11 May Bringing A Rumour To Life
Marijke’s Painting : Bring Peace To Life
We are so excited to be able to reveal our much anticipated specially commissioned and rather spectacular psychedelic “Bring Peace To Life” painting by Marijke Koger-Dunham.
Marijke, lead artist of the 60’s art collective “the FOOL”, famed for her innovative and visionary endeavors for The Beatles’ cultural center “Apple”, has been working away in LA to produce a rather delightful and uplifting work of art for the Peacing Together project. We asked Marijke to create a special piece that paid tribute to the heartbeat of the caravan; children’s stories, imagination and inspiration.
So, Marijke Did Paint John Lennon’s Sgt Peppers Caravan After All …
It was often rumoured that The Fool had painted John Lennon’s pychedelic Rolls-Royce and Sgt Pepper Caravan, but to quote Marijke …
“I, nor the Fool, never put a brush to it.”
But where else do you go to when you want an authentic piece of art for a project rooted in the 60’s psychedelia and Beatles psychedelic era? There is only one place to go … and so we did. We were over the moon when Marijke agreed to do this commission for us. It brings that extra little bit of magic to the whole story too, because at long last the rumours can be said to be a little bit true; Marijke has indeed now painted the Sgt Peppers Gypsy Showman’s Caravan.
A Limited Number of Signed Prints are available as part of some of our Sponsorship Packages. You also have a chance to win a limited edition print in our Monthly Members Prize Draws ~ Simply Join Us as a Peacmaker Member.
We asked Marijke to talk with us about the painting and her memories of the time that the caravan and Rolls-Royce came into being, or the psychedelic incarnation, so that we could share this with you.
Delight Makers : We’ve been curious of how you came to be the artists for the Beatles … did they find you or did you find them?
MARIJKE : One evening in January of 1967 the Beatles’ assistant, Mal Evans, brought John Lennon & Paul McCartney to the house where my partner Simon Posthuma and myself lived in St. Stephen’s Gardens, presumably because they had seen the Saville Theatre program cover design I made for Brian Epstein’s Sunday concert series and were intrigued by the artwork. They were sitting in our living room with a dazed expression on their faces having blown their minds out over the armoire Simon and I had painted in explosive polychrome psychedelic imagery, (which was later featured in the film Wonderwall).
I nervously served tea and we listened to the Incredible String Band album on a scratchy reel to reel. Then we took them upstairs to our big studio where they viewed more of our artwork. Soon thereafter they introduced us to George Harrison and Ringo Starr and a friendship developed between us and the “Fab Four”.
They invited us to the orchestral recording session for “A Day in the Life” at Abbey Road on February 10, (which was released as a single June 1st). I just danced around with sparkles and blowing bubbles and enjoyed myself very much, it was great fun. I don’t have the gift of the gab so Simon was always the spokesperson for us and interacted with the participants.
After that we were commissioned to work on sketches for the inside of the Sgt. Pepper album cover. I painted a rough idea on paper in gouache, the final artwork to be done after approval but ultimately they put the portraits of the Beatles inside instead and only the inner disk sleeve design was used. The Sgt. Pepper cover artwork by Peter Blake turned out great!
Delight Makers : You, and the Fool, have often been credited with painting John’s Sgt Peppers Gypsy Caravan .. did you ever have a connection to the caravan or do you know how that rumour came to be?
MARIJKE : That summer John Lennon asked Simon and me to paint his upright piano so we stayed at his home in Weybridge for about a week to do that. The piano was decorated all over with landscapes, graduating spectrum bands, wavy color forms and on the left side the Tarot card for Libra which was John’s astrological sign and on the right side the Tarot card for Virgo which was Cynthia’s sign. The keyboard was painted also, according to Goethe’s theory of correspondence between musical notes and the colors of the spectrum. Eventually the piano ended up in George’s possession.
During a break while playing in the garden with little Julian one morning, I came upon a fabulous painted gypsy caravan, and suggested to John he could paint his Phantom Rolls Royce like that. He thought that was a great idea and promptly contacted the folks at J.P Fallon’s coachworks. So, contrary to popular belief, the Fool did not paint the Phantom.
Delight Makers : Do you remember seeing the Rolls-Royce and Caravan after it was turned into the psychedelic vision of 1967 … did you ever go inside?
MARIJKE : We had some groovy rides in the Phantom, like going to the big party at Brian Epstein’s new estate Kingsley Hill in Sussex to celebrate the Sgt. Pepper’s release with a convoy of cars, including George’s mini that he had painted himself with Tantric images. John kept playing Procol Harum’s “Whiter Shade of Pale” over and over, he liked that song so much!
Delight Makers : What was your reaction when you heard that the caravan had been found and was being brought back to life?
MARIJKE : I did not know the caravan had been destroyed in a windstorm, reduced to a million pieces and was quite amazed to hear that it had been rescued and was being restored to its previous glory by an extremely talented craftsperson. It is like a story out of a Thousand and One Nights…
Delight Makers : Were you surprised/ what did it feel like to be asked to do this painting?
