Old Spitalfields Market is a brilliant place to be every day of the week. We were back there specifically to buy a piece of jewellery from Lelong Designs, who create pieces inspired by the 20s and 30s, Art Deco and Art Nouveau styles - my favourites!
I am not usually big on jewellery, but their stall is simply wonderful and I had to try and concentrate on the task at hand: purchase something to add to the back cover of The Book of Thoth - the cover itself is very minimalist, and we thought adding something completely different at the back would work well.
Matt ArtPix, the Arcane Publishing designer, helped me choose between some Egyptian-inspired pieces or some insect jewellery.
In the book, one item in particular plays an important role in the story: a dragonfly pendant. As Egyptian imagery is already well represented throughout the book - on the cover and inside - we decided to go for the wonderful dragonfly brooch above, which looks very, very close to the jewel I had in mind. And it is very, very wearable, isn't it? I had a little chat with the stallholder and was thrilled he agreed to have his work on the back cover of my book... Of course, credit will be given where it's due!
I also HAD to make a detour and buy some tea on the Yumchaa Tea stall. Honestly, they are the best teas around. I knew I was going to a gig in the evening, and yet, I still bought three bags of tea and carried them around the whole day and night. How Rock'n'Roll is that?
OK, I admit it: I can be a terrible snob from time to time, and I refuse to set foot in your average cinema like the Odeon, for example, ever again. People eat, talk, check their phones, fidget; their attention span doesn't exceed two minutes... It just spoils it for me. So we've decided to only go and see films in "civilised" surroundings, like the Curzon cinemas and the Barbican Centre. Below is a picture of Cromwell Tower opposite the cinema at the Barbican, pure Brutalist style!
Talking about Brutalism... There's a great programme on at the moment about Brutalist architecture: Bunkers, Brutalism and Bloodymindedness, presented by the impossibly cool Jonathan Meades. It is absolutely bonkers, with Mr Meades's very, er, original presentation style. I'd love to get the script; it's wonderfully written in a rich, kaleidoscopic vocabulary... And it's very inspiring for me, with visuals close to what I'd like to achieve with my fourth book.
We went to see the not-very-critically-acclaimed The Monuments Men. I've never seen any movie with George Clooney or Matt Damon, so I have now. Clooney has some kind of Cary Grant, twinkle-in-the-eye thing going on, and Matt Damon is... err... a bit bland, perhaps?
I liked the movie because it had a sort of old-fashioned charm you don't really find in modern movies - I have always been a lover of classic cinema me, from the 20s to the late 50s. Also, it is rare in a mainstream movie to have references to art and its importance in our society. True, the movie doesn't go very deep into any of its topics, but I never go to the cinema to see movies making deep and serious social/political points - I leave that to pseudo-intellectuals.
I haven't been to the cinema for ages, and then bang, several films turn up all at the same time! I also want to see Only Lovers Left Alive, The Grand Budapest Hotel and Under The Skin, and they are all out in the forthcoming weeks!
When we stepped into the Lexington on Sunday, we entered a parallel, beautiful, lyrical world.
I have already written a little bit about cellist and "looper" Jo Quail - when she supported Rasputina in November. It was a pleasure to see her play again - and it was even better the second time! Not only is her music truly mesmerising, but watching her play is fascinating. Music inspires me and has always played an important role in my life, but the process of creating music and playing it is a complete mystery to me. To witness the alchemy practised on stage by Jo was simply awesome. And her music is definitely otherworldly.
On Sunday night, we were treated to a brand new, not quite finished piece - temporarily called "DD" - the music note I hasten to add - a "baby" track that still has quite a lot of growing up to do according to its creator, although it sounded pretty grown up to me already!
We continued our journey into a realm of magic and shadowy beings with the excellent Seventh Harmonic (for some reason, my computer refuses to open the website on either Chrome or Explorer, which is a real shame!). Sunday was their new singer Liza Graham's first gig with the band, and if she looked slightly uncomfortable at the beginning, this changed pretty quickly as she literally beamed as the set went on... Jo Quail joined the band for their track "Winter" and added a layer of cords to the already rich ensemble.
Experimental, dark and seductive stuff indeed...
Daemonia Nymphe do know how to put on a show. Costumes, masks, ancient Greek instruments - made especially for them by craftsman Nikolaos Brass, and a dancer. On Sunday, they were presenting their new album, "Psychostasia".
