Sir Peter Blake: A homage to my top ten artists

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

The British artist's new exhibition is a tribute to the ten artists who inspire him most. From Damien Hirst to Jack Pierson, he collects influencers as well as curiosities.

Seneca said that all art is an imitation of nature. But he did say that over 2,000 years ago. Since then artists have progressed from trying to capture the effect of light on water to surrealist daubings and encasing dead sharks in formaldehyde. Like music, which is a repetition of the same notes in different formations, art has been copied, rehashed, mimicked, recycled and borrowed infinitely.

This is something that many artists find difficult to stomach. After all, they had the idea first, didn’t they? Not so Sir Peter Blake, the 78-year-old collage artist and collector of curiosities, often billed as the father of British Pop Art, who’s latest exhibition pays tribute to the artists he most wishes to imitate.

Homage 10 x 5, which opens at the Waddington Galleries in London’s Cork Street today, is an exhibition of 50 new works by Blake. He chose the ten artists “that emerged at the top of my inspiration list” and created five works either in the style of or taking cues from each artist. The shortlist includes some predictable names: Kurt Schwitters, Henri Matisse and Jack Pierson. But it also includes surprises, like the father of the YBA movement Damien Hirst.

Click here or on the image for pictures from the exhibition

“No artist is without influence. I don’t think you could look at anybody’s work and not find a link with somebody else’s. All art crosses over. Someone once described it as being like voices across the water; an echo is picked up and you might not even know it. Very rarely is art somebody’s pure invention,” Blake told

The motivation behind the exhibition was to provide “a nod of appreciation” and “a way of saying thank you” to artists whose work he enjoys. It began when coveting a painting by Jack Pierson but not, then, being in a position to buy one, Blake called Pierson’s art dealer and asked him to inquire if it was ok to “appropriate” his style for a series of paintings. Pierson replied to say he very much liked Blake’s work and would be happy to let him do so, later describing Blake’s creations as “spooky” in their accuracy.

Blake, who has an extensive collection of Victorian nick knacks, curiosities and memorabilia, hoards strange objects and bric-a-brac like a magpie. He co-curated the Museum of Everything exhibition currently in London. Among the weird and wonderful plateaus on display is the Potter's Museum of Curiosity - an extensive collection of taxidermy begun in 1861 by Walter Potter and salvaged by Blake. There are huge parallels between the new work Blake has produced and the idea of collecting detritus; you could even say that the medium he works in, for many of the pieces, is found objects. His homage to Mark Dion, the Museum of Black & White, a series of small toys and ornaments like those you might find in a seaside antique shop, is a striking example of this.

Collecting objects and collecting artists are rather similar things in Blake’s mind. He says collage is in itself is a way of collecting other people’s work and putting it together in a different way - essentially what he decided to do for the exhibition. “I think what’s really interesting is that both the Museum of Everything and the Waddington shows are running concurrently. There are a lot of pieces in the Waddington show that could easily have been displayed as objects in their own right as part of a collection of something – especially some of the paper bits – but I decided to use them as art,” he says.

There is an interesting synergy that some of the living artists on Blake’s list have almost certainly themselves been influenced by Blake. Pierson freely admitted to having been. Hirst counts Blake as an influence too. But when asked who else may have borrowed from him, Blake is endearingly coy: “I don’t think it’s for me to be the person that says it. It’s possible that other artists have picked up on some of my work.”

Blake says it is important to come out into the open about the fact that very little art is “pure invention” as he describes it. “It’s really about saying ‘Look this has influenced me’ and ‘Thank you very much,’” he says. He credits Kurk Schwitters with inventing the highly original collage style he adopted and ran away with during his career: “When Schwitters made the first collage by literally picking up a piece of rubbish, a sweet wrapper, a bus ticket and a piece of wood, that was pure invention.”

Hirst is a bit of an anomaly on Blake’s list of inspirations. “Damien wasn’t initially on the shortlist. I like his work very much but he might not have been included in the ten except for the coincidence that I was making a series anyway which included butterflies. Then Paul Stolper, the gallery owner, said to me ‘Don’t you think you’re treading on Damien’s toes a little bit?’ And I thought about it and realised that anyone who is using butterflies at this point is probably borrowing from him a little. So I thought rather than not do the work I’ll add him to the homage list.”

Blake has been turning his hand to the art of assemblage, among other things, for more than five decades. The Beatles’ Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band record sleeve is his most iconic work. Having announced his retirement aged 65, nearly ten years on Blake views his continuing prolificacy as a series of encores to the “grand finale” which was a retrospective at the National Gallery. Blake is philosophical about getting older, but his artistic zeal is undiminished:

“Having decided aged 75 that I was in my late period, I think I’m now looking to the future. In eighteen months I’ll turn 80. People often have shows aged 80 – Picasso at 80, Matisse at 80 etc- so I’m thinking of possible exhibitions. If 75 is my late period then I think at 80 I’ll be in my swan song. It’s a bit macabre, but things are so exciting at the moment that it feels like a final burst of energy. I hope not, but it might be.”

