Now: Klimt, Rennie Mackintosh, splodgy things from Wilkinson's.

Helen said...

Well, I'm sure you remember my Paul Weller poster (early Style Council days), I remember going to the Athena shop in Guildford so I'm sure I had a few tasteful postcards from there. Then went on to a real retro phase and had lots of black and white prints of Michael Caine, Robert Mitchum, Paul Newman which would still look good. Now, I am surrounded by family photos and Beano posters which my daughter puts up at any opportunity. Have got a bit of a thing about buying random paintings and photos from second-hand/charity shops. No more popstars any more (apart from Elvis on the fridge).

Five-Centres said...

No Peech Boys poster Hels? I've got a picture of your room with the walls covered in posters. I'm sure Limahl is up there somewhere, though you were far cooler than that, even at 15.

Helen said...

No Peech boys (they weren't poster boys) and most definitely no Limahl. Think I had a signed photo of Matt Fretton though. I'm sure there were loads of those Athena posters of a tennis player scratching her bum where we went to school, did you have one?!

Five-Centres said...

No, but Pete Anderson and Nick Walker had one.

Emma said...

Your post has just reminded me of a friend's review of Peter Jackson's The Lovely Bones: "I didn't know heaven looked like a 1980s Athena poster".