David Pelham was an English artist and graphic designer who came to meet author J. G. Ballard through their mutual friend, pop artist Eduardo Paolozzi. When Pelhman was the art director at Penguin Books between 1968 and 1979 he took care of some Ballard’s prints. He first proposed the artists Konrad Klapheck, but then Ballard himself insisted he should paint his covers. Being a passionate reader of the author’s work and a friend, he took the brief extremely seriously and painted vivid interpretations of the apocalyptic tales. The background for all the covers is divided in two with a crepuscular sky above an expanse of water, sand, earth or a red surface and a shared horizon for all the covers in-between. In the foreground is a specific image for each book that synthesizes the main theme of the novel: an artifact that was considerable as a meaningful “part of the zeitgeist” of the mid-70s transformed into a ruin, buried in the sand, drowned or just abandoned as a monument to a future which has never been.
In an extensive interview by David Purdey on Ballardian.com, D.Pelham confesses he still owns some of the notes he scribbled at the meeting with Ballard. The notes say: “Monumental / tombstones / airless thermonuclear landscape / horizons / a zone devoid of time”.
Further reading: Interview with David Pelham on Ballardian
the cover are haunting