Rottingdean Bazaar and Annie Collinge create new Dry Cleansing album paintings
When south London-based band Dry Cleaning’s Scratchcard Lanyard video emerged in 2020, it soon became one of the standout songs (and videos) of the whole year; combining deadpan vocal delivery, a teeny tiny disco ball (indeed, a whole teeny tiny disco), lyrics lifted wholesale from Tampax ad slogans, and a surreal-leaning aesthetic that dances beautifully on the line between smart and shonky.
That video, the breakout of sorts of the band, was created by Rottingdean Bazaar, a creative duo comprised of multidisciplinary artists James Theseus Buck and Luke Brooks, whose work straddles creative direction, fashion, video direction and fine art practice.
Stumpwork by Dry Cleaning, 2022; album artwork and design by Rottingdean Bazaar and Annie Collinge, photography by Annie Collinge, creative direction and styling by Rottingdean Bazaar
For Dry Cleaning’s recently released album Stumpwork, Rottingdean Bazaar has once again joined forces with the band, working with photographer Annie Collinge, a regular collaborator, and Paris-based Studio Claire Huss on the graphic design. As with the video, the artwork here delights in the surreal – playing with dimensions and colours, merging newness and the musty smell of old things found in strange places. There’s also a bit of disgust in there this time for good measure.
When it came to making the Stumpwork artwork, it was mostly about brainstorming over WhatsApp, “firing images back and forth”, says Collinge. It was here that the idea of the pube-laden soap bar was born. “I had taken an iPhone picture of a blue soap with a curly hair on it, and Rottingdean Bazaar had done lots of things with pube lettering so suddenly it sparked an idea,” she says.
“James and I have been working with pubic hair since we got together in 2015,” continues Brooks. “It was one of the first materials we used and we made badges which spelled out words and people’s names. We still make them sometimes. This is the first time, however, we have used pubes to make a photograph.”
“We had been talking intermittently about vintage soaps with Annie for a couple of years before this project emerged. In retrospect I think we were probably drawn to involving them in this partly as the variety and whimsicality of their different shapes can evoke and somewhat echo lyrics,” adds Buck.
These wee soaps “came from all kinds of places, most are about 30 years old”, says Collinge, with many sourced from eBay and other vintage sellers. “We collected hundreds and they are all strongly scented so now we have several boxes of them fumigating our storage unit,” says Buck.
One of the most delightful and unusual elements of the album artwork is the bespoke vinyl: in a masterstroke, it’s designed to look very much like a massive plughole. “We were imagining the motion of water going down a plug hole, as it’s similar to a record spinning,” Collinge explains.
“The other factor to it which we are really happy about is that the white vinyl is the main variant,” says Brooks. “This is really important to us as white vinyl lends itself best to the feeling of a smooth white enamel bathtub. It was the way in which we first envisioned the artwork and how we feel it is most truly communicated.”
Rottingdean Bazaar says that making album artwork was new to them, and that along the way they “learned a lot about the way album packages are typically printed and pressed, as well as the technical needs and industrial quirks of it”.
Lyric booklet for Stumpwork by Dry Cleaning