Webzine Edition Issue 4

Poetry Event Preview: Sally Crabtree’s Word M’art

The Market House, St Austell, Cornwall
1st – 5th June 2010

By Guy Sangster Adams

Word M’art is the new mission for the irrepressible and phenomenally proactive ‘international action poet’, Sally Crabtree. “Poetry should be taken down from its ivory tower and given back to the people,” she says, and to facilitate this she has created the interactive supermarket themed installation, Word M’art, to engage people of all ages and backgrounds with poetry as part of their everyday lives. The week long launch event at The Market House will include such special offers such as Poems in a Tin, I’ll Eat My Words edible poetry in the cake aisle, a pharmacy counter offering poetic cures, live musical-poetry from singing shelf stackers, and dancing in the aisles courtesy of the Trolley Waltz.

For the gloriously pop art poetry of the Poems in a Tin, which Crabtree originally created for National Poetry Day and which inspired Word M’art, prior to the launch at The Market House, she has been running Word M’art workshops for groups within the St Austell community, so that they may write their own poems for the tins. Which is all part of Crabtree desire, or rather revolutionary zeal, to encourage everyone to get involved in reading, writing, performing poetry. Her resolute intention is to, as she says, “show people that poetry doesn’t have to be boring, stuffy, or elitist. It can be fun, exciting, engaging, and uplifting. There’s a poetry revolution going on and I want to encourage people to sign up!”

In Crabtree’s hands the revolution will not only be poetic, but also very, very, brightly coloured! Following the launch week at The Market House, Word M’art will be rolled out across the country, where is can be set up in bustling supermarkets, empty shops, at fêtes, carnivals, and festivals, or as a museum or gallery installation.

Word M’art runs from 1st June – 5th June 2010
at The Market House, Market Street, St Austell, Cornwall PL25 5QB
Open 10.30am to 4pm.
Free admission.


Sally Crabtree

Poems in a Tin filmed ‘advert’/guerrilla Word M’art poetry in a branch of the Co-op

Literary Event Preview: Ace Stories

Hotel Pelirocco, 10 Regency Square, Brighton, East Sussex. BN1 2FG
Sunday 13th June from 6pm – 8pm

by Guy Sangster Adams


Ace Stories is a new series of literary events running between June and December 2010 created and directed by Jay Clifton. The programme will, Clifton says, “provide an entertaining but definitely seriously-minded programme of readings and music,” that promotes “literary appreciation and development.” In addition to six events at the Hotel Pelirocco in Brighton, the programme also features four events in October/November at the De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhill-on-Sea, which will include film screenings, literary discussion, live music, and dramatic readings with a Deep South of the USA focus, as part of the Southern Discomfort season.

The inaugural Ace Stories event on 13th June features Cathi Unsworth, author of Bad Penny Blues and The Singer, plus local writers Howard Cunnell, reading from his novel Marine Boy, Heli Clarke, and live music.

Authors already lined up for future Ace Stories events include Science Fiction writer China Mieville (The City and The City and Perdido Street Station) Greek novelist and playwright Pavlos Matesis (The Daughter), and Amanda Smyth (Black Rock).

Ace Stories, Sunday 13th June, 2010, from 6pm to 8pm,
at Hotel Pelirocco, 10 Regency Square, Brighton, East Sussex. BN1 2FG
Admission £3.


Ace Stories
To be added to the mailing list for updates on forthcoming Ace Stories events, email:  Jayclifton330 AT googlemail DOT com
with ‘Add me to the Ace Stories mailing list’ in the subject title.

Hotel Pelirocco

De La Warr Pavilion

Screening & Film Writing Workshop: Le Mépris Film Salon

De La Warr Pavilion
Saturday 22nd  May 2010

by Guy Sangster Adams
Le Mépris Film Salon is a multi-faceted event curated by Jay Clifton exploring  “the relationship and influences between words and images, literature and film, writers and the media they work in.” It combines an afternoon writing workshop lead by novelist, biographer, and screenplay writer, Harriet Vyner, a networking event in conjunction with New Writing South, and a screening of Jean Luc Godard’s highly influential film, Le Mépris (1963), introduced by Harriet Vyner and Jay Clifton.

Harriet Vyner

Harriet Vyner

Attendees may either buy combined tickets for the workshop and screening, or just for the screening. The full timetable for the event is:

2pm – 5pm: Writing Workshop
Harriet Vyner, whose books include Among Ruins and  Groovy Bob: The Life and Times of Robert Fraser, both published by Faber & Faber, will lead the workshop using The Faber Book of Movie Verse as an inspiration, and the session will practical writing exercises, film clips, group discussion and reading work created during the session.
The workshop is suitable for writers of all types who are interested in using Hollywood or art house film as an inspiration for original writing, as well as film makers and enthusiasts.

6pm – 7pm: Open networking session in association with New Writing South and book signing by Harriet Vyner.

7pm – 7:45pm: Pre-Film Discussion
Jay Clifton and Harriet Vyner will discuss the influence of film on twentieth century writers, from F Scott Fitzgerald to Terry Southern, the disparity between the worlds of writing and filmmaking, and the particular influence of Godard’s Le Mépris on Harriet Vyner’s work.

8pm: Screening of Le Mépris
The contemporary promotional material for Jean-Luc Goddard’s 1963 film, which stars Brigitte Bardot, Michel Piccoli, Jack Palance, and Fritz Lang playing himself, proclaimed: “Bardot at her bold, bare and brazen best! Reveling in Rome, cavorting in Capri…jolting even the jaded international jet-set in her pursuit of love!” Based on Alberto Moravia’s novel, Il disprezzo, the film is a satire on the film industry, but also in charting the conflict between artistic expression and commercial opportunity charts the parallel and progressive estrangement between Camille Javal (Bardot) and her husband, Paul Javal (Piccoli), a writer hired to make a script for a new movie about Ulysses more commercial.

Le Mépris Film Salon is presented in partnership with the De La Warr Pavilion and New Writing South, as part of the wider programme Modern Times exhibition at the DWLP  exploring the art of the 20th Century which runs until 13th June 2010.

Le Mépris Film Salon
from 2pm Saturday 22nd May 2010 at the De La Warr Pavilion, Marina, Bexhill on Sea, East Sussex TN40 1DP

Workshop + discussion + film: £25
Film + discussion: £5
Tickets can be booked by telephone or online from the De La Warr Pavillion:
Telephone: 01424 229111
Website: www.dlwp.com

De La Warr Pavilion

New Writing South

Book Review: London Babylon The Beatles & The Stones in the Swinging Sixties – Steve Overbury

(Stephen Overbury) £12.99

Reviewed by Guy Sangster Adams

The film Performance, a chapter on which is included in London Babylon, also acts as a useful cipher for the themes of this intriguing book. The story at the core of Donald Cammell and Nic Roeg’s film, shot in 1968 though not released until 1970, is the societal collision between the East London gangster, Chas (James Fox), and the reclusive rock star, Turner (Mick Jagger), in whose West London house he seeks sanctuary. Interlaced with sex, drugs, violence, and esotericism, darkness undercuts the brightness of the psychedelic, and the cut-up technique blurs the real and imaginary.

