City stores feature in spoof Sgt Pepper picture

Sir Peter Blake's image. Picture: comp
Sir Peter Blake's image. Picture: comp
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THE artist behind one of the most famous album covers in music history has given his masterpiece a quirky Edinburgh twist – by shoehorning a city florist and cheesemonger into the image.

Sir Peter Blake CBE became a hero of the pop art scene by co-creating The Beatles’ legendary Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band record sleeve.

He pieced together photographs of 20th century cultural icons to produce a collage of celebrities, politicians and sport stars that flanked the Fab Four.

Now, the 83-year-old has returned to the studio to imitate his tour de force – using Britain’s favourite shopkeepers.

And two of those pictured in the 38-strong collection are Capital retailers Flowers by McDowell and cheesemongers IJ Mellis. The pair are the only Scottish shops selected to appear in the spoof album cover commissioned to coincide with Small Business Saturday on December 6.

A photographer visited the stores to snap pictures of staff busy at work, before Sir Peter collated the photographs to create a bustling final image dubbed High Street Heroes,

David Braithwaite, of Flowers by McDowell, said participating in the exhibit masterminded by “an icon” had been a “great privilege”. And he vowed to hang the image on his shop wall.

Manager of IJ Mellis’ Morningside store, Mark Thorne, said he was starstruck when he heard the shop would be involved in Sir Peter’s project. The 34-year-old, who is pictured in the shop alongside employee Ruth Jeffrey and also stars in an accompanying video, said: “I feel really honoured because I’m a massive Beatles fan and a big fan of Sir Peter.

“I also like Oasis and grew up listening to Britpop.”

Sir Peter Blake said shopkeepers were an ideal muse for pop art because they have been “at the forefront of British culture for hundreds of years”.

“Having worked at a local butcher at the age of 13 I have also experienced the dedication and hard work that goes into running a small shop,” he said.

“It is for all these reasons that I am thrilled to be lending my support to a campaign that champions small businesses.”

Rafa Marquez, UK managing director of American Express, which commissioned the image, said: “We are delighted to have collaborated with Sir Peter Blake to showcase a range of businesses from across the country that add originality and variety to our local high streets.

We hope that this artwork will inspire even more people to go out and shop small this Small Business Saturday.”

High Street Heroes can be downloaded for free from amexshopsmall.co.uk.