Cut It Out: The Astounding Story Behind Barney Bubbles’ Hawkwind Galactic Tarot Cards

In November 1971, design legend Barney Bubbles produced a typically audacious promotional item for Hawkwind’s recently released album X In Search Of Space

/Hawkwind’s Space cut-out-and-keep 21-card “Galactic Tarot” pack arranged in the shape of a hawk in IT 117, November 18 – December 2, 1971. Design: Barney Bubbles

/Hawkwind’s Space cut-out-and-keep 21-card “Galactic Tarot” pack arranged in the shape of a hawk in IT 117, November 18 – December 2, 1971. Design: Barney Bubbles

 

BARNEY BUBBLES’ HAWKWIND GALACTIC TAROT

The cards arranged in rows of seven as recommended by the instructions

In November 1971, design legend Barney Bubbles produced a typically audacious promotional item for Hawkwind’s recently released album X In Search Of Space.

 

BARNEY BUBBLES’ HAWKWIND GALACTIC TAROT b

Front page, IT 117

BARNEY BUBBLES’ HAWKWIND GALACTIC TAROT c

Message of goodwill and card pack instructions in the tarot spread

Across the centre spread in an issue of underground paper IT, Bubbles worked with Hawkwind lyricist/vocalist Robert Calvert to create a cut-out-and-keep tarot card pack using titles and lyrics from In Search Of Space tracks. The pack of cards was also thematically linked to the 24-page Hawkwind Log booklet the pair produced for ISOS, and there are references to newer songs including Silver Machine, which would provide the west London space-rock collective with their breakthrough hit the following summer.

Such playful methods of engagement were hallmarks of Bubbles’ work, particularly in this period.

Insert, Kings Of The Robot Rhythm, Chilli Willi And The Red Hot Peppers, Revelation Records, 1972. Design: Barney Bubbles

Insert, Kings Of The Robot Rhythm, Chilli Willi And The Red Hot Peppers, Revelation Records, 1972. Design: Barney Bubbles

Self-assembly silver pyramid insert, Glastonbury Fayre – The Electric Score, Revelation Enterprises, 1972. Design: Barney Bubbles

Self-assembly silver pyramid insert, Glastonbury Fayre – The Electric Score, Revelation Enterprises, 1972. Design: Barney Bubbles

 

For example, Bubbles’ design for the debut album by Chilli Willi And The Red Hot Peppers a few months later featured a colour-yourself sunset and a cut-out bowtie insert. There were also inserts incorporating a self-assembly paper geometric dome and a silver laminate pyramid in spring 1972’s Glastonbury Fayre triple-LP package.

Around that time, Bubbles used a Hawkwind feature for another underground paper, Frendz, to create a series of layouts with photographer Pennie Smith which comprised the cut-out panels of a kite. Much later, of course, he instituted such exercises as the build-your-own-poster music press advertising for Elvis Costello’s 1977 LP My Aim Is True.

 

 

BARNEY BUBBLES’ HAWKWIND GALACTIC TAROT

BARNEY BUBBLES’ HAWKWIND GALACTIC TAROT

oBttom, front cover, Red Dirt, Fontana, 1970. Design: Barney Bubbles

BARNEY BUBBLES’ HAWKWIND GALACTIC TAROT g

BARNEY BUBBLES’ HAWKWIND GALACTIC TAROT g

Bottom: Advert for Oz Benefit Concert including “sexy Barney Bubbles Light Show”, Oz 12, May 1968. Design: Barney Bubbles

 

BARNEY BUBBLES’ HAWKWIND GALACTIC TAROT i

 

BARNEY BUBBLES’ HAWKWIND GALACTIC TAROT h

Bottom: Front cover, Cressida, Vertigo, 1970. Design: Barney Bubbles

 

BARNEY BUBBLES’ HAWKWIND GALACTIC TAROT y

ARNEY BUBBLES’ HAWKWIND GALACTIC TAROT w

Bottom: Examples of the “needlepoint” artworks featured in the design for Victor Gordon’s 1975 recipe book Feasts. Design: Barney Bubbles

 

Plundering imagery from comic books to Eastern mysticism for the pack, the self-referential Bubbles even détourned his own work for certain cards, utilising graphics applied to other projects and prefiguring design approaches he would take in the future.

 

BARNEY BUBBLES’ HAWKWIND GALACTIC TAROT x

 

Wrapped inside the tarot card double page spread was an environmental awareness fold-out poster backed by adverts, including one for In Search Of Space.

 

BARNEY BUBBLES’ HAWKWIND GALACTIC TAROT q

Ad on the back of the ecology poster. Design: Barney Bubbles

BARNEY BUBBLES’ HAWKWIND GALACTIC TAROT n

Text on fold-out poster

With text referring to concerns about the ecological impact of industrial society by 1980, an illustration, credited to “B. French”, depicted a bare-breasted figure on a spaceship playing a chord on a giant organ amid an apparently catastrophic explosion. This again is linked to the Hawkwind Log, the subject of which is a visit by a spaceship to earth in 1985, by which time our planet has under4gone a serie sof environmental catastrophes.

 

BARNEY BUBBLES’ HAWKWIND GALACTIC TAROT o

Fold-out poster inside IT 117

The comic book trope of a figure zipping through space was used by Bubbles within a couple of months in two more elements of the Glastonbury Fayre packaging: the Silver Surfer cover of the clear vinyl envelope which contained the constituent parts, and the poster of a gnome-like figure escaping the void and exclaiming: “Great stellated icosaduo-decahedrons! What kind of magic mushroom was that?”

 

Front of the vinyl sleeve of the Glastonbury Fayre LP, 1972

Front of the vinyl sleeve of the Glastonbury Fayre LP, 1972

Poster insert with the Glastonbury Fayre release

Poster insert with the Glastonbury Fayre release

Copies of the 2010 second edition of my book Reasons To Be Cheerful : The Life & Work Of Barney Bubbles are becoming scarce. The final signed copy I am putting up for sale is here.