In the middle of our course a trip was organised by some of the fine art lecturers to visit the Bonnard exhibition at the Royal Academy in London. However, as well as this dose of culture, perhaps the biggest impact was from being immersed in the powerful pop-culture at first hand.
There was abundant poster art, thanks to the Underground and we soaked in ads for Elliot boots and highly decorative graphics for Madame Toussauds and Biba. Carnaby Street impressed with the ubiquitous union jack applications and we took a detour to Baker Street to view the Beatle’s Apple shop. Feeling very much like ‘hicks from the sticks’, it made a great impression which would impact our projects as soon as we returned to college.
For me, there had been another realisation – the cultural gap between London and Manchester. This was a time before instant communications and the internet. The motorway network was still in its infancy, and a rail journey between the two cities could take half a day. The distance had allowed Manchester to develop its own and still vibrant culture. There were classy shops and clubs, a thriving advertising and creative culture – but it was strongly regional and there was a feeling that London was the mainstream. It is hard to imagine today how important sheer physical geography was to the separation of ideas and a view of the world. The mass communications medium of television did not close the gap but emphasised it. For the first time I was considering that was where my future might be.