Mother Samosa’s Two Albums on CD. Designed by Robin Gunningham.

Do we really care who the person behind the Banksy moniker really is? Well, in 2015 the Daily Mail “revealed” that one Robin Gunningham, a public school educated person is indeed Banksy. However, this has never been officially confirmed and collectors of the artist’s work don’t seem to mind who is behind the art and art dealers won’t accept that works signed Robin Gunningham should be classified as being by Banksy.

In the past decade, everything that Banksy seems to have had a hand in has escalated in value; even record and CD covers with his art have become sort after collectors items. Now there are literally hundreds of such covers floating around among collectors but only a few are offically authorised as being by Banksy. The vast majority are covers that use the artist’s works, often subtly modified to suit the us

The earliest authorised Banksy covers are for the Bristol hip hop band One Cut (or OneCut) released on Jamie Eastman’s Hombré label between 1998 and 2000. In 1999 John Stapleton asked Bansky to stencil 100 promotional covers for the Capoeira Twins 12″ single 4 x 3 / Truth Will Out.

At about the same time Banksy had been with the Easton Cowboys football team on their tour to Chiapas, Mexico, where he painted some murals. A cassette of revolutionary songs Called Canciones electorales was released using Banksy’s painting of a Zapatista on the inlay. The cassettes were white, yellow and red and produced in limited quantities.

Back to the artist named Robin Gunningham. Sometime in the mid to late 1990s a guy called Robin visited Leicester and designed the logo for the dub organisation the Vibronics, whose owner, Steve ‘Vibronics’ Gibb is sure must have been Banksy.

More certain, are the covers for two cassettes released by the Bristol group Mother Samosa in 1993 and 1994. The cassette inlays are both credited to Robin Gunningham. Assuming Gunningham to be Banksy, then these cover designs are probably the first “Banksy” covers. The first cassette was called Oh My God It’s Cheeky Clown (1993), and reputedly also released as a CDr at the time. The second was Fairground of Fear (1994). The cassettes were produced as limited editions and I have thus far never seen one.

I was lucky to get hold of printers proofs of these two cassette inlays in late 2020. I recently read that a set of these had been up for sale by Art Broker in 2018 with an estimate of GBP 4000! I got mine from a oen-time friend of the band.

In 2006 and 2007 the band reissued the remastered albums as limited edition Digipak CDs. The first was the nine-track Oh My God It’s Cheeky Clown, while the second, the Fairground of Fear album was released on Digipak CD with only 11 of the original twelve tracks (track five on the tape’s side two Wallace P. Bowl was omitted from the CD.) The person who sold me the cassette inlays contacted me again in early December 2022 and offered me the two CDs, which duly arrived before Christmas!

According to my supplier, these Digipak CDs were released in editions of one hundred numbered copies with a handful released unnumbered. Neither of my CDs is numbered.

Now, I suppose I will have to continue my search for the original cassettes.

Some More of My Own Art.

I keep trying to be creative, and not only in the record cover collecting field. Last summer I went on another silkscreen course and though I didn’t manage to get as much done as I had hoped, I still did produce a few nice things.

I printed a number of teeshirts and five new sets of Andy Warhol’s and Billy Klüver’s famous Giant Size $1.57 Each record covers. This involved first spray painting the record covers (white, yellow, red, green and orange — the same colours Warhol/Klüver used on the originals) and then screenprinting the Giant Size $1.57 Each text on top. I did 25 covers in all!

I also printed a number of teeshirts with the same design, but this time in gold.

A bit later, I got Urban, my friendly neighbourhood printer, to print replica record labels that I could stick onto some LPs that I sourced from the record store that I sold my collection to a few years ago. They had loads of records that were unsellable and that they were glad to get rid of!

At he same silkscreen course, I printed two pictures using the same Giant Size stencil. These turned out so well that Anette, our course leader, wanted me to print her a tote bag with the design in gold.

But the things I was most pleased with were two large-scale prints 100 x 50 cms that I decided to frame and submit for consideration for inclusion in Liljevalch’s 2023 Spring Salong. Unfortunately they weren’t accepted but I’m pleased I tried.

Latterly, I’ve gone back to painting. Anyone who has followed this blog may have read about my collection of sixties Bill Graham Fillmore Autitorium and Avalon Ballroom handbills. The original posters are now fetching large sums at auction and I always wanted Wes Wilson’s The Sound poster from 1966. Knowing I couldn’t afford an original, I reckoned the next best thing woud be to paint a reproduction… Note: not a forgery, a reproduction.

There are many instances of artists appropriating the work of others, ranging from Elaine Sturtevant, who in the sixties reproduced several of Andy Warhol’s paintings to Ulf Linde, who reproduced Marcel Duchamp’s readymades and which are on permanent display at Stockholm’s Moderna Museet (Linde even got Duchamp to sign the reproductions!) He made further copies (I mean reproductions) fifteen years after Duchamp’s death, but then had his widow sign them! Another celebrated case of reproductions is the Brillo Boxes ordered by Pontus Hultén for an exhibition that were made in Malmö, Sweden, and many were later sold as original Warhol Brillo Boxes. The fact that Hultén had commissioned them only came to light six months after his death in 2006.

So now I decided to paint myself a copy/reproduction of Wes Wilson’s magnificent poster as near full size as possible (acrylic on paper) . And here is the result.

I got inspired by how well this turned out and a friend posted a picture of Banksy’s 2004 I Fought the Law and I Won print. I have two record covers that had travestied this design — The Promise’s 2002 album Believer and the test pressing for Embalming Theatre’s and Tersanjung XIII’s split EP called Mommy Died – Mummified / Hellnoise — and I decided to reproduce Banksy’s original. I did a black and white version and then saw that one of the big auction houses was selling a red/orange version. So I decided to paint that one too.

Then I looked for something perhaps more complicated to paint and I saw the cover of the band UFO’s 1979 album Strangers in the Night and decided to give it a go. However, I though the dots might prove tricky.

My latest painting, completed only yesterday, is the front cover of The Clash’s eponymous first album with photography by Kate Simon.

Painting these record sleeves makes a great addition to my collection of record cover art. I really feel like painting some more. I thought I might try Kraftwerk’s Die Mensche-Maschine cover. A given for anyone, like me, who likes typography. We’ll see if it materialises.

A New Cindy Sherman Record Cover.

I went to a massive Cindy Sherman exhibition at Stockholm’s Moderna Museet entitled “Untiitled Horrors” in late 2013 and noted that Sherman had contributed to several record covers. I managed to find information and pictures of seven:
1. The Kitchen Presents “Two Moons July” — videodisc
2. Tellus #21 – Audio by Visual Artists — audio cassette.
3. Babes in Toyland’s album Fontanelle
4. Babes in Toyland’s album Painkillers
5. Cloudburst – Love – Lies – Bleeding,12″ EP
6. Athur Doyle – No More Crazy Woman.

… and just recently, I could add a seventh cover; Teddy and Jenni Do George and Tammy, a limited edition, four-track EP by Teddy Thompson (son of Richard and Linda Thompson) and Jenni Muldaur (daughter of Geoff and Maria Muldaur) who duet on two songs each by George Jones and Tammy Wynette. Apparently, Jenni and Cindy Sherman are pals and Cindy agreed to do the cover for this EP.

Teddy & Jenni Do George & Tammy

It transpires that thee cover of the videodisk while being advertised as beoing by Cindy Sherman actually isn’t, so I can cross that one off my list. I haven’t been able to find the Tellus #21 cassette but the other covers are relatively easy to find and make a nice collection by a famous photographer.