All the fun of the Buckham Fair...
All pictures in this blog (c) MattArtPix
We are in training; as dedicated life-long learners, we don't mind, really. But this is just so exciting... As we intend to move to the South West next year, we decided that it was high time we attended a country fair. But of course, we didn't pick any old fair.
Our heart was set on the Buckham Fair near beautiful Beaminster, and we were determined to spend our Sunday there...
It didn't start well: after a night under the tent wondering whether the flimsy scrap of material was going to make it through a windy and very, very wet night, we woke up under the rain and forlornly made our way to The Customs House to carry on working on the display and stock of our unit. We then took refuge in our new favourite no frills cafe in West Bay ( Harbour Cafe) to warm up a bit, and decided that midday would be our deadline: if it still rained beyond that time, we would have to change our plans.
And miracle! At about 11.30, the rain stopped and we jumped in the car to make our merry way to the event.
The Buckham Fair is organised by actor Martin Clunes (who has received an OBE for services to Dorset, no less!) and his wife Philippa on their farm, which is located in a gorgeous spot (but where is not gorgeous in the county of Dorset, I ask you?).
We kept wandering off to the edges of the fair to admire the view. You could even see the sea in the distance. Proof:
It was muddy, it was mad, it was SO MUCH FUN!
We really had the best day. People were out in force. Mud? What mud? I saw a few people wearing flip-flops (!).
I need a pair of red wellies, me! My walking boots were almost not enough!
Something I appreciate more and more whilst out in the countryside is the fact that people seem much less... shallow and self-conscious. They just don't seem to care. In a field full of mud, dogs, horses and surrounded by breathtaking nature, why would you care if you wear the wrong type of trousers or if your eyeliner is not applied properly, if you say the wrong thing to the wrong people?
And the dogs! There were dogs absolutely everywhere. I mean, basically, I had never seen that many dogs in one place ever before in my life. Every shape, size, colour, breed. Some were mere spectators, some were beauty queens, some were hardworking athletes. And most of the stalls were full of stuff for dogs, from fancy collars to healthy handmade dog food!
We unfortunately missed "Stunt dogs of film and TV"...
Who needs burlesque when you can have the Southern Golden Retriever Society Display Team to offer you quality choreographed shows, eh? That's the way to do it!
Dogs were not the only ones to appear at the fair...
A few extra pictures!
One of the stalls was that of wildlife consultant, cameraman and photographer David Bailey (Rhys Jones Wildlife Patrol series, Springwatch...). His prints are stunning! I bought myself two cards...
Here's a lovely extract from "A Cat And Dog Life, Alexandra Palace and Crystal Palace (1928)" from the BFI archives...
Nothing has changed, then!
On Monday, we had planned to work on the unit in the morning, have a look at estate agencies and then spend a couple of hours or so at the Bridport and West Dorset Open Studios at the Bridport Arts Centre and in the Arts and Vintage Quarter in the St Michael's Trading Estate. Unfortunately, the rain ensured that we just ran out of time in the end and by 5.30pm, we had to make our way home to the South East (with a very heavy heart as usual...)
Still, we worked hard on our unit, changing the display around a bit and adding some stock! It does look good!
Last Saturday was a London day, one of those which end up on this blog from time to time: exhibition, walking around and gig in the evening.
All those years of living, working and going to exhibitions in London and I had never made it to the Museum of London Docklands (although the Museum of London in The City is a favourite of mine).
It is one of the oddest places: the sturdy, beautiful remnants of London's history rooted deep into the ground of the city, holding their ground whilst surrounded by the domineering presence of ever taller, shinier corporate towers (this contrast I intend to explore in my fourth novel, Anti... If London is still standing by the time I get to start work on it!)
I highly recommend the exhibition we went to see: Soldiers and Suffragettes, the photography of Christina Broom.
It is on until 1st November and it is free (but for how long? I keep hearing that museums will start charging very soon because of cuts, a complete disaster if you want my humble opinion).
Christina started taking pictures in 1903 and quickly became an extremely successful photographer with a thriving business. She was a bold and creative photographer who didn't use a studio like most of her colleagues at the time, but carried her equipment around the streets of the capital (especially her home turf of West London).
We just immersed and lost ourselves in the exhibition, our imagination fired up by Christina's incredibly sharp images of a London as bustling as ever, full of movement and life - and later, death, as the soldiers of the Chelsea Barracks she had been photographing for months start leaving for France in 1914.
Her images documenting the Suffragette and Suffragist movements are fascinating and really express the great energy and hope of the numerous groups involved in the fight for women's rights - I didn't know they made merchandise they sold in their own shops and at big conferences! Some of the fiery personalities in the Women's suffrage movement really come to life in Christina's pictures.
Her images of the numerous battalions based at the Chelsea Barracks take on an extra poignancy as we realise that most of them are destined to die on the Western Front. Christina's photos show strong, confident young men full of pride. Most will disappear in the war. Christina (or Mrs Albert Broom as she was known professionally) was the only photographer with a pass for the burial of the Unknown Warrior at Westminster Abbey and also the only professional photographer allowed to take pictures of King Edward VII lying in state after his death.
Watch this short film about the exhibition:
We spent a bit of time wandering around Canary Wharf and its underground shopping center, a monstrosity of designer bling built for bland people whose personality has been sucked out of them (but whose wallets are obviously bulging obscenely). It's all sleek, shiny, non-porous, devoid of any history, character, knowledge, culture or beauty. Not for the likes of me.
