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Jann Haworth

Jann Haworth

Jann Haworth

Jann Haworth (born 1942) is a US pop artist. A pioneer of soft sculpture, she is best known as the co-creator of The BeatlesSgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album cover. Haworth is also an advocate for feminist rights especially for women representation in the art world.

Haworth was born in 1942 and raised in Hollywood, California. Her mother Miriam Haworth was a distinguished ceramist, printmaker, and painter. Her father, Ted Haworth, was an Academy Award-winning art director. Since Haworth was surrounded by artistic talent from a young age, she describes the experience as having a strong influential impact on the development of her artistic goals and the presentations of her artworks-whether they were installation pieces or two demential:

My mother taught me how to sew. I was eight when I made my first petticoat, and from that point on I made dolls, their clothing and almost everything I wore. My father was a Hollywood production designer. I shadowed him on the sets. This influenced my work in the 1960s. I thought of the installations that I did as film sets. The concept of the stand-in, the fake, the dummy, the latex model as surrogates for the real, came from being with my father. —Jann Haworth

After years of experimental artwork as a young artist, Jann Haworth took her talents to the University of California, Los Angeles in 1959.

After two years at UCLA, she moved in 1961 to London, England, where she studied art history at the Courtauld Institute of Art and studio art at the Slade School of Fine Art. Haworth reveled in being a rebellious woman artist within a conservative, male-dominated institution like the Slade.

I liked the Slade’s fustiness; it was another thing to push against…The assumption was that, as one tutor put it, “the girls were there to keep the boys happy”. He prefaced that by saying “it wasn’t necessary for them to look at the portfolios of the female students…they just needed to look at their photos”. From that point, it was head-on competition with the male students. I was annoyed enough, and American enough, to take that on. I was determined to better them, and that’s one of the reasons for the partly sarcastic choice of cloth, latex and sequins as media. It was a female language to which the male students didn’t have access. —Jann Haworth

It was in those formative years at art school that her aesthetic sense was first established. She began experimenting with sewn and stuffed soft sculptures. She made still life items (flowers, doughnuts) and quickly progressed to her now iconic “Old Lady” doll and other life-sized figures. Her work often contained specific references to American culture and to Hollywood in particular, as is readily apparent in her dummies of Mae West, Shirley Temple and W. C. Fields.

Haworth soon became a leading figure of the British Pop Art movement, and joined Pauline Boty as one of its only female practitioners in London. Her first major exhibition was at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in 1963, where she was selected to participate in 4 Young Artists (18 September – 19 October 1963) alongside British artists John Howlin, Brian Mills, and John Pearson. Three shows at the Robert Fraser Gallery in London followed, two of which were solo exhibitions. Her work was seen in Amsterdam and Milan and also was featured in the Hayward Gallery‘s landmark exhibition of Pop Art in 1968. That same year, she and her then-husband, Pop artist Peter Blake, won a Grammy for their album cover design of The BeatlesSgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

Haworth was a visionary and a pioneer in the face of the American feminist movements of the 1960’s through challenging gendered stereotypes through her artworks while emphasizing the importance of having a female identity through her works that emphasized iconic female symbols in her soft sculptures. Haworth refused to let her male peers intimidate her and diminish her success.

Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band

Gallery owner Robert Fraser suggested to The Beatles that they commission Peter Blake and Haworth to design the cover for Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. The original concept was to have The Beatles dressed in their new “Northern brass band” uniforms appearing at an official ceremony in a park. For the great crowd gathered at this imaginary event, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, and George Harrison, as well as Haworth, Blake, and Fraser, all submitted a list of characters they wanted to see in attendance. Blake and Haworth then pasted life-size, black-and-white photographs of all the approved characters onto hardboard, which Haworth subsequently hand-tinted. Haworth also added several cloth dummies to the assembly, including one of her “Old Lady” figures and a Shirley Temple doll who wears a “Welcome The Rolling Stones” sweater. Inspired by the municipal flower-clock in Hammersmith, West London, Haworth came up with the idea of writing out the name of the band in civic flower-bed lettering as well.

In the 1970s, she and Blake were members of the Brotherhood of Ruralists, a group of artists that also included Ann and Graham Arnold, Annie and Graham Ovenden, and David Inshaw. In 1979 she founded and ran The Looking Glass School near Bath, Somerset, an arts-and-crafts primary and middle school. In the same year, she separated from Blake and commenced living with her present husband, the writer Richard Severy. During the subsequent two decades, her artistic career took second place to her commitment to raising a young family (two daughters, three stepdaughters, and a son). Still, she found time to illustrate (as Karen Haworth) six of Severy’s books: Mystery Pig (1983), Unicorn Trap (1984), Rat’s Castle (1985), High Jinks (1986), Burners and Breakers (1987), and Sea Change (1987). She also created five covers for the 1981 Methuen Arden Shakespeare editions of Richard III, Macbeth, Twelfth Night, Henry the Fifth, and Coriolanus. Haworth also authored three “how-to” art books for children: Paint(1993), Collage (1994), and Painting and Sticking (with Miriam Haworth, 1995).

After mounting two solo exhibitions at Gimpel fils, London, in the mid-1990s, Haworth won a fellowship in 1997 to study American quilt-making. She returned to the United States and took up residence in Sundance, Utah, where she founded the Art Shack Studios and Glass Recycling Works, and co-founded the Sundance Mountain Charter School (now the Soldier Hollow Charter School). Since then, her career has exhibited in solo exhibitions at the Mayor Gallery, London (2006), Wolverhampton Art Gallery (2007), and Galerie du Centre, Paris (2008). She also has been represented in numerous Pop art retrospectives, including “Pop Art UK” (Modena, 2004), “Pop Art and the 60s: This Was Tomorrow” (London, 2004), “Pop Art! 1956-1968” (Rome, 2007), and “Seductive Subversion: Women Pop Artists, 1958-1968” (Philadelphia, 2009).

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