I have had a long and unbridled love affair with Flying Nun Records that started in Christchurch in my teens. From underage gigs at the Gladstone to being kept awake by Bailter Space band practices (we were neighbours), the connection and love for the music is deep.
For me, Flying Nun were part of the real genesis of everything that is great about New Zealand popular musical culture (besides perhaps Split Enz) and they were a significant catalyst for my own creative journey.
When I was designing for the liTTle broTher collection Ambivalence in the early 2000’s I made contact with Charlotte Ryan (now at Radio New Zealand) who was, at that time, in charge of the Nun archive. Roger Sheppard was living in London and the whole thing was feeling a little unloved and unlicensed.
I can still recall the day I got to trawl an original archive of band and album artwork and develop what became a very successful t-shirt collaboration. As well as the post-punk emotional pull, I was drawn to the lo-fi feel that the pasted up and hand-cut artwork had. Pre-pro design, it was as raw, creative and as cool as the music itself.
Now the Christchurch Art Gallery has wound all that weirdness up into an exhibition and book: Hellzapoppin'! - The Art of Flying Nun.
The book is being published to mark the fortieth anniversary of the founding of Flying Nun Records and is a curation of some of the best of those original designs across film, record covers, posters and photography. It includes rare collectible vinyl, original artwork and paste-up designs, exploring the art and artists behind the music with interviews and essays.
There is even a limited edition hand-screen printed dust jacket being produced based on Ronnie Van Hout’s Flying Saucer cover artwork for the Pin Group’s classic Go To Town EP.
The Pin Group were Flying Nun’s first signing, producing just two singles. There is a great interview on Radio New Zealand Extended Play.
Also worth a read is In Love With These Times written by Flying Nun founder Roger Shepherd.