Celebrating the 50th anniversary of the iconic pop-rock album by the Kinks, a new exhibition at Strand’s Proud Central opens next Thursday, the 4th of October 2018. It’ll give fans an inimitable opportunity to discover some of the memorabilia, photos and artworks that retell the story of The Kinks Are The Village Green Preservation Society.

The Kinks Are The Village Green Preservation Society Proud Gallery
The Kinks recording at the Playhouse Theatre, London, for the BBC World Service, 26th November 1968 © LFI/Avalon

Released in 1968, The Kinks Are The Village Green Preservation Society is an essential classic pop-rock album and one of the most influential works of the band. Marking an end of an era in their history, it brought the original members of the group (Ray Davies, Dave Davies, Pete Quaife and Mick Avory) together for the very last time.

Although it gained critical praise almost instantly, it initially failed to demolish charts and found its widespread acclaim a little later, stepping away from the mainstream musical trends of the late Sixties to experiment. Leaving behind the rock and roll of the decade, and yet somehow capturing the spirituality that drove it, The Village Green painted the pictures of the English countryside, negotiated with the mental exhaustion the band experienced and brought back the nostalgia for the world filled with deeply personal memories.

And it’s not difficult to see why it still resonates, having proved defiant to changing decades and standing the test of time. Ray Davies once said that “everybody’s got their own Village Green, somewhere you go to when the world gets too much,” an escapist sentiment that rings true fifty years later, too. A mixture of musical novelties and stirring, honest lyrics created a combination that Pete Townshend (The Who) described as ‘Ray [Davies]’s masterpiece… what makes him the definitive pop poet laureate’. And decades later, the Rolling Stone magazine placed the album on the 255th spot on the list of the 500 greatest records of all time.

The exhibition at Proud Central is a tribute to the album, channelled with a selection of rare vintage memorabilia on display, each of them hand-signed by Mick Avory, Ray and Dave Davies. These include also exclusive artworks commissioned by the members of the band, a collection of photos that document their creative process and spirit that drove them to create The Village Green.

Among them, the visitors will be able to see the album artwork photos shot by Barrie Wentzell in Hampstead Heath. The photoshoot depicts the band relaxing in the tall grass, with Kenwood House in the background – according to the photographer, it, was Ray’s favourite location to film. The lyrics of the album liberally reference his north London childhood in nearby Fortis Green as well, so the shoot in the area connected with the themes of the album neatly.

The Kinks Are The Village Green Preservation Society Proud Gallery
The Kinks, Hampstead Heath, London, 1968, Barrie Wentzell © Barrie Wentzell

“The real village green is a combination of north London places,” said Davies. “That little green is where we played football, and where we stayed ’til it was dark. There was mystery there… The record’s about lost childhood, but also being a kid.”

The exhibition coincides not only with the 50th anniversary of the album release but also with the BMG’s reissue of the album on the 26th of October. It’ll include CDs, vinyl LP and singles, deluxe box set, hardback photobook, as well as other memorabilia. To celebrate both events, a special artwork produced by Mogan Howell appears on display. It reinterprets the bonus song Wonderboy as a three-dimensional sculpture that uses paint and canvas to mimic the crumples and crinkles of a fifty-year-old vinyl sleeve.

The exhibition will run until the 18th of November 2018.

The Kinks Are The Village Green Preservation Society, 4th October – 18th November 2018, Proud Galleries, 32 John Adam St, London WC2N 6BP. Free entry. Website: proud.co.uk.

Kasia Kwasniewska

Editor in Chief

Loves reading, watching films, eyeing (and producing) good design, listening to music and stuffing her face with chocolate whenever the opportunity arises. Cooks from time to time, and drinks far too much coffee to be a normal human being. Liked my work? Buy me a coffee!

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