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• • • Being a journal by artist and designer John Coulthart, cataloguing interests, obsessions and passing enthusiasms.


 

Roger Dean postage stamps

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Roger Dean book covers last week; this week it’s postage stamps. These are exclusive to the Isle of Man Post Office, unfortunately, so there’s little chance of buying them over the counter in mainland Britain. First day covers, presentation packs and individual sheets may be ordered from the post office website, however. For those who can visit the Isle of Man there’s also an exhibition of Dean’s art running at the Manx Museum in Douglas until November.

Several of the paintings on the stamps are from the covers for albums by Yes and Asia, including the one above which was used twice on the live Yessongs album in 1973. (The large version inside the gatefold had a figure of a girl and a fish spacecraft added.) The version appearing on the stamp is Dean’s recent reworking of the piece. This removed the airbrushed clouds—added to disguise the footprints of his cats which had walked over the painting when it was drying—and also smoothed the gradients and added a reflection. I’ve been familiar with the album version of this picture for decades so I prefer the rougher original as it is on the cover (and in Dean’s Views book) without the girl and spacecraft.

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One other thing of note is Dean’s lettering design for the stamps. When I wrote about Dean’s art a few years ago I drew attention to the way his design work has been either marginalised or ignored altogether by people who dismiss him as a mere fantasy artist. All of Dean’s album covers have included unique letterforms that are immediately recognisable as his own (so too the logos and lettering he was designing for computer games in the 1980s) but I’ve yet to see this side of his work given any serious attention. (Postage stamp tip via It’s Nice That.)

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Previously on { feuilleton }
Roger Dean book covers
Design as virus 17: Boris and Roger Dean
Roger Dean: artist and designer

 


Weekend links 323

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Mescaline Woods (1969) by Gage Taylor.

• The soundtrack to The Man Who Fell to Earth will be released for the first time next month in a double-disc set (CD & vinyl). This isn’t, as some people have hoped, David Bowie’s unheard music for the film, but a collection of the pre-existing songs and other pieces, plus the original compositions by John Phillips. Consequence of Sound has a track list.

• At Scream Addicts: Joe R. Lansdale talks about the only film adaptation of Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House that you need to see: the 1963 version directed by Robert Wise.

• The new wave of new age: How music’s most maligned genre finally became cool by Adam Bychawski.

• Transmissions From The Abyss: Dark ambient music for the perfect headspace by S. Elizabeth.

Jason Farrago reviews Art Aids America, an exhibition at the Bronx Museum, New York.

Curse Go Back: a limited reissue of tape experiments by William Burroughs.

Samuel Wigley on Notorious at 70: toasting Hitchcock’s dark masterpiece.

Toyah Willcox remembers working with Derek Jarman on The Tempest.

• “Why are musicians so obsessed with David Lynch?” asks Selim Bulut.

• Read the original 32-page programme for Fritz Lang’s Metropolis.

David Parkinson chooses 10 essential films starring Oliver Reed.

• Mixes of the week: The Sounds of the Dawn NTS radio shows.

Keith Haring envisions Manhattan as a kingdom of penises.

Frank Guan on Massive Attack’s Blue Lines, 25 years on.

Honky Tonk Pts 1 & 2 (1956) by Bill Doggett | I’ve Told Every Little Star (1961) by Linda Scott | I’m Deranged (1995) by David Bowie

 


Roger Dean book covers

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The View Over Atlantis (1972).

The covers in question are the handful that Roger Dean produced for paperbacks in the 1970s and 80s, rather than those for his own books and the ones he edited. Given the popularity of Dean’s work in the 1970s you’d expect there to be more than this although I’m not sure he would have had the time for any more work than he was doing already.

The two covers for Pan Science Fiction vexed me for a while since the art is reproduced in Dean’s Views collection but with no mention of the book titles. It’s taken some time, but ISFDB has updated its Roger Dean page so I can finally sate my curiosity. The Michell cover is an ideal illustration for the author’s theorising about ley lines but the Pan SF paintings are vague enough to be used on other books, or even on album covers.

