Arcane Publishing had a stall at the Bridport Bookfest in West Bay on Saturday. Unfortunately, whilst West Bay is always packed on a sunny summer day, the weather had decided to turn once again and the very wet harbour was mostly deserted! Nevermind... at least we authors and publishers were all inside, dry and cosy.
I had decided to try out a more elaborate display than usual for my books, and had gathered a variety of items that would reflect the contents of the novels.
For I Am a Muse, a contemporary tale of lost love and artistic inspiration mostly set in Cornwall, I used stones and shells found on various beaches, a guide book of Cornwall and a vintage vinyl record with a sleeve showing a surfer in action to evoke the surfer's life of the group of friends featured in the book; as a tribute to the characters of Alda and Alastair, both painters, I brought with me the original painting purchased at Alexandra Palace's Antiques and Collectors Fair a few years ago (it lives in Miss Gish's office at home!), an easel and a real vintage painter's palette with brushes and old paint tubes. I even found a paint-stained sheet which added "authenticity" to the whole thing! Unfortunately, I had forgotten to bring my lovely vintage mannequin head... Next time!
For The Book of Thoth, a Gothic novel mostly set in 1925 and full of ghosts, alchemists, Ancient Egyptian gods, time-travellers and other strange and marvellous things, I gathered quite a few items bought at antiques and collectors fairs, including two issues of The Play magazine which features towards the end of the book, and lovely postcards of the actress Pauline Chase to illustrate Lady Sophia Chronos's pre-WW1 stage career. Of course, Thoth and Princess Amunet were not forgotten - I do have in my possession a framed (fake) Ancient Egyptian papyrus showing the passage between Life and Death, perfect to express various themes in the book. And of course, Lord Vangelis Chronos's alchemical experiments were alluded to thanks to an assortment of old brass objects of dubious provenance purchased at the Giant Shepton Mallet flea! (Witchy candle and dusty chandelier, author's own).
I do hope I will have the opportunity to put this display together again at another event...
There will be some announcements soon about the next events the ArtPix / Arcane Publishing team will attend, and we also have a few very cool music-related events planned for the autumn...
Oil 54 and Arcane Publishing have also started working on the next LONDON: Winter Tales event (#3). We have sent a few emails and if everything goes to plan, you will be in for a real treat early next year! Read about forthcoming events as well as about our previous Winter Tales events, go HERE.
On Saturday 11th August, I will have a stall at the Bridport Bookfest which will take place at the Salt House and Fishermen's Green in West Bay, Bridport, Dorset.
For this event, I am going to have fun and experiment with my display. I will put together a stand which reflects the narrative and setting of each book. I have found quite a lot of fab items and will just make it up as I go along.
Obviously, I will post pictures once the event is over! Below are some pictures of a few items I will bring along, there will be many more!
People will then be able to go and have a look at the Matt ArtPix/Arcane Publishing unit round the corner at The Customs House!
Finally, this summer, we have started doing what we've really moved to Dorset for: exploring the Southwest region and finding potential opportunities for our respective ventures Matt ArtPix and Arcane Publishing. After a year sorting ourselves out after our move from the Southeast during which we haven't really traded outside of our unit at The Customs House in West Bay, we are trying to be as active as possible and we are now busy booking events for this autumn and winter. Some of them will see us go back to more straightforward vintage markets (but good ones!), but we are thinking about challenging ourselves and venturing into "happenings" such as The Frome Independent market - we will probably apply in the autumn to try and trade there next year - obviously, this is all conditional on us being accepted, which is by far not a done deal. It doesn't cost anything to try!
Last Sunday, we finally made it to Frome, a town which has been so written about (and which has won this year's The Sunday Times's Best Place To Live in the Southwest) that house prices have now shot up and apparently, there is a "Make Frome Shit Again" hashtag. From March to December included, every first Sunday of the month, the town hosts the brilliant Frome Independent, an event which takes over the whole city centre and attracts hundreds if not thousands of people each time.
