Entertainment & Arts

A winning design?

Sir Peter Blake
Image caption Brit Award organisers are pleased with the new design

For the second year in a row a famous British artist has been asked to re-design the iconic statues that are handed out to Brit Award winners.

Last year Dame Vivienne Westwood gave the trophy a makeover.

This year sees the turn of pop artist Sir Peter Blake, best known for designing the cover of the Beatles' album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.

Soon after the Brit Awards began in 1977, the small golden statue became one of the British pop industry's most sought after awards.

More than 30 years later, the ceremony remains a key date in the British music industry calendar - and Sir Peter has embraced this sense of national musical pride.

His design, which was revealed earlier this week, is red, white and blue, echoing the Union Jack flag which appears on the base of the trophy.

The word Brit runs vertically along the award and on the bottom he has featured various images, which the artist says are synonymous with his work.

"[I added] some symbols around the bottom that I've used constantly over the years: a star, a heart, half a rainbow and a target.

'Lazy and dull'

"It looks very much like my work. It needed a signature and I think those symbols gave it the signature."

Michael Czerwinski, of London's Design Museum, agrees that the design says "a lot about his [Blake's] work".

"It has a strong visual statement," he says, "and that visual statement is very relevant because of the role that Blake has played within the music industry - in terms of creating some really iconic imagery."

The design may bear a strong resonance to Sir Peter's earlier work, but according to art critic Stephen Bayley the trophy is "not among his greatest works".

He added: "His greatest work is confident, irreverent, optimistic and sonorously in tune with the spirit of the age. This is lazy and dull."

Tim Chippings, from gossip website Holy Moly, says the new Brit Award looks like "the kind of souvenir tat they used to sell on Carnaby Street, before it went upmarket".

Image caption After more than 30 years, the Brit Awards remain a key date in the UK music calendar

He added: "Hats off for the Sgt. Pepper's cover and all that, but the only thing missing from the 2012 Brit Award is the slogan: 'Welcome to Swinging London - Have a Groovy Time'. And a sticker showing it's been reduced from twelve pounds to £9.99."

Nevertheless, Brit Award organisers are thrilled with the design.

'We feel hugely honoured that Sir Peter Blake accepted the challenge of designing the trophy this year - the result is incredible," a spokesman said, in a statement.

"Having created possibly the world's most iconic album sleeve with The Beatles, Sir Peter's work is synonymous with the best of British music."

Aged 79, the veteran artist is unlikely to be well known among the younger pop fans tuning in to watch the awards on 21 February.

Continued relevance

But Mr Czerwinski believes it is the broad span of Sir Peter's art that makes him the perfect designer for the award.

Although the Beatles' album sleeve remains his most famous work, Sir Peter also designed the cover of the Band Aid single, Do They Know It's Christmas? (1984), Paul Weller's Stanley Road (1995) and the Ian Dury tribute album Brand New Boots and Panties (2001).

"He's had his moments over the last 40 or 50 years, so there is a continuity within his career; he's someone who is still relevant," says Mr Czerwinski.

"One of the biggest trends in commercial music at the moment is a revaluation of British folk from the late 1960s and early 1970s,"

"Even though Blake and Sgt Pepper sits slightly outside that genre, he was very much part of that time and very much part of that moment. People are looking to the early '70s for musical influences now.

"Besides, this is less of a story about Blake and more of a story about the Brits.

"He is cool, which is why he's been asked to design this award. But I think the question is, will the Brit Awards become cooler because of the association with him?"

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