Just as the cast and crew blurred the boundaries of fact and fiction, and encapsulated the conventions that ‘Swinging London’ had dissolved, in mixing, around its Kings Road, Chelsea epicentre, the aristocracy, the underworld and the new the new icons of pop- and counter-culture. Both David Litvinoff, the film’s consultant and dialogue coach, and John Bindon, who played one of Chas’ gang, had links to the Krays and the Richardsons, and violence was very much a part of their lives. Whilst the aristocratic antique dealer and interior designer, Christopher Gibbs, created the sets for Turner’s house, and Cammell, born into a privileged background, had been a society portraitist with a studio in Chelsea. Though that said, after boring of the latter, Cammell did live, by all accounts, a formidably unconventional and decadent life.

Unsurprisingly, given all the above, the stories and rumours, from the salacious to the troubling, that surround Performance are legion. Similarly the abutment of such an extraordinary mix of characters and backgrounds that gathered around the Beatles and the Rolling Stones in the mid to late 1960s, has also given rise to equally extraordinary tales that remain highly intriguing even as, with the passage of time, their veracity becomes harder and harder to ascertain.

With London Babylon, Steve Overbury has in part taken a lead from Kenneth Anger’s Hollywood Babylon, and also the shorthand and license that appending ‘Babylon’ to a title (vis à vis Imogen Edwards-Jones’ sequence of books) now brings, and does not shrink from recounting those tales in all their salacity and scurrility. Though his focus is not only the famous names, but also the lesser known characters who though they were at the fringes of the Beatles and the Stones, their actions were not without effect. Amongst them, Bindon and Litvinoff, the drug dealer and Keith Richard’s driver, ‘Spanish’ Tony Sanchez, and Count Jean de Breteuil.

Akin to the melting pot of styles and backgrounds present in ‘Swinging London’, Overbury’s book is also an hybrid of styles. As he explains in the introduction, the other motivator behind the book’s title was the discovery in his research that in the 12th century a section of London Wall was called ‘Babeylone’, and throughout London Babylon there are sections which are more formally structured and referenced studies of London’s cultural history. Whilst also threaded intermittently throughout the book are the surprising imagined dialogues between Mick Jagger, Paul McCartney, Jimi Hendrix and others.

London Babylon has clearly been a labour of love for Overbury; to bring the book out he has, as he explains on his website, had to resort to “Punk publishing”, and the hefty work load that that entails. The book is a little rough around the edges, for a future edition a further copy edit would be great, and for me at least a list of sources or bibliography would be fantastic. But that is not to diminish the breadth of Overbury’s passion and research, and the degree to which he has clearly immersed himself in his rich subject matter.


London Babylon: www.londonbabylon.co.uk

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Exhibition: Teen Age – Cathy Ward

Usurp Art Gallery
17th April – 30th May 2010

From Teddy Boys to Emos, whichever generation you belong to, there will be teenage hairstyles through which you rebelled, after which you lusted, from which you  ran away, at which you laughed.  In actuality time may have diminished their power – the hair length for which the 17 year old David Bowie created the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Long-Haired Men, now looks positively tame – but hairstyles are more often than not  intertwined with our most powerful memories of our teenage life.

In her highly evocative new exhibition, Teen Age, Cathy Ward who is renowned for phenomenally intricate and beautiful drawings and paintings of hair, has  returned to the youthcultures of her own teenage years and to the definition of contemporaries by their hairstyles and musical tastes. Below she describes her motivations and inspirations for the exhibition, and how it became a far more intimate journey and exhibition than she first imagined.



by Cathy Ward

A child in the 60’s, teenager in 70’s, unemployed 20 something in the 80’s. I grew up in a time of defiant youth culture. One could move into different groups of people that were mostly defined by their hairstyle and music taste. The 70’s were fantastically experimental, a fertile breeding ground for creating strong individuals. My defiant sensibilities were well established by the time punk arrived. A reaction initially teased out by the greaser-bikers I’d hung out with in my ween-teens. Motorbikes, Heavy Metal, ‘Snake bites’ (cider and lager), Hickies and those illicit parties in  straw-cut fields accompanied by exciting police raids. My hair was short by the age of 14, and for some inexplicable reason I started collecting and bagging the trimmings. Sunk and Age of Reason are painted with applied ground hair harvested from my teens and 20’s eras. Sunk, is an apocalyptic mire of teenage angst, my very own Passchendaele; Age of Reason seems calm, measured, an idealistic pasture forever draining away with a looming tornado. Glass paintings Forever and Passing reflect later passages of my life and romance, incorporating beautiful, yet tarnished objects of sentimental value.

The next group I moved into was the long-haired dangerous lot, whose long hair made them stand out as rebels though certainly no hippies. They were older, into drugs and music in a really big way. It was more dangerous, so more alluring, they knew how and where to party all the time. Captain Beefheart and Frank Zappa were major players in the look and their sound followed us everywhere, in every smoke filled car, skinning joints, dropping acid and speeding up motorways at night, playing on space invader machines at motorway cafes …..

My drawings have developed over 15 years and depicting hair is a natural course in my work. As some of the big players in my life from that time died tragically young, it was their hair that began to subconsciously come through in my work and the places we had been appeared within my lines as places I was yet to arrive at. The work transcended what was initially a remembrance and became a tapping in of an internal landscape, an uncovering of a very personnel and buried world. Joy Divisions Unknown Pleasures was an album that’s sound and artwork made a great impression on me.


Cathy Ward’s drawings have been commissioned by Steven Severin (founder of Siouxsie and the Banshees) and Stephen O Malley for SUNN 0)))’s 7th album Monoliths & Dimensions 2009. O’Malley’s Keep an Eye Out accompanies her animation Sonafeld, which features in Teen Age, screened on two monitors. As does Ward’s animated film, Passing, made with Eric Wright and featuring a soundtrack composed by Peter Wyer  and narration by L.M. Kit Carson (screen writer of Paris Texas).

Teen Age Cathy Ward runs from 17th April to 30th May 2010
at Usurp Art Gallery,  140 Vaughan Road,  London HA1 4EB
(By undergroud, Usurp is 2 minutes walk from West Harrow station which is 20 mins from Baker Street station on the Metropolitan Line)
Open Thursday – Sunday, 2pm – 8pm

Last Sunday of Teen Age Special Event
From 4pm – 8pm, on 30th May to mark the final day of  Teen Age, there will be a performance in the gallery featuring: Adam Bohman (amplified objects), Leila Dear (Theremin & FX), Mark Pilkington (synthesiser), Rodrigo Montoya (shamisen), Steve Beresford (electronics/objects), Tania Chen (electronics/objects),  Zali Krishna (guitar & FX) and (hopefully) Andrew Bailey (paraphanalia & toy instruments).