There's music, a flea market, a designer-maker market, a street food market... Shops and art galleries are open...
Most of all, what I have found exciting about Frome, is that it seems to have found a great balance between its identity as a traditional (and charmingly lovely) Southwest market town and its growing reputation for art and culture, community enterprise, trendiness, thriving independent shops and can-do attitude. And the latter is I think what genuinely makes the difference. In Frome, people actually get off their backside and DO things - properly. And it shows. People are creative, yet they also understand the realities of life and the fact that your creativity can be turned into a business and can contribute to the economic and cultural regeneration of a town. People with ideas and talent are encouraged to at least TRY and the Frome Independent is a brilliant way of giving people the opportunity to just do that. When your town doesn't have a lot of job opportunities, well, you CREATE them!
I loved St Catherine's, Frome's Artisan Quarter; it has a timeless cobbled charm and is full of great independent shops. There, you will find designer-makers, vintage dealers, craft, art and lifestyle vendors and various cafes - just to think that not that far back, this was all boarded up! We loved OWL - a craft and art gallery - for its unique and original products which you feel you haven't already seen hundreds of times as is the case with such places nowadays... We will have to go back to Frome to visit two vintage shops that were unfortunately closed, Deadly Is The Female and Dandy Lion.
Cheap Street is another pretty street and has retained its historic medieval character (there, you will find a well-stocked record/DVD shop, Raves from the Grave.)
Black Swan Arts and The Cheese and Grain are two extremely busy cultural venues that host an array of events and exhibitions throughout the year.
We also saw a lot of lovely things for sale and spent ages in the Flea market (it's our thing!) - There, I drooled over the vintage typewriters at the Charlie Foxtrot stand (one day...)
Later on, I also bought a lovely card at Tom Charlesworth's stand (go and check out his website - if you like dark, folklore/mythology-inspired illustration, it's for you! It is rather wonderful...)
Of course, we just couldn't NOT go to a bookshop... So we had a good look around the Frome Bookshop and I managed to get out without buying anything...
I genuinely believe that the Frome experience can be replicated in other towns around the country - obviously, every town is different and each location would need to find its own specific identity.
This Sunday, The Frome Independent was renamed "Frome-on-Sea" and had a mini-beach complete with sand, deckchairs, seagulls and donkey rides. In Weymouth, we do have all of those (and the seagulls are real!) as well as the brilliant architecture - add to this a gorgeous scenery and a lot of artists and creatives who would jump at the chance of participating to the regeneration of the area and help turn it into a respected, all-year-round destination. But the local authorities NEED to be open to ideas and MUST show generosity, understanding and readiness to LISTEN to organisations and individuals (something which, unfortunately, is not happening in Weymouth).
We live in hope...
And we will be back!
Last week, we drove to Bristol for a gig (Ministry/Chelsea Wolfe); Bristol is one of those iconic English places we had never been to; it is fast becoming the place to be if you are an urban creative as London is rapidly losing its legendary uniqueness to the gods of global soullessness.
We spent only a few (very hot) hours in the city centre and didn't really do any research beforehand (only locating an overpriced central car park and the venue), but our wanders took us to some brilliant places, and we will go back for more, as we think Bristol would be a great trading place for Matt ArtPix and Arcane Publishing in the near future. We are planning some exploration of the city for later this year!
Below are a few pictures from the day (we didn't take that many, we were too hot!). And no pictures of the gig, as none of the ones I took are any good - blame the dry ice and the lighting!
Thanks to this gig, I have discovered another favourite musician (I have some many...): Chelsea Wolfe - a Southern Gothic, doom-metal drenched version of another favourite of mine (and Dorset girl) PJ Harvey (who started it all, of course!) - her music is enthralling.
