Last Saturday was our last "going out in London" of 2014 (and we already have a few lined up for 2015).
Our first stop was a mere five minutes walk from our train station (Liverpool Street): Old Spitalfields market.
We have traded three times at Old Spitalfields in 2014 and want to increase our presence there next year (fingers crossed) and so went to check out the Pop-Up Vintage Fair which looks like another good option for us to trade at. It is a very successful and exciting market. As always, there were some great stalls in attendance.
We stopped to say hi to Michelle from the fabulous Fairground Fables and gawp at her inimitable creations.
We also loved Clark and Robinson's stall, full of great repro stuff... They came all the way from South Devon!
In the art market section, we encountered the fantastical creations of Bristol-based book sculpture artist Alexander Korzer-Robinson and 3D printer Robert Robinson. Together, they are Rokoro.
There is a great picture gallery HERE from the Telegraph newspaper. Stunning stuff!
The 19th Century had William Morris.
We apparently only have Russel Brand.
What does it say about the sorry state of our society?
Answers on a postcard.
Anarchy and Beauty: William Morris and his legacy at the National Portrait Gallery was absolutely fascinating and so inspiring!
It drew the portrait of an incredible man, an indefatigable creative with many passions and missions.
Yes, he had big ideas about art and society and the way they could interact to make our world a better place, but contrary to most before and after him, he actually DID things and got his hands dirty many times over: he tried many different art forms and crafts, had a go at prose and poetry, became an inspiration for artists and politicians alike. He was a socialist and he lived and worked in the middle of an incredible network of artists, writers, thinkers, educationalists and reformists. He was the core, the nucleus of that network, its trailblazing father figure. Just looking at the exhibits and reading the captions made me feel some kind of elation: those people were extraordinary, so energetic. They just got things done. No time wasted on shrill outrage on social media for them: they rolled up their sleeves and did some real work. I was quite taken with Edward Carpenter and will research him further.
Now, of course, I couldn't help looking at Morris's ideas about the nature of Socialism and his Utopian aspirations with cynicism. He was indeed an idealist who made a seriously erroneous evaluation of human nature. He believed in the power of beauty to transform people's lives I actually agree with this) and he was adamant that art, knowledge and beauty were what people really wanted (I disagree with this. Just look around you. If only...)
Unfortunately, history has revealed since that Socialism is the exact opposite of freeing people though art, ideas and beauty...
Still, it is very important that ideas circulate, are discussed and, most importantly, are trialed in real life.
William Morris and his work inspired the Labour Party; Prime Minister Clement Attlee in particular was a big admirer of Morris's vision. Can you believe this? Can you imagine people like Tony Blair and Ed Milliband being inspired by such a Renaissance man such as Morris?
And were is our very own William Morris?
Mike Leigh's Mr Turner is a jewel of a movie. The sets are fabulous - several scenes look just like paintings. The acting is wonderful, the action is slow burning and takes its time to dwell on the untold folds of relationships between people; Mike Leigh develops his movie just like a painter would work on his/her canvas: it is slow burning, rich in details and illuminated by genuine brushstrokes of brilliance.
The wonderful Timothy Spall brings the painter to life splendidly in all his gruffness, his misanthropy and his genius.
There's genuine warmth and some satire. There's sadness and humour and ugliness and the chaotic beauty of Turner's works of art are a constant focus of attention.
I'm off to study Turner's biography.
Here's the trailer. Go and see it!
THE TELEGRAPH REVIEW HERE.
THE GUARDIAN REVIEW HERE.
I have been given some delightful books to read over the past week.
Last week, I watched the gorgeous and far too short Secret Knowledge: Living Mountain, A Cairngorms Journey presented by the always excellent Robert McFarlane. It was about a fascinating author I had never heard about, Nan Shepherd. She had written a book about her walks in the Cairngorms during the Second World War but had only published it in 1977.
The documentary really touched and intrigued me, especially as I would like to find an emotional way of writing about landscape for my third novel, The Right Place.
My sister lives in Aberdeenshire and goes to the Cairngorms all the time. So I told her about it and of course, she had already read Nan's book, The Living Mountain! And she has now sent it to me. I am really looking forward to getting started; I very very rarely read non-fiction books, but I am sure this one will be worth the effort.
