Trevor Key’s Top 40

To coincide with an exhibition of the late, great photographer’s work, designers Ian Anderson and Scott King, along with photographer Toby McFarlan Pond, will discuss the influence of Key’s work with CR’s Patrick Burgoyne at an event in Hull on September 20

tubular bells trove key archive
Released in 1973, Mike Oldfield’s album was the first from Virgin. Trevor Key designed the sleeve, combining a photograph of a twisted tubular bell with one of a beach in Sussex.

Having created imagery that helped define not one, but three important pop cultural moments, Key is something of a Zelig-like figure. It was his surrealist photograph that appeared on the cover of Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells – the album that launched Virgin.

Key then exerted a major influence on punk – for which Oldfield represented everything that was wrong with music. His central role in the creation of the Sex Pistols’ album art and promotional material is often overlooked.

Sex Pistols Some Product
Some Product, Carri On Sex Pistols, 1979. Designed by Jamie Reid and Trevor Key

And as punk became post-punk, he worked with Peter Saville to produce some of the most loved sleeve art of the 80s and 90s for New Order and OMD. And he even found time for more mainstream, but no less-loved artists such as Peter Gabriel (who Key and Saville transformed into a contemporary pop star for the cover of the multimillion-selling So), Wham and Phil Collins.

dichromats from the trevor key archive
Louis XIV Dichromat image by Trevor Key and Peter Saville, 1989. Polaroid tests for what would become the sleeve image for New Order single Round & Round. All archive material is reproduced with the permission of Letty Key/the Estate of Trevor Key. See
Sleeve for OMD’s Genetic Engineering, created by Key from an assemblage of Perspex objects. Art direction: Peter Saville. Photography: Trevor Key. Designed by Peter Saville Associates, 1983.

On September 20, to coincide with the opening of Trevor Key’s Top 40, an exhibition of Key’s album sleeve photography, Ian Anderson of The Designers Republic, Scott King and Key’s former assistant, photographer Toby McFarlan Pond, will join CR Editor Patrick Burgoyne to discuss Key’s work.

The event is at 6.45pm at Hull School of Art & Design and is free. Tickets available here

See CR’s feature on Trevor Key and his archive here

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