Before I start this short preview of the new Bond Bound: Ian Fleming and the Art of Cover Design Exhibition (Saturday 5 July – Sunday 14 September) now on at Edinburgh’s City Art Centre, I want to take a moment or two to pause and reflect on the photo above. Go on, stop for a second and look at Mr Ian Fleming sitting at his typewriter, I’ll be waiting at the next paragraph…
…and welcome back. The reason for my reflective mood is that Fleming was undoubtedly one of the most important figures in popular 20th Century culture, his legacy of death, danger, style, girls, sex and a bit more death still potent in 2008.
There he is, poised by his own weapon of choice, ready to bash out another few thousand words that will go on to resonate through the decades, annoying some and entrancing others as the manuscript of his latest novel is finalised, ready to hit the bookshelves of a waiting world (though technically he’d probably finished his latest novel at Goldeneye in Jamaica and this was simply a rather forced publicity shot back in England, but let’s not spoil the mental image).
His books were never great literature but they did entertain and allow the reader to imagine, to take themselves away from their bedsit in Dorking, their apartment block in downtown New York or wherever they may have picked up a dog-eared copy of the latest Bond adventure.
For those that needed and wanted some colour and an escape from the mundanity of a post-war world, that bloke at the typewriter offered more than the complete works of Shakespeare, Dostoevsky and the majority of the National Library’s catalogue put together. In short, he was as much of a hero as Bond himself, just without the ability to change his appearance every few years when ticket sales fell.
Getting back to the point of this post, the Arts Centre exhibition charts the role of artists and designers in creating and defining the Bond look. The exhibition features book covers, film posters, letters and previously unseen archive material.
Stretching back more than half a century, the covers provide revealing snapshots of shifting attitudes to sex, feminism and the changing international climate.
The covers to the Bond novels are rightly respected as works of art and this is a unique opportunity to see them up-close in Scotland before they head off around the globe on a tour that wouldn’t look out of place in the next Bond flick: America, the Far East, the Middle East and Europe.
And while I’m in Bond mode, here the trailer to Quantum of Solace…
Have you seen this exhibition or do you plan to? Leave a comment if so and let me know what you thought.