Behind the scenes of The Pink Floyd Exhibition: Their Mortal Remains

All Images Courtesy of Hipgnosis

While still in the midst of organising Their Mortal Remains, Aubrey Powell took time off to reflect with Blueprint on his three favourite covers for Pink Floyd. Interestingly enough, Dark Side of the Moon is not one of them…

Wish You Were Here
Released 12 September 1975

I’m not going to include Dark Side Of The Moon because it’s simply a graphic and even though it’s become one of the most iconic covers ever produced, it’s not one of my favourites. Wish You Were Here definitely is one of my favourites.

Wish You Were Here

It was a Storm idea and it was an intelligent take on the lyrics of the album and what the album was about: the absence of sincerity and people getting burned in business and particularly, at that time, musicians in the music business.

I think Storm came up with the most incredible idea, which I went away and photographed. We spent six weeks in California shooting it, and on a personal level it was a real triumph. It was an adventure, a real thrill, and I’m still very proud of it. We shot it on the Warner Bros lot in Burbank. And then there were the inside covers that we shot in the Yuma Desert and then Mono Lake, where I shot the diver.

Wish You Were Here

I was so blown away by the lake. For that shot I found a stunt man who was into yoga and could hold his breath under water for a really long time, about three minutes. I had a special chair made that we could sink into the mud of the lake and then he could be upright on it and hold his breath. He was an extraordinary athlete.

Unfortunately, for the whole day it had been windy, so the lake had been covered in ripples and then suddenly, as dusk came, it cleared and there was not a breath of wind and we got the most perfect shot sitting in an aluminium boat. This was a real Hipgnosis moment, because we always did everything for real; we never tried to strip things in and there was no Photoshop, so we couldn’t fake it.

Atom Heart Mother
Released 2 October 1972

My favourite Pink Floyd cover is the cow on Atom Heart Mother.

The reason is that, at that particular time, I have such fond memories of walking into EMI with this artwork, with just the picture of a cow on it, with no lettering, no name of the band, no title and going: ‘That’s the album cover’. And then being slagged o¬ beyond belief. We were told we were the worst designers in the world and we had no right bringing crap like that into the hallowed halls of EMI. But we had the power of the band behind us and their trust, so we stood our ground and said: ‘This is the cover, it is what it is.’ And of course it worked so well. Nobody had ever done anything like this before.

Atom Heart Mother

I remember seeing a billboard on Sunset Strip with the picture of the cow on it and nothing else and everybody in Los Angeles was going: ‘What the fuck is that about?’ Then the album came out and it was huge, their rst number-one album. Hipgnosis was in its heyday, as were Pink Floyd. They were absolutely the best buddies at that time, and it was such good fun being around them, so that’s my favourite.

More
Released 15 June 1969

My third favourite cover is probably More, which is a very strange one to choose I suppose, but the reason is that I went to Formentera in Spain to photograph it, and I was so knocked out by the place that I bought a house there and kept it for 32 years. Somehow the cover of More, which is just this simple photograph of this farmer from the lm running up the hill towards the windmill in two-tone colour: bright orange and blue.

More

It just always stood out as something very different for me. And the early covers again didn’t have any lettering on them, but then all that changed when the movie company got involved and said: ‘We’re not having that; we’ll never sell it as a soundtrack unless it has soundtrack written all over it.’ So we had to relinquish our power and step back. So yes, these three are my favourites because they have the fondest memories with them.

Profile: Stufish

Mark Fisher began dabbling with inflatables at the Architectural Association and founded his first company Air Structures Design while still studying there. In 1976 he was commissioned by Pink Floyd to work on its Animals tour, along with engineer Jonathan Park (the pair later went on to form Fisher Park) and after that the original The Wall tour.

The Rolling Stones’ 50 & Counting... tour set from 2012 by Stufish. Image Credit: Ralph LarmannThe Rolling Stones’ 50 & Counting... tour set from 2012 by Stufish. Image Credit: Ralph Larmann

Fisher Park, formed in 1984, worked on such projects as lighting and effects’ installation for the Hippodrome in London (1984) and shows including the Free Nelson Mandela Concert (Wembley 1988), The Wall in Berlin (1990) and Pavarotti in the Park (1991), as well as tours for Stevie Wonder, Tina Turner, Whitney Houston, Janet Jackson, George Michael, the Rolling Stones and U2. A decade later Fisher moved on and set up the Mark Fisher Studio which morphed into Stufish Entertainment Architects. He died in 2013, but the company has continued his work.

Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Ball tour in 2012 by Stufish, promoting the Born This Way album. Image Credit: StufishLady Gaga’s Born This Way Ball tour in 2012 by Stufish, promoting the Born This Way album. Image Credit: Stufish

Stufish now has a huge track record having worked with the likes of Madonna, Metallica, Elton John, AC/DC, Lady Gaga and having every Stones tour since 1989 and every U2 tour since 1992.

The Dai Show Theatre in Xishuangbanna, China, designed in 2015 for the Dalian Wanda Group. Image Credit: Tim Franco, Courtesy of Stufish
The Dai Show Theatre in Xishuangbanna, China, designed in 2015 for the Dalian Wanda Group. Image Credit: Tim Franco, Courtesy of Stufish

The company has designed many stage shows, including We Will Rock You, and then went on to work on the opening ceremony for the 2010 Asian Games in Guangzhou and the opening and closing ceremonies in the Olympic Games in Beijing, which began a fertile relationship with China that saw Stufish branch out into creating whole entertainment buildings for Dalian Wanda, China’s largest commercial property group. Now Stufish is moving in to new territory but back in London.

The Dai Show Theatre in Xishuangbanna, China, designed in 2015 for the Dalian Wanda Group. Image Credit: Tim Franco, Courtesy of Stufish
The Dai Show Theatre in Xishuangbanna, China, designed in 2015 for the Dalian Wanda Group. Image Credit: Tim Franco, Courtesy of Stufish

Having provided content as well as the architectural context for shows on a number of occasions, CEO Ray Winkler says Stufish has decided to go the whole hog and stage its own show entirely — Soho. To make life easy it also opens in May, for 17 nights in London, at the same time as the Pink Floyd exhibition at the V&A. Winkler hopes that it will continue elsewhere after its initial London run and mark a new phase of organic growth and change for Stufish. 

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