Cathy Ward: www.catharyneward.com
Usurp Gallery: www.usurp.org.uk

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Book Review: Apathy for the Devil A 1970s Memoir – Nick Kent

(Faber & Faber) £12.99

Reviewed by Guy Sangster Adams


“I felt the explosion full in the face. The force of it hot-wired my imagination, invaded my dreams and taught me everything I needed to know about the realities of youthful self-empowerment,” writes Nick Kent about the impact of his first exposure to the Rolling Stones at the first concert he ever went to. It was 1964, Kent was just shy of his 13th birthday, and through a school friend whose dad was the promoter he not only had a front row seat, but was also invited backstage afterwards to meet the band: “Suddenly I had my future adult agenda mapped out before me.”

That portentous night lit the fuse on the agony and the ecstasy, the insight and addiction, the violence and opprobrium, that would engulf Kent in the following decade. Nine years later he met the Stones again, this time to interview them, by which stage he was a key figure both at the renascent NME and in a golden age of music journalism. The band approved of what he wrote to such a degree they commissioned him, all expenses paid, to accompany them on the final leg of their tour and write a book about his experiences: “my wildest teenage dream becoming a reality.”

But for the highest highs, in every sense, acclaim, and limelight life that the 1970s brought Kent, it also brought him the most extreme counteractions. In the closing scenes of the film Withnail & I Ralph Brown’s similarly kohl eyed character, Danny, laments on the passing of the 1960s, “the greatest decade in the history of mankind is over, and as Presuming Ed here has so consistently pointed out, we have failed to paint it black.” The blackness, which Kent terms the “dark vortex” was to follow in the 1970s, and forms an omnipresent undercurrent to Apathy for the Devil, as “the caring sharing 1960s were dead and gone” and fuelled by increasingly harder drugs, primarily heroin, “now it was every man for himself.”

Apathy for the Devil provides a front row seat, more often than not the edge of that seat, on Kent’s tumultuous journey through those equally tumultuous ten years, and his myriad adventures with those who would define the decade. Ziggy-era David Bowie announces, “So you’re Nick Kent. Aren’t you pretty!” on their first meeting, his dealings with Led Zeppelin become increasingly white-knuckle, as at times is his friendship with Iggy Pop that endures throughout the 1970s. His love affair with Chrissie Hynde ends in heartbreak, sacked twice by the NME, he pursues a music career that, not least through his increasing heroin addiction, fails to kick start but includes giving the first public performance of New Rose, ‘the first British punk single’ whilst playing in the first line up of a band that would become The Damned.

He also developed a close friendship with Malcolm McLaren, also acting as his music culture guide and joining an early line up of the Sex Pistols. Though that friendship was infamously decimated at the Sex Pistols gig at the 100 Club  in 1976 when, at McLaren’s instigation, Sid Vicious beat Kent up, followed up the following year when to announce Vicious joining the Sex Pistols McLaren sent telegrams to the media saying, “he [Vicious] gave Nick Kent just what he deserved at the 100 Club.”

By the end of the decade the “dark vortex” had consumed Kent, and as he adds in the book’s ‘Afterwards’ if time travel became possible “the seventies would be the last time zone in history I would return to.” But his return to that decade in words and memories makes for an extraordinary book, by turns a fascinating, revelatory, insightful, troubling, comedic and tragic, but always engaging account of the irresistible rise and fall of the author and his decade. As Danny in Withnail & I also said, “If you’re hanging on to a rising balloon, you’re presented with a difficult decision – let go before it’s too late or hang on and keep getting higher, posing the question: how long can you keep a grip on the rope?”


Faber & Faber: www.faber.co.uk

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Book Review: London Calling A Countercultural History of London since 1945 – Barry Miles

(Atlantic Books) £25.00

Reviewed by Guy Sangster Adams


In 1959, the sixteen year old Barry Miles, with a copy of Kerouac’s On the Road in his pocket, hitchhiked from his home in the Cotswolds along the south coast with London as his “ultimate destination.” For as long as he can remember London had exerted a magnetic pull on Miles; once there he made a beeline for Soho. The previous summer, whilst staying with his cousin in Wembley, they had explored Soho and sat “drinking coffee from glass cups” in the 2i’s coffee bar “staring out at Old Compton Street thinking this was the centre of the world as ‘Dream Lover’ by Bobby Darin played on the juke book.”

Soho and London’s West End are at the heart of London Calling because it has been there, as Miles writes, “that the magnet that draws people to London” is located and from 1945 to the 1990s, the period that the book primarily covers, a key area, with forays to the King’s Road and Notting Hill, for the creative and counter-cultural life of the capital. Miles outlines in his introduction that the  focus of the book is more personal history than encyclopaedic: “I have usually described the people I know, or whose work I am most familiar.” But then since his first visit to the 2i’s, Miles has been very well placed not only as a witness but also as key participant in the counter-culture.

Along the Soho streets that Miles explored on his first visits could still be seen the majority of the bohemian milieu that had been drawn to the area in the 1940s and the newer arrivals that began to gather through the 1950s in the pubs and clubs like the French House, the Colony Room, and Ronnie Scot’s, including Julian Maclaren-Ross, Tambimuttu, Lucian Freud, Francis Bacon, Colin MacInnes, and George Melly. Many of whom Miles would subsequently meet, and all of whom feature in the first part of London Calling along with the founding of the ICA, the Angry Young Men, and Teddy Boys.

In 1963, after four years at Gloucestershire School of Art, and many such trips hitchhiking to the capital, Miles moved to London, and was directly involved with much of what part two of London Calling explores. As the manager of Better Books in the Charing Cross Road he co-organised the Poets of the World/Poets of Our Time event at the Royal Albert Hall in 1965, the idea for which stemmed from a reading Alan Ginsberg gave at the shop and which was a key event in the creation of London’s underground/counter-culture. The following year with John Dunbar, Peter Asher, and support from Paul McCartney (who was the shop’s first customer) he co-founded the Indica Bookshop and Gallery, where subsequently John Lennon met Yoko Ono.  Also in 1966 he co-founded the International Times, Europe’s first underground newspaper, as a fund raiser for which the following year he co-organised the legendary 14 Hour Technicolor Dream which was headlined by Pink Floyd.

Part two also includes Oz magazine, UFO, The Arts Lab and the film Performance. Whilst part three takes in the 1970s and 1980s via Punk, Alternative Miss World, New Romantics and Neo-Naturists, Gilbert and George and Leigh Bowery.

