Peter Blake's A–Z

peter blake

Sir Peter Blake has created an alphabet of ‘found’ letters for Tate. He explains the inspiration for this artist project.

Peter Blake An Alphabet ABCD previous Tate Magazine article issue 8 October 2002

Peter Blake
An Alphabet ABCD
© the Artist

Peter Blake An alphabet EFGH from previous Tate Magazine article issue 8 October 2002

Peter Blake
An alphabet EFGH
© the Artist

Peter Blake An alphabet IJKLM from previous Tate Magazine article issue 8 October 2002

Peter Blake
An alphabet IJKLM
© the Artist

Peter Blake An alphabet NOPQR from previous Tate Magazine article issue 8 October 2002

Peter Blake
An alphabet NOPQR
© the Artist

Peter Blake An alphabet STUV from previous Tate Magazine article issue 8 October 2002

Peter Blake
An alphabet STUV
© the Artist

When I was asked to do something for Tate the alphabet idea was very much in my mind because I’d just seen an exhibition of Polaroid pictures by Walker Evans. I’ve been a fan of Evans since I was a student in the 1950s, and the exhibition catalogue explained that he’d taken photographs until he was about 60, when he became very ill and stopped.

Then someone gave him a SX70 Polaroid camera, which is quite a small one that you can carry easily, and he started photographing everything around him – signs and things like that. He thought about doing an alphabet, but died soon after.

It was such a nice idea that I thought I’d do it as a homage to him, so the idea isn’t lost – not to compete with him but just to pick up the idea and carry on with it.

I’d already started to do that, so when we talked it seemed a perfect idea for the magazine. There was a time limit because we only had three weeks to complete the alphabet, so I also decided to limit it to my studio and the environment of the studio.

I’m going to have trouble with Z, I think – I can’t find a Z so far, but I know that I will. In recent years the concept of the Polaroid has been overshadowed by the development of the digital camera.

What was always handy about the Polaroid was that you could take a picture in secret and it didn’t have to be developed. That can now be done digitally, so in a way its purpose has gone.

Peter Blake, September 2003

See also