White Columns

The Bulletin Board Stephen Fowler and Rocky Alvarez

The Homemade Record Sleeve Collection

White Columns is proud to present in The Bulletin Board and around the gallery’s reception desk ‘The Homemade Record Sleeve Collection’.

The Homemade Record Sleeve Collection was started by Stephen Fowler and Rocky Alvarez in 2004. An ongoing project, it now includes over 150 individual seven inch record sleeves. Most were found in charity shops, thrift stores and secondhand jazz record shops (rock record shops don’t seem to like them) but some were donated by record collector friends and sent from far away. The collection includes the following:

A music fan cover lovingly illustrated with a hand drawn picture of Jimi Hendrix. A Purple Haze cover roughly drawn with a purple crayon. Sleeves marked with the scrawled declarations of teenage love. One-off homemade sleeves. A whole series of punk and new wave sleeves found in a shop in Glasgow. Cool water-color jazz covers. Detailed felt-tip pen images drawn by a sexually frustrated teenager. Pictures of pop singers clipped from teenage magazines and taped together with photographs from a mail order catalogue. A cover graced with a glowing, saintly Elvis photo clipped from a magazine. An Elvis Presley sleeve desecrated and cut up to hold a reggae seven inch. A highly considered, hand constructed record sleeve made with dark brown card. A throwaway sleeve made with a folded page from the Readers Digest and held together with brown parcel tape. A functional sleeve made from a paper bag and annotated with the name of a pop singer and their song.

Stephen Fowler was inspired to collect these covers after he saw the roughly handled, priced and annotated record sleeves in the books ‘Easy’ and ‘This Is Uncool’. These two books focus on the records owned by collectors and not the pristine versions found in the record company archives. Each one has its own biography. The Homemade Record Sleeve Collection expands on this idea to explore how people have willfully impressed their own personality on a mass-produced, factory-generated product. It celebrates the place music has in our lives and how even a very functional record sleeve can be marked by the character of its creator. It also shows that artwork can be created solely for the person that made it - and often with great joy and creativity. The Homemade record sleeves in this collection demonstrate a resistance to passive consumerism and refute the idea that being a fan is purely a spectator sport.

Stephen Fowler and Ricky Alvarez are artists based in London, UK.

White Columns would like to thank Jeremy Deller for introducing us to Stephen and The Homemade Record Sleeve Collection.

Installation view

Installation detail

Installation view, reception