Monday, 21 September 2015
Thursday, 17 September 2015
Monday, 14 September 2015
180mm x 214mm
The content of Si
What was once a spice cabinet is now the housing for all six of the cylinders in the 'writers on phonograph cylinders' series - Algernon Blackwood, Hans Henny Jahnn, Robert Walser, Franz Kafka, Hermann Hesse and Arthur Machen, details of which can be found throughout the blog. The bottom drawers of the cabinet are filled with fireweed silks and dried marigolds respectively, their contents the same as those found in the cylinders for Robert Walser and Hermann Hesse. There is also another cabinet I have made to house all six cylinders, reconstituted from an old oak writing slope, now repaired, shelved and felt-lined.
This sixth and last cylinder pays homage to the Welsh writer Arthur Machen (1863-1947), author of, among others, The Inmost Light (1894), The Three Imposters (1895), Ornaments in Jade (1895), The White People (1899), The Bowmen (1914), The Great Return (1915) and The Terror (1917).
Born in Caerleon in Gwent, but living and working for the bulk of his creative life in London, Machen was a writer of the borderlands, the literal ones of the Welsh Marches to which he returned time and again in his fiction but also the liminal worlds of the uncanny as they manifest in the everyday. His was an ability, as Iain Sinclair puts it in his 2103 essay, Our Unknown Everywhere, 'to recognise holy hills behind a sprawl of suburbs'. Holy hills and shadowy strangeness; his half-hidden worlds of pungent darkness that he conjured in his works required a similar treatment, hence the cylinder is lined with an old dark pelt of uncertain provenance. Works referenced on the cylnder include The Great God Pan (1894), A Fragment of Life (1906) and The London Adventure (1924).
This fifth entry in the phonograph series pays homage to the German-speaking Swiss poet, novelist, and painter, Hermann Hesse (1877-1962), the author of, amongst others, Knulp (1915), Strange News from Another Star (1919), Narziss and Goldmund (1930) and The Glass Bead Game (1943). The main lettering on the cylinder has been transformed from 'Edison Blue Amberol Record' to 'Amberol Pure-Tone Record', a nod towards Hesse's key essay written in 1914, after the outbreak of the First World War, O Freunde, nicht diese Töne!, in which he decried the unthinking lurch to nationalism and called for people to remember their common European heritage. Other works referenced on the cylinder include Siddhartha (1922), Steppenwolf (1927) and Wandering (1920), with a passage from that beautiful collection's Mountain Pass ('But I smile, and not only with my mouth. I smile with my soul, with my eyes, with my whole skin, and I offer these countrysides, whose fragrances drift up to me, different senses than those I had before, more delicate, more silent, more finely honed, better practised, and more grateful…') printed on the side. As with all of the cylinders, this one contains something appropriate to the writer inside, in this case dried marigolds. As an important plant of offering, festivities and worship in both western and eastern religions, they seemed the perfect plant to pay homage to a writer who sought and promoted spiritual truth and understanding through his words.
Tuesday, 23 June 2015
128mm x 164mm
A re-set edition of a booklet that I originally wrote in 2002 - Six Translations of The Top by Kafka. The content of the booklet comprises six transliterations, in English, of an English translation of Kafka's short story, The Top (c. 1917-23). After the original story, the transliterations take, respectively, the following forms: same syllable count; a retelling through dictionary definitions; a retelling using the Oulipian standby of n+7 (replacing the story's nouns with the noun 7 words after it in a chosen dictionary); an anagram of the original; a version using the same syntax and punctuation, and lastly a version using the same syntax. The covers use the pages from some wonderful 1880s legal blue paper I found, whose lines of convoluted legalese seem just right for the content.
Card with CD
148mm x 148mm
I knew there were a lot of gates on the Offa's Dyke path between Kington and Knighton, my main memory of a September walk - along with finding a decent haul of both Beefsteak Fungus and Hen of the Woods, both cooked up and enjoyed in the following days - being the clanging of gates; what I didn't realise was that are 66 of them (probably more now) in the 12 1/2 miles. I walked the route again (Knighton to Kington) on 18th March this year (2015) and took my recorder with me, capturing both the opening of the gate, the pause and the subsequent clang, letting the reverberations die down until background noise took over. Listening afterwards it's interesting how the background traffic noise near Knighton gives way to skylarks in the hills above and then sounds of lambing as Kington nears. I hadn't realised either that the sound of gates - all so individual - could be quite so funny.
Wednesday, 3 June 2015
My cylinders and a number of bookworks appropriate to the theme of the exhibition - 'Artists who use Found Objects' - are going to be on display in Freshford, near Bath, from June 6th-June 14th (I think I come under 'Curiosities'.) Open 11-6 daily - come along if you are nearby!
Tuesday, 31 March 2015
sewn booklet with wrappers
148mm x 210mm
A collection of three stories transposed from the travel journals of one Stanton Hamer, unearthed from a box of unsorted papers won at auction. The tales – untitled in the original but which I have named …and They Danced, Sleep and Ribbon Bows – are set in 1950s France, where Hamer evidently travelled independently for some years.
(The stories are in fact fictional, as are the journals, as, for that matter, is Stanton Hamer, but the images – which inspired the book in the first place – are real, albeit scanned at a very high resolution from the 14mm x 12mm original transparencies found on a collection of French sterescope cards.)