Weekend links 244

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MMOB :: Far West (2013) by Alison Scarpulla.

• “…although same-sex love is as old as love itself, the public discourse around it, and the political movement to win rights for it, arose in Germany in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. This message may surprise those who believe that gay identity came of age in London and New York, sometime between the Oscar Wilde trials and the Stonewall riots.” Alex Ross reviewing Robert Beachy’s Gay Berlin: Birthplace of a Modern Identity. Beachy talks about his book here.

• “I was in a room with tube synthesizers, where you had to tune them up to play them. It was unbelievable.” John Carpenter talking to Joseph Stannard about composing with electronics. Carpenter’s album of new music, Lost Themes, may be previewed here.

• From 2010: John Ridpath on Mervyn Peake’s illustrations for Lewis Carroll’s Alice Through the Looking Glass and Alice in Wonderland. Related: “The most twisted version of Alice in Wonderland you’ll ever see.”

I was brought up in a world where art was something owned and insured—usually inherited: but seldom if ever made by anyone one I knew.

I had an early inkling that there was fun to be had over the hill, like the feeling when faced with a sunset that someone’s throwing a mega awesome party just beyond the nearest cloud, and I set off to join the caravan. Let’s just say I was in search of company, headed towards the glow, and I found it.

Tilda Swinton‘s speech at the Rothko Chapel

• “Her art often touches on alchemy and magic; and in her memoir of insanity she writes of misreading an Imperial Chemicals sign as ‘chemistry and alchemy’.” Charlotte Higgins on Leonora Carrington.

Shadows Over Main Street, an anthology of small-town Lovecraftian terror, is out this week from Hazardous Press. 20 stories and poems plus interior illustrations including a contribution of my own.

• “With Fantastic Planet, I felt torn about using it, because it’s…the title of an animated film.” Guitarist Sarah Lipstate, aka Noveller, talks to Ned Raggett about her new album.

Jim Jupp of Belbury Poly and the Ghost Box record label answers 15 questions.

• A DeLorean driving through a Tron cityscape: Retrowave by Florian Renner.

• Powell & Pressburger’s Tales of Hoffmann (1951) has been restored.

Music from Forbidden Planet (1956) by Louis & Bebe Barron | The Four Horsemen (1972) by Aphrodite’s Child | Assault on Precinct 13 (Main Theme) (1976) by John Carpenter

William Heath Robinson’s Rabelais

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Ending the year with some Heath Robinson illustrations I’d not seen before, probably because their grotesque qualities set them apart from the rest of his whimsical drawings and fairy tale illustrations. Illustrated editions of Rabelais are rare owing to the coarse and scatological nature of the novels. Gustave Doré‘s robust and bloodthirsty character made him a good match for the material but it’s a surprise to find a generally light-hearted illustrator like Heath Robinson tackling the same stories.

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Robinson’s illustrations were for a two-volume set published in 1904 (see here and here), and are suitably dark with plenty of solid blacks and heavy cross-hatching. Some of the drawings are so different to the artist’s usual work they could be taken at first glance for pieces by Sidney Sime or Mervyn Peake. More typical are the numerous vignettes that appear at the ends of chapters. The examples here are from Google scans at the Internet Archive but some of the original drawings may be seen in better quality (and purchased if you have the money) at the Chris Beetles gallery.

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Continue reading “William Heath Robinson’s Rabelais”

Weekend links 189

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The Outsider (1956), 1963 edition; The Occult (1971), 1973 edition.

The cover of the 1973 UK paperback of Colin Wilson‘s mammoth overview of occultism can still be offered as a pinnacle of hyperbole. The book itself is a very serious and informative study but its success set Wilson on a path as a writer about the paranormal where he’d previously been concerned with literature, philosophy and psychology. For many critics this finished his already shaky reputation as a serious thinker. He continued to write about philosophy and literature in subsequent books but dubious speculations about Atlantis are always more commercially attractive than studies of Nietzsche, hence the proliferation of lost continents in the later part of a bibliography which the Wilson website lists at 114 titles. Wilson was a maverick intellectual whose curiosity ignored many of the boundaries that restrained his metropolitan contemporaries; he was also an autodidact of a type that seems to irritate the university-educated. Mentions of his name in British newspapers were frequently couched in sneering or dismissive terms. His current reputation can be measured by the lack of attention the news of his death has prompted in the UK at the time of writing. (That said, dying on the same day as Nelson Mandela was unfortunate timing.)

Savoy Books published an edition of Wilson’s crime novel, The Killer, in 2002. I designed that volume, rather badly, I think. In 2004 Robert Meadley wrote a book-length reaction to Wilson’s autobiography, Dreaming to Some Purpose, which can be downloaded for free from Savoy. In it Meadley mounts a robust defence of Wilson against the broadsheet termagants. Elsewhere: the only newspaper obituary so far is at The Times (subscription required); Colin Wilson on Desert Island Discs in 1978; Gary Lachman interviewing Wilson for Fortean Times in 2004; musician Anthony Reynolds discussing his collaboration with Wilson.