In the introduction Miles writes that he “also wanted to make the book accessible and amusing as humour is an often overlooked side of the avant-garde, so many of the anecdotes are included purely for the sake of levity.” In this he is entirely successful because London Calling is a wonderfully readable book to which the anecdotal, in addition to Miles’ personal experiences, add another wonderful layer to this fascinating and highly engaging book. To parts of the history which might be better known, they also provide fresh insights, to say nothing of wry smiles! “Recently, walking down Great Chapel Street in Soho,” Miles recounts, “I overheard two young men talking, ‘You know,’ one of them said, ‘looking at this you could easily be in Shoreditch.'”

From the 1990s onwards the “vast acreage” of the East End has developed as the artistic neighbourhood of London, though Miles writes, “it is too spread out to have any real centre” and though there is “plenty of transgression, protest, experimentation, and excess […] it’s just not underground anymore.” Since the mid-1980s, and increasingly so in our fully networked age, art and music have gone mainstream, and though “there will always be cutting edge activity, bohemia has been globalized.”

Read Carla Borel’s StillSoho by Barry Miles from issue 2 of Plectrum – The Cultural Pick  READ MORE

For more on the life and writings of Julian Maclaren-Ross:

Watch the Black Spring Press profile on the Plectrum Broadcast Player which includes contributions from his son Alex Maclaren-Ross, writer Cathi Unsworth, and Robert Hastings, the owner of Black Spring Press. CLICK HERE

Plus from issue 1 of Plectrum – The Cultural Pick:
Book Review: Julian Maclaren-Ross Selected Letters edited by Paul Willetts READ MORE
Independent Focus: Black Spring Press & The Revival of Literary Reputations READ MORE


Atlantic Books: www.atlantic-books.co.uk

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Exhibition/Label Launch: Daisy de Villeneuve – In her Shoes/D de V London

March 29th until 25th April 2010

By Guy Sangster Adams

daisy-de-v-shoe1Like following in the footsteps of a fantastic shopping spree around a department store, perhaps Liberty itself, or being given free rein to plunder the much coveted wardrobe of another, Daisy de Villeneuve’s new solo exhibition allows one to step into the array of shoes, to say nothing of the clothes and accessories, and by extension the lives of three stylish women about town. Or perhaps the three women are the same woman, delighting in presenting different faces to the world. It is up to the viewer’s imagination as de Villeneuve intends no strict interpretation. The onus of In her Shoes is on fun, and across the forty, new pen and ink works presented, all in her signature multi-coloured, whimsical style, that is exactly what abounds, providing a very welcome, pure pop celebration of joie de vivre.


De Villeneuve is both an illustrator and a product designer and In her Shoes also marks the launch of her new label, D de V London. The first product from which is a line of luxury scented candles, Daisy Rose, which for the duration of the exhibition will be available exclusively from Liberty. Roses are de Villeneuve’s favourite flower, and the four candles in the Daisy Rose collection feature different scents from the Rose family. The deep red wax candles are hand poured in London  into similarly deep red glass, which in addition to the cylindrical packaging, carry different artwork for each scent, complementing the exhibition: Herbal Rose features a perfume bottle, Violet Rose and Vetivert, a necklace, Tuberose, a handbag motif, and Rose Incense and Cedar, a retro suitcase.

In her Shoes
Runs from 29th March until 25th April 2010
4th floor gallery, Liberty, Great Marlborough Street, London W1B 5AH

Daisy Rose candles
RRP. £28
From 29th March until 25th April 2010 available exclusively from Liberty.
Then from selected retailers throughout the UK.

Read Daisy de Villeneuve reflecting on the documentary Beyond Biba in issue 3 of the print edition of Plectrum – The Cultural Pick: for availability  CLICK HERE

Watch Daisy de Villeneuve interviewed by Guy Sangster Adams on the Plectrum Broadcast Player  CLICK HERE

Read the feature about Daisy de Villeneuve from Plectrum – The Cultural Pick issue 1  READ MORE

Daisy de Villeneuve: www.daisydevilleneuve.com
Liberty: www.liberty.co.uk

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Exhibition: Raskols and Sing-Sing – Stephen Dupont

Jack Bell Gallery

26th March – 25th April 2010

In February the Australian photographer, Stephen Dupont, was awarded the 2010 Robert Gardner Fellowship in Photography by Harvard University’s Peabody Museum, through which, under the project title, Guns and Arrows: The Detribalization of Papua New Guinea, he will continue his photographic documentation of the dramatic changes that Papua New Guinea is undergoing.

As his new exhibition at the Jack Bell Gallery, Raskols and Sing-Sing, demonstrates globalisation is impacting heavily on the fabric of the traditional  Melanesian society. The exhibition features photographs from the six years he has already spent documenting these changes, which include the recasting of tribal society into an urban proletariat and the effects of violence and lawlessness in Port Moresby, in addition to the westernization of traditional society in the Highlands. Raskols and Sing-Sing provides not only an in-depth study of cultural erosion but also a celebration of an ancient people. It is, as Dupont says, “a reflection and a meditation on a unique place, and it may also be seen as a warning for other, seemingly more ‘secure’ cultures.”


He continues,  “this body of work will counter stereotypical myths of Papua New Guinea with honest representations of the people, their culture and identity. It is an attempt to relate the experience of communities that would otherwise just disappear, people at the bottom of a half ruined country.”

Raskols and Sing-Sing – Stephen Dupont runs from 26th March – 25th April 2010
at the Jack Bell Gallery,  276 Vauxhall Bridge Road London SW1V 1BB
Open 11am – 6pm Thursday – Sunday

Jack Bell Gallery: www.jackbellgallery.com

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Poetry by Benedict Newbery


Benedict Newbery is a poet and journalist, in addition to being an occasional poetry reviewer and copy editor for Nude magazine.  His poems have been published in Magma, Succour, the delinquent, South Bank Poetry, Carillon, and Straight from the Fridge.  In October 2006 he presented poetry and spoken word in a joint exhibition, Morningwell, with painter Simon Dawe.  Whilst the film of his poem Cul de Sac, which he storyboarded and co-directed with animator Sandra Salter, was shortlisted for the 2008 ZEBRA Poetry Film Festival, Berlin.  Last summer,  on behalf of the Sohemian Society, he hosted Moscow Rules a literary journey in Hampstead tracing the action in Le Carré’s  Smiley’s People.  He lives in London and performs at various open mic events around the capital.

It’s The Administrators!

Steve Jones
mans the phones
with koala eyes
crumbs of disco biscuit
down the sides
of his brain.
Nods at Jane,
rubs his face
and starts to disappear.

Sandy Brown
is settling down
louche in an olive suit.
sending figures
down yellow forms —
can do this in his sleep.
Sniffs at Jane
who says hello
and sits by Paul,
a bloke she knew from school.

