The legacy of Trevor Key returns to Hull

Published: Wednesday 20th September 2017 by Courtney Farrow

Comments (0)

The work of Hull-born Trevor Key, the photographer behind the iconic sleeve of Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells, is celebrated at a citywide event.

Trevor Key’s Top 40 launches today at the Hull School of Art and Design in their Brodrick Gallery. The three-month event will later appear at Ings Library on Savoy Road and Fred Moore Library, Wold Road. The programme has been organised by graphic designer Scott King, stylist Lesley Dilcock and still-life photographer Toby McFarlan Pond.

Trevor was born in the city in 1947 and went to the Hull School of Art and Design.

“Something I always think is great is that he was a photographer at Butlins, for a time,” chuckles Scott. “In the early 70s, he began doing photography for record sleeves – most famously Tubular Bells.”

Mike Oldfield’s ‘Tubular Bells’ (above) spent a total of 286 weeks in the UK Album Chart. More than 2,630,000 copies have been sold in this country alone, whilst 15 million copies of the well-known record have been purchased worldwide. This, and many of other examples of Trevor’s talent, is displayed in homes across the globe.

“I have a funny relationship with ‘Tubular Bells’,” says Scott. “It’s a record that I cannot stand, but one of my favourite ever record covers.”

Later in his career, Trevor formed Cooke Key Associates, with fellow Yorkshireman Brian Cook.

“They worked together on all sorts of interesting projects, such as record covers for the infamous Derek and Clive albums, ‘Come Again’ and ‘Ad Nauseum’,” Scott adds.

“In the 1980s, Trevor famously teamed up with Peter Saville and they produced the hugely influential work for New Order,” he continues. “One of my favourite sleeves in one of the last things Trevor did: ‘Point 3 – Fire Album’ for System 7.

New Order ’True Faith’ Factory Records 1987. Cover: Peter Saville Associates and Trevor Key.

Trevor’s work impressively spanned three decades and across various genres.

“You can’t help but feel he must have been a bit of a Zelig, to be involved in so many pop cultural landmarks.”

Scott has clearly been heavily inspired by Key, having been the art director of i-D magazine, as well as Creative Director of Sleazenation. Like Trevor, he has worked for a plethora of prominent figures, producing incredible work for the Pet Shop Boys, Malcolm McLaren, and Suicide. He currently works at the University of the Arts, London as Professor of Visual Communication.

“I first saw Trevor’s work (or, rather, first put his name to work that I knew) when I was a student in Hull in the early 90s. I remember thinking how beautiful, pop and chic it all was,” Scott recalls. “I’m not sure how it influenced me, but along with most other New Order and Factory sleeves, it proved that you could treat a record cover as a blank canvas. If you had the willpower, the imagination and the ear of the band, you could pretty much do anything you wanted.”

A free talk with Scott, Toby McFarlan Pond, Patrick Burgoyne and Ian Anderson will take place tonight at the Hull School of Art and Design from 6:45pm.

“I think anyone who loves pop music will love the work – it’s interesting. Some of them are among the greatest sleeves ever made,” Scott encourages.

Meanwhile, the display stand has been designed and made by the great British artist, Matthew Darbyshire:

“It’s like one huge sculpture. It’s almost like a collaboration between Trevor, who made ‘high art for the high street’, and Matthew, who takes mass produced objects and turns them into gallery sculptures,” Scott tells us. “There is this sort of interchange between the two of them; both aspects coming together to make something new.”

To find out more about this fantastic exhibition, please consult the Hull 2017 website. 

Top image: Mike Oldfield, ‘Tubular Bells’ Virgin Records 1973. Photography and design: Trevor Key

Enjoy more Hull and East Yorkshire news on HEY Today

Follow us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram

Published: Wednesday 20th September 2017 by Courtney Farrow

Comments (0)

Local business search