Still, definitely good visual inspiration for my fourth novel.
So then, we thought that taking refuge on the first floor of a small pub in Farringdon for a high dose of antidote to Canary Wharf would be the best thing to do!
For various reasons, I am still playing catch up with acts who have been going for years and whom I end up coming across for the first time two decades after everyone else... I do not belong to any particular scene and have been moving between music genres for as long as I remember. I have been aware of Sol Invictus for a while but had never seen them live before or owned any of their albums.
Better late than never, as they say...
Because of a last-minute problem with the original venue, the sold-out show (tickets sold in 48 hours!) London: In The Rain was moved to the rather intimate Betsey Trotwood in Farringdon; thankfully, all the beautiful people who turned up managed to squeeze themselves into the atmospheric room upstairs...
Matt ArtPix and I were on door and merch table duties, so we missed the support act, Simon Satori's new project Hi-Reciprocity. But someone has filmed a bit of the set, so here it is! This one is all about Suburban faeries, as you do!
Sol Invictus's only constant member is their frontman Tony Wakeford (a pioneer of the neo-folk/neoclassical music scene).
The terrific line-up for tonight was composed of Lesley Malone, Caroline Jago, Eilish McCracken (all three of Seventh Harmonic - Caroline and Lesley are also members of Shadow Biosphere), Clive Giblin, and very special guest on cello, Jo Quail.
I barely breathed during the performance, and it was not only because of the heat: I was transfixed by the sheer beauty of the composition and execution. It really, really spoke to me, and I don't think I was the only one: everybody was very attentive, enjoying the music with genuine reverence; I like a respectful audience; it is becoming rare nowadays, especially in bigger venues in which there just are too many names on guest lists and too many people turn up just because they have to hold on to their street cred or something.
Sol Invictus's In The Rain is 20 years this year, and the evening was dedicated to this particular album (acoustic version). I am delighted to have gotten my hands on the lovely (and high-quality) In The Rain anniversary edition double CD/book (yes, I know, I simply cannot resist a book, and it will be my downfall...) illustrated by American artist Tor Lundvall. Printed lyrics allow me to "absorb" the musicians' world better, and the combination of Tony's evocative lyrics and Tor's haunting images works beautifully.
I understand Tony Wakeford's universe - pessimistic vision of humanity, misanthropy, cynicism, love of the historical and ancient worlds... yes, this is definitely my world - and I have already listened to In The Rain five times whilst writing this blog...
There is an interesting tension at play here: grace and strength, romanticism and anger, the hopeless desire for a different world and a definite sense of history and the lessons that have never been learned...
The vision of humanity displayed in those songs is cruelly lucid and uncompromising, and they resonate with us 20 years down the line: I mean, Down The Years is about the state of the world today, isn't it?
"Rulers rule and foolers fool/How easily the flock is streered/By hands so fine, cruel and kind/Hands that point us down the years/The power of gold, or even God above/Awash in blood, in history's mud/With assassins'bullets and martyrs'spears/slaying and praying down the years [...] And your paper heroes they turn to dust/Like our knights in armour they turn to rust/Go hang the scapegoat, let the masses cheer/Their idiot laughter, an anthem down the years"
My other favourites are the epic Europa In The Rain and In Days to Come, as well as the wonderful An English Garden. The latter - together with Tor Lundvall's illustration - reminds me of MR James's story The Mezzotint. I have actually decided that An English Garden is indeed the perfect soundtrack to my Gothic novel The Book of Thoth, itself inspired by MR James (among others)!
It was a very special evening (bonus was to finally meet the incredibly talented Jordan Reyne, whom I interviewed for my Book Talk series last year HERE), and I hope I will have the pleasure of seeing Sol Invictus on stage very very soon...
Here are a few pictures; as I had to squeeze myself behind the bar at the back of the packed room, the quality of the images is not brilliant, I'm afraid.
More pictures of the evening by SteveK photography HERE.
Some excellent videos of the evening here, do watch them!
And here, back in May at WGT, on a big stage and plugged in!
All photos on this blog our own:
Canary Wharf/Museum of London Docklands (c) Matt ArtPix
and gig pictures (c) Carya Gish
So here we are... We've done it!
After five years of fairs and markets, Matt ArtPix and Arcane Publishing have gone and taken a permanent unit at The Customs House in West Bay, West Dorset.
We are calling it The Unit so we can keep the name if for whatever reason we need to move out into a new venue (eventually our own shop/space, hopefully in Bridport).
We set up last weekend, and it was an epic four days indeed...
But we are very happy with the space (located on the second floor of the English Heritage-managed 200 year-old building) and the place was absolutely buzzing the whole time!
Arcane Publishing's goodies are mainly located in "the red shelves". They will be selling a small selection of new fiction, non-fiction and poetry and also carefully handpicked second-hand and collectible ones as well as comics and ephemera...
Of course, both my novels published by Arcane, I Am a Muse and The Book of Thoth, are on sale (at reduced prices as this is our own retail outlet!) - and they are promoting my current work-in-progress, the Dorset-based The Right Place, with posters and flyers around the unit!
To read more about The Unit and look at loads of pictures, read ARCANE PUBLISHING'S BLOG.
I think therefore I write.
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