Paul Tillings
form filling
berk in a Burton’s suit.
Pressing a boil
on his neck,
snipping bites
from meat paste
on white bread,
making mistakes
for Jane to rearrange
and file.




© Benedict Newbery 2009. All rights reserved.
(First published in the delinquent)

The Royal Oak

It’s early doors
and the air holds flies
above cold slops,
as Pete and Jack –
soon joined by the man in the cap –
stand apart on lino
that lifts beneath the bar.

Passed them every day.
Nipping out and popping in
to drop a bob or two
on three o’clock’s also-ran.
Stooped over palms,
each way’s bits of shrapnel,
picking, adding, sorting,
then slipping in again.

Later on
jetsam, driftwood,
a wheel on the wall
and brass
ripped from some old bar,
filled a space
left by the net drapes
and cracked formica.

But just the same in name.

And sat apart,
Pete and Jack
and the man in the cap –
last of the Black-and-Tans,
with drop on the side.

Passed them every day.
Chin to chest,
yellow eyes
among the liver spots,
beards stained
with Capstan tracks
framed by Sixties hair.
Shoulders forward
close to the building’s edge,
then slipping in again.

© Benedict Newbery 2008. All rights reserved.
(First published in Magma)

Weymouth Bay

This evening’s end
slipped beneath the swell
of a late-summer sea
and joined The Hood,
tonight the Bismark too –
hulks of Special Brew
sent below on pebble shot
from the battery of boys.
Now gone.

Far off
the sun wrapped the bay,
drew shadows up cliffs
into secret grass
of thumbnail fields –
parcels tied by fingers
that stretched
from the barns and farms,
trees and drystone walls.

Night came
black as the guts
of hunting cod,
raised a bombers’ moon
to light a king astride his horse,
then out, across the water,
dropped a path
to touch the stump
of a lost pier –
a thousand lovers
on August tea dance afternoons,
the big band’s brassy swing
still tingling in the bay.

© Benedict Newbery 2008. All rights reserved.
(First published in Carillon)

Cul de sac

I saw Mrs Smith who lost a child –
slipped from the pier – her only son,
open the gate to an empty house
as her silent husband climbed the hill
on his long-gone daughter’s bike

I heard Jack Jones in his garden shed
bending steel and shaving wood
while making plans and mental lists
of things required by his broken wife
to ease her last two years

I heard old Stan smashing six-inch nails
with jackhammer pace to create a space
beneath the ploughed up lawn
where he and Daisy would be safe from harm
through an endless night that never came

I saw tall John leave his house at dusk
in his big greatcoat and trilby hat.
His final month spent in hotel bars,
wandering through blackening nights,
then slipping back at a later hour –
the last of that year’s ghosts.

© Benedict Newbery 2008. All rights reserved.
(First published in the delinquent)

To watch the film of Cul de Sac, which was shortlisted for the 2008 ZEBRA Poetry Film Festival, Berlin, CLICK HERE

Benedict Newbery

Album Review: Sisterworld – Liars


CD, Vinyl, 2CD, On Release

By Guy Sangster Adams

That the excellent new Liars album already has an host of influential fans is borne out by the second CD in the 2CD edition of Sisterworld which features remixes and reinterpretations of each track by other artists including Thom Yorke, Alan Vega, Devendra Banhart, and Chris Carter and Cosey Fanni Tutti, and packaging designed by the Grammy award nominated Brian Roettinger/Hand Held Heart which when one opens the CD case allows a ‘through the keyhole’ view into the concertina-fold outer sleeve and a glimpse into the sunshine filtered woods of Sisterworld.

Sisterworld is Liars’ parallel world, a conceptual space to which they have ascribed the criteria that it is their “own space, devoid of influence, somewhere remote from the false dreams amassed in L.A.” in which they “explore the underground support systems created to deal with loss of self to society,” by way of “the alternate spaces people create in order to maintain identity in a city like L.A.”

Sisterworld is, as the view through the concertina suggests, as dramatically and sensorily charged as being in the midst of a dense forest on a summer’s day; light when it breaks through the branches creates temporal spaces of the most magical beauty, whilst the dark corners seem darker than you could ever imagine, the shadows forever shifting and encircling, accelerating one into fright-or flight-or freeze.

Liars, Sisterworld ©Zen Sekizawa

Liars, Sisterworld ©Zen Sekizawa

In short, the fifth album from this three-piece is phenomenally engaging. It creates an highly evocative soundtrack to a personal film that plays so vividly through your mind as you listen; a film of falling through the cracks in the film capital of the world, adrift and alone in the city of angels with a paucity of guardian angels. Sisterworld is by turns transcendent and troubling, the smoothest caress can quickly become the harshest of grips, ethereal harmonies, and floating violin, viola, and cello strings are blown away by the rawest garage rock, following the hopeful will-o’-the-wisp bassoon can be fatal as you realize that the rasping vocals are framing a counterpoint picture of despair.

But the best alternative realities are made stronger by recognition and understanding of the mainstream to which they are opposed, and Sisterworld is a brilliant alternative to the mainstream, and a wonderful escape from the glass and steel forest of homogenisation.


Liars: www.liarsliarsliars.com

Mute: www.mute.com

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Book Review: Fashion Jewellery – Catwalk & Couture by Maia Adams


(Laurence King) £24.95

Reviewed by Guy Sangster Adams

Maia Adams’ supremely elegant new book provides the first overview of the extraordinarily innovative designs and diverse creative practice that has transformed fashion jewellery over recent years and instigated its current renaissance.

Fashion jewellery has antecedents in the costume jewellery of the twentieth century, from Coco Chanel in the 1920s who, as Adams writes, “challenged the status quo that jewels were only for the very wealthy,” to the 1960s and the use of plastic, wood, and paper by designers such as Paco Rabane, to its apogee in the diamante studded 1980s, and the prevalence of the “supersized imitation jewels” of Butler and Wilson, and the rubber bangles and crucifixes designed by Maripol which Madonna made ubiquitous. But as Vicki Beamon, of Erickson Beamon, explains in Fashion Jewellery, “Costume is an antiquated term for jewellery that, on the whole, was designed to look real,” and as Adams elaborates, to define the theme of her book, “this new breed of designer fashion jewellery makes no such claims – its purpose is not to imitate but to innovate.”

Erickson Beamon AW08 jewellery ©Greg Kadel

Erickson Beamon AW08 jewellery ©Greg Kadel

Erickson Beamon are one of the 33 designers profiled in the book, and provide a key link from the 1980s to the present day, three decades during which their “jewels of fantasy,” as Hamish Bowles has written, have reflected the times “from the rollicking, coruscating, dangerous 80s, the sleek, spare, barely there 90s, and our eclectic new century.” Judy Blame equally provides a link to the 1980s and in both his pioneering use of found objects in his jewellery and multi-faceted career that has also included accessories design, styling, and photography,  he has equally become an iconic mentor and inspiration not only to a new generation of fashion designers such as Gareth Pugh, but also to the new fashion jewellery designers.

