The Side show series of etchings ‘Liberty Beauty Rose’, ‘Reverend Ricky Wreck’ and ‘Elvis Two Rivers’ were inspired by one of Blakes most iconic portfolios produced between 1974 and 1978. The Portfolio consisted of five wood-engravings titled ‘Tattooed Man’, ‘Bearded Lady’, ‘Midget’, ‘Fat Boy’ and ‘Giant’, these seminal works are held in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, New York; The Metropolitan, New York; the British Council, London and the British Museum, London.
Blakes collections of books, magazines, textbooks, postcards and record sleeves are the medium from which he draws inspiraction, alongside his nostalgia for circus imagery and popular entertainment.
Blake comments, “There’s a whole background to it, but really it’s a class thing, a working class thing. When I was a kid these were my interests – the fairgrounds, circuses, rock’n’roll. So, at a certain point in making art, when I had to make a decision about what to do, I thought, “be autobiographical ”. Well, it wasn’t that conscious… but the work became very autobiographical and about popular culture, and that’s what became Pop art. And it’s still there. I still go to circuses when I can, and concerts.”