Spyros Giasafakis and Evi Stergiou, the core members of Daemonia Nymphe, have worked for film and theatre (in particular The Theatre Lab Company), and it shows in their taste for the subtly dramatic; they also know how to surround themselves with talented musicians, and joining them on Sunday were among others Tanya Jackson (whom I had seen perform before with the Mediaeval Baebes) and ex-Dead Can Dance member Peter Ulrich - I still remember reviewing his fabulous album "Enter The Mysterium" years ago, so was particularly chuffed to see him there!
Also present was dancer/model/actress Denise Moreno.
Hypnotic, evocative and full of Ancient Greece's rhythms and flavours, Daemonia Nymphe's world is infused with myths and legends and carries the words and stories of Hellenic literature.
This is dark, ritualistic, spellbinding music, plucked from ancient times to speak to the soul of modern audiences.
To conclude, I would just add a word or two about the audience. Everyone should be proud of themselves: attentive and respectful of the silent/quiet bits in the sets, holding their breath at the end of each song before applauding enthusiastically. It was just a pleasure to be there.
I have heard so many negative things recently about acoustic/quiet sets being completely spoilt by drunken idiots, blasé crowds speaking over artists and heckling...
Well done, everyone.
Last week, I watched the most astonishing documentary about Paris in the 1920s: "Paris, années folles".
Les années folles" (The crazy years) is a French expression used to describe the 1920-1929 era in Paris.
Anyone interested in the 1920s should see it; the footage is literally jaw-dropping. This documentary is about history, culture, art, literature and social changes.
Paris was once the exciting place to be - mostly thanks to rich and not so rich foreign artists, intellectuals and entertainers who flocked to the French capital in the 20s in order to live their wildest dreams.
Ignited by a desire to put the unimaginable horrors of WWI behind, this incredible explosion of creativity, glamour and social change reached an intensity never equalled.
It didn't last long and never returned to the banks of the Seine.
This two-hour long documentary is a unique glimpse at life in Paris at the time (only for certain groups, though; as shown at some point in the documentary, the reality of French life on the outskirts of Paris and beyond was still steeped in peasant misery, in a world which struggled to evolve socially and economically and launch itself into the 20th century.
The film's director, Fabien Bezat, has taken the decision to show the film in colour to appeal to today's audiences who can barely cope with black and white - the documentary was shown at prime-time in France. He and his team have been through a gigantic amount of archive from the time and then worked on colourisation (done in India and in the US), then added the soundtrack and the score.
So what will you see in this film?
The bar terraces in Montparnasse which acted as HQ to the artists and their muses; the jazz clubs in Montmartre; Coco Chanel, Art Deco, the bob, Gertrude Stein and the «Lost Generation», the famous clubs «la Rotonde» and «la Coupole», Man Ray and his muse and lover Kiki de Montparnasse, «dirty french novels» and the beginning of porn, the Surrealists an Dadas… Josephine Baker, Scott Fitzgerald, Miller, Hemingway, Dali and more...
The Avant-Garde, women's emancipation, sexual freedom, but also the way a very conservative France tried to resist change - this led to the birth of fast-rising far-right and Fascist movements, The Olympics of 1924, poignant footage of disfigured ex-soldiers, the sumptuous orgies and finally, the boats who took the rich Americans back to the US after the 1929 crash.
There is no DVD of this film and it is a shame. The French commentary is succinct and would be easy to translate and add subtitles to - I can predict it would sell very well indeed.
Nevertheless, you can still enjoy it without being able to understand French; it is well organised in clearly separated sections, is fast -paced and crammed with rare footage.
Personally, I have always been much more fascinated by London - my spiritual home - and have never been much interested in Paris, a city I have come to know and dislike very much.
Contrary to what a lot of people think, Paris has never been a romantic city or an exciting metropolis. It feels like a big French provincial town at the best of times; it is grey and tired, people are grey and tired; it hasn't got any edge, is incredibly dirty, choked by an erratic traffic and a constant stream of demonstrations - I was there briefly yesterday and it has gone worse!
And at times, it feels like a third world city.
Paris is now nothing more than a former courtisan, old, diseased and tired, who cannot even bother to put her make-up or her showy gowns on anymore. When you glimpse at what it has been and what it could have been, as in this documentary, you wonder what on earth has gone wrong.
Then you shrug, French-like, and go to enjoy London, a city with many foibles but which feels like the capital of the world for all the right reasons...
I have actually found the documentary online, I think it's the whole thing ... Enjoy!
Watch "Paris, années folles" HERE!
I am really looking forward to 2014: we already have loads of great gigs, a music festival and plays lined up.
I hope to publish my second novel, The Book of Thoth, in December - Matt ArtPix should take over the typesetting for this one, and he has already produced some awesome ideas to add some quirky bits all through the book... we'll see how this goes, but it is exciting!
