A retrospective of the work of one of the most influential designers of punk record sleeves will go on display in Sunderland this week.
As the original art director at Stiff Records and through other projects, Chris Morton’s work has graced the record covers of everyone from The Clash, Dire Straits and Siouxie & the Banshees to The Everly Brothers, Thin Lizzy and Madness.
From Friday, a selection of his punk, post-punk and new wave record covers will go on display at Pop Recs in Stockton Road.
Highlights will include the first punk rock single ever released: The Damned’s New Rose 7”.
Dave Harper, from the coffee shop, record store and arts space, said: “One of the few genres from that time that is still alive and well is punk, and Chris designed some of the most iconic punk images of the time.
“Before punk, record sleeves weren’t as hard hitting, there was nothing political or anarchic. Then punk records, and sleeves, came along. Not only were they visually-stimulating, they said something: you could set your identity through your pile of records.”
Chris, from Hexham, who designed at that time under the name C-More-Tone, began at Stiff Records in the late ‘70s, and went on to produce record covers, posters, ads and designs for bands such as Madness, Richard Hell, Ian Dury and the Blockheads, Lene Lovich, Kirsty MacColl, Wreckless Eric and many more.
From 1982-1984, his work was exhibited at London’s Institute of Contemporary Arts, which supports radical art and culture, and he was an award-winning cover designer at C-More-Tone Studios.
The C-More-Tone Retrospective is being staged as a spin off to the Punk 1976-78 British Library exhibition, running at the Museum and Winter Gardens.
Musician Ross Millard, who’s curated the Pop Recs exhibition, said: “The Library Service got in touch to ask if we’d like to contribute to an event around the punk exhibition.
“I immediately thought of Chris. Despite the breadth of his work, he’s a very unassuming bloke and has never had a retrospective.”
He added: “The reason I got to know Chris was as an artist first, he was really at the cutting edge of modern print-making techniques. He still works in the arts today, in public art and more conceptual works.”
•The C-More-Tone Retrospective runs at Pop Recs from Friday, January 20 until April 29. It will open with a launch event on Friday, January 20 at 6.30pm. As well as Chris being in attendance, the launch will feature music from the era and drinks for sale. All are welcome to attend.