This was the picture I originally wanted to do when I was looking for a canvas for my kitchen wall, but it was far too ambitious to do quickly. The idea was to create a vegetarian and vegan version of arguably the most famous album artwork ever, with The Beantins centre stage. I have always been fascinated by Peter Blake and Jann Haworth’s Sgt. Pepper cover and as a child would pore over its detail for hours. To this day I can still look at it for ages and almost look through it. Michael Cooper’s vibrant gatefold photograph of the four Beatles with their psychedelic uniforms, bright eyes, shiny hair and newly-grown moustaches had a hypnotic quality to it; here were the four most famous people on the planet – so remote through their fame – yet their friendly smiles seemed to invite you into their world, or so it seemed.
Growing up as a Beatles fan, I was more into Paul’s style as a writer; both he and Linda McCartney were the main inspiration to become vegetarian at 17 and the way I try to live my life in terms of animals and sustainability with the issues our planet faces.
It has probably taken just over eight years (!) on and off to complete this picture; from compiling an initial list of The Beantins’ favourite people, cross-referencing those lists of vegetarians and vegans (as all the people featured are one or the other) to weed out those with tenuous veggie credentials – before reducing the group number, dropping certain people and moving the lineup on numerous occasions before getting bored, shelving it then returning to have another stab. Coldplay’s Chris Martin survived the airbrush – despite him falling off the vegetarian wagon following his separation (I won’t mention that much-ridiculed phrase associated with them) from Gwyneth Paltrow – as by all accounts he’s a nice guy. Ricky Gervais was a late inclusion – a replacement for Lord Byron – due to his love of animals and scathing Twitter posts of those who are cruel to them, as was Stephen Fry for his recent conversion to vegetarianism. Even though he is not vegetarian, I had to include Sir Peter as it wouldn’t be the same without his presence. Some might say the inclusion of Morrissey is a controversial one given the recent allegations about his far-right political leanings and support of dodgy groups; I have included him simply for his stance on animal rights from his days in The Smiths to the present.
So (finally!) here it is, with a crowd of 66 gathered around The Beantins: 38 men, 26 women, 2 fictional characters, 1 stuffed monkey and numerous other items dotted around. This artwork has been created as a 32″x32″ canvas.
To find out who exactly is on the cover, simply click on the button, below, and hover over the heads (and other items) to read a short biog on each. Clicking on the item will open a link to a relevant website link.