Born in Halifax in 1944, Dudley Edwards first came to prominence in the 1960s as co-founder of ground-breaking Pop collective BEV with Doug Binder and David Vaughan.
BEV’s modus operandi was to “bring colour and joy to the streets” and their influence can still be felt today. Their vibrant designs for architecture, cars and furniture played a defining role in the ‘Swinging Sixties’ era and led to commissions from clients including The Beatles, David Bailey, Dudley Moore and Tara Browne: heir to the Guinness fortune and the inspiration for The Beatles’ song ‘A Day in the Life’.
During the mid-late 1960s BEV’s psychedelic murals appeared everywhere from the boutiques of Kings Road and Carnaby Street to Paul McCartney’s ‘Magic Piano’. The group’s architectural work positioned BEV at the forefront of cutting edge art and design at the time, and would go on to inspire the Graffiti and Street Art movements that would develop years later.
“I remember the first time I first saw a photo of their [BEV’s] painted car in the Sunday Times Magazine and I thought it was really cool. So I got in touch with them and asked the guys if we could have a meeting. We did, and I told them “I’ve got a little piano I’d like you to decorate in that same style”. And at first they were a little bit reluctant to do anything, but I persuaded them. So they measured it all up, took the panel dimensions, and worked up some designs. Then they painted it and did a lovely job. It became my psychedelic piano which I wrote a lot of songs on, including ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’, ‘Fixing A Hole’, and ‘Hey Jude’. It’s in its rightful place in my music room in London.”
BEV were also renowned for their seminal light shows, the like of which had never been seen in the UK. In 1967 they staged The Million Volt Light & Sound Rave at London’s Roundhouse which featured the only known public airing of the legendary ‘Carnival Of Light’ recording; an experimental sound collage created for the occasion by Paul McCartney and John Lennon during the early stages of the Sgt. Pepper sessions.
“We consider BEV like Olympian gods! We pore over the scant photos available, scrutinize the techniques, and are gobsmacked at the colour combinations. The subtlety of the colour gradations and contrasts of BEV’s work are staggering, really. How did they produce so much glorious work in such a short time?”
Julian Palacios, author of Syd Barrett’s biography Lost in the Woods
Edwards would collaborate with other musicians throughout his career, providing artwork for albums by Pete Townshend, Ronnie Lane and Billy Nicholls amongst others.
Represented by the Robert Frazer Gallery in the 1960s, Edwards has exhibited internationally at numerous distinguished institutions most notably The Kunsthalle Vienna, The Musee d’Histoire Contemporaine, Paris, and The Whitney Museum of Art in New York.
The artist lives and works from his studio in Yorkshire and collectors of his work include Lord Snowdon, Sir Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, David Bailey, Mary Quant, Lord Lew Grade, Tori Amos, Hugh Grant and Peter Gabriel.
In recent years, RedHouse has hosted two solo exhibitions for the artist – ‘In Technicolour’ (2012), which focused on Edwards’ London period during the height of the ‘Summer Of Love’, and ‘I Got Rhythm‘ (2019); a contrasting collection of works focusing on Edwards’ distinctive figurative style and influential echoes of Matisse and the Cubist geometries.
The artist currently works from his studio in Yorkshire, and collectors of his work include Lord Snowdon, Sir Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, David Bailey, Mary Quant, Lord Lew Grade, Tori Amos, Hugh Grant and Peter Gabriel.
Photograph by Martin Cook.
A short film of an AC Cobra customisation in 1966 by Dudley Edwards, Doug Binder and David Vaughan, collectively known as the ground-breaking Pop collective BEV
Swinging Sixties with Dudley Edwards - Part 1
Painting Is A Compulsion with Dudley Edwards - Part 2