Webzine Edition Issue 7

Author talks and bookish dinners at Hardy’s Brasserie, Restaurant and Wine Bar, London W1: Cleo Rocos, Nicky Haslam’s Folly de Grandeur, French Noir and Frites, Bang Bang Chicken on the Lawn and more!

by Guy Sangster Adams

Once in a while one goes out for an evening to an event that from the very moment one arrives envelops one in that most wonderful feeling that is as intoxicating as it is hard to define – the closest attempts at a definition would be: a feeling of ‘coming home’, even though it’s one’s first time there, or, ‘oh so this is what I’ve been searching for so long’, without realising that one had been on a long quest. This happened to me the minute I stepped over the threshold of Hardy’s Brasserie, Restaurant and Wine Bar in London’s Marylebone for the latest instalment in their series of ‘author talks and bookish dinners’, which began in January this year, into an atmosphere already abuzz with conviviality, and also expectancy for the evening ahead.

The buzz was infectious despite the fact that I didn’t really know what to expect – I had been invited by a writer friend who then couldn’t make it but said that I should still go as she thought I would enjoy it – trusting her insight I did just that. I had for a second outside suddenly thought, ‘hold on I don’t know anyone here and I’m about to have dinner with strangers’.  But I had no need to worry, I was warmly greeted by co-host, Rosie Apponyi, who sat me at table with a group of people all of whom after a very short while I was having to pinch myself that it was in fact the first time that I had met them and that we hadn’t all known each other for years.

But then this welcoming, friendly, relaxed atmosphere is not by chance for it is very much one of the key ingredients that Apponyi and Dominique de Bastarrechea intended that their events should have. Indeed the home from home feel has been a facet of Hardy’s popularity ever since it was opened in 1984 by de Bastarrechea’s father, the late Nick de Bastarrechea, with whom Dominique de Bastarrechea initially ran the restaurant in tandem after she graduated from Oxford University.

The brasserie at Hardy's Brasserie and Wine Bar

The brasserie at Hardy’s Brasserie and Wine Bar

Apponyi and de Bastarrechea have been friends for a number of years and had been, as Apponyi tells me, “talking for while about wanting to create evenings combining our two great loves: food and books.” Their loves are also areas in which they both have a lot of knowledge and experience – Apponyi is editor and director of literary consultants, the Writing Room, prior to which she worked first at literary scout, Van Lear, before joining the literary agency, Capel & Land, where she represented a broad range of writers from literary fiction, such as Chibundu Onuzo, to the highly commercial, including Camilla Morton.

Deborah Moggach singing copies of Heartbreak Hotel at the Food for Love at Heartbreak Hotel literary dinner Hardy's Brasserie in February 2013

Deborah Moggach singing copies of Heartbreak Hotel at the Food for Love at Heartbreak Hotel literary dinner Hardy’s Brasserie in February 2013

In addition to combining their twin passions the two were determined that the events would have a relaxed intimacy and accessibility to them. To this end they take place in the brasserie at Hardy’s (there is also a smaller, more formal restaurant, private rooms, and a cellar bar) a perfect setting with its candlelit informality mixed with an element of Parisian chic. The brasserie has a capacity for around 60 diners, the space could be opened out into the other rooms, but as Apponyi explains keeping everything in one room is very much part of creating the atmosphere of the nights, “we prefer it to be as intimate as possible, with everyone being squished into the same room as the author/speaker rather than spread out through the different rooms”.

The squishing is fun ( and it must be said that it’s a very sophisticated squishing!) and adds greatly to the individual buzz and informality of the events, as does the fact that the authors or speakers are very much in the mêlée at all stages of the evening, dining with the audience, and then speaking and reading in the midst of the tables, and also very accessible to chat with afterwards and to sign copies of their books. “We wanted to do something different,” says Apponyi, “so many book events are so stiff, and have such bad wine!”

Bad wine is simply never on the menu at Hardy’s as not only is de Bastarrechea’s eclectic wine list award-winning but has also played a primary role in establishing Hardy’s loyal and diverse clientele amongst whom famous faces include burlesque superstar/fashion icon, Dita Von Teese, London mayor, Boris Johnson, novelist and writer, Fay Weldon, and historian, curator, broadcaster, Dr Lucy Worsley.

