During the Christmas holiday, I have acquired yet more amazing items for my vintage collection!
The seller who sold me the Film Weekly magazines had an absolutely amazing stock of fabulous stuff (also quite a few The Play, the theatre mag, which makes a brief appearance in The Book of Thoth!). I am not a big spender, but I could easily have bought their whole stock in one go... I will go back for more this year!
I am becoming rather obsessed with theatre people from the Edwardian era and, of course, the 1920s.
In The Book of Thoth, one of my characters is a former actress who was about to become a big star of the stage just before the First World War, but it is only mentioned as part of the background story.
What I'd like to do is to write a novel entirely set in the world of the theatre, but the amount of research would be staggering - and I would have to find an original angle as it has been done before, hasn't it?
The pictures below are not very good as they were taken minutes before my camera gave up for good.
In the next few weeks, I will be heading to the National Portrait Gallery to see their display Starring Vivien Leigh: A centenary celebration. They also have Jane Morris: Pre-Raphaelite muse which I will see at the same time!
Now back to The Book of Thoth.
Draft 1 will be completed next Tuesday, January 20th.
I have just uploaded a short extract of The Book of Thoth (1st draft) to the Book of Thoth page.
I cannot wait to finish it over the Xmas holiday and start the editing! Writing it is really entertaining, I am enjoying it immensely...
Life's not fair, is it?
Whilst untalented idiots and social parasites earn millions and seemingly last forever, there are incredibly talented people who make this earth a better place and die far too young, and we are robbed of their visionary, thrilling work.
This young lady, named Zina Nicole Lahr, was unfortunately killed in a hiking accident a few weeks after this portfolio video was shot.
But oh, what an incredible person!
Very inspiring... This is what being human means...
I love art and believe creativity, imagination, etc. are the most important aspects of what it is to be a human being. I go to a lot of exhibitions and always keep an open mind. I almost went to art school myself, after all, before literature and English language won the day...
Maybe I'm old-fashioned, but I do have a problem with most contemporary art, though.
You know, the Tracey Emins and Damien Hirsts of this Earth, whose only talent is a knack for self-publicity and "shocking" rubbish - the only shocking thing about their work is that it's being lauded as art worth millions. And it looks like that's the direction taken by Art schools, who seem to teach their students how to write a stupid statement to cover-up your complete lack of artistic skills.
By the way, if you are an artist and you want to create your own artistic statement, THIS WEBSITE does it for you; the texts sound so much like real artists statements I've read, recently... Actually, scrap that, the "real" ones were much, much worse...
Have you ever been to the Serpentine Gallery, where, a few years ago, I had the immense pleasure of admiring bits of clear plastic stuck to a white wall? The meaning was probably incredibly profound and deep, but it escaped me, somehow...
Anyway. So, the Turner Prize... Don't even get me started.
At least, one of the competitors could paint OK, but the fact that she was shortlisted might have had more to do about where she was from then her actual painting skills.
You know, art and culture are really having a hard time these days, when it is all about hardworking families (I really, really hate that expression) and cuts to the arts. It shouldn't happen, because art and culture are essential for a healthy, successful and prosperous society - just like education. It is not random chance that in dictatorships and countries ran by religious fundamentalists, the first things to go are the arts, music, cinema and academia.
But honestly, when the Turner Prize entries are the only kind of art that is shown in the mainstream media, when it gets repeated over and over that this is the only type of art that will get grants and prizes, that filming someone sneezing in slow motion and exhibiting their soiled tissue in a glass cabinet will get you rich and famous, then are we surprised if non-artistic minded people sneer and shrug and think it a waste of time?
It makes me incredibly angry.
But I have found the remedy for my anger...
The one good thing about the Turner Prize is that it is the reason the Turnip Prize exists. Conceived in 1999 in a pub in Somerset as a joke response to the Turner Prize, it has carried on and acquired a certain... shall we say, prestige...
HAVE A LOOK AT THIS YEAR'S TURNIP PRIZE ENTRIES
If you really want a laugh, go to the Turnip Prize Wikipedia page and read through the previous years's entries and their description.
It's pure genius.
Well, it's the end of the year, isn't it?
I need to find some time to finish that pesky first draft of The Book of Thoth...
But the aim is still to publish it next December...
Some further work on the Arcane Publishing publishing plan will involve planning for The Right Place, including applying for an Arts Council Grant - if I manage to understand the very complicated application form...
This book would be published in early 2016 at the latest, but only if I have managed to find the money to some quality researching and writing time in Dorset!
