Joyce Morgan: Martin Sharp


Martin Sharp: cover image.

‘Martin wore tight pants that were striped red, white and blue, like a Union Jack, and an embroidered Afghan vest. In front of his face he carried, like a lollipop, a smile on a stick. As he went, he bowed to passers-by. Even on King’s Road, he stood out.’

Martin Sharp’s art was as singular as his style. He blurred the boundaries of high art and low with images of Dylan, Hendrix and naked flower children that defined an era. Along the way the irreverent Australian was charged with obscenity and collaborated with Eric Clapton as he drew rock stars and reprobates into his world.

In this richly told and beautifully written biography, Joyce Morgan captures the loneliness of a privileged childhood, the heady days of the underground magazine Oz as well as the exuberant creativity of Swinging London and beyond.

Sharp pursued his quixotic dream to realise van Gogh’s Yellow House in Australia. He obsessively championed eccentric singer Tiny Tim and was haunted by the awful deaths at Sydney’s Luna Park. Charismatic and paradoxical, he became a recluse whose phone never stopped ringing.

Martin Sharp, “Young Mo”, poster, 1978. Thanks to the Estate of the late Martin Sharp.

There was no one like Martin Sharp. When he died, he was described as a stranger in a strange land who left behind a trail of stardust.