Many moons ago, whilst in London as the world was about to welcome a new millenium, I went through a very, very dark phase.
So I started writing texts.
Not poems as such, just weird little verses. Some went on forever, like mini-narratives.
Some were only a few lines long.
Some had a structure, like songs. Some were just random.
They were scribbled longhand in a school notebook over a few feverish months.
Then the notebook got put away into a box and followed me as I moved around North London, then further afield.
I didn't look at the texts for years.
Back in 2010, as I was just embarking on the journey of creating my imprint and writing my first novel, the notebook came out of its box and I spent a few weeks typing up the poems and grouping them into vague sections to form a relatively decent edited manuscript - I didn't touch the texts themselves at all as I wanted them to express the rawness of the time.
It was my intention to publish them as a small illustrated booklet with the title: "Dysfunctions: Tales of Urban Alienation".
Then my sister, a visual artist in her own right, asked me whether I'd like to collaborate on an exhibition she was having in Highgate. Some of those ugly little texts ended up being matched up to some genuinely stunning artworks.
But afterwards, Dysfunctions... got forgotten as I threw myself into writing then publishing I Am a Muse, and then I launched Arcane Publishing and started working on The Book of Thoth.
I have given up the idea of publishing the small poetry booklet, but it somehow pained me to let my writing go to waste. Therefore, when I started work on my third novel, The Right Place, I decided to give my texts to Kat, one of the main characters of my novel. She does write "ugly little texts" herself, and some lines of her texts (i.e extracts of those "poems" I wrote myself all those years ago) will be used as chapter openers and will feature within the narrative.
Waste not, want not.
I have for sale an extraordinary item which has been with me for about seven years.
I have now decided it is time to let it go to a good home...
This astonishing fashion portfolio belonged to a fashion student who studied at the West Sussex College of Art in 1968 - there is a dated project brief included in the pile of sketches. The name of the student is still written in pencil at the top of the page and I have researched her, but couldn't find anything. I wonder if she had a career in fashion!
PART 1: The portfolio covers evening wear, day wear, coats, pyjamas, suits... It is absolutely extraordinary in its detail: most pages feature a detailed description of the garments and some even have the sample material stapled to the sketches.
If you were a fashion designer and had this, you would be able to produce a whole - genuine! - 1968 collection!
There are 120 pages of sketches!
PART 2: Also included is a photography scrapbook - supposedly put together by the same fashion student - with fabulous full-colour fashion pictures taken from 60s/70s fashion magazines.
All this comes in a brand new black art portfolio measuring 62.5cm X 45cm.
Its price reflects its uniqueness and it is for sale at £275, bank transfer and collection only.
After a short break, I am back at my desk and online...
A lot of things are happening at the Arcane/ArtPix HQ, and we will be spending the next few weeks plotting our next moves, even though things are still pretty much up in the air with the pandemic...
I am still aiming at completing the first draft of The Right Place in December 202o with a provisional pub date of January 2022.
I have decided to wait until next year before I launch the Arcane Publishing online shop as things are still too vague at the moment with the COVID-19 crisis and Brexit.
More news soon!
Yesterday, we were back in West Dorset, first in Bridport.
It was wonderful to be able to be at the Bridport Saturday market once again (as visitors - we will not be selling at markets and fairs until we feel comfortable to do so)...
This is the first time we were at a market since 20th March and I have to admit to being quite nervous...
But we found some lovely bits and it really made us feel that we were somehow back in business!
We then bumped into the artist Kit Glaisyer, whom we met back in 2011 when we were mere visitors to Dorset!
After the terrible fire which gutted his studio at the St Michael's Trading Estate a few years ago, Kit has purchased a gorgeous house in the town centre and has turned it into the ideal artist studio and gallery space...
He very kindly invited us to visit his new abode and work space and needless to say, we felt really privileged!
His new space is the Bridport Contemporary, an intimate yet light exhibition space in the heart of Bridport...
