It's that time again... after a truly successful launch of his completely mesmorising new collection 'Rule Britannia' - we delve deeper into each of the incredible new images created by the genius that is JJ Adams, in order to uncover all the hidden messages and 'Easter Eggs' he has strategically placed in each one. The new series has been a huge hit with JJ's fans, and we were lucky enough to be the gallery in charge of kicking things off this year, being the first to unveil the collection in it's entirety and we are still buzzed from the overwhelming reaction to these! We are sure that a little bit of analysation from us will only make you fall in love with them even more so here goes..
We begin with probably one of the most popular works from the series, 'On Vacation' is JJ's impressive tribute to arguably one of the best Bond actors there ever was, the great Sean Connery! Now, of course, if you are shall we say... a 'super fan' of his works (like us) the first thing to strike you is the similarities between the coloured version of this and one of JJ Adams most requested images to date, 'Cooler King'. The outfit and the pose are very reminiscent of the sold out work, and it is believed to be intentional... after all, they are probably two of the coolest actors to come out of the sixties aren't they?! Delving further into this image there are many references through the tattoo work on Sean, all leading back to Sean Connery's greatest role as James Bond. The most obvious firstly are the silhouette on his upper arm and the '007' logo printed on his neck, but then there may be a few that are harder to spot... On Sean's ankle you will hopefully be able to make out the names 'Pussy' and 'Moneypenny' - who were the love interests of Bond throughout the films. There is also a tattoo above his left wrist of a martini glass with the wording 'Agitato Non Mescalato' scrolled around it. You would be right in guessing that these words translated from Italian to English mean 'Shaken Not Stirred' - the classic catchphrase of James Bond. The line was in fact first uttered by Sean Connery in the 1962 film 'Dr. No' and would go down as one of the most memorable quotes of all time. The book Sean is reading is one of the very 1st editions of Fleming's 'The Spy Who Loved Me' - which is not only a very interesting reference back to the initial creator of James Bond Ian Fleming, but also to the film that in fact starred Roger Moore as Bond, and not Sean Connery. If you look closer into the image you will also notice a few other connections to Roger Moore - with his helicopter 'Little Nellie' hovering in the background, and his speedboat from 'Live and Let Die' also making an appearance. JJ is attempting here to make a subtle nod to Sean Connery's James Bond successor, as another great actor who will also always be remembered for this special role... and as an 80's kid himself probably JJ's most memorable Bond will always be the late Roger Moore - and so it just feels right that he be included in this work somewhere. On Vacation is available now in both colour and black and white versions.
THE SHARK WHO LOVED ME
Ok, let me share with you my thoughts on this work and the connection between this and JJ's 'On Vacation' - in his portrayal of Sean Connery, as already mentioned, there is both Roger Moore's speedboat and Little Nellie hovering across the ocean. Now imagine you could see what was taking place underneath those crystal blue waters? Well, imagine no more because I believe JJ has perfectly conjured it up here in this very piece. This image is one of JJ's classic 'car poster' styles and is the ideal mash up between the cult classics 'Jaws' and Bond's 'The Spy Who Loved Me' - anyone who is a Bond fan will know that this is the perfect mix, considering one of the best known henchmen from the films also just happened to be named 'Jaws' - and if you look closely enough you will see a shark lurking in the background and sporting a pair of his famous steel teeth. The car featured in this particular poster work is the famous 'Wet Nellie' - the underwater submarine car from the film that was created in the style of the Lotus Esprit S1. The car features the 'Tesla' logo on the front bumper, and this is because in 2013 its founder Elon Musk bought the original car at auction for a whopping £616,000 - and in fact is said to basing a new underwater car of the future around the model. There are some obvious references to the Jaws films on the cars exterior too - with 'Amity Police' marked on the side, which is the police force from the fictional location where the story is set, Amity Island. You will also spot a sticker which reads 'Quints Shark Tours' and again, this is another reference back to the films seasoned shark hunter. In the background you will notice the reflection of Roger Moore's speedboat and helicopter above the water.. hence my thoughts on this and 'On Vacation' being very much connected to one another. You might also detect two small fish swimming along the sea bed... Congratulations! You have just found Nemo! (Well, actually it's Nemo's dad and Dory, but you get the pun there) And just what are the characters from finding Nemo doing in this work inspired by Jaws and James Bond? Well, there is actually a Pixar fan theory out there that suggests that the shark from Jaws and the shark from finding Nemo 'Bruce' (who can also be spotted lurking in the background) could be related! Though it's never mentioned in the film, director Steven Spielberg nicknamed the animatronic shark used in Jaws 'Bruce' and so many believe that the shark's name in Finding Nemo is a nod to this piece of Hollywood trivia. So, could Bruce have been named after his real father?! There is also of course, some references to two brilliant quotes in the text at the bottom of the work which are "We're gonna need a bigger boat" - the most famous quote of all time from Jaws and "Can you swim?" - uttered by Roger Moore as he drives his Lotus right off the pier and into the deep blue.
