Las Pozas panoramas


Photo by Carlos Ernesto Guadarrama Muñoz.

How soon things change. In 2006 when I wrote something about Las Pozas, the unfinished concrete fantasia constructed by Edward James at Xilitla in the Mexican jungle, there was little information about the place on the web. A couple of years later photos had appeared on Flickr and Monty Don had been there with TV cameras for the BBC’s Around the World in 80 Gardens. Now, thanks to, we have a collection of panoramic views inside James’ platforms, plazas and stairways to nowhere. See the complete set of views here.


Photo by Jose Luis Perez.

Edward James described himself as a poet (and is credited as such on his gravestone), but he’s far better known as one of the primary patrons of Surrealist art and a lifelong proponent of the Surrealist ethos, hence Las Pozas whose construction occupied him up to his death in 1984. In addition to being the model for Magritte’s La reproduction interdite (1937), James also converted Monkton, his home in England, into a Surrealist showcase. It’s a place I’ll be writing about at greater length when I find the time.


Photo by Jose Luis Perez.

Elsewhere on { feuilleton }
The panoramas archive

Previously on { feuilleton }
Return to Las Pozas
Las Pozas and Edward James

Book talk


I posted my covers for the Angry Robot editions of Mike Shevdon’s Courts of the Feyre series last month. Last week Mike asked me to answer a few questions about the design process and related matters. The answers are now posted on his blog where I discuss art, book design, favourite reading and a couple of the things I plan to foist on the world in the near future.

Not mentioned there but due on the shelves later this year is The Graphic Canon, a collection of adaptations in comic strip and illustration form of literary works from the Epic of Gilgamesh on. Seven Stories Press is the publisher, Russ Kick is the editor, and my contribution is a condensation of The Picture of Dorian Gray. The first of the three volumes will be out in April. More about that later.

Previously on { feuilleton }
The Courts of the Feyre

Weekend links 93


One of a series of tremendous designs by Malika Favre for a new Penguin edition of the Kama Sutra.

• New interviews: “…Americans — mired in individualism — prefer to think in terms of identity than in terms of roles and masks. An American would never have called a novel Confessions of a Mask.” Nicholas Currie, better known via his Momus mask. | “The horror in music comes from the silence,” says John Carpenter. | “It’s dangerous to be an artist. That’s what we talk about in Naked Lunch — and it’s dangerous on many different levels. Politically it can be dangerous, but psychologically it can be quite dangerous too. You make yourself very vulnerable. You put yourself out there and of course you open yourself up to criticism and attack.” David Cronenberg at the Los Angeles Review of Books.

• New books: Dotter of Her Father’s Eyes, a Joycean memoir by Mary M Talbot and Bryan Talbot. | A stack of new works from Strange Attractor including a collection of Savage Pencil‘s Trip or Squeek comic strips. | Robert Irwin’s Visions of the Jinn: Illustrators of the Arabian Nights. A shame about the high price on the latter but I’m sure it looks wonderful.

• The Blu-ray release of Wings (1927), William A. Wellman’s silent drama about air aces during the First World War, has prompted renewed attention for the passionate relationship between its two male leads, especially this deathbed scene which is tagged as the first same-sex kiss in cinema. That’s arguable, of course, but it’s certainly a touching moment.

• From 2009: Searching the Library of Babel, a list of all the stories in all 33 volumes of The Library of Babel, a 1979 Spanish language anthology of fantastic literature edited by Jorge Luis Borges.

• Lots of newpaper attention in the past week for the not-so-fresh news that magic mushrooms could help fight depression. Nature went into the detail of the latest studies.

French group Air have written the score for a rare colour print of Le voyage dans la lune (1902) by Georges Méliès. Air’s YouTube channel has extracts.

• From 1989: The Merchant of Shadows by Angela Carter.

Will Hunt on the Ghost River of Manhattan.

Selected Letters of William S. Burroughs

Sexy Boy (1998) by Air | Surfing On A Rocket (2003) by Air | Mer Du Japon (2007) by Air.

The Turgot Map of Paris


Yesterday’s map of Portmeirion presented a style of mapping I’ve always enjoyed, with the scale of buildings and roads exaggerated in order to give a better impression of the various locations for navigation purposes. The most elaborate example of this kind of isometric projection—indeed, the undoubted nonpareil—is the Turgot Map of Paris, named after its commissioner Michel-Étienne Turgot. The map was issued originally in a series of 20 engraved plates from 1734–1736, and for a long time I only knew of it via the (frustratingly uncredited) details printed on endpapers of the German first edition of Perfume by Patrick Süskind. Once again the web managed to solve another of those nagging artistic riddles.


We’re told that one Louis Bretez was contracted by Monsieur Turgot to draw up the plans of the city which apparently took him two years. Once you start scrutinising the detail it’s surprising it didn’t take a lot longer. Claude Lucas was responsible for the meticulous engravings which show how Paris appeared before Baron Haussmann set to work demolishing many of the medieval streets.


Wikimedia Commons has the entire map in a variety of sizes up to a hefty 6,552 × 5,101 pixels. At the Kyoto University Library it’s possible to view the plates individually with each plate subdivided into detailed views. There’s also a 1908 reprinting of the plates at the Internet Archive. Despite the depredations of Hausmann and co., central Paris has survived a lot better than many other European cities. London suffered so badly during the Second World War it’s a shame we don’t have an equivalent view of the pre-Luftwaffe capital.


Elsewhere on { feuilleton }
The etching and engraving archive

Previously on { feuilleton }
In the Village
Compass roses
Charles Méryon revisited
The art of Sydney R Jones, 1881–1966
Perfume: the art of scent

In the Village


Ever fancied a wander around Portmeirion, aka The Village from The Prisoner? In the past you’d have to travel to Gwynedd in North Wales in order to do so but since August 2010 it’s been possible to roam the place using Google’s street view. This is somewhat surprising on two counts: firstly, while Portmeirion masquerades as a shrunken Mediterranean town it’s actually an open-plan hotel which visitors have to pay to explore. More surprising is finding the street view camera leaving the roads to follow many of the paths around Clough Williams-Ellis’s trompe l’oeil architecture. I imagine Google has done this elsewhere but this is the first instance I’ve come across. In addition to exploring a woodland walk it’s possible to follow the paths down to the beach, past the stone boat and along the coast for views of the Dwyryd estuary. There aren’t any white balloons or Mini Mokes in evidence, of course. If you want those you can always watch the TV series where the place appears larger thanks to camera lenses and some canny editing.


And speaking of lenses, ironies abound when you notice the surveillance cameras in the hotel car park, never mind the way the Google Panopticon has laid the place open to global eyes. In the Chimes of Big Ben episode of The Prisoner Number 6 asks whether Number 2 wants to see the whole world as the Village. “Yes,” says Number 2. Are we there yet?

The two maps here are from The Prisoner (1990), a book by Alain Carrazé & Hélène Oswald. Unfortunately the key to the map of Portmeirion wasn’t included. The following shots are my selection from the Google views starting at the toll booth and working down to the beach. Be seeing you.


The Toll Booth.


Battery Square.

Continue reading “In the Village”