Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Thursday, 29 November 2012

The King of a Rainy Country by Brigid Brophy

You can now buy our first title from The Coelacanth Press, a new edition of  
The King of a Rainy Country by Brigid Brophy.

"This pitch–perfect novel, an inquiry into romanticism and disaffection, is witty, unexpectedly moving and a revelation again of Brophy's originality. Entirely of its time, it remains years ahead of itself even now, nearly 60 years later, in its emotional range and its intellectual and formal blend of stoicism and sophistication" Ali Smith

The King of a Rainy Country (ISBN: 978095741070), features cover art by Bonnie Camplin, and includes an introduction by Phoebe Blatton (Editor of The Coelacanth Press) and afterword by Jennifer Hodgson (Editor at Dalkey Archive Press). It comes in B format paperback with flaps, and costs £10 including p+p.


Saturday, 11 February 2012

Madeleine Grey sings Canteloube's Baïlèro - via Terri from Corsica

Last Wednesday, Radio 3's morning slot 'Your Call' (in which a listener calls in to request a piece of music, explaining as to why it has special meaning) featured Terri from Corsica. The story that Terri told very poignently set up the piece she had chosen: Madeleine Grey's 1930 recording of Joseph Canteloube's Baïlèro, from the Chants d'Auvergne. She recalled how in the late '70s, she and her husband had decided to divorce, and in the relief of having made the decision, strapped some bicycles to the top of their Cortina and headed to the Auvergne for a cycling holiday. Some time later, after the sadness of their parting, she was in the kitchen making bread. The recording came on the radio, and Terri stopped what she was doing, struck by how the music took her back to the strangley smooth mountainous region of France, and perfectly encaptured its silence. She described how the dough rose around her wrists as she listened, frozen as though in an inverse game of Musical Statues. Here is the recording, and if you are quick enough to listen again before next week, a link to iplayer...

Radio 3 Breakfast Show with Sara Mohr-Pietsch  - go to 2hrs09 for the Canteloube and story.

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Happy Birthday Patricia Highsmith

Allela Cornell's portrait of Patricia Highsmith, painted in 1943. Today she would've been 91. Photographed in 2006 at an exhibition on the writer in Bern, Switzerland. See the Strangers in a Zine! publication that I made with Ed Webb-Ingall for more.

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

The Coelacanth Journal Issue No.7 High Rise

Issue No.7: High Rise, is now available to purchase from the website and all good independent bookstores.

Friday, 23 September 2011

Robert Hawkins

I first encountered the artist Robert Hawkins not through his work, but in the flesh, having seen only a hint of what his art was like in a forwarded Christmas e-card. Since then I've had a chance to see his work and form a great admiration for his paintings and drawings.
The encounter happened a few years back when my friend David invited me along to a meeting with the artist. We ended up getting cheap Thai food at the marvelously drab Marie's Cafe in Waterloo, and apart from having an entertaining anecdote about Carmen McRae (I won't ruin it here with a fumbled retelling), alluding to his days in the 80s lower Manhattan art scene, and being so kind as to treat us to dinner, I became doubly impressed with Robert Hawkins when I actually got to see his work - not an easy task via the Internet.
I guess I like Hawkins (quoted as Basquiat's favourite artist) in the same way I like Joe Brainard - who also triumphs with "a kind of 'outsider' aesthetic that refuses to be pinned down to one attitude, whether cynical, fantastical, or satirical".
The link above directs to an article from Artforum, and here is a (small) jpeg of one his (large 5"x6") drawings of Famous Haunted English Ruins, plus a few more I managed to glean from the Internet.

Monday, 18 July 2011

Googie Withers

When I heard that Googie Withers had died the other day, it was suprising in that I hadn't even assumed she was still alive. The Guardian wrote up a good obituary, and the only thing to add is if you haven't seen Night and the City, do so, soon.

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Alice Theobald and Design A Wave

In 2009 my sometime collaborator Alice Theobald and Tom Hirst of Design A Wave did a spellbinding performance at the South London Cultural Centre for The Coelacanth Press's night of Social Realism - 'A Taste of the Kitchen Sink', and Alice has recently posted a video of it on her blog. Here it is again:

'Eyes4u'. Performed at The South London Cultural Centre, 2009. Music arranged and performed by Tom Hirst/ Design A Wave.

Janet Baker

When I am laid in earth from Dido & Aeneas, Glyndebourne, 1966.
Janet Baker is named three times in this list of mezzo-sopranos' favourite mezzo-sopranos. 'She could rise from a dark, chocolatey sound to a threadbare pianissimo or a siren.'

Thursday, 9 June 2011


Two of my photographic series from an exhibition (Sobreatico) in Barcelona last year.
Pilgrimage 1 & Pilgrimage 2, respectively.

Thursday, 28 April 2011


For a screening at Adam Christensen's Hotel Garderobe, I'm going to show a film from 1964 called Portrait of Queenie, about the pub-landlady and jazz singer Queenie Watts, of the Ironbridge Tavern, East India Dock Road, Poplar, London. It seems like an apt film, with it's scenes of estates raising from the rubble of post-war devastation, and complicated mix of warm and misplaced nostalgia, to show at Hotel Garderobe; the empty flat in a condemned estate in Bermondsey, accessed through a wardrobe via a hole in the wall. Whilst doing some research, I found that Queenie had acted in many TV and film roles, including Up the Junction, and this Play for Today, Waterloo Sunset, from 1979. Don't have nightmares!

Monday, 28 February 2011

Songs, Cycles and Scenas

Tomorrow: Songs, Cycles and Scenas at the Purcell Room. Works from Cornelius Cardew and Howard Skempton. Listen to these in this order:

Monday, 24 January 2011

Thursday, 23 December 2010

Three Moons

Spacesuits from The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum Collection

Pierrot Lunaire Op.21, by Anton Schoenberg

Pierrot Lunaire, or 'Moonstruck Pierrot’ is a melodrama composed 8 years prior to Schoenberg’s discovery of twelve-tone, but it already displays his obsession with numerology: The piece is his opus 21, contains 21 poems, and was begun on March 12, 1912. Other key numbers in the work are three and thirteen: each poem consists of thirteen lines (two four-line verses followed by a five-line verse), while the first line of each poem occurs three times (being repeated as lines seven and thirteen). Unsuprisingly, Schoenberg suffered from Triskaidekaphobia - a fear of the number 13 – which took him, depressed and anxious, to his bed on Friday 13th July, 1951. After one month the composer was dead.

Analysis of the Op.21 shows that it is a work of many paradoxes – ‘moonstruck’ is quite literally evoked in the dual roles of Pierrot as hero and fool, performing cabaret as high art and vice versa with song that is also speech. He is the classic ‘principal boy’ (a boy played by a woman) and the instrumentalists are simultaneously soloists and orchestra. A truely lunatic creation, and one that is as beautiful to listen to as it is to regard the moon.

Quiet Night, by Patricia Highsmith

“With her white toes turned up stiffly, Hattie clumped to the easy chair by the window where a bar of moonlight slanted, and sat down with the scissors and the Angora sweater in her lap. In the moonlight her face gleamed, toothless and demoniacal. She examined the sweater in the manner of a person who plays with piece of steak with a fork before deciding where to put his knife.”

The short story Quiet Night can be found in Nothing That Meets The Eye: The Uncollected Stories by Patricia Highsmith, published by Bloomsbury, 2005.


The above extracts are from the extended 'A Coelacanth Cultural List on the subject of The Moon' - compiled in December 2010 for Luminous Books.