Judy Blame coin purse ©Judy Blame

Judy Blame coin purse ©Judy Blame

Many of whom, as Adams writes, “work simultaneously as stylists, photographers and fashion, costume, or product designers [which] means that they bring an eclectic arsenal of techniques and influences to bear on a body of work that runs the gamut from craft-based to technology-led; cerebral to silly; witty to whimsical.”

Amongst its line up of luminaries, Fashion Jewellery also features Scott Wilson, long time Hussein Chalayan collaborator, whose  sculptural headwear/jewellery hybrids have become renowned “spectacular catwalk statements” and whose earrings adorn the model on the book’s striking cover. In addition, Laurent Rivaud, to whom Vivienne Westwood went when she choose to launch her jewellery line in 1994, including the iconic orbs, and who now, under his own label R, creates minutely detailed jewellery, antique in appearance, drawing inspiration from a host of influences including Arthur Rackham, Fortunato Pio Castellani, Lord Leighton, and PJ Harvey. Whilst Natalia Brilli wraps an eclectic array of objects such as whistles, sea urchins, scarabs, and watches in leather to create her one-off jewellery pieces.

Natalia Brilli's gemstone bangles

Natalia Brilli's gemstone bangles ©Julien Classens & Thomas Deschamps

Fashion Jewellery is crammed with great photographs, including still lives, catwalk shots, and fashion editorial spreads, working drawings, and features exclusive interviews with many of the featured designers, and provides a fascinating, inspiring, and exciting exploration of an equally fascinating, inspiring, and exciting time in jewellery design.


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Single & Album Review: Nintendo EP & Love Is Not Rescue – Chris T-T


b/w Abraham, Martin, & John; On the Turner Grand #2;  Nintendo (demo version)
(Xtra Mile Recordings)
EP available now, download only


(Xtra Mile Recordings)
Album, released 15th March

By Guy Sangster Adams

The resplendent piano saturated Nintendo EP is a wonderful prologue to Chris T-T’s excellent new album Love is not Rescue. Nintendo, which is also the opening track on the album, immediately establishes the sea change in sound and themes from T-T’s last album Capital which, fittingly as it concluded his London Trilogy, featured a far more caustic, rockier and inner city edge and edginess. But although both the new EP and album are less about kicking over the statues that is not to say that they don’t pack just as powerful a punch, and in many ways perhaps more so.

Against a piano as calming as watching a gentle incoming tide, lyrically Nintendo charts a relationship on the ebb, and holistically creates a superb and contradictory mix of poignancy and self deprecation, with a knowingness and great wry humour; for managing to make Nintendo Wii both a moving and funny lyric alone T-T should be lauded! For the EP Nintendo is backed with three tracks not included on the album: a demo version of Nintendo, On the Turner Grand #2 a six minute piano improvisation, and a great cover version of Dick Holler’s Abraham, Martin, and John. The latter is a beautiful, melodic, reflection both on loss and the struggle for human rights.

Key facets, equally, to the other tracks on Love is not Rescue, which are erudite and engaging, set to a stripped back sound of piano, organ, or acoustic guitar, to which the sounds of pedal shifts or fingers sliding on the fret board, all add to the whole. They are highly reflective and explore love, loss, and relationships, from the stand point of looking back over the decade since the release of his first album, and the effect that career choices, nigh on perpetual touring, to say nothing of getting older, have had on T-T’s personal life, and conversely the effect of the personal on the professional. As with Nintendo, Stop Listening and In The Halfway House (I Don’t Sleep Around) adroitly mix the laying bare of emotions with wry humour, not least in their pay-off lines, whilst Tall Woman is an acutely affecting study of saying goodbye to someone who has literally loomed large over one’s life.

Love is not Rescue also includes a great reworking of A.A. Milne’s Market Square, from When We Were Very Young, which as with Milne or T-T alike could be enjoyed as a wonderfully whimsical tale about wanting to buy a rabbit or as a more cautionary story about how even in a market of global availability the things that are most worthwhile to us don’t always have to be bought and sold.

That said, Nintenedo EP and Love is not Rescue do both have to be bought and sold, but they are entirely worth your money!


Chris T-T: christt.com

Xtra Mile Recordings: www.xtramilerecordings.com

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Book Review: New Restaurant Design by Bethan Ryder


(Laurence King) £19.95

Reviewed by Guy Sangster Adams

The sequel to her book Restaurant Design, Bethan Ryder’s New Restaurant Design which is published in paperback for the first time, continues her exploration of the world’s most “elegant, unusual, and spectacular dining spaces.” Underscoring and continuing her theme established in the earlier book that eating out can be “as much a lifestyle choice and source of entertainment as a form of nourishment,” Ryder showcases 45 restaurants grouping their designs under four sections Global Views, New Baroque, Modern Classic, High Concept.


Philippe Starck features twice in the New Baroque section with both the “fairytale fantasy” of the Bistro of the Faena and Universe hotel in Buenos Aires in which the gilt detailed, snow white furniture is watched over by white unicorn heads emerging from white silk draped walls, and also with Bon in Moscow, the third Bon restaurant but the first outside Paris. Predominantly black and gold the space “conjures up a hauntingly gothic atmosphere” with an interior that includes black crystal chandeliers, gold Kalashnikov lamp bases, distressed, graffiti scrawled walls, and a white skull motif on the black upholstery of the “half burned gilded armchairs.”

Whilst the major feature of the dining experience at Evo, within the High Concept section, are the views of 18 kilometres (11 miles) afforded from the UFO-like glass, geodesic dome perched atop the 105 metre (344 foot) high Hesperia Hotel in Barcelona, designed by Richard Rogers Partnership, Alonso I Balaguer Arquitectes, and GCA Arquitectes Associats. Thus the interior has been kept simple with glossy black lacquered tables, cream chairs, and golden yellow rhomboid-shaped fabric shaded lights which arch up following the curve of the dome “like sci-fi sunflowers.”

Bon, Moscow designed by Philippe Starck

Bon Moscow designed by Philippe Starck

Modern Classic includes the Lebanese architect Bernard Khoury/DW5’s extraordinary Black Box, the restaurant for the shop Aïzone, a branch of Aïshti the Beirut fashion department store akin to Harvey Nichols or Barney’s. The exterior is lined with black aluminium panels and there is a projecting arm which not only contains a three-dimensional picture frame to display images and advertisements, but can also accommodate Aïshti fashion shows. Khoury’s, as Ryder writes, “daring and creative reclamation of war-torn buildings” has continued to reassert the identity of this troubled city; Black Box itself was damaged during the 2006 Lebanon War.

