Saturday 30 July 2016

Carry On Blogging Interview: Art & Hue


I recently caught up with the lovely Odysseas from Art & Hue, the company which has created the wonderful Carry On pop art prints you may have seen on the blog. I asked Odysseas all about the Carry On films, the inspiration for the brilliant pop art and what it's like to work at the legendary Pinewood Studios...

- First of all what made you want to become an artist and can you tell me a little more about the inspiration for your Art and Hue pop art?

My background is graphic design, mainly in the fashion industry and most recently on a freelance basis for small to large businesses. Whilst it's always satisfying to work on a client's brief and successfully interpret their feelings into a solid brand identity, I felt I needed a creative outlet through which I could concentrate on art that was driven by my own personal interests and aesthetic. I'd been creating halftone designs since 2006 for various projects and in 2014 decided to create and launch Art & Hue as a collection of pop art that spoke to me, and hopefully other people! At the moment I'm focusing on Mid-Century subjects such as Jet Set travel and architecture and more recently, classic and retro film and TV.

- I have blogged about your Carry On collection - why did you choose to focus on the earlier films in the series? 

Whilst it's before my time, I feel drawn to the 1960s which seemed an incredibly exciting era of tremendous change and innovation, from the birth of modern music and fast fashion, to social upheaval and progress. One of my favourite shows from the era was The Avengers with Patrick Macnee as John Steed - it was a thoroughly modern show, ahead of it's time, with a female equal who could compete with, and out-do, men. I had the pleasure of going through the archives of the show at Pinewood Studios which is where I spotted posters of the earlier Carry On films. The first 12 Carry On films were produced by Anglo Amalgamated before the franchise moved to Rank - I have a soft-spot for the earlier films as they're charming, gentler, and with a far less blatant innuendo than the later films. Plus they're important to show the progression of the films development as well as societal changes as to what humour was deemed acceptable at the time. The writing on the earlier films had to be more subtle to get around the censors.


- You recently launched a new set of prints based on Joanna Lumley's career. Can you tell me more about that project? 

I've always been an admirer of Joanna's work, from her Bond film appearance and The New Avengers to Sapphire & Steel and of course Absolutely Fabulous. After launching The Avengers pop art collection, I considered taking a look at The New Avengers as Joanna Lumley was fantastic as Purdey but then I discovered that there were images of Joanna in the Pinewood archives of her appearance in a little-known film called "The Breaking of Bumbo". Never released in cinemas at the time, it was filmed after her appearance in the Bond film "On Her Majesty's Secret Service" but before "The New Avengers. She looked great with back-combed 60s hair and I've nicknamed the pop art collection "Andy Warhol meets Patsy Stone" as you could imagine Patsy scaring Warhol into creating pop art of her.

- As part of your research you have often mentioned using the archives at Pinewood Studios - what is it like to work at Pinewood?

It's wonderful to visit the archives at Pinewood as you can feel the history in the walls of the place. You can walk down Goldfinger Avenue, where the Aston Martin sped around in the film, see where the cab forecourt was in Carry on Cabby (where the cabs drove around in a circle) and the Carry On hospital corridors, as well as seeing gardens from Carry On Henry and the grand white building that featured in Up The Khyber and as Dr Nookie's clinic in Carry On Again Doctor. The archives themselves are in a heavily secured building with climate controlled rooms to preserve the original film cans and documents so it can be quite chilly, even in July!

- You recently created art work based on the classic comedy film School for Scoundrels, even presenting the star of the film (Janette Scott) with one of your prints. What was that like? 

Elstree Studios arranged a screening of School for Scoundrels at the actual location where the original iconic tennis matches, between Terry-Thomas and Ian Carmichael, were filmed. It used to be a private members club but became a hotel which is now owned by Laura Ashley Hotels. The screening was outdoors on the very spot where the tennis court used to be, and after the screening there was a Q&A between Janette Scott and Morris Bright. Morris is the chairman at Elstree Studios and organised the whole event. He's been good friends with Janette Scott for many years (as well as her mother Thora Hird who he wrote a book about). It was wonderful to meet Janette, who was absolutely adorable, and it was great to hear how the hotel was exactly the same as she remembered it from 1959 when School for Scoundrels was filmed.

- Why do you think the Carry Ons are still so popular after all these years? 

I suppose there's obviously a nostalgia in remembering simpler times but I think we all grow up with the Carry Ons and pleasantly discover more about them as we age. When we're young children, we enjoy the slapstick but as we get older we can appreciate the innuendo and humour that would have gone straight over our heads as kids. Each new viewing can reveal a fresh detail, even if it's having fun spotting locations or continuity mistakes. Ultimately, I think the Carry Ons endure because of the performances - sometimes the script wasn't THAT funny, but Sid, Joan, Kenneth, Charles, Hattie, Babs, the whole gang were such great performers they could make any line work. Looking back it's a shame they weren't as well looked after as they could have been by the production as it really was the great cast that made the films the lasting successes they've become.

- As an artist, why do you think the original Carry On poster art was so successful? 

I adore the first few posters of the Carry On films with the Mid-Century graphic illustrations on Carry On Nurse, Teacher, Cruising, etc but no-one knows who the illustrator was - if any of your readers know, do let me know! There's no record apparently of who was commissioned to illustrate the original posters which is a shame. It was a pleasure to be able to work on them to then offer the artwork in a choice of three sizes and 16 colours, so a Carry On fan can have artwork of their favourite films in colours to suit their home. 


- Do you have any more projects in the pipeline? Can you tell me anything about them? 

There are several collections on the way, either in the planning stages or ready to launch once all the paperwork's in place. I can't say what's coming just yet other than there are some new 1960s-inspired collections on the way that I'm excited to share, featuring iconic film, TV, and cultural influencers from the era. 

- Who is your favourite Carry On star and why?

That really is an impossible question to answer! It's the combination of Sid, Joan, Hattie, Charles, Kenneths, Babs, Bernard, the whole cast, that makes the films so successful. If I had to choose just one, I'd have to say Joan Sims - she was wonderful at whatever age in every Carry on film she was in, from the young nurse onwards.

- Finally, which is your favourite Carry On film in the series and why? 

Another tricky question! I have to say Carry On Cleo - I loved the film as a child and it still stands up to repeated viewing with great lines and performances, plus who could resist the lavish Pinewood sets originally intended for Liz Taylor! 

Thanks again to Odysseas for taking the time to answer my questions! You can visit the Art & Hue website here 

And a big thank you to Odysseas for letting me share these wonderful photos from Pinewood:



And you can also follow Art & Hue on Twitter

You can follow me on Twitter @CarryOnJoan and also Facebook

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