High Meadows Vintage Posters
The High Meadows Collection thrust us into a photographic world that we previously had no experience in! In the 1960s, Chris’ uncle Colin began collecting art posters. He loved art of all kinds and was a huge music fan, so he started with music posters. This collection continued for decades and eventually passed on to his nephew, who added to the collection as well! Recently, Chris decided that the time had come to document and curate the collection and so our journey into archival photography began.
Last Summer Colin sadly passed away. He had always wanted to document the collection and show it to the world but never had the opportunity to do so. Chris felt like fulfilling this goal for him would be a wonderful way to honour his memory. The name of the collection was taken from the name of Colin’s house and seemed fitting for the collection. Over the last six months we have photographed and researched 548 posters.
Photographing this collection has presented myriad learning opportunities. We wanted every image to be a true representation of the poster, so we had to ensure consistency in approach over many shoots. Colour accuracy and elimination of artefacts was vital. We ensured that any damage to the posters remained visible. The vast majority of the collection were photographed using a lighting set-up designed to eliminate reflection and provide even light coverage. This was particularly important for the one hundred or so that are behind glass. There were a few that were so shiny that we had to try a variety of other approaches until we achieved acceptable results. It was a massive process but we are really pleased with where we arrived.
The High Meadows collection spans decades, continents and genres. A swathe of the collection hails from San Francisco between 1966 and 1968. This time and place saw an explosion of music and art. Bill Graham and The Family Dog were promoting gigs at Fillmore West and The Avalon Ballroom. These featured The Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane and hundreds of fantastic bands. Many artists were commissioned to design posters for these shows including (but definitely not limited to) members of the ‘San Fransisco Big Five’. Rick Griffin, Wes Wilson, Victor Moscoso, Stanley Mouse and Alton Kelley.
At the same time and place Joe McHugh was starting iconic poster company East Totem West. He decided to print his own posters, producing art for art’s sake and was soon joined by a slew of talented artists including Wilfried Satty and Nick Nickolds.
A similar creative explosion was taking place in the UK. Pink Floyd and The Who, amongst others were playing sold out gigs at venues such as The UFO Club. Some very exciting artwork for these gigs was being produced by many artists and was published by Osiris Visions. Notable amongst these artists were Michael English and Nigel Waymouth of Hapshash and the Coloured Coat. Posters designed by the duo were screen printed making each an original piece of art. These posters were so sought after that organised gangs would follow the promoters, steaming them off walls and stealing them as soon as they were posted.
Along side this Martin Sharp brought Oz magazine and his own style of artwork to the UK. As well as producing much work of his own for bands of the day, the magazine produced its own style of art and shocked society so greatly that it lead to an obscenity charge. The High Meadows Collection contains a Sharp/Oz magazine poster for a legalise pot rally!
Also on these shores were art collective The Fool. This group of artists worked closely with The Beatles. They created all of the art and design for the Apple Boutique.
Outside of the rock poster genre, The High Meadows Collection also features a diverse range of other works. A large part of the collection is made up of Blacklight posters. The foremost artist in this genre was Joe Roberts Jr who produced blacklight posters featuring Hendrix, Timothy Leary and John Lennon amongst many others. Others were created by unknown artists but through iconic studios such as New York’s Third Eye Inc. Lesser known British ephemera is also well represented in the collection from ‘London Britches, great on trips,’ by Bill Ogden through to some amazing drawings and screenprints from The Unicorn Bookshop that was in Brighton. There are also posters from Italy, Sweden, Israel and countries all over the World.
Curating this collection has been an amazing process and we are both incredibly grateful to have had the chance to learn about the cultures from which they arose. You can see most of the rest of the collection on Instagram or Facebook. Soon the majority of the collection will be up for auction and we will be sad to see it go. It does deserve to be seen and loved though and rest assured that we have kept a proportion to have in our home and admire forever.
The High Meadows Collection would like to thank Ted from The Bahr Gallery in New York for all of his help and input during this process. If you are in the area we highly recommend that you drop in and see his fantastic space. Hopefully one day we will get over there ourselves and see it in person. We would also like to thank Kev Foakes AKA DJ Food for his blog about the collection. Classic Posters, The Pink Floyd Archives and The Psychedelic Art Exchange have provided invaluable information and we had very helpful conversations with Bamalam Posters, The Eric King Guide and David Heard. We have also had so much help from our followers on Facebook and Instagram and so, if you have ever contributed to this process, please accept our thanks. We’ll see you all at an auction soon!