But Khoury remains phlegmatic, as is underlined in Ryder’s interview with him in the introductory section of the book which features interviews with 11 of the most influential restaurant designers (including Patrick Jouin, Marcel Wanders, Rob Wagemans, David Collins):
“Our part of the world raises far more burning and dramatic questions which you are faced with and which you cannot avoid. The problems are so obvious, especially when it comes to entertainment, and the situations are very interesting, I like tough situations, and I don’t like cute, happy little stories. That’s not my department.”

Bon Moscow designed by Philippe Starck

Bon Moscow designed by Philippe Starck

New Restaurant Design is richly illustrated with photographs, drawings, and floor plans, and coupled with Ryder’s erudite, informed, and unstintingly researched text creates both a superb overview of current restaurant design and an highly evocative travelogue.


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Television Review: The Avengers – The Complete Series 3


(Optimum Releasing)
DVD on release

By Guy Sangster Adams

The Avengers: The Complete Series 3 is the second phase of Optimum’s fantastic intention to release the first full restoration of every episode of The Avengers over the course of a year, which began in October 2009.  Where episodes have been lost, they are recreated through stills and commentaries, and the DVDs come replete with a host of fascinating extras.

With series 3 The Avengers established the model for which it is best remembered and the ingredients that have ensured it has remained both highly influential and a classic exponent of the spy-fi genre.


Filmed in 1963 and originally screened in 1964 in a peak time Saturday night slot on ITV, for series 3 Patrick Macnee’s John Steed, described in the original promotional material as a top level secret agent “who works under cover of his life as a wealthy man-about-town with an aristocratic background,” became ever more dandified, his bowler hat, furled umbrella, and flared cufflink displaying cuffs now omnipresent. Whilst the idea of Steed being aided by alternating amateur assistants in the earlier series was shelved in favour of Mrs Catherine Gale (Honor Blackman) being his partner in each episode. Which also allowed for a crackling sexual tension to be developed between the two characters.


With her PhD in anthropology and social conscience Mrs Gale was presented as a foil to counter Steed’s more ruthless and louche character traits. Though she equally, and importantly, subverted stereotypical roles for women combining not only brains, beauty, and independence, but also physical prowess; the fight scenes in each episode more often than not displaying Gale’s expertise in Judo. Blackman, as she explains in an interview included amongst the host of great extra features on the DVD, always threw herself wholeheartedly into the action sequences, which in the episode Mandrake, also included here, lead to her inadvertently knocking out the actor playing her assailant for seven minutes. Early in series 3 Gale’s leather outfits were introduced, ostensibly as clothes it would be easier for her to fight in, and became both influential and infamous. They were teamed with knee high leather boots that very quickly gained the widespread sobriquet of ‘kinky boots'; their popularity leading Blackman and Macnee to record the single Kinky Boots in 1964.


Lobster Quadrille, the last episode of series 3, was originally screened in March 1964, and was Blackman’s last episode as she left the programme to take up the role of Pussy Galore in the James Bond film Goldfinger, which was released in September of that year. Redolent of the humour inherent in both The Avengers and the Bond films which the series undoubtedly influenced, the final scene features Steed bidding farewell to Gale as she sets off on holiday with the suggestion that she might spend her time “pussyfooting along those sun-soaked shores.”

Optimum Releasingwww.optimumreleasing.com

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Momiji Couture Contest Winner & Exhibition of Finalists

By Guy Sangster Adams

Last July the Momiji Couture Contest was launched at the New Designers show at the Business Design Centre in London. The competition called for entries not only from fashion and textile students and graduates, but also the global crafting community to fulfil the challenge of creating their own exquisite, fabric Momiji doll.

Choux Choux the winning entry by Louise Evans aka Felt Mistress

Choux Choux the winning entry by Louise Evans aka 'Felt Mistress'

Momiji [‘mom-ee-jee’] are the oddly-addictive, hand-painted collectible message dolls, launched three years ago from the English village of Henley in Arden (previously best known for its ice cream!) since when through their collaboration with the freshest design talent they have attained international cult status and were included in the goodie bags at last year’s Brit Awards.

Exhibtion of Momiji Couture Competition finalists at Royal/T

Exhibition of Momiji Couture Contest finalists at Royal/T

Chelsea College of Art and Design in London hosted the judging of the contest and the panel included Pip McCormac the commissioning editor of the Sunday Times Style Magazine, Beth Smith deputy editor of Selvedge Magazine, and Susan Hancock the owner on the innovative and quirky Royal/T in Los Angeles, and Barbara Hulaniciki, founder of the highly influential Biba, who said, “I am absolutely amazed by the standard of the entries. I’d be rather intrigued to see all the designers in person as I wonder whether each doll was created in their maker’s image!”



After many hours of deliberation, in December the judges chose Louise Evans AKA ‘Felt Mistress’ as the winner for her Marie Antoinette-esque entry Choux Choux, which was adorned with an elaborate, towering wig. Choux Choux and the twenty short listed finalists are now on display in a special exhibition until 18 January 2010 at the extraordinary Royal/T in Los Angeles until which imaginatively fuses a 10,000 square foot gallery and retail space with the city’s first Japanese inspired maid café.

The maid café at Royal/T

The maid café at Royal/T

Momiji: www.lovemomiji.com
Royal/T: www.royal-t.org

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Book Review: Fixed – Global Fixed-Gear Bike Culture by Andrew Edwards & Max Leonard

(Laurence King) £17.95

Reviewed by Guy Sangster Adams

Like surfing and skateboarding, there is an highly addictive and compulsive edge to fixed-gear (or ‘fixed-wheel’ in Britain) riding, often veering into the obsessional, as photographers and filmmakers Mike Martin and Gabe Morford interviewed in Fixed state, “track bikes are a gateway drug to all forms of cycling.” Martin and Morford’s documentary, Mash SF, explores the riding techniques, to say nothing of tricks and hill bombing, developed by 13 San Franciscans in the face of the challenge of riding track bikes without brakes, multiple gears, or the ability to freewheel, around the city, and since its release in 2007 has been highly influential in the global subculture which has grown up around the adoption of track bikes for urban streets. Fixed is the first book to examine both this rising subculture and its sporting and historical antecedents, and provides a fascinating overview.

Chris Boardman breaking The Hour record in 1996 ©Gary M. Prior/Getty Images

Chris Boardman breaking The Hour record in 1996 © Gary M. Prior/Getty Images

Across three sections Racing, Track to Street, and Beyond Riding, Fixed explores the development of the fixed-gear style. The earliest bicycles were all fixed-wheel, but from the turn of the last century the style was predominantly reserved for sports use and has developed through ever greater quests for speed, characterised not least in recent years by Chris Hoy in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, and in the 1990s the duelling between, and radical designs employed by Chris Boardman and Graeme Obree, both of whom are interviewed in the book, to win the record for The Hour time trial. From the early 1970s a parallel street culture has developed, initially through the adoption of the style by bicycle messengers in New York, spreading to messengers in other cities worldwide through the 1980s and 1990s.

