The 17th Best Art Vinyl Awards (2021) ceremony was held last Friday at a special presentation ceremony in Hari in Belgravia, London. The awards are chosen by public vote and in first place welcomed Brighton-based artist Paul Phillips Villager’s fifth studio album Fever Dreams.
The art is a surreal and stunning creation in which the giant head and shoulders of a grizzly bear form the outline of a mountainous view which rests next to a man snorkelling in his outdoor, starlit pool complete with lounge chairs and a small, sleeping doe.
By playing with the idea of scale, the design captures the sense of threat and serenity conveyed by the lyrics of Villagers’ singer/songwriter Conor O’Brien. “I had the idea through my love of playing with scale, I like themes of beguilement and being overwhelmed as I’ve struggled over the years with my own mental health and the subjects of anxiety and being overwhelmed are prevalent in my work” expressed Paul.
“I felt a giant sleeping bear was perfect for this concept. I added the man and the doe to hammer home the scale of the Bear, and then the yellow dots are the dreams themselves. I liked the idea of all three being asleep as if the image is a dream itself. I liked the playful nature of this idea and felt it was a complete piece of work as it connects with the themes on the album in many ways.”
These themes of peace and creeping danger – even death – are by no surprise, spurred on by the effects of the pandmeic on our lives. Many other vinyl artworks expressed a similar theme. Kimberly Oberhammer’s cover for Any Shape You Take by Indigo De Souza sees bloated yet decaying figures browsing the shelves of a shop overtaken by nature.
Best Art Vinyl founder Andrew Heeps comments: “We’re seeing vinyl records and vinyl culture keep on evolving to deliver an all-round artistic statement with Art and Music. This year’s winning sleeve art is built around a self-contained frame border that allows the owner to swap and enjoy all four versions of the sleeve, with each artwork produced in the same style and ongoing theme.
“The originality of offering the LP owner both quality and quantity of art in one tidy package, just demonstrates how the humble vinyl record holds few barriers as to where this everlasting music format can take the artists’ creativity with both music and visual artists working in a shared passion for their art.”
Check out all the winners on their website: https://artvinyl.com/award-year/2021/