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The Puppet Masters (1973).

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Gold the Man (1973).

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The War of the Worlds (1986).

I’ve not read the Colin Greenland books so I can’t say whether their cover art relates to the novels but the Wells cover certainly does. A rare example of Dean depicting a scene from somebody else’s imagination.

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The Hour of the Thin Ox (1987).

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Other Voices (1988).

Elsewhere on { feuilleton }
The book covers archive

Previously on { feuilleton }
Design as virus 17: Boris and Roger Dean
Roger Dean: artist and designer

 


Weekend links 322

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• Cover art by the Quays for Inner Sanctums—Quay Brothers: The Collected Animated Films 1979–2013, a Blu-ray collection which will be released by the BFI next month. Being something of an obsessive where the Quays are concerned I have a lot of this material already (some of the films in multiple copies), but I’ve been hankering for a BR collection for some time. The new set will include everything that’s on the BFI’s DVD collection plus more recent films, some of which have been the subject of previous { feuilleton } posts.

• Aubrey Beardsley: “The subjects were quite mad and a little indecent. Strange hermaphroditic creatures wandering about in Pierrot costumes or modern dress; quite a new world of my own creation.” Alan Hollinghurst reviews the catalogue raisonné of Beardsley’s work.

• How to find the spirit of HP Lovecraft in Providence. Related: there’s now a funding page for the statue of Lovecraft by Gage Prentiss being proposed for downtown Providence. Read about it here.

• At The Quietus: Robert Barry on KPM and the history of library music, and James De Carteret on Mike Hodges’ underrated The Terminal Man (1974).

Michael Newton reviews Erica Wagner’s First Light, “a festschrift of essays, reminiscences, poems and stories dedicated to Alan Garner and his work”.

Cosey Fanni Tutti‘s forthcoming memoir Art Sex Music should prove more interesting than some of the recent music business autobiographies.

• Mixes of the week: A New Age mix by Matthewdavid, FACT mix 563 by Deerhoof, and Secret Thirteen Mix 193 by Nite Fields.

Underground music, echoes of war: using the vast Inchindown storage chamber for its resonant properties.

Totally Lost: a photographic and video exploration of abandoned European totalitarian architecture.

• More animation: Nonsense, Cartoons, and My Post-Soviet Adolescence by Naré Navasardyan.

Annie Rose on the allure of the predatory lesbian vampire in film.

• “Let’s write an encyclopedia of things blue,” says Bernd Brunner.

• Ferrets can be gods: Katherine Rundell on the inimitable Saki.

• The Mystery of Hieronymus Bosch by Ingrid D. Rowland.

iO-808: A TR-808 drum machine for browsers.

A Good Book

Terminal Hotel (1981) by Synergy | Sataan Is Real (1992) by Terminal Cheesecake | Terminal (1999) by Monolake

 


Women in Love

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To see the past from the vantage point of the present is to be able to judge the effect of the past on the present.

Ken Russell (The International Dictionary of Films and Filmmakers, Vol. 2, 1984)

Among the film viewing this week was a Blu-ray preview of Ken Russell’s Women in Love (1969), courtesy of the BFI. I’d not see Russell’s film for a long time so watching it again in such exceptional quality was almost like seeing it for the first time. Russell’s comment about the past versus the present was made in the context of his many biographical films, a series he began at the BBC and continued into his feature career. But with the passage of time the films themselves become products of the past, and so we can’t help but see them in a different light. Almost as much time has passed since Women in Love was made as separates the film itself from the year in which it begins, just after the end of the First World War; if we don’t see the 1960s as so historically remote today it’s partly because the culture of that period continues to cast a huge shadow over the present.