Then I have a lovely 1947 edition of Dorothy L Sayers's The Five Red Herrings.
Now, this is quite special, isn't it?
This book, published in 1926, is simply gorgeous. It evokes the buzzing, relentless flow of lives in 1920s London, with 15 fantastic illustrations!
Written by Lewis Melville and illustrated by Aubrey Hammond (1894-1940).
I am currently putting together the notes I've written for my third novel, The Right Place. Even though the research is not finished, I think I now have the main features of the book, and I kind of know how it's going to end...
Most of the characters have a background story now and I have the main plot lines (well, kind of...)
I will definitively start writing in January, but most of my writing really should be done in Dorset, as I want the landscape to be a character in the novel, and I cannot write this novel from a tiny office in Westcliff-on-Sea with noise coming from every direction.
I need to be surrounded by Dorset, I need to see and smell and feel the Dorset air. In January, I will start looking for accommodation in West Dorset. I need something QUIET and cheap.
Fingers crossed I can find something within my very tight budget!
I have been having a look at my schedule and might need to give myself more writing time. So I am thinking about a summer 2017 publication date.
A lot of exciting things could happen with The Right Place: collaborations with other artists and guesting on a well-known publishing platform. Nothing has been confirmed yet but I hope to be able to make a few announcements between January and May 2015.
Also next year Arcane Publishing will be more visible and out and about. I need to increase the amount of promotion and publicity for the imprint, and it will be my priority in 2015 (as well as writing The Right Place, of course!).
So watch this space!
I still have a couple of blogs to do before Xmas before a little break so come back here in a few days' time!
In the New Year, I will be briefing artist Sam Cannon who has agreed to do the cover art for The Right Place (she is a West Dorset artist!)
Matt ArtPix has already played around with one of Sam's pictures to see what the cover would look like (the image below features Glastonbury Tor and not St Catherine's chapel, but this is what I am aiming for: rich blue colours and a gorgeous round moon!).
Still some work to do on font etc. but this looks pretty close to what I had in mind: the artwork filling in all the space on the wrap around cover!
We will be using this image for the artwork:
New Model Army seem to be on an unstoppable roll at the moment. It was rather fab to see the band on stage just a few weeks after having attended the screening of the fascinating documentary "Between Dog and Wolf: The New Model Army Story" at the Prince Charles (read my blog about it HERE). 2014 has seen the band release the brilliant, critically acclaimed Between Dog and Wolf, a truly superb album full of energy and renewed passion.
These December 2014 concerts, named "Between Blood and Wine" were presented as being somewhat different from the band's customary Christmas shows. They decided to give themselves a creative challenge and add musicians and introduce different arrangements for well-known and loved songs. I loved the introduction of strings (violin and cello) into the mix.
I won't write a full review here, but you can read Pete Woods's superb in-depth review on Ave Noctum.
I'll summarise the evening here: crystal clear sound, superb lights, sweeping chords, fierce tribal drumming, gorgeous background artwork (by none other than Joolz Denby, of course!), passion, energy, enthusiasm (the band genuinely looked like they enjoyed themselves immensely), and of course, fantastic music and gripping, poetic lyrics.
This was the best New Model Army gig I had ever been to (ok, I am not one of the "Family" who have been following them for over 25 years...) and my partner, who has been a NMA fan for much longer than me, agrees.
This show was really something very very special indeed.
Here are a few "arty" photos (I really loved the lights at this show!).
Musicians were Mark Feltham (Nine Below Zero) on harmonica; Ed Alleyne-Johnson on electric violin; Tobias Unterberg (cello);
Shir Ran Yinon (violin)
[Tobias and Shir are in Ensemble Melancholia].
All pictures (c) Carya Gish
More pictures by Tim Frommer (London and Nottingham) HERE.
Setlist (from The NMA Forum)
Rumour and Rapture
Between Dog and Wolf
Someone Like Jesus
Into the Wind
Orange Tree Roads
March in September
No Mirror, No Shadow
One of the Chosen
Wonderful Way to Go
Till the End of the Day (cover)
Get Me Out
Green and Grey
Last Sunday, Arcane Publishing and Matt ArtPix were trading at the huge Antiques and Collectors fair at Alexandra Palace. The quality of items on display from all the traders was staggering. Such a gorgeous fair!
