Horace Panter of The Specials is a man with many strings to his bow; bassist in legendary British band, The Specials (the group that brought us classics such as Ghost Town and Too much Too Young); teacher – Horace taught art to children with learning difficulties for many years; and artist extraordinaire.
It’s Horace’s art we’re interested in for our Camden store, his bold, colourful pop-art designs are in high demand around the globe. As The Specials are well-represented within our Camden store, we thought it would be a fitting tribute to have Mr Panter create a bespoke piece of his Americana-inspired, Warhol influenced multimedia art for the walls.
The 8ft piece is so big that it had to be painted in sections by Horace in his UK home. “It’s based on a drafts board, you know, the alternating chequerboard squares. I’ve created 16 separate collages that express my personal narrative. Then there are 16 white squares that represent Dr. Martens”.
This piece also draws on Camden’s musical and cultural heritage, utilizing images past and present: Dingwalls, The Jazz Café, The Roundhouse, and The Electric Ballroom – all places familiar to The Specials! And, of course, any image of Camden has to include a pic of its queen: Amy Winehouse.
Horace cites the ‘Pop Art’ movement of the 1960s as a major influence in terms of both colour and subject: his two main series of work are giant cassette tapes and ‘Americana’ – paintings of diners/signs, ubiquitous in the U.S. urban landscape. He has exhibited extensively in the UK and, more recently, in New York and Los Angeles.
Horace’s relationship with Dr. Martens began in 1978 when his dad bought him a pair to wear at his job as a delivery driver. “In fact, I knew about Dr. Martens well before that. I’m from the area [Northamptonshire] and my sister used to work in the old Dr. Martens factory – then it was still called Griggs”. And The Specials were well-known for wearing Dr. Martens air-cushioned boots and shoes in their high-energy performances.
When we commissioned Horace to create the artwork, he was just about to go on tour in Asia with The Specials, so the painting was done in record time “there’s nothing better than a deadline to inspire creativity”.
You can see Horace’s one-of-a-kind bespoke artwork, made especially for Dr. Martens in our brand new Camden store. Read more about the store here.