SOME people might have called him a cheeky git, after all, there were plenty about at the time - others a pioneering pop artist. Nevertheless, when Richard Hamilton turned up at the Beatles Apple offices with his artwork for their ninth studio album it was...yeah... something else. In fact it was little more than a blank sheet of paper.
The White Album – official title The Beatles – came after the riotous sleeve of Peter Blake's Sgt Pepper. The group had already come in for a load of flak over the notorious butcher sleeve. This, designed in consultation with Paul McCartney, could not have been more of an antidote. Blank sheet of paper or not, the cheque was written.
Featuring no text or graphics, the band's name was discreetly embossed slightly below the middle. The cover also featured a unique stamped serial number, "to create," in Hamilton's words, "the ironic situation of a numbered edition of something like five million copies.". In 2008, an original pressing of the album with serial number 0000005 sold for £19,201 on eBay.
New York based artist Rutherford Chang was so taken with all this that it has inspired him to buy up more than 1,000 of these first pressings. Now he is is relocating to Liverpool for a month to display and expand his collection. He will sell you one, and you can sell him one too.
Presented by FACT and Liverpool International Music Festival, We Buy White Albums will take over FACT’s loading bay space on Wood Street from next Friday, 15 August to 14 September.
“Famously stark, the totally white design has provided a blank canvas for the coffee stains, doodles, mold and rips that have accumulated on the albums since its release in 1968, making every copy now unique,” it says here.
Chang’s entire collection of over 1,000 White Albums will be displayed in the format of a record store with two vital differences, only one album is displayed, and records are only bought not sold. Visitors will be invited to browse and listen to copies of their choice.
Also featured is a vinyl album Chang created by layering 100 different copies from his collection, exploring the sonic and visual differences between the aged vinyl discs and covers.
Chang has been building his collection for eight years and says: “The character of each copy is distinctly shaped by their individual histories, so this collection of intentical yet unique mutiples together forms a story of the past half-century.
"I hope to expand my collection while in Liverpool, so please bring me numbered copies in any condition.”
Chang will be present at FACT and visitors will be able to sell their first edition copy to him for inclusion in the collection. This will be the project’s debut in the UK and will coincide with International Beatle Week (20 – 26 August) when there will be special events programmed in and around FACT including acoustic performances in RopeWalks Square.
The full programme of events is listed here.