Search

Dean Chalkley’s exhibition reimagines Sgt. Pepper 50 years on at The Book Club

PUBLISHED: 09:00 01 September 2017

Reverberation. Credit: Dean Chalkley

Reverberation. Credit: Dean Chalkley

Photgoraphy ©deanchalkley 2017 / Creative Direction Discordo

Shoreditch’s The Book Club will be hosting photographer Dean Chalkley’s latest exhibition, a contemporary interpretation of the Beatles’ 1967 album

Reverberation. Credit: Dean Chalkley Reverberation. Credit: Dean Chalkley

Iconic photographer Dean Chalkley is presenting his latest exhibition: a contemporary interpretation of the Beatles’ 1967 “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” album through images reverberating off the 14 tracks.

Together with designer Ciaran O’Shea – an old friend from their mod days in Southend – Chalkley talks about creating pictures that fuse meanings, nuances and word associations from the album’s songs, whilst playing with psychedelic aesthetics and remaining conscious of the Beatles’ desire to hide their global fame behind the fictitious characters of Sgt. Pepper and his Lonely Hearts Club Band.

And so the two have spent the last three weeks locked in a room above Chalkley’s studio, often until the early hours, listening to “Sgt. Pepper” on repeat. Was it as maddening an experience as it sounds?

“Maybe,” says O’Shea. “But we’ve found that we now like it even more than we did before.

Reverberation. Credit: Dean Chalkley Reverberation. Credit: Dean Chalkley

“We started listening out for nuances delivered through the album and it felt like falling into a hole. You can listen to the album and interpret it in a certain way; then you think about the cultural, social, historical contexts surrounding it, and the benefit of hindsight allows you to add biographical details from the Beatles’ lives that widen the web of references even more.”

Both Chalkley and O’Shea agree that they were driven by “mood, atmosphere and feeling,” which they then distilled into prints. “Some elements are more graphic, others are more photographic – and then there’s a point in the middle,” Chalkley says, pointing at O’Shea. “I’m taking the pictures, you’re creating the designs, and we’re a real partnership.”

The tip of his finger has gone numb from working with materials during post-production, and O’Shea confirms the whole process has been “intense”, yet Chalkley worries that people might find some of the pictures “brutally simple”.

“They may just think we haven’t even bothered to retouch them! But that was actually a very conscious decision. We haven’t confined ourselves to one approach. Often in exhibitions there can be a theme, a narrow margin of aesthetics. This exhibition is much wider: shackles are off.”

Dean Chalkley and Ciaran O'Shea. Credit: Dean Chalkley Dean Chalkley and Ciaran O'Shea. Credit: Dean Chalkley

There are many risks to tackling such an iconic work, though – not least that audiences might get the impression that Chalkley and O’Shea are putting forward the definitive guide to “Sgt. Pepper”, which would cause a riot. How did they get around it? “The pictures are not a series of films,” says Chalkley. “They’re just pointing out interesting aspects. The hope is that people will see pictures, be touched by them, and try to make their own connections as to where our ideas came from. We’d like people to get inspired. And we hope they see how joyous this exhibition is.”

The Book Club – a watering hole in the heart of Shoreditch – seemed the perfect setting for Reverberation:

“I love that it’s a popular place,” says Chalkley. “There’s going to be a populist notion to it. It’ll provoke a different emotional response to a cold gallery.”

Amongst the vast amounts of mystique and rumours that have surrounded “Sgt. Pepper” for the last five decades, one crucial matter remains: was Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds always supposed to spell out LSD – or is the story about Lennon’s son’s nursery school drawing of his classmate Lucy to be believed?

Reverberation. Credit: Dean Chalkley Reverberation. Credit: Dean Chalkley

Both Chalkley and O’Shea laugh: “They could’ve just changed the title and prevented the rumours – but they didn’t! I think it shows what a great sense of humour the Beatles had,” Chalkley says.

O’Shea agrees: “Actually I think that in 1967 Lennon was living with Cynthia in the suburbs and his drug of choice was daytime TV! And you can tell, as a lot of the songs are rooted in the every day and what he saw around him and less about the… other stuff. But, like all great Beatles works, it’s open to interpretation.”

Reverberation runs at The Book Club, EC2A, September 7 to November 7. wearetbc.com

0 comments

Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files
Comments

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Hackney Gazette visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Hackney Gazette staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Hackney Gazette account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

Latest Hackney Stories

Layth Yousif visits the Arsenal Hub to meet an inspiring set of people taking part in wonderful work under the banner of the club.

17:30

Middlesex bowler to miss summer Tests for England

Officers from London’s new gang-busting squad have questioned the whereabouts of the parents of a 16-year-old boy who was caught with a huge ‘Rambo’ hunting knife down his pants in Hoxton at 11am this morning.

The former Gillingham manager is confident his players will bounce back from the 1-0 loss at home to Maidenhead United

18:04

Hackney Winter Night Shelter is not just a place to sleep – it also aims to get guests off the streets permanently. With funds raised by Gazette staff running the Hackney Half next month, it may be able to stay open longer and help more. Vicky Munro finds out more.

17:03

A company hoping to put 26 phone boxes across Hackney (yes, we know it’s 2018) has been accused of “flagrantly abusing a planning loophole” in order to smuggle in digital advertising.

Mauricio Pochettino has called for focus ahead of the final four Premier League games of the season with a top-four finish not yet guaranteed

Manager Chris Brayford and captain Danielle Griffiths have reflected on the season to date and Sunday’s big game with MK Dons

PROMOTED CONTENT

To celebrate LGBT history month, Hackney resident Amanda talks about her journey to becoming a foster carer, with the council’s support and training.



Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Most read entertainment

Show Job Lists