"Sophisticated squishing" part 1 - The audience as diners at the literary dinners at Hardy's Brasserie the audience as diners

“Sophisticated squishing” part 1:  the audience as diners at the literary dinners at Hardy’s Brasserie

Hardy’s have also built their reputation over the years with the quality of their food and new head chef, Sam Hughes, is very much building upon this reputation and continuing their tradition of honest brasserie favourites and seasonal menus. Hughes trained with Rowley Leigh at Kensington Place, was head chef under Raymond Blanc, and most recently was head chef at the Michelin-starred Oxfordshire restaurant, The Sir Charles Napier.

Therefore, not only do Hardy’s completely erase the curse of bad wine literary events with the quality of the wine and drinks served, but in conjunction with the wonderful food on the three course set menus which are central to their literary dinners, guests are transported into seventh heaven. Each menu is very cleverly and carefully crafted in relation to the authors and themes of their books at each event. Hughes, de Bastarrechea, and Apponyi also clearly have a lot of fun in styling and creating the menus, a sense of fun which also feeds into the enjoyableness of the evenings as a whole.

"Sophisticated squishing" part 2: the diners as audience at the literary dinners at Hardy's Brasserie

“Sophisticated squishing” part 2: the diners as audience at the literary dinners at Hardy’s Brasserie

Thus in February for the evening with Philip Kerr, at which he gave an exclusive pre-publication preview of A Man Without Breath, the ninth novel in his internationally bestselling Bernie Gunther thriller series set in Germany during the Weimar Republic, World War II, and the Cold War, the menu included Bavarian beer, Reisling from the Rhine, schnitzel, strudel… after all of which, perhaps unsurprisingly, passers-by would have heard the assembled guests singing rousing Weimar songs.

Then later in February, to accompany Deborah Moggach reading from and talking about her latest novel, Heartbreak Hotel (Chatto & Windus, 2013), which is set in a decrepit B&B in rural Wales, the menu celebrated the principality with dishes including black beef carpaccio, mussels with leeks, Glamorgan sausages and steamed marmalade ‘Snowdon’ pudding.

Irina Prokhorova , author of  1990 Russians Remember,  Andreï Makine, author of  Brief Loves That Live Forever, and his translator, at the Beyond the Cherry Orchard – A Russian Feast for 2013 literary dinner at Hardy’s Brasserie in March 2013.

Irina Prokhorova , author of 1990 Russians Remember, Andreï Makine, author of Brief Loves That Live Forever, and his translator, at the Beyond the Cherry Orchard – A Russian Feast for 2013 literary dinner at Hardy’s Brasserie in March 2013.

On the evening that I went to Hardy’s the event, Viva Tequila!, was in celebration of Cleo Rocos’ new book, The Power of Positive Drinking (Square Peg, 2013). The comedy actress, producer and television presenter, who first came to fame in the 1980s as Kenny Everett’s sidekick in eight series of The Kenny Everett Television Show, is now also the President of The Tequila Society, has been crowned the UK’s first ‘tequilera’, and last year launched her own brand of 100% agave tequila, AquaRiva Premium Tequila. The Hardy’s literary evenings always begin at 7pm with complimentary aperitifs and in celebration of Rocos AquaRiva Margaritas were served. Which were followed by the delicious three-course meal the menu for which included, ceviche, vitello tonnato, slow-cooked chipotle pork, seabass in a salt crust, chargrilled squid and chorizo salad, watermelon granita, lime and tequila cheesecake.

After dessert Rocos took to the floor and was a wonderfully engaging, ebullient, hilarious, and charming raconteuse. The Power of Positive Drinking is presented as ‘a help yourself manual that guarantees partying success’ and has already made headlines around the world after Rocos spoke in an interview in the Sunday Times about the time she took Princess Diana to a gay bar, in male drag, in the company of Freddie Mercury and Kenny Everett. At Hardy’s Rocos told a similarly outlandish and riotous story about how she and comedian and television presenter, Alan Carr, attempted to initiate a brothel breakout in Soho after an afternoon drinking in a bar opposite, as Rocos stormed the building and attempted to set the prostitutes free, before their none too happy pimp arrived!

