Martin Richie Sharp ( 1942 - 2013)

Martin Ritchie Sharp (1942 -2013) was an Australian artist, cartoonist, songwriter and film-maker. Sharp was Australia’s foremost pop artist. He co-wrote one of Cream’s best known songs, “Tales of Brave Ulysses” and created the cover art for Cream’s Disraeli Gears and Wheels of Fire albums. Sharp was born in Bellevue Hill, New South Wales in 1942, and educated at Cranbrook private school, where one of his teachers was the artist Justin O’Brien. In 1960, Sharp enrolled at the National Art School at East Sydney. He also designed at that time a controversial poster titled “Rasputin & his London Popes” for an antique shop in Barcelona run by a young Spanish photographer named Alexis de Vilar. Sharp designed at least two posters for Australia’s premier contemporary circus, Circus Oz including the iconic ‘World-famous’/’Non-Stop Energy’ design.

For the most of the 1970s Sharp’s work and life was dominated by two major interests, Sydney’s Luna Park and the entertainer Tiny Tim. Sharp’s became involved with Luna Park’s restoration of Luna Park . A year later, as pressure mounted to redevelop the prime harbour side site, a fire in the Luna Park Ghost Train claimed seven lives, including a father and his two sons. The Luna Park fire was a turning point in Sharp’s life; like many others he firmly believed that the fire was a deliberate act of terrorism aimed at destroying the park and making the site available for redevelopment and in a 2010 interview on the ABC Radio National program The Spirit of Things, he revealed that the fire and the circumstances surrounding it had exerted a profound effect on his spiritual outlook. Sharp saw the performer Tiny Tim at the Royal Albert Hall in 1968 at the suggestion of Eric Clapton. From that time on, Tiny Tim was one of Sharp’s strongest inspirations. “Tim’s appropriation of song is very much like my appropriation of images. We are both collagists taking the elements of different epochs and mixing them to discover new relationships.” “Eternity” Sharp’s work was celebrated in many exhibitions including a special Yellow House exhibition at the Art Gallery of NSW and a major retrospective at the Museum of Sydney which ran from October 2009 to March 2010. Sydney Opera House Sharp maintained a lifelong friendship with artist Lin Utzon, daughter of the Sydney Opera House architect Jørn Utzon. The Danish architect was controversially forced from his uncompleted masterpiece in 1966 and secretly left Australia with the aid of Sharp’s mother. In the mid-1990s, Sharp helped broker a reconciliation between the Sydney Opera House and Jørn Utzon, who subsequently developed a set of design principles to guide the building’s future. 

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