Homage 10 x 5 - Blake's Artists is at the Waddington Galleries in London until 11 December

Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Creep show: Tim Cockerill in ‘Spider House’

TVEnough to make ardent arachnophobes think twice

Arts and Entertainment
Steven, Ella Jade and Sarah in the boardroom
tvThe Apprentice contestants take a battering from the business mogul
Arts and Entertainment
TV Presenters Ant McPartlin and Dec Donnelly. Winners of the 'Entertainment Programme' award for 'Ant and Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway'
musicAnt and Dec confirmed as hosts of next year's Brit Awards
Arts and Entertainment
Jewel in the crown: drawings from ‘The Letter for the King’, an adventure about a boy and his mission to save a medieval realm
Arts and Entertainment
Juergen Wolf won the Young Masters Art Prize 2014 with his mixed media painting on wood, 'Untitled'
Arts and Entertainment
Iron Man and Captain America in a scene from
filmThe upcoming 'Black Panther' film will feature a solo black male lead, while a female superhero will take centre stage in 'Captain Marvel'
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
The Imperial War Museum, pictured, has campaigned to display copyrighted works during the First World War centenary
Arts and Entertainment
American Horror Story veteran Sarah Paulson plays conjoined twins Dot and Bette Tattler
tvReview: Yes, it’s depraved for the most part but strangely enough it has heart to it
Arts and Entertainment
The mind behind Game of Thrones George R. R. Martin

Will explain back story to fictional kingdom Westeros

Arts and Entertainment
Dorothy in Return to Oz

film Unintentionally terrifying children's movies to get you howling (in fear, tears or laughter)
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Robert James-Collier as under-butler Thomas

TVLady Edith and Thomas show sad signs of the time
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
The Dad's Army cast hit the big screen

Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
JK Rowling is releasing a new Harry Potter story about Dolores Umbridge

Arts and Entertainment
On The Apprentice, “serious” left the room many moons ago and yet still we watch

Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor finds himself in a forest version of London in Doctor Who episode 'In the Forest of the Night'
TVReview: Is the Doctor ever going stop frowning?
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from David Ayer's 'Fury'

Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift performs at the 2014 iHeart Radio Music Festival
music review
Arts and Entertainment
Paul Anderson plays Arthur Shelby in Peaky Blinders series two
tvReview: Arthur Shelby Jr seems to be losing his mind as his younger brother lets him run riot in London
Arts and Entertainment
Miranda Hart has called time on her award-winning BBC sitcom, Miranda
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Nicholas Serota has been a feature in the Power 100 top ten since its 2002 launch
Arts and Entertainment
Awesome foursome: Sam Smith shows off his awards
music22-year-old confirms he is 2014’s breakout British music success
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

    A Syrian general speaks

    A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities
    ‘A bit of a shock...’ Cambridge economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

    ‘A bit of a shock...’ Economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

    Guy Scott's predecessor, Michael Sata, died in a London hospital this week after a lengthy illness
    Fall of the Berlin Wall: History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War

    Fall of the Berlin Wall

    History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War
    How to turn your mobile phone into easy money

    Turn your mobile phone into easy money

    There are 90 million unused mobiles in the UK, which would be worth £7bn if we cashed them in, says David Crookes
    Independent writers remember their Saturday jobs:

    Independent writers remember their Saturday jobs

    "I have never regarded anything I have done in "the media" as a proper job"
    Lyricist Richard Thomas shares his 11-step recipe for creating a hit West End musical

    11-step recipe for creating a West End hit

    Richard Thomas, the lyricist behind the Jerry Springer and Anna Nicole Smith operas, explains how Bob Dylan, 'Breaking Bad' and even Noam Chomsky inspired his songbook for the new musical 'Made in Dagenham'
    Tonke Dragt's The Letter for the King has finally been translated into English ... 50 years on

    Buried treasure: The Letter for the King

    The coming-of-age tale about a boy and his mission to save a mythical kingdom has sold a million copies since it was written by an eccentric Dutchwoman in 1962. Yet until last year, no one had read it in English
    Can instilling a sense of entrepreneurship in pupils have a positive effect on their learning?

    The school that means business

    Richard Garner heads to Lancashire, where developing the 'dragons' of the future is also helping one community academy to achieve its educational goals
    10 best tablets

    The world in your pocket: 10 best tablets

    They’re thin, they’re light, you can use them for work on the move or keeping entertained
    Lutz Pfannenstiel: The goalkeeper who gave up Bayern Munich for the Crazy Gang, Bradford and a whirlwind trawl across continents

    Lutz Pfannenstiel interview

    The goalkeeper who gave up Bayern Munich for the Crazy Gang, Bradford and a whirlwind trawl across continents
    Pete Jenson: Popular Jürgen Klopp can reignite Borussia Dortmund’s season with visit to Bayern Munich

    Pete Jenson's a Different League

    Popular Klopp can reignite Dortmund’s season with visit to Bayern
    John Cantlie video proves that Isis expects victory in Kobani

    Cantlie video proves that Isis expects victory in Kobani

    The use of the British hostage demonstrates once again the militants' skill and originality in conducting a propaganda war, says Patrick Cockburn
    The killer instinct: The man who helps students spot potential murderers

    The killer instinct

    Phil Chalmers travels the US warning students how to spot possible future murderers, but can his contentious methods really stop the bloodshed?
    Clothing the gap: A new exhibition celebrates women who stood apart from the fashion herd

    Clothing the gap

    A new exhibition celebrates women who stood apart from the fashion herd
    Fall of the Berlin Wall: Goodbye to all that - the lost world beyond the Iron Curtain

    The Fall of the Berlin Wall

    Goodbye to all that - the lost world beyond the Iron Curtain