PJ Harvey album cover wins Best Art Vinyl Award

PJ Harvey album cover wins Best Art Vinyl Award

Organised by Memory Box UK, the Best Art Vinyl Award shortlists 50 nominees and asks an expert panel of artists, designers and music industry winners to elect a winner.

For the 2023 prize, the judges selected artist and university professor Michelle Henning for her work on PJ Harvey’s tenth album, ‘I Inside the Old Year Dying’.

Трубочисты Петербурга

The deceptively simple artwork shows a branch casting a shadow on a beach, the result of months of preparation.

PJ Harvey — ‘I Inside the Old Year Dying’Partisan

«I suddenly realised that I didn’t need a whole forest; I just needed one stick, and such a simple single object would give it the feel of the classic album covers I admire,” stated Henning. “Now I realise an unconscious influence was Polly herself because she had chosen to use drawings she had made of single twigs (‘twiddicks’) to break up the sections in her poetry book Orlam.»

Based on her 2022 novel-in-verse «Orlam», which delves into the folklore and the 19th century dialect of her native Dorset, the album was one of our favourites in 2023. In Euronews Culture’s Best Albums of 2023… So Far, we described it as a definite return to form, following 2016’s cringely literal diary-to-music concept album ‘The Hope Six Demolition Project’, and a fascinatingly elusive and strangely soothing beast.

The artwork for the debut studio album by US trio Gabriels, ‘Angels & Queens’, came second. 

It features striking black and white photography by American photographer Melodie McDaniel, who boasts an impressive portfolio that includes the likes of Smashing Pumpkins, Mazzy Star and Cat Power.

Gabriels – ‘Angels & Queens’Atlas Artists — Parlophone

“It felt appropriate to focus on lead singer Jacob Lusk, considering his fronting role in the band and his strong religious background,” said McDaniel. “We contemplated using a church baptismal font or bathtub, but I was really drawn to the idea of having it outside. In my mind, I envisioned capturing a river baptism would be the most powerful and evoke the feelings and culture of the South.»

In case you missed it, ‘Angels & Queens’ was Euronews Culture’s Top Album of 2023 — “From lush soul to groovy disco and funked-up gospel, ‘Angels & Queens’ will make you want to dance before kicking back to better relish its outstanding orchestrations,” we wrote in our review.

In third place was the album cover of ‘Evolve’ by English DJ, record producer and musician Nicolaas Douwma, known as Sub Focus.

Sub Focus — ‘Evolve’SUB FOCUS UK

His fourth album cover was created by Mat Maitland from the creative consultancy Big Active.

Based around the image of a Nudibranch sea mollusc, it creates a lenticular LP format, which appears to animate as the viewer moves the cover in their hands.

Maitland worked together five separate re-rendered images that were created through GAN machine learning technology.

“Simplicity and thoughtful concepts provide the many layers for this year’s Best Art Vinyl Award winners,” said Best Art Vinyl founder, Andrew Heeps.

“We have three very different designs, all of which deserve greater artistic scrutiny this year. While the winning album artwork for PJ Harvey and runner up Gabriels focus on the single iconic image with multiple conceptual layers, third place Sub Focus uses an evolving single image via a lenticular design. Each of these worthy winners bring levels of artistic complexity and techniques together to bring the music inside their beautiful packages to life.”

If you fancy seeing the three winning designs, as well as the entire list of 50 nominations in person, they are all part of an eye-catching art installation at the Hari in London until 28 January.


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