Marden Hill

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Joining The Modern Marketplace this month is DANAD Design. This company founded by two members of the Marden Hill house collective ignited the Pop Art movement in Britain and created works that Liberty, Heals and Harrods could not get enough of in the Sixties,

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Unknown print left at Marden Hill between 1958-62 Originally the lovechild of Barry Daniels (DAN) and Tom Adams (AD), two friends who moved to a sprawling mansion called Marden Hill with their wives in the Sixties, DANAD Design (1958 to 1962) was part of the huge output of pioneering laminated plastic art.

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Barry Daniels on DANAD Design’s exhibition stand at the Portal Gallery, London

Left to gather dust, DANAD Design got a shot in the arm and a new lease of life when Barry’s son Mark Daniels sifted through a heap of work in his parent’s basement after he split up with his wife. Described as feeling “a bit like breaking the seal on Tutankhamen’s tomb” Daniels decided to create a collection from his haul that would highlight the glory days of Marden Hill where star artists of the time from St Martins, Royal College and the Slade collided to create a glorious supernova of work throughout the mid Fifties to early Sixties in the infamous house that eventually became divided up into flats (one of which is now owned by artist Pure Evil).

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Robyn Denny graphic brought to life on DANAD design’s screen and table for sale through Harrods, Heals and Liberty in the Sixties 
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Collage – Robyn Denny Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath spent some time at this bohemian bolt hole along with a steady stream of musicians including Donovan, Mick Jagger and Jimi Hendrix. It is said that a very young Rod Stewart  met his best friend Ronnie Wood at Marden Hill and wrote ‘Maggie May’ in his room. Clothes designer Ossie Clark and film director Ken Russell dropped in on the place but core Marden Hillers were the artists and architects who together produced huge canvases, collaged screens and customised pieces of furniture that soon became spread from room to room while the artists lived out the Rock and Roll dream and tuned in, got turned on and dropped out.

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Walnut and formica screen with a Barry Daniels’ print from DANAD Design at BUY MODERN on The Modern Marketplace

The most famous of the Marden Hill Collective, if we are talking in laymen’s terms, is Peter Blake, one of the best-known British artists of his generation whose 1961 ‘Self-portrait With Badges’ (Tate, London), where he stands in denim jeans and jacket, sporting Converse trainers and brandishing an Elvis album. It has become one of the most iconic images of the Sixties along with ‘Babe Rainbow’.

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Walnut and formica table with a print by Peter Blake from DANAD design at BUY MODERN on The Modern Marketplace

Recognised as a key member of the burgeoning Pop Art movement, Blake was voracious in his learning, even going so far as to study folk art in the Netherlands. He worked across all media producing collage, sculpture, engraving, paintings and prints, as well as graphics. Inspired by Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg he started creating collage paintings and ready-made objects in 1959, two or three years before the term Pop Art became commonplace. With wife Jann, he designed the best loved album sleeve of all time – Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club band for the Beatles for a flat fee of £200 receiving no further royalties to his annoyance. Photographs, glued onto surfaces that mimic ordinary walls and doors, and painted in flat bright colours with household gloss paint was a look he championed.

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Newspaper collage on Marble by Peter Blake

Considering the current climate in copyright it is interesting to note that Mark Daniel’s father Barry Daniels was one of the first people to use out-of-copyright images with both DANAD and later with his textiles. It helped inform Blake’s work and inspired Cath Kidston and others in more recent years.

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Out-of-copyright Victorian print

Considered one of the Slade School of Fine Arts’ brightest pupils in the 1950s, Daniels was taught by the great William Coldstream and won a handful of scholarships. He exhibited in a host of shows between 1956 and 1959 including the ICA’s ‘Six Young Painters’ and was part of a major abstract Impressionism exhibition that included De Stael, Sam Francis, Bernard Cohen, Andre Masson and Helen Frankenthaler in 1959. By the end of the Sixties the Barry Daniels Studio was born which was not only a vehicle for Daniels own textile designs but many young designers from the Seventies up until the Nineties.

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Multicoloured graphic painting by Barry Daniels

Having started his career as an illustrator working on Natural History features for Eagle and Swift comics, Tom Adams soon established an international reputation as the book cover artist behind groundbreaking paperback covers for Agatha Christie and Raymond Chandler. He founded Adams Design Associates with Anna and Andy Garnett and his architect brother Peter who helped him turn illustrations and paintings into DANAD Design’s earliest furniture and screens with fellow architect Colin Huntley after Daniels introduced the collective to Formica. Tom Adams collaborated with great poets of the day including Edward Lucie-Smith and George Macbeth before working on films with Stanley Kubrick and Nic Roeg producing concept paintings and special effects.

Bernard Cohen studied at the Slade School of Fine Art from 1951-1954 and returned as the school’s inspirational professor and director in 1988 after making his mark throughout the Sixties and Seventies. Exhibited widely, he has ten paintings in the Tate Gallery’s permanent collection. You may have seen the Tate’s 2007 exhibition ‘Bernard Cohen: Paintings from the Sixties’,or ‘Work of Six Decades’ of 2009 which celebrated Cohen’s long and illustrious career.

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Lampshade created from victorian prints in the DANAD Design archive 

Robyn Denny, pictured below in sunglasses in front of his painting, is recognised as one of the UK’s leading abstract artists. Denny was one of a group of young British artists who took part in the Situation exhibition, a showcase for new British abstract painting held in 1960. He represented Britain at the Venice Biennale in 1966 and had a retrospective exhibition at the Tate Gallery in Pimlico, London, in 1973. He became an art critic soon after.

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Edward Wright trained and worked briefly as an architect before concentrating on painting, drawing, print-making, and also ‘commercial art’ including book publishing and advertising. He taught graphic design at Central School of Art at the same time as Eduardo Paolozzi was teaching textiles and his evening classes in typography were legendary with  lettering produced for modern buildings including Alison and Peter Smithson’s House of the Future for the 1956 Ideal Home exhibition

These works had not moved from the building where they were created for over half a century until Mark decided to pay homage to this essential time in history where art and craft turned into Pop Art by bringing them out in tables, screens and carpets under the revived name Danad Design. Daniels has since moved down the road to a cottage from where he runs his business and has a gallery space where he shows artists including the brilliant Jamie Reid who designed artwork for the Sex Pistols album, ‘Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols’. This audio interview with Mark Daniels gives you a fascinating insight with archive images from the days

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Originally Jacobean, Marden Hill was sold to Charles G. Thornton, the Governor of the Bank of England, who commissioned Sir John Soane to design a new vestibule and staircase. Soane added Aztec touches and the Ionic-columned two-storey porch that is the most notable feature of the building. If you would like to reproduce any part of the piece or syndicate the feature in full, please contact lucy@modernshows.com and contact DANAD Design via The Modern Marketplace for images.  

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