• “Art, music and a mind-blowing voyage of discovery”: Richard Neville on the late Martin Sharp. At Design Observer Rick Poynor looks back at Sharp’s book and magazine illustrations of the 1960s. Of particular note is Sharp’s contribution to the “Magic Theatre” issue of Oz magazine, a unique combination of collaged visuals and text which Alan Moore often refers to as a favourite work. (See issue 12 of Moore’s Promethea, “The Magic Theatre of the Mind“.)

• “The naked woman in art isn’t unusual, but we have trouble viewing the male body as a sexual, or artistic, object,” says James Polchin.

But how can anyone be bored when there’s always death to think about? Every day. Every hour. Don’t you? All the rest is just evading or glossing the real subject of our lives. Beckett, again, the maestro of death: Never but the one matter. The dead and gone. The dying and the going. From the word go. I too shall cease and be as when I was not yet, only all over instead of in store.

Jenny Diski on death and dying.

• A teaser trailer for The Dreamlands, a film by Huan Vu (Die Farbe) based on HP Lovecraft’s Dream Cycle.

• “On Watching Wages of Fear with my 11-Year-Old Daughter” by Debra Morris.

Abram Games’ “bat wings” BBC logo is 60 years old. See it in action here.

• At Strange Flowers: Romaine Brooks‘ portraits of her famous friends.

• At Front Free Endpaper: Mervyn Peake illustrates Treasure Island.

The Great God Pan (plus satyrs and fauns) at Pinterest.

Dan Wilson on “Electric Music” on the Victorian stage.

• Mix of the week: Fact Mix 414 by Julianna Barwick.

• The BFI chooses 10 great British rural horror films.

Dunwich – The search for Britain’s Atlantis.

The Grand Canyon filled with fog.

• The Bells of Dunwich (1975) by Stone Angel | O.O.B.E. (1992) by The Orb (feat. Colin Wilson) | Why We Make It Difficult On Ourselves (2010) by Anthony Reynolds & Colin Wilson

Bookmark: Mervyn Peake

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Another not-so-old TV documentary. It’s good to keep finding these as I have no means at the moment of viewing all the video tapes I’ve kept. Bookmark is (or was) a BBC series about the lives of various writers. This edition concerns author and artist Mervyn Peake, and was broadcast in 1998, shortly before the BBC screened their flawed dramatisation of the Gormenghast books.

Peake’s three children—Sebastian, Fabian and Clare—all recall life with their father, while other contributors, Quentin Crisp among them, discuss his work, his experiences during the Second World War, and life on the island of Sark. The narrator is Julian Glover, and the readings are by Simon Russell Beale. The catastrophic collapse of Peake’s health that occurred when he’d barely reached middle age means a journey through his biography is always a sombre business, but it does make the scale of his achievements seem all the more remarkable. The film is 48-minutes long, and may be viewed here.

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Previously on { feuilleton }
The Web by Joan Ashworth
Peake’s glassblowers
Mervyn Peake in Coronation Street
The Worlds of Mervyn Peake
A profusion of Peake
Mervyn Peake at Maison d’Ailleurs
Peake’s Pan
Buccaneers #1
Mervyn Peake in Lilliput
The Illustrators of Alice

I:MAGE: An Exhibition of Esoteric Artists

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El Trigono de las lesiones (2010) by Cristina Francov.

I:MAGE is an exhibition of occult-inspired art which opens a week on Sunday, 19th May at the Store Street Gallery, Bloomsbury, London. As exhibitions go it’s modest in scale but with an impressive roster of contributors old and new: Agostino Arrivabene, Ithell Colquhoun, Denis Forkas Kostromitin, Steffi Grant, Orryelle, David Chaim Smith, Michael Bertiaux, Andrew Chumbley, Cristina Francov, Barry William Hale, Francesco Parisi, Austin Osman Spare, Jesse Bransford, Peter Dyde, Rik Garrett, Noko, Residue, and Michael Strum. A few examples of the work on display are shown here, some of which will be available for purchase.

The event is being organised by Fulgur Esoterica, and their website has details of some related events including John Constable’s one-man play, Spare (about artist Austin Osman Spare), a one-off performance which will be held at Treadwell’s, London, on the 24th. This catches my attention because Constable was responsible for the acclaimed theatre adaptation of Mervyn Peake’s Gormenghast which David Glass and company staged in the 1990s. It’s always good to find one’s favourite people joined through these lateral connections.

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The Earth Magic Series (2012) by Rik Garrett.

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Steffi Grant.

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Demon by Denis Forkas Kostromitin.