Keo Curry performs his signature trick, the Keo spin © Kyle Johnson

Keo Curry performs his signature trick, the Keo spin © Kyle Johnson

Whilst in recent years with fixed-gear becoming, as Edwards and Leonard write,  a “wider phenomenon in urban culture, boutiques, and galleries,” designers, artists, and brands including Paul Smith, Ben and Oscar Wilson, Cinelli, Vans, and Nike, have created their own interpretations of fixed-gear bicycles and attendant clothing and accessory ranges.

Riders on the londonfgss.com Tweed Run, January 2009 ©Roxy Erickson

Riders on the London Fixed-Gear & Single-Speed Tweed Run, January 2009 © Roxy Erickson

Laurence King: www.laurenceking.com

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Book Review: 100 Years of Menswear by Cally Blackman

(Laurence King) £24.95

Reviewed by Guy Sangster Adams


100 Years of Menswear begins and ends with suits; from the accession of Edward VII in 1901 and his influential lead towards a greater informality in dress codes, to Thom Browne whose collections are a direct riposte against the informality of ‘business casual’ and motivated New York magazine in 2006 to declare him the “cutting-edge men’s designer who’s going to save the suit from extinction.” Though with nearly three and half centuries of adaptation and reinvention behind it, to paraphrase Mark Twain’s oft borrowed line, the suit’s death-knell may well be exaggerated. The very dapper Twain also features in the book in a great photograph from 1900 in which he is wearing one of his trademark white serge lounge suits of which, as Cally Blackman writes, “he had 14 made so he could wear a fresh one every day.”

John Hazel, Harold Wilmot, and John Richards arriving at Tilbury docks aboard the Empire Windrush in 1948

John Hazel, Harold Wilmot, and John Richards arriving at Tilbury docks aboard the Empire Windrush in 1948 © Douglas Miller/Getty Images

Though men’s fashion over the last 100 plus years has not been purely about suits, and has also been subjected to a myriad of influences, which means that any book attempting to cover it enters, as Blackman underlines in her introduction, a “minefield” because “the categorisation and classification of looks and styles is notoriously difficult; they are interwoven, overlapping and slippery.” To plot a clearer path through this, Blackman has divided the book into two parts, 1900-1939 and 1940 to the present day, and subdivided each part into six sections through which she explores, for example the impact of uniforms, manual work wear, sportswear, and Hollywood films.

Marc Bolan at home c1975 © Anwar Hussein/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Marc Bolan at home c1975 © Anwar Hussein/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

This works well, particularly as the book is 95% pictorial, enabling changes and developments to be not only clearly illustrated and plotted, but also highlighted through juxtaposition. Which is supremely aided by the quality of the picture research which has resulted in the book, from Terry O’Neill’s fabulous cover shot of David Bowie onwards, being packed with many wonderfully evocative and rarely seen photographs and illustrations.


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Film Review: Painted Boats


(Optimum Releasing)
Released on DVD 11 January 2010

By Guy Sangster Adams

During the Second World War both Britain’s deteriorating canal system and the declining number of working boats plying its waterways enjoyed a brief period of revivification. This fascinating, evocative, and beautifully shot Ealing Studios gem, which is available on DVD for the first time, is part drama and part documentary and was filmed along the Grand Union Canal in the summer of 1944, though not released until September 1945. The film centres on two families, the Smiths and the Stoners, who have lived and worked afloat for generations and the love story that unfolds between Mary Smith (Jenny Laird) and Ted Stoner (Robert Griffiths). Whilst also documenting and trumpeting not only the revival of the inland waterways for the war effort but also the history of canals from the eighteenth century onwards.

Tradition versus progressiveness is also at the heart of Painted Boats, in common with a number of Ealing Studios films and not least with director Charles Crichton’s later film The Titfield Thunderbolt. With Painted Boats this is encapsulated by the juxtaposition between the Smith’s horse-drawn barge Sunny Valley and the Stoner’s diesel-powered Golden Boy, and the extra hardships that refusing to change brings to the Smiths, not least ‘legging’ Sunny Valley loaded with thirty tons of coal through tunnels. Though mechanical horsepower does not inure the Stoners from change either as the increasing dilemma as to how long they can continue on the canals or whether they may have to move ashore hangs over them as it does over all their contemporaries.


In fact, post war the decline of commercial canal traffic was phenomenally rapid, until by the 1960s only a token number of working boats remained. Of course we are now very familiar with the leisure based reinvigoration of canals, but Painted Boats provides a wonderful insight into the closing chapter of a way of life, and is made all the more evocative by the poetic commentary written by Louis Macneice.

Optimum Releasingwww.optimumreleasing.com

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Film Review: The Lost Continent


(Optimum Releasing)
Released on DVD 11 January 2010

By Guy Sangster Adams

From the Hammond organ to the fore title track, to the introductory panning shot across the deck of the tramp steamer  Corita taking in a surreal mix of characters, from medieval Spanish conquistadores and hessian robed monks, to twentieth century uniformed merchant seaman and a 1960s white roll-neck jumper-ed blonde siren, it is clear that this 1968 Hammer film is not only particularly redolent of that stable and of its times, but also has all the makings of a cult classic. Compounded by the original trailer which is included on the DVD and wonderfully proclaims that viewers will see “monster weed attack helpless beauty,” to say nothing of “giant molluscs, see them fight to the death.”


Though in no way as scary as it might possibly have been 40 plus years ago, The Lost Continent, which was adapted by the director Michael Carreras from Denis Wheatley’s 1938 novel Uncharted Seas, is still a very watchable and enjoyable film, not only with a retro loving, tongue in cheek. The film divides neatly into two halves and two genres, the first a thriller on the high seas as the captain of the Corita, played by Eric Porter, embarks on one last trip from Freetown to Caracas, not only smuggling a cargo of highly dangerous explosives, but also with a whole host of passengers with something to hide and a mutinous crew aboard. A hurricane brings all the secrets to a head and also throws the ship and the film into a world of sci-fi horror, a lost continent in the Sargasso Sea, replete with man eating seaweed, enormous killer crustaceans, and the equally murderous descendants of a Spanish Galleon marooned 500 years earlier.


Of course, as with any film originally released four decades ago the special effects are phenomenally dated, but in this case the datedness adds to the charm of the film. Whilst the release on DVD also affords renewed attention for the soundtrack, not only Gerald Schurmann’s great psychedelic score, but also the theme song by The Peddlers, two thirds of whom were part of Joe Meek’s ‘house band’ The Saints, and who have been recently sampled by genre busting producer, musician, and innovator Luke Vibert.

Optimum Releasing www.optimumreleasing.com

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