I will also work on the promotion of Arcane Publishing and my second-hand book selling venture...
But I'll also be reading a lot - my "to read" shelf is an ever-expanding monster -and I am really looking forward to new books by two of my favourite authors: Sarah Waters and Michel Faber.
Sarah Waters's The Paying Guests will be published in the autumn, and is set during the era that fascinates me the most, the 20s!
I am still hoping that the movie of The Little Stranger, her previous novel, will be made - it was optioned for film a while ago but no news on that front yet...
The Paying Guests synopsis below:
It is 1922, and London is tense. Ex-servicemen are disillusioned, the out-of-work and the hungry are demanding change. And in South London, in a genteel Camberwell villa, a large silent house now bereft of brothers, husband and even servants, life is about to be transformed, as impoverished widow Mrs Wray and her spinster daughter, Frances, are obliged to take in lodgers.
Talking about books made into films, I really want to see Under The Skin, based on Michel Faber's novel. I love his books and writing style - and he seems to be a very interesting guy - and I am very intrigued as to what they've managed to do with it. And it's got Scarlett Johansson in it, and yes, I think she is a very interesting actress. Under The Skin is out in March but will probably be shown in two cinemas in London so I will have to pay attention so as not to miss it.
It was announced last week that Faber's next book, The Book of Strange New Things, his first novel for ten years, will be out in November next year. I have to say that the subject matter is not really my cup of tea - books about religious belief are a complete no-no for me - but I do trust Faber's writing talent to turn it into an incredible read.
Watch the trailer for Under The Skin below - cracking soundtrack, I'm sure music-obsessed Michel Faber would approve!
I do hope that both authors will be promoting their books (and film) in London and do talks, I'll be first in the queue!
A quick one today, after the long blog I wrote yesterday.
I am looking forward to the holiday so I can go out and walk in the countryside - I do hope the weather will be clement enough for it!
But I know there will be some days when I will just spend many hours on the sofa with my books...
I am absolutely thrilled to have at last acquired Louise Brooks' Lulu In Hollywood, a collection of essays the fascinating 20s actress and icon has written for various film publications over the years - including Sight and Sound and Film Culture. I have already started on the first chapter, a previously unpublished account of her childhood and her move from Kansas to New York to start her entertainment career. And what an absolutely fabulous read this is! Louise Brooks is an accomplished writer: witty, clever, funny, wildly honest and unsentimental, she writes a riveting, often hilarious account of her younger years. I cannot wait to pick it up again.
This edition is the Arena Edition, 1987.
The BFI have had a Gothic film season and I haven't been able to attend any of the events... So I will console myself with the superb Gothic: The Dark Heart of Film, a great book exploring all the aspects of the Gothic genre in films and its inspirations. There are fab pictures and essays written by, among others, (usual suspects) Matthew Sweet, Kim Newman, Mark Kermode, Roger Luckhurst, Mark Gatiss and Guillermo del Toro- apologies to the other ones, these are the names I know!
And whilst flicking through the book, I realised that I've seen quite a lot of them, but I still have a very long list of movies to watch...
Finally today, and still cinema related, a wonderful stash of 1920s actresses. I collect cards with pictures of actresses, but you are only able to find mainly Edwardian ones. I hadn't found any 1920s ones until the Alexandra Palace Antiques fair last September, where I managed to get my hands on a few.
My fabulous partner got his hands on over 100 of them at a market in London!
Now that's what I call glamour...
Now if you'll excuse me, I have a first draft to finish off before the end of the year...
I don't go to parties. I've never liked them.
During my first years in London, I had a short spell of going to clubs and parties and ALWAYS got bored senseless after about 15mn and spent the rest of the night wanting to go home. Sometimes I did.
I love going to gigs and exhibitions, but there, you don't have to try and talk to people at all, so it's fine!
THIS LOVELY LITTLE COMIC captures the simple pleasures of an introvert perfectly. It's SPOT ON!
And so I am back from my fortnight in Dorset, more convinced than ever that it is the right place for me. My heart absolutely broke when I left, but made me all the more determined to work hard in order to finally be able to move there. If you want to know why, then go and have a look at Matt ArtPix's amazing PICTURE BLOG with some of the pictures he took during our fortnight in Dorset...
I have brought back with me some amazing treasures, not least a lot of energy and inspiration for the next few months, which will be all about developing Arcane Publishing and its publishing schedule, finishing the first draft of The Book of Thoth - and working on the follow-up drafts - preparing my appearance at the Shorelines Festival in November and planning ahead for 2014, the year in which Arcane Publishing and Matt ArtPix will be trading in London more often.
