Untitled artwork by Melinda Gebbie.
• “Johnny Rocket is like a Chaucerian epic retold by David Peace with music by Bruce Haack and The Focus Group for a music hall located in Hell.” John Doran talks to Maxine Peake and the Eccentronic Research Council about their “psychedelic ouija pop”.
• Allison Meier looks at a new exhibition of Victor Moscoso’s psychedelic drawings. Related: Julia Bigham writing in Eye magazine in 2001 about London’s psychedelic poster scene.
• “Oh to eye the very enfilade through which that orchidaceous entity would make his stately progress…” Strange Flowers on the eccentric Count Stenbock.
• Melinda Gebbie: What Is The Female Gaze? The artist is in conversation next month with Mark Pilkington and Tai Shani at the Horse Hospital, London.
• Pamela Colman Smith: She Believes in Fairies. The Tarot artist and illustrator in a rare interview from 1912.
• Minimalist posters: “a lack of nuance disguised as insight,” says John Brownlee.
• Saturday night in the City of the Dead: Richard Metzger on the John Foxx-era Ultravox.
• The Will Gregory Moog Ensemble plays the Brandenberg Concerto No. 3.
• “In a weird way”: a brief history of a phrase by Ivan Kreilkamp.
• Die Hexe: An installation by Alex Da Corte.
• RIP Daevid Allen
• You Can’t Kill Me (1971) by Gong | Master Builder (1974) by Gong | When (1982) by Daevid Allen
Le Palais des Merveilles, 1907 – 1927 – 1960 by Clovis Trouille.
• “Why is it OK to show a male ejaculation but not a female one? What are the qualifications of those who cobble together these rules?” Suzanne Moore on the latest batch of discriminatory restrictions against porn production in the UK. Porn laws in Britain have long been like the drug laws, sprouting fresh Hydra-heads of unwarranted bans and crackdowns after the previous bans and crackdowns have been discredited. Last month Zoe Williams talked to women who make niche porn for other women. This week she discovered that some of those she interviewed now find their work is illegal under the latest restrictions.
• “[Derek Jarman] considered In the Shadow of the Sun to be just as important as any of the feature films that he made in the 1970s.” Film producer and archivist James Mackay talking to Beatrix Rux about Derek Jarman’s Super-8 films. Related: Tilda Swinton is GQ’s Woman of the Year.
• The Art of Big O by Michael Fishel (author) and Nigel Suckling (editor), a collection of the fantastic and psychedelic poster art published by Peter Ledeboer’s company in the 1970s. Good to see but at $67 (really?) I’d expect a better cover design.
• New electronica: More “confusing English electronic music” from Moon Wiring Club; Shut-Eyed Stories, an album by Jim Cheff; and Shapwick by Jon Brooks, previously vinyl-only and out-of-print, now has a digital edition.
• JK Potter Mutates the Story: Christopher Burke & David Davis talk to the horror illustrator about his photographic work.
• Beth Maiden on The Fascinating Life of Pamela Colman Smith, artist of the Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot deck.
• Under the Influence: The Sexy, Sordid Surrealism of Clovis Trouille by Kirsten Anderson.
• Geoff Manaugh on The Fiery Underground Oil Pit Eating LA.
• Mix of the week: Secret Thirteen Mix 137 by Teste.
• The Wild Horny Goat
• The Young People (2010) by Belbury Poly & Moon Wiring Club | Goat Foot (2012) by Belbury Poly | Walking Through Me (2014) by Moon Wiring Club
Back in February I bought a Wacom drawing tablet and said I’d show some proper results from its use later. For the past few months I’ve been working on this project using a combination of Wacom drawing and vector graphics. The initial brief from games designer James Wallis was for six Tarot-style card designs for his Alas Vegas role-playing game which has as its theme a fantasy extrapolation from Las Vegas and its gaudy mythology. The Kickstarter funding for the game turned out to be more successful than was anticipated so James asked me to expand the six cards idea into a full set of black-and-white Major Arcana designs.
This has been a fun series to work on although a number of the cards presented problems at first, the antique nature of the Tarot symbolism being a difficult thing to map across a very commercial American city. The symbolism from the Rider-Waite-Smith (RWS) deck was used as a rough guide although we deviated in a few places from the more traditional attributes. Las Vegas has changed over the years so rather than represent a single period of the city’s history there are references to different eras, from the huge casinos of today back to the buildings of the 50s and 60s with their distinctive “Googie” architecture. Notes for the cards follow below. The artwork can be seen at larger size here.
The Fool is usually a young man about to step off a cliff edge with a dog barking a warning at his heels, hence the dog on the sign.
Several of the cards convert the Tarot characters into cabaret acts. This one was pretty inevitable, and I’m sure it’s not the first time a stage conjuror has appeared on this card.
The chair is based on the 1965 “Ball Chair” design by Eero Aarnio (as seen in The Prisoner TV series), adapted here to resemble the Priestess’s crescent moon.
The style on this one is more 70s than 60s: patterned wallpaper (the hearts derive from the symbolism of The Empress, and from playing cards, of course), white rug, Kung Fu pyjamas.
Continue reading “Alas Vegas Tarot cards”
For the past two months I’ve been busy drawing a new set of Tarot designs. More about these later, but sporadic research has naturally led to me to look at a few earlier sets, although my Trumps have mostly been following Pamela Colman Smith’s illustrations for the Waite deck. Tarot designs have really proliferated in the past few years (Is there a Lego Tarot? Yes, of course there is), so much so that many previous designs which would once have been notable are now swamped by mediocre decks.
David Palladini’s Aquarian Tarot first appeared in 1970 when the occult revival was getting into its stride. Palladini had contributed to the Linweave Tarot in 1967 along with three other artists, something you can read more about at the excellent Sweet Jane’s Pop Boutique. I’m sure I must have seen the Aquarian Tarot in the past but probably dismissed it for being too modish and not occult enough; for a long time Aleister Crowley’s Thoth deck was the only one I’d look at. Palladini’s art is a lot more familiar now that his fabulous poster for Nosferatu the Vampyre looks down on me every day, and I’ve grown to enjoy his combination of Art Nouveau and Deco motifs so much that I wouldn’t mind a pack of these cards. The Aeclectic site reviews the deck, and has a few more examples of the designs. They also review the New Palladini Tarot which the artist produced in 1996. Given the choice I’d still go for the earlier set.
Continue reading “Palladini’s Aquarian Tarot”
Pamela Colman Smith’s work has appeared here before but this is an example of her early illustration I hadn’t seen until now. Annancy Stories (1899) was written and illustrated by Smith, being her own presentation of the Jamaican versions of the Anansi trickster stories. Smith’s mother was Jamaican, and the family lived in Kingston for some years before moving to New York. She was only 20 when she produced this book which is illustrated throughout with full-page plates and smaller drawings. The text is in a Jamaican patois which, as the introduction notes, would have reminded American readers of the Brer Rabbit stories. There is, of course, a shared lineage there that goes back to Africa. The drawings are in a sketchier style than the marvellous Tarot designs Smith produced for the Rider-Waite deck nearly a decade later but you can see in them the origins of her late Art Nouveau style, and also that distinctive monogram in the corner of each drawing. Annacy Stories may be browsed here or downloaded here.
Continue reading “Pamela Colman Smith’s Annancy Stories”