ENGLAND EXPECTS... TOO MUCH
Next up we have another addition to JJ's Rule Britannia series of works - this time featuring Nelson's column, which stands tall in Trafalgar Square. Here, JJ has recreated a piece of newsworthy protesting that hit headlines in April 2016. Two Greenpeace activists scaled the 52m high statue to place a gas mask upon his Lord Nelson's face as part of a city-wide protest over air pollution - so, you won't be surprised to see the mask over his mouth and 'Greenpeace' scrawled across the base of the statue. Surrounding Nelson is the foggy gas that we can only assume represents the dangerous levels of toxic air in the capital, hence the reason behind Greenpeace's initial protesting. JJ has also placed the STS Lord Nelson sailing ship in the distance and if you look closely enough you will notice the faint lettering in the sky... This is Nelson's famous quote "England expects that every man will do his duty" - a very fitting message even today, in terms of the world's pollution rates it seems. Flying overhead in the background is a plane many will recognise - the British-French turbojet-powered supersonic passenger airliner that was operated from 1976 until 2003... The Concorde. One of the fastest and impressive models to ever be invented, the Concorde also came with it's unexpected issues.. and air pollution was definitely one of them. Concorde ran into other unexpected problems—although its faster trips meant it used less fuel on a journey than standard aircraft, environmentalists protested the high rate of fuel consumption (approximately 6,700 gallons per hour, compared to the Boeing 747’s 3,600 gallons per hour), as well as the potential damage the Concorde’s pollutants might do to the ozone layer at its high cruising altitude of 60,000 feet. JJ's addition of the aircraft could also have some relevance back to Lord Nelson himself, who was killed by a French sniper at Trafalgar Square while leading the attack on the combined French and Spanish fleet. However, the Concorde is symbol of how far France and Britain's relationship has come since then as it is clear they have never been natural allies - and this of course could be a thinly veiled reference to the current Brexit negotiations in this work. Again, super fans of JJ's work will spot the 'angry pigeon' that tends to pop up in many of JJ's Britannia works, and next to this appears to be an old school 'Empire Strikes Back' star wars lunch box... and what does this have in common with Nelson's column I hear you ask? Well, back in 2015 Disney paid a whopping £24,000 to have the monument transformed into a huge Lightsaber to promote the 'Force Awakens' film (if you haven't googled it yet, I suggest you do)
A very different work for JJ Adams - king of recreating 80's cult classics and icons into incredible works of art, in this particular work he has instead looked at a fundamental piece of British history, and selected his inspirational moment of time straight out of 1935. The image recreates the scene of Sir Malcolm Campbell's final record breaking land speed run in his infamous car 'Bluebird', before retiring from the sport. In the car you will see Sir Malcolm celebrating his win and the small text across the bottom that states 'Salt Lake, 1935'. Sir Malcolm had been participating in speed trials with his cars since 1921, but his most remarkable land runs came with the help of his 'Campbell-Railton Blue Bird' which he first drove in 1931. By 1933 he had replaced the old Napier Lion in the car with a supercharged Rolls-Royce R V12 engine, hence JJ's placement of 'Rolls Royce' on the side of the car, and ran it across Daytona, setting a record of 272 miles per hour - however wheel spin was a problem. After reconstructing the car further to it's most impressive state by 1935, and still finding the uneveness of the sand caused a loss of grip - Malcolm went on a search for new and more improved terrain. The faster car needed a bigger and smoother arena, and this led to the Bonneville Salt Flats of Utah. This time the young Donald Campbell accompanied his father. On 3 September 1935, the 300 mph barrier fell by a bare mile-per-hour, crowning Sir Malcolm Campbell's record-breaking career - You will see the exact speed and date highlighted in the written text along the bottom right had corner of the work.
IT'S MARY THAT WE LOVE
With Pride Parades taking place all across the world over the last few months and set to continue over the next few - we were delighted to unveil JJ's newest tribute to the LGBT community... and the very long awaited 'It's Mary That We Love'. The piece sees a young Julie Andrews dressed as one of her most memorable roles, everyons favourite magical nanny Mary Poppins, hovering above the London skyline - held up with the help of a multi-coloured umbrella. This work is filled with such joy and is a fantastic follow up to JJ's 'Spoonful of Sugar' which was released as a lenticular last year, and JJ makes play of this immediately with a silver spoon floating up into the air alongside Julie. If you have had the chance to see that particular work, you will also be happy to see Mary sporting the same hilariously placed Oyster Card in her hat and the cheeky wink she gives in the moving version. There is also a plane passing by in the background trailing a sign stating 'Kids Suck' - again another reference to JJ's earlier work when Mary had this phrase tattooed across her knuckles. Of course, the umbrella and the rainbow in the background are both symbols of the LGBT Pride Flag and undoubtedly, Julie Andrews is a very fitting actress to take center stage of this particular artwork - as not only has she portrayed some of the most iconic women on film, Julie is a gay icon, feminist and openly supports LGBT+ equality. It also wouldn't be a Mary Poppins inspired piece without some quirky references back to the film - like the kite from that famous scene involving a particularly catchy song (yes, it's in your head now) and a stray carousel horse suspended in the air. One of the most poignant parts to this particular image is the flyer in the bottom right corner, overlooked at first but has so much meaning to it when you notice. The flyer states 'Victory. Women Win The Right To Vote' - a fundamental part of British history which was touched on in the original Disney film. Mary Poppins is set in 1910, and was released 54 years later in 1964. In the 1910s, the real-life suffragettes faced the same lack of respect as the fictional Mrs Banks. JJ's work is not only an amazing piece visually but also I believe, perfectly epitomizes how far we have come in terms of rights for women, and the LGBT community.