I also had a chat with the lovely Michelle from Fairground Fables. Check out her website, her art is really quite special!
We will be visiting her stall at the Pop-Up Vintage Fair at Old Spitalfields on 20th December.
This Saturday, I will be doing two local events - the last for me this year.
First I will be at the lovely indie bookshop The Bookshop Experience, 307 London Road,SS0 8BX, Westcliff-on-Sea.
Book signing (I Am a Muse and The Book of Thoth are on sale in the shop!)
Then a short (less than 10mn) walk to nearby Halmlet Court Road for an evening of poetry and prose.
I will be reading an extract of my first novel I Am a Muse at WOA Gallery in Westcliff-on-Sea. This is a poetry evening, so I will start with the short poem that opens the book and then move on to an extract in which Alda talks about what it was like to be her husband's muse for so long.
The readings will take place between 6pm and 8pm.
For 2015, I intend to work hard on rising awareness of Arcane Publishing, mostly in London. I am working on some sort of calendar to trade regularly at Old Spitalfields in London.
At the beginning, I will be trading with Matt ArtPix at the weekend, maybe every two months or even every month. We need to get organised.
I am also thinking about doing a solo stall on Wednesdays - stalls are much cheaper. I just need to get the logistics and budget right.
The Christmas holidays will be working holidays!
In January, I will also start writing The Right Place, my third novel.
I am almost done with the planning and plotting. There is still some (a lot of) research to do and I still need to find some kind of accommodation in Dorset to write, but I think I should really get started. I also need to plan for my second meeting with Unbound in March. If everything goes to plan, Arcane could become one of their guest publishers... Watch this space!
Last Wednesday, we were back at The British Library for the "On Gothic Literature" talk, part of the series of events organised to go with the exhibition "Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination" (see my blog about the exhibition HERE).
I wish I had been able to go to all the events on the list as they were all fascinating, but as I live outside of London and rail fares are rising and rising, I always have to choose my London jaunts carefully. So I chose this one. Journalist Mark Lawson was in conversation with writers DBC Pierre, Kim Newman and Sarah Waters. The last time we were at the Library's Conference Centre was about two years ago for a talk about crime writing also hosted by Mark Lawson - this was when the late P.D James had signed my copy of Death Comes to Pemberley, so it was a bit sad to be back at the Conference Centre last week...
I knew Kim Newman as he is such a prolific writer and expert; he is mates with one of my favourite writers, Christopher Fowler, and I have read his articles and essays in books and magazines and seen him on various TV programmes... As usual, his enthusiasm for the topic of the talk - Gothic and its multiple manifestations and incarnations - and the astounding depth of his knowledge made every single of his interventions fascinating and instructive. His passion was really infectious.
I didn't know DBC Pierre before that evening, although the title of his Booker Prize-winning debut novel Vernon God Little was indeed familiar. I will be checking his work now because I really liked his calm, serene attitude and dry sense of humour. There was definitively something unusual, dark and wry about him which was quietly intriguing.
I have read all of Sarah Waters's books. I love the way she quietly creates atmospheres and conjures up characters and settings in a non-showy way. Her books are never about fast action and shock tactics: everything builds up slowly, allowing you to get under the characters' skin and explore the surroundings so you can properly immerse yourself in the story. In person, she was as I had imagined her to be: calm, thoughtful, quietly spoken and straight to the point.
I am not yet half-way through her latest book, The Paying Guests, and I really love it. Like my new novel The Book of Thoth, it is set in the 20s with the shadows of WW1 still hanging over British society, and the living struggling to shake the all-too-painful memories of the slaughtered loved ones.
The discussion was really interesting; trying to define "Gothic" is no easy task indeed. Somebody's Gothic pleasure can be someone else's detested nightmare. The genre has very well survived the passing of time, adapting to different eras and times.
I liked the way the three guests and Mark Lawson all agreed that we live in very Gothic times indeed - austerity and the ever increasingly interfering new technology that deprives us of our privacy are very conducive to (modern) Gothic plots. I also feel that the blander and glossier a society becomes the more sinister it gets. So long live Gothic!
I am pretty sure I could have found something better to say to Sarah Waters than "I've read all your books!". What about "I am a writer as well and you are one of my inspirations"?