There will be a series of Dorset blogs in the next few days and weeks.
This one is a quick one showing some of the amazing things I have got my hands on during my time away... Some will be for sale, some I will keep...
1968 Fashion portfolio:
My wallet suffered a blow, but I just couldn't leave these behind.
This is the portfolio belonging 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. I have googled the name of the student, but couldn't find anything, unfortunately... I would love to know whether she succeeded in her fashion career!
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 paper.
If a fashion designer got it, they would be able to produce a whole - genuine! - 1968 collection... It is truly fascinating...
There are 120 pages of sketches! (Click on the pictures to enlarge).
Part of the pile was also a scrapbook - supposedly from the same fashion student - with fabulous fashion pictures taken from 60s/70s magazines.
And now onto books:
A fine first English edition (1977) of Rita Hayworth: The Time, The Place and The Woman by the legendary John Kobal. It is signed in the year of publication!
My personal favourite: a gorgeous 1920 sheet music... I didn't find a lot about it - just THIS.
A lovely 1979 illustrated biography of PG Wodehouse.
Some great film annuals (1958 and 1949 respectively!)
Edith Sitwell's autobiography (1965, I think I have a first edition!)
The promotional magazine for the ITV hit series Edward and Mrs Simpson (1978).
So this weekend is the big Alexandra Palace Antiques, Collectors, Art Deco and 20th Century fair (now with a vintage market as well!). The fair is on Sunday so come along to this truly unique venue!
We are setting up on Saturday and will make sure our double stall stands out. Fingers crossed we have enough space for the shelves! Here are some of the books we'll be selling (for more info about some of the books, go to THE ARCANE PUBLISHING BLOG):
Matt ArtPix will have some pretty special vintage-inspired art there too, and a few antiques!
Oh, and I will have copies of I Am a Muse and will be giving out flyers/bookmarks!
Matt ArtPix and Arcane Publishing will be back on the road over the next two weeks, with two great events!
Matt has been hard at work on some brand new designs - and they are all rather wonderful: check out his informative blogs about his glamorous 1930s Cinema, heady Topsy-turvy tens, iconic Beatles collage, and fascinating Classic Cinema Spanish posters.
Don't forget: all of Matt's work is made from his very own antique and vintage collection, nothing has been nicked off the internet! It's a real labour of love...
Arcane Publishing will be there with copies of I Am a Muse and great second-hand books! I have been hand-picking fabulous stuff over the past month, and I cannot wait to display them.
First up will be a 1940s family day at the Mill Race Garden Centre in Colchester next Sunday 8th September (weather permitting): a mixture of Military from the 1940’s along with swing dancing, French Resistance, a bombed out Café in Paris and also the Home Guard in a World War 2 Pill Box. BBQ, refreshments, Boating on River Colne.
Then on September 15th, it will be the big one - we are really excited!
Nelson events' Alexandra Palace Antiques Collectors, 20th Century & Art Deco Fair - now with a pop-up Vintage Fair!
See you there!
On Saturday, I found some more great books for the stall...
A smashing The Complete Gilbert and Sullivan by Diana Bell, Quarto Publishing, 1989 edition, hardback, near perfect condition!
Betty Grable, The Reluctant Movie Star by Doug Warren, Robson Books, 1982, perfect condition!
Michael Curtiz's Casablanca, The Film Classics Library, Picador/Pan Books Ltd, 1974 (probably first edition), "the most accurate and complete reconstruction of a film in book form!"
John Huston's The Maltese Falcon, The Film Classics Library, Picador/Pan Books Ltd, 1974 (probably first edition), "the most accurate and complete reconstruction of a film in book form!"
On the same day, I also purchased a marvellous copy of Thomas De Quincey's The Confessions of an English Opium Eater, with illustrations engraved on wood by Blair Hughes-Stanton. This hardback copy is from a very early edition (1948) of the Folio Society, and it is gorgeous!
There are a few more details about the book and some examples of the illustrations on this blog: THE BOOK EXAMINER .
This book will not be available to purchase on the stall at the moment... It will become part of my personal collection!
I am still sharing Matt Artpix's stall at the moment, but it is possible that Arcane Publishing will be booking its own stalls for fairs and markets in 2014 - with Matt Artpix and Arcane Publishing stalls located next to each other but offering an even greater range of goodies!
So yesterday afternoon we spent ages in Cecil Court.
My best find was this wonderful, huge book "50 years of movie posters" which was left on the tables outside Marchpane. At a mere £10 and full of wonderful reproductions, it is one of my best ever finds!
I have posted below a few pages of the book (they are all fantastic!)... I feel extremely lucky!
I think therefore I write.
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