Often album art goes unappreciated and sometimes unnoticed in this digital era where albums can be downloaded as files in place of a physical purchase. This weekend it was a privilege to not only see some of the amazing work that binds the covers of albums, but to also see original paintings in Bloodstock Open Air’s first Rock and Metal Gallery.
The work featured in this gallery was a selection of some of artist (and Bloodstock co-founder) Paul Gregory’s album artworks and some of his impressive Tolkien inspired paintings, spanning metres in length and height. It was particularly interesting to see the huge working progress painting of what appears to be the grounds of Bloodstock situated in the realm of Middle Earth with Mount Doom towering above the festival arena and a glowing main stage lighting up a silhouetted crowd glaring on. Looking more closely into the fine details there are a few familiar faces to be seen, including that of Ronnie James Dio as a painted memorial, Simon Hall, Lemmy Kilmister and others important to the festival and Paul. The fusion of the two subjects seems only apt for Mr Gregory who has invested so much effort into each.
Besides the large Tolkien paintings, the sizeable gallery walls were lined with album covers of Great British legends, Saxon and American rockers, Molly Hatchet and others. Seeing the original works of covers that we’re familiar with at a maximum size of 12 x 12” (vinyl) in their full sized glory (significantly bigger than a vinyl sleeve) is quite an overwhelming experience. Suddenly a mass printed image can be appreciated as a separate entity and as the painted work of art that these familiar images started out as. A truly unique festival experience.
Additionally, the history of the Bloodstock art work was displayed in its entirety, framed and featuring the signatures of the bands of each year’s lineup. A nice touch to the history of the festival, however not a touch I personally liked as I felt it was a distraction from the appreciation of the original art work. On the other hand, it was pretty funny seeing DragonForce sign their name in a drawing of a penis. It was also great to see some Wacken art work hanging in the gallery, as if an acknowledgement to the importance of it to Bloodstock.
Believing in supporting up and coming talent, Paul Gregory shared this new festival addition with musician and artist Cynosure, showcasing a selection of playable art guitars including one which was created especially for Bloodstock named ‘Infernus’, shaped as a crucifix and featuring the Ram skull logo and B-O-A logo inlay. Although not a guitar enthusiast myself, I found it interesting to see that guitar design was being pushed into another dimension and to being seen as more than an instrument.
Overall I personally found the addition of the Rock and Metal Gallery one of the highlights of the weekend and a different but thoroughly enjoyable experience that I’d recommend fellow Bloodstockers pay a visit to in subsequent years.