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  by Bill Harry                                              

The British artist Peter Blake was born in Dartford, Kent on 25th June 1932 and, like David Hockney, came to prominence in the Sixties with his paintings capturing some of the flavour of the times.

Blake taught at St. Martin’s School of Art, Harrow School of Art and Walthamstow School of Art between 1960 and 1964 and was featured in Ken Russell’s ‘Monitor’ programme ‘Pop Goes The Easel’ in 1961. In 1962 he had a one-man exhibition at the Portal Gallery and the following year married the sculptor Jann Haworth.
Peter Blake in 'Pop Goes The Easel'

Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band       Peter Blake and John Lennon on the Sgt Pepper set
He began teaching at the Royal College of Art in 1964 and had a further one-man exhibition at the Robert Fraser Gallery the following year. It was in 1967 that he designed the famous ‘Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’ album sleeve with his wife.

Blake also produced paintings of various rock artists, including The Beatles. One of his most famous Sixties productions was ‘Babe Rainbow’ a cryla and collage on hardboard, which he produced in 1967.

Dodo Designs commissioned the plaque of this fictitious female wrestler who he depicted in a skimpy costume, her flesh glistening with body oil. 10,000 copies were silk screened onto tin and sold at £1 each.Blake wrote a biography for his creation:

“Babe Rainbow, a fictitious lady wrestler, is the most recent in the line of wrestlers I have painted. These include Irish Lord X, Doktor K. Tortur, Kamikaze and Les Orchidees Noires. She is twenty-three years old and has broken her nose in the ring. She was born in New Cross, London, and wrestles mainly in Europe and the U.S.A. as there have only been a few contests between lady wrestlers in London. She is the daughter of the notorious Doktor K. Tortur.” Blake continued to enjoy the fruits of his success and a retrospective exhibition of his work was held at the Tate Gallery in 1983, the year he received a CBE. He also designed the official poster for Live Aid in 1985 and was the subject of a ‘South Bank’ television documentary in November 2006.
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