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Women in Love contrasts the progress of a pair of sisters, Gudrun Brangwen (Glenda Jackson) and Ursula Brangwen (Jennie Linden), who form couples with two very different men, Gerald Crich (Oliver Reed) and Rupert Birkin (Alan Bates). Gudrun is an artist, Ursula a schoolteacher; Gerald is a wealthy mine-owner, Rupert a school inspector. Rupert’s theorising about love and human relations provides the intellectual heart of the story, as well as being a comment upon it, with each of the four main characters reacting in different ways to the imperatives of love. Rupert acts as a mouthpiece for DH Lawrence’s beliefs, and it’s the theorising which seems closer to the questioning spirit of the 1960s than it does to 1918. Rupert’s desire to live somewhere with more than one person, and free of the constraints of clothing, has parallels with some of the nature movements of the period (as well as Lawrence’s own desires) but also sounds like the yearnings of a hippy idealist. Ursula is the most grounded of the quartet—when we first see her in the school she’s giving the children a nature lesson—and complains about Rupert’s lofty spirituality once their relationship begins.

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Gerald and Gudrun, by contrast, are too remote from each other to be fully complementary. Gerald complains that when tragedy strikes the Crich family—as it does midway through the film—nothing can ever be right, a prophesy that fulfils itself for his family and his relationship. Gudrun, meanwhile, yearns for artistic as well as romantic freedom; she finds both when the quartet take a holiday in the Alps. Vladek Sheybal’s Loerke is a bisexual artist whose liberated attitude embodies some of Rupert’s philosophy as well as proving more stimulating company for Gudrun. Ursula merely complains that Loerke doesn’t know how to properly depict a horse. Eleanor Bron is the other key character, Rupert’s former lover, and one of Lawrence’s sterile aristocrats. She falls out with Rupert after he spoils her pretentious attempt to emulate a Russian ballet performance.

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Women in Love is the first of Russell’s features that’s distinctively his own even though it lacks the exuberance of his later work. Several of the actors turn up in later films: Reed had already appeared in the BBC dramas The Debussy Film and Dante’s Inferno; Glenda Jackson was in Russell’s next feature The Music Lovers, playing Tchaikovsky’s wife, Antonina Miliukova, a role prefigured in Gudrun and Loerke’s bedroom masquerade. Russell said he worked without credit on the script but the first draft was the work of producer Larry Kramer who tried the project with a few directors before finding Russell. Kramer’s involvement underlines Rupert’s insistent desire to bond physically with close male friends (specifically Gerald), although there’s never any spoken suggestion that sex should take place. Kramer followed Women in Love with a script for Charles Jarrott’s terrible musical version of Lost Horizon (1973), a film he disowns but which made him wealthy enough to concentrate solely on fiction and works for the stage. His post-Hollywood work explores the lives of gay American men from a variety of perspectives, in the light of which Women in Love might be seen as an attempt to smuggle an acceptance of bisexual desire into the mainstream without any overt proselytising or tragic narratives. Rupert’s attempt to bond with Gerald climaxes (so to speak) in the famous nude wrestling scene, an event which doesn’t seem so surprising now but which was a confrontational moment for audiences in 1969.

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That scene may also be free of any deliberate homoeroticism but Russell recalled how South American censors made it seem more so by cutting the scene:

Gerald simply locked the door then there was a cut to the two men lying naked on the carpet side by side, panting. It became known as The Great Buggering Scene and filled the cinemas for months. So much for the subtleties of censorship.

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The BFI Blu-ray is the usual pristine transfer which emphasises the colour and detail in Billy Williams’ photography. Among the extras there are audio commentaries by Ken Russell and Larry Kramer, a 49-minute conversation with Billy Williams, interviews with Glenda Jackson, and Second Best (1972), a previously unreleased short film, based on a story by DH Lawrence, which stars Alan Bates. With the recent BFI releases of Russell’s TV films, and the earlier release of The Devils, I’m hoping we may see more of his work given this careful treatment. (And when do we get a Blu-ray of The Devils?)

Women in Love is released on August 22nd.

Previously on { feuilleton }
The Planets by Ken Russell
Devils debris
The Devils on DVD
Ken Russell, 1927–2011
Salome’s Last Dance

 


 


 

Coulthart Books

    The Haunter of the Dark
    Reverbstorm

 


 

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