We carried on with the Gothic theme on Friday: the legendary Fields of The Nephilim were in town... We could only attend one concert as we were trading at the Alexandra Palace Antiques and Collectors fair at the weekend (*sob* I can't believe I missed Mourning Sun - they played it on the Saturday!).
The previous time we saw the band at the same venue, the support band had cancelled at the last minute, and a lone figure had stepped onto the stage: Jordan Reyne. She had put us under her spell after only a few seconds and had held the attention of the whole venue single-handedly. I have been a fan ever since, and I feel that I owe it to FOTN to have discovered this incredible artist.
She is also a member of another favourite of mine: The Eden House (FOTN's bassist Tony Pettitt is a founder member).
Anyway, all this to say: it was very different this time around.
As we pushed the doors to the venue and stepped inside, a huge wave of girly screams reached us: had we come to the wrong venue?
Oh, no. It's just that HIM had started their set. Yes, HIM. To be perfectly honest, I had lost track of the band since about 2005. Frontman Ville Valo had made the most of his "metal pin-up" status in the early noughties and had gone off the rails for a while. He was very present at some point whilst I was a music writer, regularly appearing in magazines such as Kerrang! and Metal Hammer, and you cannot deny that he is a genuine music fan (he is a real FOTN fan).
I had seen HIM live whilst out and about around London covering gigs, but I didn't remember them being so... well, not very good (I am being cautious here). It just didn't work at all: love songs, metal guitar solos and screaming girls. Valo looked like he couldn't be bothered and his voice was weak. Hardly the ideal build-up for a Nephs gig.
The four fifths of the venue who had come to see Fields of The Nephilim were not impressed. Nobody moved, nobody applauded. Generously, nobody booed either. Once HIM had finished their set, the girls disappeared and the night could begin in earnest.
It was good to see Tony Pettitt on stage with the always fascinating and shamanic frontman Carl McCoy, and the set was absolutely magical. There was real mystery at work here, the music conveying an energy resolutely out of this world. It was simply mesmerising.
We were treated to two new tracks (with a bit of research, I found out that they were called Earthbound and Prophecy) which will undoubtedly feature on the band's new album (it has been recently announced on the band's website that they were indeed recording new material for a release).
Go to the very comprehensive Sumerland Website for setlists (both nights).
I tried to take pictures and the results are... arty?
I cannot wait to see them again.
all pictures (c) Carya Gish
Here's a video of one of the new tracks (Prophecy)!
And here's the gorgeous Love Under Will
So apparently those two sellers on the Amazon website have one copy of I Am a Muse each, and are selling them for £49.99.
It is also listed as being in French language, which it isn't, of course!
Tell you what: I really doubt those people actually have the books, as I have sold something like 10. I know exactly where they are. And to be honest, they are paperback copies of an independently published novel by an indie publisher and author. You can get them from me at £6 at my stalls or at its official retail price of £7.99 on our online shop or at The Bookshop Experience.
Go HERE for more non-ripping-off options.
Last Saturday, we went to see the always excellent Southend Shakespeare Company's version of Noel Coward's Cowardy Custard. A few weeks ago, we saw Coward's Hay Fever by the SSC as well and it was such a pleasure!
For this show, the SSC have stretched their skills to the limit: it is not every actor who can sing! But the cast really gave their best - the fast pace meant that they really needed a lot of energy! - the pianist delivered a seamless performance (she played every single song!), and it was a truly lovely evening full of charm and wit.
I usually avoid musicals like the plague, but this was Noel Coward, and yes, there were loads of songs, but the lyrics were so wonderfully clever, and the actors were really good, so I was fine. No, really!
I own a copy of the first edition (1976, Jonathan Cape) of Cole Lesley's biography of Noel Coward: "The Life of Noel Coward".
I still haven't read it, shame on me!
And I purchased a copy of Cowardy Custard in October this year in one of my favourite shops in Bridport, Wild and Homeless Books on South Street. This is also a first edition (1973) and used to be owned by John A. Birch, organist at Chichester cathedral (read his orbituary HERE). When he died, the bookshop bought his book collection. And I have one of them!
It contains all the songs and spoken sections of the show, and is lavishly illustrated with black and white pictures, sketches, paintings... It's a wonderful volume indeed!
I think therefore I write.
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