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.