Arcane Publishing is about to move their HQ to Dorset and we've had a few setbacks...
We have now been told that we would not complete before the Christmas break as planned, which has pros and cons...
I have been meaning to post a few blogs relating to music, inspiration and such on here but haven't found the time yet - they should be coming up this weekend.
In the meantime, I'm thrilled to announce that my partner and Arcane Publishing designer Matt ArtPix has designed the poster for the fabulous Jo Quail's forthcoming London shows. And of course, we're going to one of them, so expect a blog about it at some point (she says...)
Read Matt's blog about it HERE.
Get tickets for the Saturday show (Sunday is sold out!) HERE.
Watch Jo's new video - a live recording in Gdansk with Cappella Gedanensis, conducted by Jos Pijnappel.
There is a fabulous exhibition at the moment at the Fashion and Textile museum, founded by designer Zandra Rhodes.
1920s Jazz Age Fashion and photographs is heaven for any lover of the 1920s.
The beautiful clothes on display would have definitely featured in the wardrobes of some of the characters in my second novel, The Book of Thoth, which is set in 1925.
Eccentric socialite and amateur psychic Gabby Ramsey would have loved those richly decorated evening coats and turbans!
Jazz journalist Maeve Edwards would have been thrilled to own a few of those ravishing items - and they would have suited her petite frame perfectly!
Somehow, I don't think Maeve and Gabby are the bathing costume type, but they might change their mind when they see those very chic ones...
The vintage and antiques fans we are were virtually drooling over the wonderful items on display - some lovely touches everywhere!
I adore the photography of the time - there is a very special quality and beauty to it. I am a big fan of people like Man Ray and Beaton (whose work could be seen in the exhibition), but to my shame, I didn't know the name James Abbe - although I have come across his photography before in my collection of cinema magazines and ephemera of the time! Absolutely wonderful... These are the kind of images that make me happy.
Oh, and I have found the perfect coat to wear when I do readings of The Book of Thoth...
I no longer write music reviews these days, but when I saw PJ Harvey live for the first time back in September 2001, I did produce an article for a French music website. I still have it, and reading it recently just before the gig at the Brixton Academy made me smile - it was not nostalgia though, as 2001 was a terrible year on a personal level apart from all the live music!
Almost exactly 15 years later, here I was again at the Brixton Academy for a PJ Harvey gig...
And it was fabulous, in a theatrical, austere, almost reverential kind of way... I was so thrilled to be there that I had goosebumps during the whole gig!
I have been following Harvey's career since the mid 1990s, and over all that time, she has never lost any of her uniqueness.
I have to admit though that I do not like her latest "protest songstress" direction very much. The concept and processes behind Let England Shake and The Hope Six Demolition Project - the travelling, sketching, poetry-writing are interesting, but the songs themselves leave me strangely cold. I find the music not as compelling and the subject matter does not suit Harvey's universe, somehow, or maybe the idea I have of her universe. But she has been lauded for her latest two albums and she deserves the praise and recognition.
I personally am a firm fan of her most haunting, eerie (should I say more occult?) output, from To Bring You My Love to White Chalk (it was a real treat to hear two songs from that gorgeous album - The Devil and To Talk To You, somehow never mentioned in the live reviews I have read) - a darker, more poetic and intimate, less tangible world.
I have all those albums next to my desk and I listen to them on a weekly basis.
Five years ago, I fell head over heels in love with PJ Harvey's birth county of Dorset and it suddenly all made sense... I understood the essence of her work. My third novel and work-in-progress, The Right Place, is inspired by the lyrics of PJ Harvey's song The Wind (from the Is This Desire? album) and set around the location which inspired her to write the song in the first place, St Catherine's chapel in Abbotsbury. And I am now about to move to Dorset myself. It is my turn to get inspired by the bewitching beauty of the county's ancestral landscape - but I hope PJ Harvey herself will once again turn to this familiar and yet so mysterious environment to find inspiration. Imagine the poems and illustrations this could produce...
Introducing the band and playing To Bring You My Love from SECC Glasgow, June 2016.
On the 20th October, we made our way to the 5th Base gallery off Brick Lane to attend the private view of graphic designer Mike Coles's exhibition Forty Years in the Wilderness 1976-2016.
It was also the launch of his fantastic book of the same name, probably the best, most beautiful book I've seen, a truly fascinating collection of Mike's work, from the illustrations he brought with him when he first came to London in 1976 to his latest 2016 creations, including the different versions of the sleeve artwork for Killing Joke's latest album, Pylon. Mike Coles and Killing Joke go back a long, long way indeed - since the band's inception, Mike has created all of the most iconic Killing Joke iconography.
Together with KJ in the late 70s, Mike created the Malicious Damage Records label, which was put on hold in 1983 and was resurrected in 2003 - I remember, as a music journalist in London, writing about a few live events organised by Malicious Damage circa 2005 and reviewing some of the label's CDs (I even wrote a feature article about Mike's work and the label!).
Mike Coles's artwork is truly exciting: he mixes his own photography, images cut out of vintage magazines and books to conjure up a series of unique worlds (in turn punk, baroque, gothic, industrial, psychedelic...) within which chaos, madness and danger collide with the creepy wholesomeness of the vintage images.
At 212 pages, the book gives a fascinating insight into Mike's art, craft, inspiration and thought processes; it is a riot of colours and typography, truly the most beautiful "coffee table" book I've ever seen (congratulations to the printer, Sam at ss-media, with whom we had a little chat!).
The private view/launch was a very relaxed and jovial affair - everything organised with the usual attention to detail characteristic of Mike's touch.
We took our time to have a good look at all the art on offer, but it took us ages to decide which one to buy (most of them were on our list!) - we kept hopping from one artwork to the other, always discovering new details within the images...
And it was an added bonus to bump into the legendary Youth as we left the venue!
You can buy the book "Forty Years in the Wilderness" from the Malicious Damage website HERE.
In 1976, Mike Coles arrived in London with £90, a rucksack and a little book of drawings. Three years later, he helped start Malicious Damage Records with a few mates and an unknown band called Killing Joke. His logic being that if you have a record lable, you'll be able to deisgn all the record sleeves, posters and t-shirts, and maintain what he fondly refers to as "stubborn independence".
And following on the theme... tomorrow, the Arcane/ArtPix team will be at Colchester Arts Centre and on Friday at the Brixton Academy to see Killing Joke!
I think therefore I write.
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