Thursday 25 September 2014

Ollie Howell - Sutures and Stitches - Album Art Inspiration

One of my biggest art jobs of 2013 was the debut album from drummer Ollie Howell. Along with the music came an impressive endorsement from Quincy Jones, "An unbelievable drummer. So creative I couldn’t believe it. This kid really is a 360-degree beautiful young cat that I believe has what it takes to make a life out of music".
Ollie Howell's 'Sutures and Stitches' album

He had also just been awarded the prestigious Peter Whittingham Development Award and went on soon after to win a Sky Academy Arts Scholarship. One of only 5 Arts Scholars (and the only musician chosen), Ollie became the first ever jazz recipient of any Sky award, and will now be working towards his second album, as well as having a documentary on him and his group on Sky Arts in 2015.

His debut, 'Sutures and Stitches' was released on Whirlwind Recordings in 2013 and I was luckily enough to be at Clown's Pocket Studio when he recorded the tracks. DAY 1 and DAY 2. I received all the music a few months later and started my process by taking written notes. These narrative clues were invaluable as I created the visual artwork.

Below I reproduce both the written content and the many covers we worked through.

19th Day
19th Day
I'm a barefoot daredevil whose motorbike has broken down and I'm going to run the 'wall of death' on my own two legs.


Breathe breathe again.

Its clogging and the smoke is penetrating my bones but I keep on running. Swirling and cascading like a soaring bird that's abandoned a thermal and whips into a tail spin.
Angry Skies
Angry Skies
Light on a garden path. Jumping over the pools of light, almost skipping.
The lightning cracks down like rhododendron branches. Ripping into the world.
We cold climb through the cracks that are left like a nursery rhyme.
My finger plays across the glass as I look out at inhospitable views, so many paths.
Skid and skate, scrabble and run.
Through bracken, what a beautiful thing. How can something remind you of life when it is so dead. Complexity of life is a reward.
A thousand bugs that make me up, clinging to me like moths.
Chin like a hammer.
Chewing Cracking.
Hammer head boy
Lemon boy
Great white boy
Tiger boy
Bull boy
Goblin boy
Blue boy
Megamouth boy
Basking boy.

For Anya
For Anya


Tracing my hands around a waist, circumnavigating an equatorial navel.

But flat.

Sometimes we still believe that the world is flat and that women are real.

I squeezed the water out like a sponge.

Drawing it up though like a magnet and with it came the tears too.

For Anya
Upravelling like a ball of string. Weaving it into clouds.

A knitted Wordsworth, stitches of colour.

I'm unravelling, i'm not scared.

Like a cartoon jumper, i'm unravelling to become you.
Later on
Later on
As an adult its more fun.
Just being happy alone.
You can be happy alone.
I dance in the front window.
I know everyone can see me, but who would be awake.
They're all asleep with books on their bellies or awash with the chill light from flickering boxes, but I'm dancing.
The music moves my body, the frame, I'm happy to be contained.
Fuck reaching the stars.
Dont reach out to me. I'm in this crowd and still surrounded by triple glazing.
Warmth like a happiness that escapes the body.

Some chaos.

Black piles with a gothic flavour, complicating the flow.

Bridges and rivers.

Small scurrying people, fast moving.

Black creatures, they are what we've made them. Hanging in windows on hooks, but there are pockets of safety. Boxes of safety, pegged together with ladder like spikes.

Shockwaves, tremors in my feet, what is coming from below to meet me.

The floor is shifting yet it is hard.

I'm being pulverised, pushed like putty into a small round hole.
World Apart
This is the image that eventually made it onto the album cover for Ollie Howell's album 'Sutures and Stitches' and inspired by the track....
World Apart
Escalator and stairs.
Push dont push.
Ground under by shallow breath. Give me air. Again like vermin but comforted.
Crumpled linen. Stiff with sweat.
Straight down and up shafts and cuts.
Punched down electric tool and drills, all smooth.
Space is limited
Lash out and rise above.
Adverts of us – repeating us.
Self fulfilling.
The train keeps entering the tunnel.
They dont cling anymore. Cracking and spitting through the polished tubes.
Punchy and spewing.
Then they stop. Sometimes a random train contains a collection of disperate unconnected figures. Bouncing off the metal shell like a childs bagatelle.
Then they too are dumped into the mix and churned with us.

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