Peter Blake Swiss Chalet: A Lone Bagpiper Confronts Snow White and her 30 Dwarves (2012)
found objects
Courtesy of Waddington Custot Galleries

Waddington Custot Galleries presents ‘Rock, Paper, Scissors’, the first major retrospective exhibition devoted to Peter Blake in the UK since 2007. The show features close to 50 new and previously unseen works from the past six decades. The exhibition title is of course taken from the children’s game, but is also a rather neat introduction to the three main sections, which are sculpture, works on paper and collage.

Peter Blake London: Petticoat Lane – One Hundred Women (2012)
collage on paper
Courtesy of Waddington Custot Galleries

To my mind Blake excels more than anything at his assembled found objects, creating thought-provoking scenarios, which are often humourous and surreal. ‘A Parade for Saul Steinberg’, started in 2007, resembles a New York street parade, where famous cartoon characters and other fantasy figures march in recognition of the cartoonist Steinberg; one of Blake’s artistic heroes. Popular characters from Blake’s earlier works reappear; Snow White is seen showing off her garden of underwater debris to René Magritte, whilst elsewhere 30 of her dwarf companions lead an invasion of a bagpiper’s Swiss chalet.

Peter Blake The Family (2010-2012)
found objects
Courtesy of Waddington Custot Galleries

In addition to using found, readymade plastic figurines, Blake reconfigures bowling balls and stained wood in to statues, which are adorned with medals and badges to represent military achievements. Another sculpture, built from wooden objects, is very touching, a life-size family group posing beneath a driftwood tree. As a departure from his constructions of found objects, in a new group of works Blake presents six found objects as works of art in their own right, reminding him (and us) as they do of sculptures by Henry Moore, Barbara Hepworth and other twentieth-century masters.

Peter Blake General IV (2012)
bowling ball, wood and medals
Courtesy of Waddington Custot Galleries

The early works on paper in the exhibition date back to 1948 and are shown alongside Blake’s most recent watercolour, ‘Portrait of Queen Elizabeth II’, commissioned by the Radio Times for the cover of their Diamond Jubilee souvenir issue. Blake’s ten new London collages form the ‘scissors’ component of the exhibition, creating fantastical scenes around London landmarks, such as a comic book convention at Piccadilly Circus (attended by the comic book characters themselves), a gathering of escaped animals at Westminster Abbey and a parade in Abbey Road.

An illustrated catalogue with essay by Marco Livingstone and cover designed by Peter Blake will accompany the exhibition.

Peter Blake | Rock, Paper, Scissors
Till 15 Dec 2012
Waddington Custot Galleries
11 Cork Street
London W1S 3LT

Words by Anna Bang


anna bang, Barbara Hepworth, Henry Moore, Peter Blake, Waddington Custot Galleries,