We spent most of last week preparing for our third Bridport Vintage Market at the fantastic Arts and Vintage Quarter in St Michael's Trading Estate in Bridport. We were looking forward to it so very much as it would be our first proper market of the tourist season and we were impatient about showing off all our brand new stock! It was also important for us to show our support to the artists of the St Michael's estate whose studios were devastated by a catastrophic fire a few weeks ago, a major blow to this creative community already under lethal threat from housing developers.
Unfortunately, after weeks of dry and sunny weather, the rain came back at the weekend and we decided to not risk our stock in the high winds and downpour. As we have another event booked on the day of the next Bridport Vintage Market, we won't be back before 30th September (whether permitting!). Booh!
We are now in the process of booking INDOOR events for this autumn/winter!
On August 11th, I will be at the Bridport Book Fest which will take place at the Salt House and Fisherman's Green in West Bay. I will be spooking everyone out with my elaborate displays, one for each book! This will be an experiment as I have never done this before! (I will post some hints on here in the next few days!).
And of course, we still have our lovely unit at The Customs House in West Bay, packed full of vintage and retro items, art and books!
We have also started to think about organising our own events down here in Dorset... Watch this space!
The venue of tonight's gig, The Cobblestones, is precariously hanging on tight on a busy street corner in the Somerset town of Bridgwater - maybe in more than one way. We were horrified to discover that opposite the traditional-looking pub, a corporate monstrosity is being built and could potentially threaten this great little music venue catering for alternative musical tastes: the four star "Mercure Bridgwater Hotel", complete with fancy celebrity chef restaurant. Really? Having spent a few hours around the town and seen the amount of empty, boarded up buildings with a "For Sale" sign attached to them, I wouldn't have thought that Bridgwater was the best place for that kind of venture - or at least the developers could have taken over one of the old buildings (which are lovely, by the way... So much potential!). With live music venues closing up and down country because of newly-built housing developments, I wouldn't give The Cobblestones many chances. I do hope that I am wrong and that it will be allowed to carry on making a racket for many years to come.
At the back of the pub, one can find a great courtyard garden leading to the entrance of the small function room/music venue. We were immediately greeted by a super cute dog with a Batman collar and the news that the first support band would not be playing after all (which is a great shame as they sounded like our kind of thing!)
One of the best things about my years as a music journalist in London was the opportunity to go to many gigs for free and discover a lot of great (and not so great) bands - Flag Promotions' Showcase nights were a good example of that. Now, of course, having moved to Dorset and having to drive long distances to see the kind of live music that interests me, I am not as ready to take as many risks.
But on Friday, I was really looking forward to seeing the support bands (in the end the support band).
The Devon-based The Pretty Fragile didn't disappoint: they looked good and played genuinely interesting and intriguing music. It gives you a little thrill to see a band who dares to experiment with the industrial music format; their tracks are the opposite of formulaic: you never know what's round the corner; each song finds a way to surprise you, changing its pace and atmosphere, switching from massive metal riffs to carefully crafted electro sounds - and not an Apple laptop in sight! Charismatic singer Paul Abrey stops playing his guitar to add some delicate piano notes or to create some pulsing electronic sounds. We Are Obscene could come straight from the Marilyn Manson back catalogue whilst Virus makes a NIN fan like myself smile broadly; I also sometimes caught myself thinking of the dark claustrophobia of Leisur Hive's music. And usually, I don't "do" covers at all, thinking that people really should leave original songs alone, BUT I positively adore TPF's version of Garbage's #1 Crush - and I do think it is actually much better (and way creepier) than the original (I did think it was one of the band's original songs). It always makes me happy to discover a new band I really like, and I will definitely try to catch The Pretty Fragile live again as they are (almost) neighbours!
I am not the type to be nostalgic about things but I cannot deny that Supher's Spray album corresponds to a very special time for me, and I still listen to it regularly (excellent exercise CD, it does get those muscles moving and that heart racing!). The album was part of the soundtrack to my life in North London and its raw edges, getting into the capital's alternative scenes, starting writing for alternative music and culture magazines, hanging out in Camden Market, looking for CDs and gig tickets at Resurrection Records and listening to bands in dark music venues...
