Beatles fans, meet the artist behind the band’s Sgt Pepper’s album cover
To celebrate British artist Sir Peter Blake’s contribution to 1960s pop culture, whisky maker The Macallan got the 89-year-old legend to design the labels of its latest collection of rare drams.
Even if you haven’t heard of the name Sir Peter Blake, you’d have seen his artwork somewhere, especially if you spin The Beatles at home. Blake, who is known as The Godfather of British Pop Art, is the artist behind the whimsical cover art of The Beatles’ album, Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.
The distinctive artwork – a form of collage art that Blake is known for – features The Beatles against a backdrop of cardboard cut-outs of famous people. Since the album’s release in 1967, its cover has become a pop art icon.
“The 1960s were known for my contribution to British pop art. I was 30 in 1962, so that was an important age when you’re still young, when you’re coming through with your work,” Blake, who recently turned 89, told CNA Luxury over the phone.
“And  was when I did the cover art for The Beatles, so that was important. The music [of that era] was great. It was an extraordinary time.”
Apart from creating collage art, Blake also paints, draws, and makes prints. He also designed the pop art carpet for London’s Supreme Court. “I [work on an art form] for a year, and then move on to something else,” he said of his modus operandi.
To celebrate the cultural significance of 1967 in Blake’s career, The Macallan has launched the Anecdotes of Ages Collection, an art collaboration between Blake and The Macallan. The collection comprises 13 rare and valuable bottles of exceptional 1967 whisky.
Each bottle comes with its own label of original collage art created by Blake – the images depict unique stories from The Macallan’s history and community, as well as the landscape of The Macallan Estate. Each label is also signed by Blake.
Blake’s collaboration with The Macallan marks the third time the pair have worked together: In 1986, he created a bespoke label for The Macallan 1926, taking inspiration from the events of that year. In 2012, he teamed up with The Macallan again to create a limited edition art piece to celebrate his 80th birthday and long-standing relationship with The Macallan.
Blake said that he is “deeply inspired by the incredible legacy of The Macallan, and its emphasis on family, tradition, and the natural world”.
“Each collage in the Anecdotes of Ages Collection is inspired by The Macallan’s history and heritage, one that respects time and craft, two essential components of my own creative process,” he added. “I meticulously worked on each collage, pulling from The Macallan Estate’s rich history to complete a collection that is a celebration of art and whisky.”
In a press statement, The Macallan’s lead whisky maker Sarah Burgess said the 1967 whisky was “chosen for its classic yet distinctively colourful character, which is reminiscent of Sir Peter Blake’s work of the same year”.
According to Burgess, the 1967 whisky offers notes of oak, figs, hazelnut, and strawberry, along with complex flavours of chocolate and lightly spiced peach. “It is, in many ways, its own work of art,” she added.
Each of the 13 original bottles is hand-blown with an oak stopper and presented in a handcrafted European oak case that includes thumbnail photography depicting Blake’s collaborative journey with The Macallan, a leather-bound book showcasing all 13 label artworks, and a certificate of authenticity.
The 13th original bottle will be retained in The Macallan archive, while the other 12 original bottles will be exhibited in different cities worldwide. In Singapore, the Anecdotes of Ages Collection will be showcased as an innovative art gallery for the public at The Macallan at Raffles Singapore from Jun 29 to Jul 9. The Anecdotes of Ages Collection: The Old Farm bottle will be showcased exclusively at the gallery.
A recreation or duplicate of the original Anecdotes of Ages: Down to Work bottle has been released as the Anecdotes of Ages Collection: Down to Work Limited Edition, which contains the same 1967 whisky – only 322 bottles are available worldwide. It is priced at S$89,800 and available for purchase.
The Macallan at Raffles Singapore will also retail An Estate, A Community and A Distillery – a special single malt release created to celebrate Blake’s visit to The Macallan Estate on the River Spey – at S$1,350. The edition, which is presented in a custom box inspired by Blake’s art, includes a certificate describing the history and heritage of the artwork, and Blake’s artwork printed on a scroll.
Blake added that the pandemic has given him more private time to explore his art.
“Since the lockdown, I’ve done a substantial body of paintings,” he said. “I’ve also finished some portraits; I’ve done a new group of little paintings of wrestlers.
“Over the years, I’ve collected materials – pieces of wood, glass and all kinds of stuff – in my studio. An idea has occurred to me to make a big collage, to use everything up and put all the materials together. That’s something I might do.”