Thursday, 18 July 2013

Yanni Stumbles Posters and Graphics

Greedy Smith, Yanni Stumbles and Shoena White, Sydney, circa 1980


Yanni Stumbles / Janni Alexander studied art at East Sydney Technical College and produced artwork and screenprints with the Lucifoil Poster Collective and Tin Sheds Art Workshop at the University of Sydney between 1980-84 (pers. comm., Kenyon, 1995). During this period she also taught screen printing at the Darlo CYSS (Darlinghurst Community Youth Support Scheme). Some of her prints from those years bear the inscription ‘Seagull Posters’, the name of her own production company with Lucifoil. This includes the 1982 poster ‘A Change in the Weather’ produced for a production by Theatre South, Wollongong, and in association with the Woman and Arts Festival. 

Around 1983-4 Yanni moved from screen printing to working in the Australian music industry in areas of management and production design. One of her most notable works is the cover design for the 1984 Hoodoo Gurus breakthrough album Stoneage Romeos. For a short period thereafter, through to around 1991, she managed Paul Kelly and the Coloured Girls/Messengers, producing LP cover art and promotional posters. Yanni subsequently worked as the business manager with the Victorian Rock Foundation in 1995 and in more recent years as a production accountant in the Australian television and film industry. 

Yanni’s poster art from the early eighties exhibits both feminist and modernist influences, and remains an important part of the output of the Lucifoil Poster Collective. A list of Yanni's known work is presented below. Images are primarily drawn from the National Gallery of Australia (NGA) and the Australian Prints + Printmaking websites. Copies of the works are held in public collections such as the NGA, the State Library of New South Wales and the Powerhouse Museum, Sydney. Catalogue entries list her variously as Yanni Stumbles and Janni Alexander.

1. King Cross Youth Refuge Needs Volunteers 1980

Screenprint, printed in colour from two stencils, Lucifoil Poster Collective, Sydney. A t-shirt featuring elements of this poster was also produced - refer photograph above with Yanni Stumbles wearing the t-shirt.


2. 1st South Sydney Youth Film Festival 1981

Screenprint, printed in colour from four stencils, Lucifoil Poster Collective, Sydney.


3. Buckeye and Pinto ... Valhalla Cinema Glebe 1981

Screenprint, printed in black ink from one stencil, Lucifoil Poster Collective, Sydney. The 1979 independent Australian film Buckeye and Pinto also shared a double-bill with Terror Australis.
 

4. Riptides 1981

Screenprint, printed in colour from multiple stencils, Lucifoil Poster Collective, Sydney. Poster for the Australian rock group Riptides.


5. Star Club - Rock Poster Exhibition 1981

Screenprint, printed in colour from multiple stencils, Lucifoil Poster Collective, Sydney.


6. Terror Lostralis 1981

Screenprint , printed in black ink from one stencil, Lucifoil Poster Collective, Sydney. Poster for the independent Australian cult film Terror Lostralis directed by David Shepard and released during 1980. A number of variants of this design were used in the promotional campaign.


 7. Going nowhere on the dole? Darlo C.Y.S.S.

Screenprint, printed in colour from multiple stencils, Lucifoil Poster Collective, Sydney. Poster produced to promote the Darlinghurst (Sydney) Community Youth Support Scheme.



8. Don't be kept in the dark ... its your future. Darlo C.Y.S.S. 1982

Screenprint, printed in brown ink from one stencil, 48 x 45 cm, Lucifoil Poster Collective, Sydney.



9. A Change in the Weather 1982

Screenprint printed in colour from multiple stencils, 48 x 76 cm, Seagull Posters and Lucifoil Poster Collective for Theatre South and the Women & Arts Festival, Wollongong. Exhibited in Wollongong in Posters: Art on a Telegraph Pole, University of Wollongong, 2013. This poster promotes a work by well known playwright and founding member of Theatre South, Katherine Thomson. In A Change in the Weather, a play about two women at work in Wollongong, she explores one of her recurrent themes of how ordinary people respond to social, economic and political change. Katherine and Faye Montgomery performed in this well received play. The A Change in the Weather poster is strongly reminiscent of the style of American artist Roy Lichtenstein, with its comic-style imagery, fluorescent colours and dynamic text bubbles


10. Street Poster Benefit 1982

Screenprint, printed in colour from multiple stencils, Lucifoil Poster Collective, Sydney.


11. Phillip Scott is laid back in a very small place ... Pastels 1983

Patrick Cook and Yanni Stumbles, screenprint, printed in colour from three stencils, Lucifoil Poster Collective, Sydney.


12. Festival del Sol 1983

Screenprint, printed in colour from four stencils, Lucifoil Poster Collective, Sydney.


13. Hoodoo Gurus 'My Girl' Tour 1983

Screenprint, printed in colour from multiple stencils. Tin Shed Posters, 1983.



14. Friendship Festival of South Sydney 1983

Tony Stathakis and Yanni Stumbles, screenprint, printed in colour from three stencils, Lucifoil Poster Collective, Sydney.


15. Festival del Sol 1984

Screenprint, printed in colour from three stencils, Lucifoil Poster Collective, Sydney.


16. Stoneage Romeos - Hoodoo Gurus 1984

Album cover - front and rear, vinyl LP. Cover concept and design by Yanni Stumbles.