Original members Rob Holliday (whom we've seen on live guitar or bass duties over the years with The Prodigy, Keith Flint's Flint, Marilyn Manson and The Mission (!)) and Monti have been joined by two awesome musicians, Davey and Andy - and they played a blazing set - even though one of the speakers was broken. Honestly, how good was it to hear tracks such as Problem, One of Us, or You Ruined Everything live again? The tracks just got under your skin, and were uncompromising in their rawness. Even better, the new tracks, Used and Take a Long Hard Look, out of the forthcoming album, sounded fantastic. Rob Holliday and his bandmates, used to playing in front of thousands, still threw themselves in the performance and sent us home buzzing.
Sulpher are playing the Ministry after-show party at the Electrowerkz on 21st July and also the Black Celebration festival in October, so try and catch them at either of those...
And yes, they've done it again!
On 1st and 2nd June, something strange and wonderful stirred in a quiet corner of the Dorset countryside... Cars and campers full of interesting-looking creatures converged towards a field on the Isle of Purbeck in Dorset, only a few miles away from the famous and romantic ruins of Corfe Castle.
I am talking, of course, of Alice's Wicked Tea Party festival!
This blog should have been put together and posted on here three weeks ago, but real life took over immediately after the event and since then, I haven't had any time to spend at my desk working either on my books or on the pictures I took at the festival. I have barely been online and now have a lot to catch up on... and still not enough time!
I am not a music journalist anymore and therefore, this is not a review; This blog will be mostly made of pictures (but I am not a photographer, so they are not perfect!), although I have tried to introduce my favourite acts...
I have lifted a few lines from the bands' own websites/social media pages and these are indicated with quotation marks!
Needless to say, Matt ArtPix and I were honoured to be part of this event and congratulations have to once again go to Shaun Histed-Todd and his team who have worked tirelessly to make this happen.
And we hope to return for the AWTP 2019!
This was the fourth edition of the festival, and the second in their new home at Knolle Farm on Soldiers Road.
It was also the second time we attended the festival as both punters (on the Friday) and traders (on the Saturday).
Go HERE to read a report from AWTP 2017.
Matt ArtPix and I (as Arcane Publishing) had made sure our stall and the goodies we had for sale were suited to an alternative festival, and may I say that our stall did look good!
Thank you to all the people who came to have a look, chatted with us and purchased a few things!
Once again, this edition of the festival did exactly what it said on the tin: it was a good-humoured, well-run and friendly grassroots festival ran by and for fans of alternative musics (see the emphasis on the plural here).
Colourful, loud and bonkers, this is a DIY, independent festival which deserves to grow in reputation as it is one of those rare things: it brings together many music genres under one banner, something that in these days of divisive and bitchy identity politics - even within the arguably dwindling numbers of alternative "scenes" - is more than welcome.
Much like everyone else, I did have my favourites - bands I was thrilled to see at the festival. But I also enjoyed challenging myself and watching acts I would never have been to see play. Every single band looked like they enjoyed performing for us at AWTP - and most came a long way to do so - and for that, we can only be grateful and hope all the musicians enjoyed their time in our beautiful county.
Since moving to Dorset in January 2017, I have missed going to gigs - but one has to make choices in life! - and I do believe it is important to encourage bands to play outside of their usual territory (ie London and other big cities).
"Enough!", you tell me. What about the BANDS?
Here goes... (click on the pictures for the galleries)
Civilian Zen - an excellent band, with a big touch of Killing Joke...
Another band we really enjoyed and didn't know: Jellly (a self-proclaimed "Psy-glam" band...)
BrotherZ Grimm - a fusion of Slipknot and [insert rap band - sorry, I don't know any!]. They call their music Crypt-Hop/Grim rap/Horrorcore - and who are we to object?
