In his debut London exhibition at The Book Club in Shoreditch, British illustrator Toby Melville-Brown presents a series of artworks inspired by our changing notion of ‘The Future’, with a collection of billboard sized prints in the style of 1970s sci-fi book covers.
The exhibition, curated by Liat Chen, will explore how popular culture’s idea of ‘The Future’ has changed, from the 70s (which imagined sprawling space stations, exotic planets, and sinister creatures) to the one we perceive now, which is more concerned with the implications of a life tied to a screen and major ecological damage.
As a boy, Melville-Brown was enthralled by the cover art on his father’s collection of science fiction novels. And after a childhood replicating those ideas on paper, he sought to marry this imagination and reality, through a degree in Transportation Design where he revelled in drawing outlandish vessels.
Now, for the first time, Toby Melville-Brown is putting his imagination front and centre. The Future Was Big will elaborate on the stories behind the drawings. Inviting viewers into expansive vistas, laced with a playful reverence for the minds that inspired him.
The artworks themselves are playful and delight in the escapism of the past, depicting colourful and exotic worlds; those that typify what many describe as the golden age of Science Fiction. The fictional premise behind each one however, is permeated with our current anxieties of tomorrow.
Like the iconic book covers designed by the illustrator Chris Foss, each artwork consists of an evocative title, an outlandish illustration and the bold type of its creator. As such, Toby Melville-Brown becomes T.M. Brown. His depictions include intergalactic forests, Martian furniture, and worryingly cultured robots. All of which are undoubtedly a love letter to a time before, to when The Future Was Big.
Toby has collaborated with authors to create stories behind each book cover, such as The Forest That Fled, envisaging a world after years of deforestation, where the spirit of fallen trees conspire and warn forests throughout, of their impending danger. One forest in particular takes action and gathers an energy unknown to the humans, to launch into space, in search of a better environment. The story considers the shame of the human bystanders, who realise that their economic and biological reliance on trees is likely the start of a mass exodus from Earth.
To bring the event to life, Melville-Brown has invited a range of specialists who share in his preoccupation for the future. An audio collaboration with Manchester based outfit Alps 2; as well as synopsis and taglines for the most elusive works created by two writers, Katie Beswick an art and performance writer and academic, and Daniel Fraser, a poet, author, and scholar of literature, film and philosophy.
When: Launching on 21st November 2019
Where: The Book Club, 100 Leonard Street, London EC2A 4RH
£: Free admission
More info: thebookclub.eventcube.io