The St Albans psychedelic pioneer who helped define an era of art

Author Joel Brown

Author Joel Brown - Credit: Archant

On a day when the spring equinox coincided with a rare solar eclipse, there seemed no better time to meet a man so in touch with and influenced by the elements.

Joel Brown's psychedelic artwork

Joel Brown's psychedelic artwork - Credit: Archant

Psychedelic artist Joel Brown, who has lived in and around St Albans for 45 years, gained fame after his light show featured at the iconic launch of underground newspaper, International Times, at the 1966 Roundhouse concert in London – which saw both Pink Floyd and the Soft Machine headline.

His art, symbolic of the psychedelic culture prevalent in the 1960s, involved the mixing of inks and other liquids, sandwiched together with the edges taped up and the liquids trapped inside.

When projected in front of a hot projector lamp, the liquids moved and created coloured moving shapes.

Rather than see himself as a product of the time, Joel believes the period was actually a product of those living in it, with the emergance of musical legends like Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr, Dean Martin, The Rolling Stones and The Beatles.

Joel Brown's psychedelic artwork

Joel Brown's psychedelic artwork - Credit: Archant

He said: “Everything about me influences the way I behave, it wasn’t just the era we were living in.

“What we did and what I did was amazing and I am amazed by it myself now but I didn’t realise it at the time.

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“It’s like the guys who created the atomic bomb, they probably didn’t realise how big a thing they were creating at the time.”

Modest about his creativity, he admitted he could never bring himself to sell any of his work, preferring to instead give them away for free, if at all.

“How would you feel if someone asked you to cut your little finger off? It was as much of part as anything else and I felt to sell it would cheapen it.”

Though he gained notoriety for his art, Joel revealed that he has not created any for years, but has plans to in the future.

“Maybe I’ve not been putting the right fuel in the engine but I’ve been at a bit of a drawing block!”

Joel greeted fans of all walks of life, at the launch of his new book, entitled Psychedelika: The Art of Joel Brown, at Waterstones in St Peter’s Street earlier this month.