Orlando in the London schools partnership project writes:

Tabloid Topolski

The media has become the dominant structure in our society: tabloid newspapers peddle sensationalist evangelical views to the millions of readers, holding more political clout than the Liberal Democrats, they elect and topple the most important politicians and reserve the right to exercise moral judgement upon whosoever it wishes. When we started to consider a suitable work for the project, we wanted to create something which would be a representation of an important feature of our society.

On the 15th September, the Mirror produced a scoop unrivalled in the previous months. It showed exclusive pictures of musician Pete Doherty and his supermodel girlfriend Kate Moss consuming large amounts of cocaine. ‘Pete’ and ‘Kate’ continue to be the favourites of tabloid journalists, who still take pleasure in sanctimoniously damning the lifestyle lead by the couple. The reaction in the tabloids was an explosion in the number of articles and features about the couple, their battle with rehabilitation (‘I’ll Do Drugs Rehab Says Cocaine Kate’), conflict with police (‘Pete Held After Drug Raid’) and their own, more intimate rehabilitation (‘Moss: Clean Up Pete’).

The loudness of the brash newspaper headlines is well reflected in Topolski’s use of large areas of bold colour. His style, which has resonances of Cloisonism (a practice developed by the French painter Bernard and the Pont-Aven school of painters in the nineteenth century), generates many powerful images. With the thickly-applied brushstroke of Fauve artists such as Matisse and Dufy, Topolski creates a solid surface image whilst incorporating different layers of narrative forms highly dependent on the colours used.

We hope to replicate this effect by using a number of different media and approaches, using bold headlines. We tried to replicate Topolski’s graphic approach to celebrity, most importantly in his drawings of celebrities such as Bob Dylan and Elvis Presley. This is especially pertinent given that these drawings were often used for newspaper purposes. We then used the same approach and applied it to several pictures of Kate Moss which we had obtained from the press coverage of the event. If the project has been successful then the piece will not depict the events of the scandal (which, with the transitory nature of such celebrities is almost insignificant) but the importance is the representation of the visual aspects of the press coverage.

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