The Wattingers were returning to AWTP and still were not able to show their background videos - this is a shame as we were able to see them when the band supported The Men That Will Not Be Blamed for Nothing in Exeter a few months ago (a gig I didn't report on as none of my pictures were good enough!). Those videos really are great little works of art, meticulously put together, and really add to the whole performance and to the band's USP.
I was absolutely thrilled to see Belle Scar added to the festival line-up. I had seen her live at the Hope and Anchor in London a few years ago, when she was still performing as Geeta and had been blown away (see report HERE).
She brought sophistication, elegance and a huge dollop of artistic professionalism to our little corner of Dorset. I always think it takes immense guts to perform your own material all on your own (you cannot hide/find comfort in numbers as when you are in a band) and Belle Scar is indeed one of those troupers who believe the show must go on, even if your stand collapses from under you (she finished a song propping up the stand with her knee!) and your laptop falls off the stool it was (precariously) perched on. Belle gave an astonishing performance which stopped everyone in their tracks - she really wowed all present with her fiery performance and her gorgeous electro songs. The visceral a-capella ending was mesmerising and left the audience well and truly stunned.
All the way from Berlin came The Unkindness of Ravens - "Stripped down low slung electro rock with soul"
Returning as well were the politically engaged punk band The Blunders.
Bully Bones - "brand-new-retro rock’n’roll"
What an utter joy to see the magnificent The Urban Voodoo Machine live once again! For whatever reason, the last time I saw them was far too long ago... TUVM is one of those bands you are always aware of if you live in London and know your alternative music stuff - they have been part of the London music scene for a long time indeed!
They do know how to put on a show - and what a show! Their timing is perfect, their musicianship is second to none, they look fabulous (all dressed in black and red, my favourite colours!)...
TUVM is not "just" a band, it's a whole show: TUVM is a seriously classy act, a fabulously deviant dark cabaret who plays "Bourbon Soaked Gypsy Blues Bop’n’Stroll".
The audience just couldn't get enough of them! The ultimate festival band...
It is a bit of a shame that the hyper-colourful Tokyo Taboo played on a poorly-lit stage. The exuberant London band is an interesting proposition: shiny and multicoloured pop-punk with attitude.
Pussycat and The Dirty Johnsons headlined last year and generously came back this year, as ever giving the perfect rock'n'roll performance.
What a privilege it was to have the stupendous The Membranes at AWTP! The band, fronted by the super-energetic and charismatic John Robb (yes, the journalist, broadcaster, founder of the Louder Than War website and co-curator of the Louder Than Words literary festival among many other things...) came to pay us a visit in deepest Dorset!
If you haven't yet listened to their latest album Dark matter/Dark Energy, then I urge your to do so... You'll be transported into... well... space! The band gave a great performance, even though the stage was plunged in near-darkness - a great shame as Mr Robb's performance is always a sight to behold - he never stands still, a real live wire - alert, lean and mean, giving his all to the performance... Inspiring!
On the Saturday, we were rather busy with our stall and therefore didn't spend as much time watching the bands.
I had two performances I didn't want to miss on my list - Flesh Tetris and Grooving in Green. Thankfully, both bands played in the barn where our stall was located, and therefore we didn't miss any of their performances!
First up were Spitting Feathers - "Glunk rock at its finest"
Holy Faction - Post punk
I knew I had seen the members of Korsunnuz before... Indeed, three members of the band used to be in Killing Miranda, a band I've seen play in London a few times! A drastic change of look has occurred since...
Your Mum - "dirty underground rock with layers of grunge, desert and hard rock, orchestrated by a hybrid of heavy rock and tropical beats"
Down From Above - "electronica-driven alternative rock"
Flesh Tetris might be, in their own words, "Retro SciFi Eurotrash" and play "pop music for unpopular people", but there is no escaping the musical credentials of all its members, whom I have seen play in various bands over the years - most recently, we had the pleasure to see once again frontman Andy and drummer Jez with their fantastic band The Men That Will Not Be Blamed For Nothing (a worthy headliner for next year's AWTP?). Flesh Tetris is first of all a group of musician friends coming together to have a great time; they look incredibly good and cool, do not take themselves seriously but still give a fab performance. Incredibly enjoyable!