As one of the most beautiful women in the world - JJ didn't need to add a whole lot of extra's to this image of the great Elizabeth Taylor. You only need to take one look at those captivating voilet eyes to see why this work is so stunning in it's simplicity. Of course there is the classic JJ twist on this representation, with the addition of tattoo's and a cheeky facial piercing and everything just seems to blend so well. The rose tattoo on Elizabeth's shoulder is quite significant as it appears to be a deep pink Hybrid Tea - otherwise known as the 'Elizabeth Taylor' rose. It was also no secret that Elizabeth Taylor had a great love for jewellery, and often attended events dripping in diamonds - that paired with the fact she shares her name with our current Queen - it is no surprise that JJ has chosen to adorn her with a tiara and a Sapphire necklace, very similar to the one owned by Her Royal Majesty. On her hand is the tattoo stating 'Beautiful' - British born Elizabeth Taylor wasn't just considered the most stunning starlet in Hollywood, but the most beautiful woman in the world. Her famously fair face helped her seduce seven husbands, launch a celebrated career and charm millions of fans around the world.
YOU KNOW I'M NO GOOD
This is the first up in the series of 4 'stamp' style pop art portraits of late British musical legends. This one of course represents London born singer and songwriter Amy Winehouse - and it's obvious to tell with her signature dramatic flicked eyeliner and huge bouffant all making an appearance. JJ has included the year of her birth and her death at the very bottom of the work and 'You Know I'm No Good' is scrawled across her neck...relating back to one of her hit songs 'You Know That I'm No Good'. JJ is famed for applying tattoo's to iconic figures but Amy was already decorated with some instantly recognisable tattoo's - and JJ has managed to include these by working her famous pin up girl and her grandmother's name 'Cynthia' which sat next to a portrait of her on her upper arm. On closer inspection you will begin to notice wording entwined into her face... which are all titles of hit songs like 'Valerie', 'Back To Black' and 'Me and Mr Jones'. JJ said ''I used to work in Camden Market and Camden was my stomping ground for many years. I passed Amy in the street once and this piece is all about that moment to me. R.I.P Amy Winehouse"
Another great pop legend that JJ has paid tribute to is George Michael - Faith is a really spectacular work, and again there are many things tied into this portrait that highlight his incredible life and career. You will be able to spot his signature sunglasses and cross earring, as well as song titles like 'Last Christmas', 'Freedom ' and 'Careless Whisper' . Featured on his crown is also the 'Choose Life' logo - which many will remember was printed on the white t-shirts George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley of Wham! in their video for the song Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go - promoting the anti-drug and anti-suicide campaign at the time. The tattoo on his neck reads 'Keep The Faith'.. obviously this is different to the line from his hit song 'You Gotta Have Faith' and is in fact a Bon Jovi song, however I believe this is meant to be more directed towards his battles before his subsequent death in 2016. 'Keep The Faith ' meaning to continue to believe in, trust, or support someone or something when it is difficult to do so
WE CAN BE HEROES
Instantly recognisable and utterly brilliant, this piece inspired by the iconic career of David Bowie is bursting with references to his life and work. Probably the first thing to strike you will be the classic lightening bolt makeup representing Ziggy Stardust, the glam alter ego of Bowie in the early 1970s. Bowie had a huge number of hits throughout his life and JJ has made it his mission to include as many as possible. You will spot ones like 'Rebel, Rebel', 'Starman' 'Changed' and 'Let's Dance' along with famous lines from songs like Space Oddity's 'Ground control to major Tom... Check Ignition, Engine On' and 'Turn and face the strange' from Changes. Also included at the bottom of the work is Bowie's year of birth 1947 and year of death in 2016.
THE SHOW MUST GO ON
Last, but by no means last is JJ's pop art portrait of Queen's sensational lead singer Freddie Mercury. Again you will find his year of birth and death to HIV/AIDs in 1991 along with all the names of classic Queen hits hidden within this one. Freddie was a force of nature, and his lyrics were just as powerful as his voice so titles like 'Somebody To Love' 'Radio Ga Ga' 'Don't Stop Me Now' and 'Bohemian Rhapsody' will live on forever.
**The new 'Rule Britannia' collection by JJ Adams is available now to view and purchase in gallery, or online by going here**