MARIJKE : Yes, it was a surprise to hear about the plans for the restored caravan and to be asked to create a painting to accompany it on a future tour to promote world peace, John would have been very happy with the realization of that idea!
Delight Makers : We are over the moon with the painting. What was it like tuning into to create this painting? What came through to you? Did it take you on a journey?
MARIJKE : I enjoyed making the painting very much and it brought back lovely memories of the time I spent during the “Summer of Love” in the company of the Beatles and other fascinating artists and the works of art I created for them then.
Delight Makers : Can you talk us through some of the elements?
MARIJKE : I envisioned that John should drive the caravan with Julian by his side since apparently it was his 4th birthday present and rather than portraying a Gypsy Vanner horse (which usually pull gypsy wagons) I chose to use the same white Hungarian horses that brought the caravan home to
Kenwood in Weybridge in ’67. I immediately envisioned a sunny English landscape with green rolling hills, marmalade skies, rainbows and English roses, strawberry fields and happy children.
More poignantly, Julian is holding a red balloon alluding to the movie by that name wherein a boy befriends a sentient red balloon (imagination) which eventually is killed by cruel kids, reminiscent of John’s tragic departure from earth.
Delight Makers : Any thoughts on the vision for the caravan’s next adventure?
MARIJKE : I think it is wonderful that there are still people in these trying times who wish to promote cooperation and peace in the world, which gives us hope for a brighter future.
Delight Makers : When the caravan comes to the USA will you come and see it, maybe come and share a memory from the time with us whilst sitting upon it?
MARIJKE : My physical condition at 76 prevents me from traveling but if the caravan comes to Los Angeles where I live, I would love to meet with you all and see it again.
Delight Makers : Why do you think John wanted the Rolls-Royce and Caravan transformed into psychedelia – what was he expressing to the world through those vehicles?
MARIJKE : Music and the visual arts spring from the same source, the human imagination with natural phenomena as its foundation. Both are expressions of the essential. There is a mystical correlation between color and sound and John surely was aware of that, he was a cool visual artist himself as well. But sometimes art derives from a reality beyond the usual perception, psychedelic art influenced by consciousness expanding substances has been around from before recorded history, submerged at times but never lost, the interest in psychedelia has always resurfaced because people are continually searching for higher realities where All you need is Love.
Delight Makers : Did John ever talk about Wind in the Willows and Alice in Wonderland? As you know Wind in the Willows was his favourite book and it begins with Toad starting out on an adventure in a yellow caravan and then switching to a fast flashy car. ?????As we understand it John was obsessed with Chapter 7 – Piper At The Gates of Dawn (also Pink Floyd’s first album title). ?????
MARIJKE : I remember John had a colorful table fountain that was adorned with a toad, water lilies and fairies which he called Alice. Paul had several Alice in Wonderland statues in his garden and George decorated his mini with Tantric images while Ringo called himself Star, so there is no doubt that all four Beatles were fascinated with the esoteric aspects of life and a lot of their music expresses that.
Delight Makers : It has been such a pleasure and real honour to have had this chance to connect with you and have you involved in the project Marijke. It has been wonderful to hear your stories. Thank you so much for creating this beautiful uplifting painting and for sharing the deeper, heart-borne symbolism within the painting.
MARIJKE : Several other projects for the Beatles were completed that same year. I will leave you with some quotes that expressed the time and space from which we were creating and living.
“When the doors of perception are cleansed, everything appears to man as it is, infinite”.
“This other world where everything is brighter and clearer and more real than in our world is a vision of blessed beholders”.
PLATO : The Faedo
We give our greatest thanks to Marijke for creating this very special, uplifting piece for us. It is the perfect tribute to the heart of the caravan’s purpose, a world where we might measure wealth by the level of laughter in the world’s children. It also forms a part of our fund raising mission and if you stay posted you will find out more ways that you will be able to take it home with you.
Marijke painted instruments, designed album covers, stage costumes and promo material for bands such as Cream (including the most recognizable rock guitar of all time: the Eric Clapton Gibson SG), Procol Harum, The Move, The Hollies, The Incredible Stringband and many others. The spectacular mural whose colorful panoramas adorned the walls of the Aquarius Theatre during the Los Angeles run of “HAIR”, and the walls and interior of The Beatles’ “APPLE” Cultural Center in London? These remarkable examples of art history were created by Marijke.
Her artwork was featured in the book “Electrical Banana”, Masters of Psychedelic Art, followed by a book signing party at the Museum of Modern Art in Los Angeles. During July of 2012 Sonos Studio in Hollywood hosted a month long one woman retrospective art exhibit featuring past and present works. Art and fashion samples are now in the permanent collection at the Victoria & Albert Museum, London and the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and the South-West Museum in Los Angeles.