The multicoloured and super-dynamic punk band PollyPikPocketz was returning to AWTP!
We carried on the theme of high-octane performances and interesting colour schemes with Splink
The Invisible Operatic Company of Tibet was the psychedelic band of the festival...
Leg Puppy gave us some satirical electro-punk...
I do wish I could see Where The Night Fall in a dark venue - somehow, this feels more appropriate to their gorgeous soundscapes.
The arrival in sunny Dorset of a group of fellow black-clad individuals signalled that Grooving in Green had made it to our field! After the hyper-colourful shenanigans earlier in the day, the beautiful dark sounds of GIG were soothing and atmospheric. Singer Tron made an engaging frontman with his unusual voice and self-deprecating attitude. It was also great to see Simon Rippin there, a real veteran of the Gothic scene whom we have seen play countless times with NFD, Red Sun Revival and the superb (and personal favourite) The Eden House.
Their set was professional and sobering, a welcome enclave of sweeping darkness among the madness of the festival!
Nottingham's Luxury Stranger carried the torch for classy songwriting and perfectly executed post-punk/cold wave songs. Singer Simon York does have the most extraordinary voice!
The Black Bullets were the purveyors of OTT rock'n'roll attitude...
So far, one of my favourite music genre hadn't been represented at AWTP this year: industrial.
Hurray then for Clusterfuck who made a mean industrial racket and propelled us into a warped, hellish and grotesque universe (a perfect and very apt perversion of Alice In Wonderland).
They really sent everyone stomping and dancing, and they were an excellent choice of headliner to close the festival on an intense high!
A few pictures from around the festival site:
Tomorrow, we're off to the fourth edition of this great little festival - and we'll be sleeping in our beds as it's only a 40mn drive from our house!
On the Friday, we'll be in the audience and on the Saturday, we'll set up stall in the barn just as we did last year!
This year, I've given Gertie a more interesting look, paying homage to T.E Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia) whose house, Clouds Hill, is near the site of the festival! She will greet you on the stall...
To get an idea of the stock Arcane Publishing and Matt ArtPix will take to the festival on Saturday, have a look HERE (books), HERE (music flyers) and HERE (band t-shirts).
See you down the front!
When we left the Arcane/ArtPix towers early on Saturday morning, the sky was dark and the clouds low.
On our way, the rain started falling and got worse as we approached Bridport. We arrived at the St Michael's estate under a sustained rain and thought we would never be able to set up our stall.
Miraculously, within 10mn, the rain had stopped and we managed to sort out our stall - thanks to a bit of plastic kindly provided by our neighbouring stallholders!
We had glorious weather the rest of the day and we had a fab time. We had tried to give our stall a 60s flavour to follow the day's theme!
We were visited by loads of pooches, big and small - they always provide great entertainment! A special mention to the laid-back Ted at Old Albion, such a cool dude!
Our next event is the fab music festival Alice's Wicked Tea Party on Friday and Saturday (we'll have a stall on the Saturday only).
We will be back at the Bridport Vintage Market in July (we're skipping one as it's a World Cup match day for England in the middle of the afternoon!)
Our next event is the fab music festival Alice's Wicked Tea Party on Friday and Saturday (we'll have a stall on the Saturday only).
We will be back at the Bridport Vintage Market in July (we're skipping one as it's a World Cup match day for England in the middle of the afternoon!)
Matt ArtPix and Arcane Publishing are thrilled to announce that they will be back at the lovely Bridport Vintage Market on Sunday 27th May!
This will be a very special event as this will also be the 50th anniversary celebration of the St Michael's Estate where the Bridport Art and Vintage Quarter is located. Hopefully, the good weather will last until the 28th!
See you there!
I keep adding more events to the Arcane Publishing EVENTS PAGE, so go and check it out!
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