The coastal city of Plymouth is renowned for its history of captains, kings, and pilgrims. In 1620, the Mayflower departed from its docks carrying some of the earliest British settlers to America. Thirty-two years earlier, naval commander Sir Francis Drake famously spotted the Spanish Armada approaching whilst he was playing a game of bowls on Plymouth Hoe. But Plymouth’s history didn’t end after the 17th century, and many locals hoped that a piece of interactive artwork installed in 2016 would attract those interested in Plymouth’s more recent history.
In 1967, on the very same limestone cliffs Francis Drake played upon, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr, of The Beatles, rested while filming The Magical Mystery Tour. The photographer David Redfern took a photo of the musicians enjoying Plymouth Hoes’ open view of the English Channel. As well as capturing the world famous band, with a backdrop of Smeatons Tower—Plymouth’s iconic lighthouse—the image encapsulates one of the best views Plymouth has to offer.
The image, unsurprisingly, went on to become very popular, especially among local fans who often visited the location the photo was taken so they could sit where their idols once had rested. Half a century on, it is now easier than ever to find the spot, thanks to four copper bum-prints sitting on the exact spots chosen by the band in 1967.
These life-size copper prints, secured by a galvanized steel framework, are not just of backsides, but include hands and crossed legs also, allowing visitors to perfectly imitate the image of the 60s icons. Both Smeatons tower and the Tinside lido still dominate the background, completing the recreation. The prints are decorated with psychedelic and kaleidoscopic patterns, adding not only more beauty to the interactive artwork but also harking back to the era of the Beatles peak popularity.
The bum prints themselves were cast from the backsides of The Fab Beatles, a tribute band who have emulated the Beatles in style and sound for almost 30 years. The creators, Thrussell and Thrussell, reside in the local Bodmin Moor and as a company aim to bring about a sense of community ownership of the art they create. As such, they hope the photos their art helps to inspire will spread online under the hashtag #beatlebums.