13th Decem­ber 2017: so sor­ry to hear about the death of Iggy Rose.

Over the sum­mer of 2014, Lon­don’s South­bank Cen­tre held a “Fes­ti­val of Love”, exhibit­ing pieces of hip­py iconog­ra­phy which remained dot­ted around the com­plex long after the event. They cre­at­ed a suit­ably fit­ting por­tal to one par­tic­u­lar event: an evening of psy­che­del­ic films at the BFI called Flower Chil­dren in the Blind­ing Light: the 60s Films of Antho­ny Stern. For lovers of 60s imagery and music, Antho­ny Stern’s films give us a win­dow back into that world, its inno­cence, ener­gy, naivety and expressiveness.

Festival of Love sign, Southbank
The Sum­mer of Love, Southbank

Antho­ny Stern is a man of many guis­es: a film mak­er in the 1960s and edi­tor who sub­se­quent­ly turned to glass mak­ing, through which he achieved world­wide suc­cess. Stern him­self said that these two medi­ums pos­sess sim­i­lar­i­ties. He exper­i­ment­ed with film in the ’60s as the assis­tant to Peter White­head and was friends with the mem­bers of Pink Floyd. Fas­ci­nat­ed with, and inspired by psy­che­delia and the light shows of the time, he envi­sioned how music and image could cre­ate some­thing “greater than the sum of their parts”. This idea result­ed in the beau­ti­ful and exu­ber­ant ear­ly music video of See Emi­ly Play star­ring Iggy, at one time the girl­friend of Syd Bar­rett. Anoth­er is set to a unique live record­ing of Inter­stel­lar Overdrive.

Flower Children, Swinging London

The evening at the BFI is intro­duced by Nicole Brenez, Cura­tor of Avant Garde Film at the Cin­e­mateque Fran­caise, Paris; she is clear­ly enchant­ed by and pas­sion­ate about Antho­ny’s work as a film mak­er of this peri­od, more­over she sug­gests that he is some­what over­looked here in the UK.

His first film is shown, a beau­ti­ful­ly con­struct­ed piece enti­tled Baby Baby, shot in Cam­bridge, 1965. This sim­ple black and white film is, for me, the most charm­ing and the most per­son­al. As Antho­ny Stern has said, this piece sets the tone for all his lat­er works. The 16mm work is about com­ing to terms with father­hood, look­ing back over those ear­ly days of courtship, jeal­ousy and sex­u­al desire, and sub­se­quent­ly accept­ing the respon­si­bil­i­ty of cre­at­ing a new life. It is beau­ti­ful­ly paced with plen­ty of ’60s iconog­ra­phy and fash­ion to enjoy – mini dress­es with match­ing bak­er boy caps and ubiq­ui­tous cig­a­rette smoking.

With a sound­track of See Emi­ly Play the sec­ond film men­tioned above is intro­duced: Iggy the Eski­mo Girl, made in 1966. It could osten­si­bly be described as an ear­ly music video. The film stars Syd Bar­ret­t’s girl­friend, the cap­ti­vat­ing and beau­ti­ful Iggy Rose who, as the pro­gramme notes say, “play­ful­ly cavorts round Lon­don”. Snap­shots of her explode with a pow­er­ful ener­gy as she pos­es and flirts with the cam­era and trips along bare­foot through leaves as the sun glints down, framed by the bus­es and trees around Rus­sell Square. She embod­ies the idea of the 1960s free spirit.

San Fran­cis­co is a psy­che­del­ic explo­sion of icon­ic imagery seen from the per­spec­tive of an Eng­lish­man explor­ing a new, vibrant and, at the time, trou­bled, nation: anti-Viet­nam protest ral­lies are an impor­tant part of the con­tent, as are shots of the vibrant coun­ter­cul­ture. Lay­er upon lay­er of images assault the eye. The sound­track is a pow­er­ful unre­leased ver­sion of Pink Floy­d’s Inter­stel­lar Over­drive and, at around the mid-way mark, fea­tures tan­ta­lis­ing glimpses of a dis­arm­ing­ly youth­ful Pink Floyd in performance.

Ear­li­er at the BFI, I hap­pened to meet the well-known film mak­er and crit­ic Tony Slo­man, who was involved in the edit­ing of the orig­i­nal ver­sion of the film, and is cred­it­ed in the pro­gramme notes as Assem­bly Edi­tor. It was fas­ci­nat­ing to hear about his ear­ly work with Pink Floyd.

Antho­ny’s final film is a recent oeu­vre, con­sist­ing of extra footage from San Fran­cis­co accom­pa­nied by a haunt­ing sound­track – songs from the era such as Canned Heat On the Road Again and and For What It’s Worth by Buf­fa­lo Springfield.

WHO: Flower Chil­dren in the Blind­ing Light: The 60s films of Antho­ny Stern
WHERE: BFI, South­Bank London
WHEN: Sep­tem­ber 16, 2014

For more about Antho­ny Stern and his glass­mak­ing, check out his web­site at Antho­ny Stern Glass

2017 update: Anthony Stern is leaving his studio in Battersea, where he has been since 1979 and is moving to Lewes. Please check his website for sale details.


vases by Anthony Stern
Vas­es by Antho­ny Stern


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