17- 22. Singles Six Pack - Hoodoo Gurus 1985

Yanni Stumbles and others, CD six pack, fold out with six covers. Includes covers for the following:
  1.  Leilani
  2. Tojo (Yanni Stumbles and Dave Faulkner)
  3. My Girl
  4. I Want You Back 
  5. Bittersweet
  6. Like Wow Wipeout
23. Post - Paul Kelly 1985

Album cover for Paul Kelly's first LP. Yanni Stumbles managed Paul Kelly for seven years, either with Stuart Coupe or on her own. In an interview she said that she found working with Kelly helped form the bedrock of her work philosophy – ‘an honest days work means an honest days pay’. A man of few words but with a strong work ethic "he gets up and does one of his songs, and it moves you because he is such a great songwriter and artist. He is one of the few people who has ever sung a song and made me weep."


24. Paul Kelly 1986

Screenprint, printed in colour from one stencil. Generic poster for concerts by Paul Kelly.


25. Gossip - Paul Kelly and the Coloured Girls 1986

Ann Redmond and Yanni Stumbles, CD cover.


26. Paul Kelly and the Coloured Girls - To Farf - Before too long 1986

Screenprint, printed in colour with three stencils, 60 x 40 cm. Annotated 'Seagull '86' lower right. Reproduced in Plastered: The Poster Art of Australian Popular Music, p.128. Therein described as: "A nod to the pop art of Lichtenstein, with its lounging woman and iconic air, dressed down by a quick fix of Letraset fonts."



The Nineties

Around 1995 Janni worked as a consultant accountant for the Victorian Rock Foundation. According to the book Rock Dogs: Politics and the Australian Music Industry, "...the Victorian Rock Foundation board has been instructed by the VRF's consultant accountant Yanni Stumbles, that it could no longer honour cheques", Extraordinary Boad Minutes, 15 May 1995 (page 171). At the end of the decade Janni attained a Post Graduate Diploma in Arts and Entertainment Management from Deakin University.

2000 and beyond....

Janni Alexander is an independent production accountant and small business manager based in Melbourne. She has the usual diplomas and certificates, has mingled with the mighty and the fallen. She has found this all extremely useful for handing out tissues, being a shoulder to cry on and grinding folk down with her superior intellect and acerbic wit. Credits include production accounting on L.A.D., Blinder, Crawlspace, My Year Without Sex, Zokky the Kangaroo, Rock Wiz plus general business management for several Melbourne production houses.

2013 Interview

Interview with Janni Alexander by Michael Organ, Tuesday 25 June 2013:

Michael (MO) spoke to Janni (JA) by phone and asked her about the A Change in the Weather poster, its production and her time at the Tin Sheds as part of the Lucifoil Poster Collective.

MO: What was the process for obtaining and/or carrying out commissions with Lucifoil and Seagull?

JA: People usually came to us either via the Tin Sheds or Darlo CYSS - or friends - word of mouth ...

MO: How did your involvement with the Lucifoil Poster Collective operate - regular meetings, residencies at the Tin Sheds, etc.?

JA: No, I don't recall meetings. We tended to just see each other the the Sheds I guess.     

MO: In regards to the Theatre South A Change in the Weather poster of 1982, how many copies were made?

JA: It was probably produced in a print run of about 100 copies. I didn’t do many at the time.

MO: Who did the printing?

JA: I did all the work myself. We all worked that way at the Tin Sheds at the time, every bit of it. We worked hard.

The poster was printed at the Tin Sheds, University of Sydney.

MO: Can you tell me about the poster itself – it seems to reflect the influence of Roy Lichtenstein?

YA: The bright colours were to attach people’s attention. You need to know your audience and attract their attention in order to get a message across. So we used bright fluro colours at the time. I suppose I was influenced by Roy Lichtenstein and Pop Art at the time.

MO: Who were Seagull Posters?

JA: That was just me, I was Seagull Posters. That was my little thing. I was also part of the Lucifoil Poster Collective and worked with people such as Leonie Lane, and Shoena White.

MO: What was it like working at the Tin Sheds?

JA: It was a lot of fun. I feel very privileged to have worked with such a group. I was just one of the team. Others were so much better. Michael Callaghan – I looked up to him as a master printer.

MO: What else were you involved with at the time?

YA: I did some teaching at Darlinghurst Art College and also curated the “Street Art” exhibition around 1981-2. I later worked with bands, designing posters and album covers, with bands such as the Hoodoo Gurus and Paul Kelly. I was once asked by a band’s agent not to do such good posters, because as soon as they were put up, they were pulled down and hung on people’s walls.

Acknowledgements

This blog was compiled by Michael Organ with the gracious assistance of Janni Alexander.

References

Australian Prints + Printmaking [website], Australian Centre for the Arts, available URL: www.printsandprintmaking.gov.au. Accessed 18 July 2013.

Therese Kenyon, Under a Hot Tin Roof - art, passion and politics at the Tin Sheds Art Workshop, State Library of New South Wales Press, 1995, 152p.

David Lesser, 'Paul Kelly - 1991', in The Whites of Their Eyes: Profiles, Allen & Unwin, St. Leonards, 2011, 203-2011. 

Murray Walding and Nick Vukovic, Plastered: The Poster Art of Australian Popular Music, Miegunyah Press, University of Melbourne, 2005. 

Yuill, Katie and Mayhew, Louise, Girls at the Tin Sheds: Sydney Feminist Posters 1975-90, University Art Gallery, University of Sydney, March 2015, 72p. 

Michael Organ
Last updated: 8 February 2017