We then headed to one of our (numerous) favourite places in the area, Symondsbury. I have written about it before on this blog (more recently HERE), as it is the start of a walk which leads to Hell Lane, the intriguing holloway which I will use as a setting in my fourth novel, Hell Lane: a Barton Stacey mystery.
This time, we did not follow Hell Lane but headed north towards Venn farm and North End Farm.
You really get a wonderful view of Langdon Hill (known for its witches' coven and strange goings-on) and the sea!
We also came across the happiest free-range pigs in the whole world basking in the sunshine in the most gorgeous environment...
We've got this thing in our house that if you've had a particularly good day, then you pay later...
So the car swiftly broke down outside the house on our return! A bit of luck would be nice...
Thankfully, we had episode 1 of the fantastic A Wild Year (BBC2) to watch and it did help us feel better.
I highly recommend it! They really should do one in Dorset...
We are really busy here at Arcane/ArtPix towers and are bursting with ideas... The lockdown brainfog seems to have finally lifted and we are planning the next few months...
Watch this space!
Matt ArtPix, who is also the designer and typesetter for all our books, flyers, promo material and more, has just completed his lockdown project: Issue 1 of his very own magazine!
The ArtPix Magazine is a "Vintage-themed magazine by Matt ArtPix, with articles and features including music, classic movies, retro football, plus photos and digital artwork." It's been proofread by yours truly...
Have a Look-see, it's rather fab! The focus of the mag is colourful design, and Matt has designed the pages to all look different, and he has experimented with various styles...
Issue 2 is already being put together as we speak!
It has given me the idea to produce a teaser booklet for my third Arcane publication The Right Place on Issuu, hopefully by the end of August.
Watch this space!
You can read the full magazine for free HERE!
Here's a sneak preview of a few pages...
The landscape north of the A35, one of the main roads in Dorset, is totally unique and always leaves me vaguely breathless with awe. I feel a very strong, almost visceral affinity to it, and I am hopelessly attracted to its ancestral and eerie beauty. Strangely for a writer, I really find it quite difficult to come up with the right words to describe what exactly it is about the place that arises such powerful feelings in me. I hope that it is something I can somehow explore and express in my next two novels, The Right Place and Hell Lane which will address the mystery, history, beauty, wilderness and perhaps the mythical quality of this special landscape.
Eggardon Hill, an Iron Age hill fort with a 360-degree view of the surrounding countryside, is a place imbued with history and myth - and a favourite wandering place for many ghostly apparitions.
According to the writer Louise Hodgson in her Secret Places of West Dorset:
Before Eggardon was transformed into a fort there was earlier activity of a strange and intriguing nature [...] Henges denote a sacred area, a temple, a pace devoted to worship and/or regarded as a dwelling place of a god or gods [...] This area was a place of ritual and continuation for a long time [...] Strange occurrences have happened here [...]
I do believe that the ancestral nature of the fort and the surrounding area (Powerstock woodland area, Marshwood Vale...) is what gives the landscape its uncanny power. You feel very far away from today's (crumbling) civilisation and you can let your mind wander through the ages and open up to so many possibilities...
I have pinpointed about four walks to do in the area already, and this will become one of our refuges this summer when the hordes of tourists invade our coast (which we will reclaim of course this autumn).
Interestingly, Isaac Gulliver, the smuggler whom I am using as a reference for Algernon Sinclar in The Right Place, owned the nearby Eggardon Hill Farm and used it as a landmark for his ships approaching the coast.
On the way back towards Dorchester, we stopped off at the superbly named Compton Valence. This could easily be used as the name of an outlaw in the wild west or that of a music hall star... I will no doubt allocate it to one of my characters in the detective novel Hell Lane: A Barton Stacey mystery...
The lovely church is dedicated to Thomas a Beckett and was refurbished in the 19th century, only leaving intact the 15th century tower.
Also from the original 15th-century building is the brass on the floor, depicting the parish priest Thomas Waldon who died in 1437. The latin inscription apparently explains that he had rebuilt the church, and was responsible for constructing the tower.
I also took some pictures of lovely wooden doors - I love old doors!
I think therefore I write.
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