Also next year, I will be promoting I Am a Muse and Arcane Publishing in London and further afield (well, at least, that's the plan...) and expanding the second-hand books side of things.
I am hoping to have stalls at various and varied events next year, some of course will be in collaboration with Matt ArtPix, but I also would like to have a go at having my own stall in order to make the imprint a bit more visible.
I'd love to do some more readings as well; we'll see what we can find...
I am expecting to have a review of I Am a Muse in a swanky biannual magazine in March, all to be confirmed...
I will be working on a second-hand books listing and post it on the Arcane Publishing website at some point in the forthcoming weeks, but only when I have typed the infamous words THE END on the last page of The Book of Thoth. At the moment, I have a lot of freelance work, but it is possible that I might have a few days in between assignments to work on TBOT...
Whilst I'm struggling to finish off the first draft of The Book of Thoth - I know where I'm going and everything, it's just that the scene I'm trying to write at the moment is very, very difficult to put together! - I am reading some more pirate tales to get some background about pirates and such for my third book...
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 what do you do if you are the richest artist - read "rather talentless self-publicist trying his best to cash in on his pseudo-controversial reputation" - in Britain with your heydays firmly behind you but a bulging bank account (or two?)?
You buy yourself a town.
Or at least, this is what it's starting to feel like with Damien Hirst and Ilfracombe, in North Devon.
I wrote about the quite horrid Verity in a previous blog; Hirst has also owned a restaurant on Quay Road, Number 11, The Quay, since 2000. Now, he has got his hands on no less than four properties in the harbour (the lovely Driftwood gallery, the first in a series of art galleries to open under the same name in the South West, is having to relocate somewhere else in town), and is also planning a - yes, of course, controversial! - housing estate in the fields opposite the Tesco supermarket (more on this HERE).
It looks like councillors have been dragging their feet, but don't fret, Hirst will triumph in the end. Money - and celebrity - talks, and Ilfracombe has been in dire need of regeneration since the railway was scrapped in 1970.
True, Hirst could be seen as some kind of "saviour", although things are not as simple as it seems (see HERE for an interesting comment on the situation).
Most certainly, something seems to be happening: art galleries are popping up everywhere around the town, and the pub chain Wetherspoon is building a - completely inappropriate - "futuristic" establishment (they have pulled down the wonderful old hotel that used to stand there!).
On the up side, one of the new galleries is located on the high street and is definitely worth a visit: the Jessica Dove gallery (a good write-up about the gallery can be found HERE). Set up by a former artist and art teacher who was born in the town before going to live and work in London, the gallery is bright and packed full of very interesting works. I particularly loved the sculptures by Jessica's husband, Stanley Dove, and my new favourite sculptor, Philip Wakeham - see his work on his Beautiful If Oblique website. His sculptures are simply stunning; they have a delicate, mythical, haunting quality. Perfect inspiration for a novel!
More on Ilfracombe and North Devon in the forthcoming days.
Now is time to get back into things after a few days away!
I have been back writing since Monday, and it feel great.
This is the first time in ages I have some "free" time to write - although for me, it's not free time. Writing is not a hobby, it is a necessity, it is work. Actually, it is the only work I really want to do and the one that is the most important. But time is incredibly precious: I only have one week. I am going away for a few days to Devon to visit some family, and then when I am back, it's back to the freelance work for a few days or a few weeks, I still don't know. But I am on a roll, writing between 800 and 1,000 words a day.
I am hoping that I will not be too behind in my schedule, although I know now that the first draft will definitely not be finished for August 31st.
My third novel is also taking more and more "brain space" at the moment. Everyday, I am thinking about my main character, Kat Moorhouse. She is incredibly alive and kicking; I can see her and hear her all the time, and I have a few scenes taking shape in my head.
I have also spent half a day this week preparing for my reading at Shorelines, literature festival of the sea in November. I've been timing the extract, the song, and I have put together a little slide show of my best pictures of St Catherine's chapel and its surroundings, although I might take yet some more pictures when I go there in September. This visit will also (hopefully) allow me to make a few contacts and enquiries regarding the research and writing time I have scheduled for The Right Place. I need to find a place to stay, as the little cottage we always rent is near Dorchester and I still haven't started driving again (which is a real pain). Ideally, I'd like to be as close to Abbotsbury and the chapel as possible in order to soak up the atmosphere and landscape at different seasons and times of the day.
I still haven't decided whether to apply for an Arts Council grant for this project... The form to fill in looks incredibly daunting...
I think therefore I write.
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