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Image above: ICES 72 Logo, designed by Steve Downey
In 1970 Steve Downey heard a radio interview with Harvey Matusow. He was infamous for being a hostile witness in the US McCarthy witch hunt trials, and eventually went to jail for perjury. He was now living in Ingatestone, Essex, working as a journalist, musician and events organiser. I thought he sounded like a really interesting person, and when I found out that he lived close to my home, I phoned him and asked to meet him. He asked me why and I replied "because I want to be your friend". He said come along now and help him fix up his stereo equipment. This was the beginning of a 3-year friendship and artist collaboration.
Harvey Matusow with his invention the "String Less Yoyo". I was the proud owner of several of these prototypes.
Harvey was planning an ambitious avant-garde music festival in 1972 called "The International Carnival of Experimental Sound", later shortened to ICES 72. He invited me to create a logo for the event. I immediately came up with the concept of a dog licking an ice cream cone, based on the existing HMV trade image. Harvey said this was perfect and it was used in a host of publicity material, most of which was produced by the punk artist Gee Voucher, whom I also met.
ICES 72 Catalogue, with image based on my ICES dog
Over the next 3 years my family and I were frequent visitors to his Ingatestone house with its buried pianos in the garden. These artworks were conceived by his wife, Anna Lockwood, an Australian music composer, with whom we also became friends. I helped her set up a music research project with the Head of Music in the London Secondary School where I was currently employed, and she worked with pupils there for some months.
For a time Matusow and I collaborated on a book, whereby he wrote a short story on one side of the page and I created a complimentary artwork on the facing page. However the project was never completed, partly because he returned to the USA.
In the summer of 1972, ICES 72 was launched at the Roundhouse, London with performances by AMM, John Cage [whom I met], Cornelius Cardew, Anna Lockwood, Steve Beresford, Lol Coxhill, David Bedford, Penny Rimbaud and many more. Several other venues were involved, including The Place. A "Music Train" was hired from British Rail, which took hundreds of people to join the Edinburgh Festival. Each train carriage housed a music performance, and striped coloured bread and cakes were on sale. In Edinburgh I attended a performance by Charlotte Moorman playing a cello piece naked, with tv screens strapped to her breasts!
Charlotte Moorman performing at the Edinburgh Festival
On the way back to London, Merce Cunningham, the famous dancer and choreographer, performed an impromptu dance performance, and I and other fellow travellers joined in.
Merce Cunningham, internationally famous dancer and choreographer. Husband to John Cage.