‘Casting’ is fundamental to the success of any event; there is a real skill in combining the separate ingredients of speakers, food, drinks, venue, and indeed, the audience themselves. In all their events to date, the trio of de Bastarrechea, Apponyi, and Hughes have proved themselves to be supremely talented in creating evenings that are as delicious as they are delightful, inspiring as they are impressive: a truly delectable feast for the senses.


There are four events left in Hardy’s January – June 2013 programme of events, details of which follow below. Whilst details of the new series of events which will follow later in the year will also be featured in P-TCP when they are announced.

All events begin at 7pm with talks at 7.30pm with complimentary aperitifs. Three course set menu, vegetarian options available.


Nicky Haslam presents his new book, Folly de Grandeur: Romance and revival in an English country house. From its humble origins as a Tudor hunting lodge to its present-day status as a protected historic building, Haslam’s delightful Folly de Grandeur is a unique English country house that is one of the renowned decorator’s favourite places.

On the menu, the belle époque of classic English food: G&Ts, claret, Cornish gulls eggs, smoked brown trout, roast beef with watercress and rhubarb fool (£45 per person)


Andrew Taylor, two-time winner of the Crime Writers Association award and author of critically acclaimed American Boy (Richard & Judy pick, 2004), brings us his new thriller, The Scent of Death. Manhattan, 1778. A city of secrets, profiteers, loyalists and double agents.

Food on the night will include American delights of oyster Po’Boy, deadbeet salad, steak frites, crawfish Lafayette en crepe, Louisiana vegetarian Gumbo and Mississippi mud pie (£40 per person)

Wednesday 29th May: FRENCH NOIR AND FRITES

Moody, atmospheric, sexy. French. Three exceptional writers present their works of French Noir: Antonin Varenne, Bed of Nails; Pierre Lemaître, Alex; Xavier-Marie Bonnot, Voice of the Spirits.

French bistro favourites  such as kir, escargots, steak frites, crème brulée will be served (£40 per person)


An evening of midsummer murders and international crime scenes, from Laos to Norfolk: Martin Walker, The Resistance Man: A Bruno Courrèges Investigation; Colin Cotterill, The Woman Who Wouldn’t Die: the ninth Dr Siri Paiboun Murder Mystery; Elly Griffiths, Dying Fall: the fifth Ruth Galloway Investigation.

Dinner in an English garden: asparagus, Cromer crab, Bang Bang chicken, poached salmon, strawberries and cream. (£40 per person)

All events take place at Hardy’s Brasserie, Restaurant, and Wine Bar, 53 Dorset Street, Marylebone, London W1U 7NH

To book:
Telephone: 020 7935 5929
Email: hardysbookdinners@gmail.com

Hardy’s Brasserie and Wine Bar: http://www.hardys-w1.com/

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W Hotels Fashion Next

Jenne Lombardo

Jenne Lombardo

By Guy Sangster Adams

Fashion Next, W Hotel’s programme in support of rising designers, is now in its third season and as it goes international for the first time, from New York, to London, to Moscow, and Bangkok, W Hotels have appointed Jenne Lombardo to be their global fashion director. For her inaugural Fashion Next in New York launched in early September 2011 Lombardo, whose career includes being director and curator of the MAC & Milk, and the founder of The Terminal Presents, chose designers Juan Carlos Obando, Nomia, Bibhu Mohapatra, Michael Angel, Rochambeau, and Electric Feathers.

Marios Schwab

Marios Schwab

In London she collaborated with designer Marios Schwab to create a documentary short, W Hotels Presents London Fashion Next?, which launched during London Fashion Week in late September. In providing a celebratory snapshot of London creativity, the film poses the question, What is new and next in London fashion? Lombardo, Schwab, and Schwab’s stylist, Katy England, respond to the question, alongside three of London’s emerging talents as picked by Lombardo and Schwab: Craig Lawrence, Fleet Ilya and Jordan Askill.

Katy England and Marios Schwab

Katy England and Marios Schwab

“I have long been a fan of Marios Schwab and am thrilled to be collaborating with him on what’s new and next in London Fashion,” says Lombardo, “Marios has brought his sophisticated style and an international dimension to W Hotels’ Fashion Next programme.” Whilst Schwab says, “I share W Hotels passion for fashion and have enjoyed working with them to support emerging designers in London. W Hotels offer young talent a global platform to showcase their collections to guests and customers alike.”

The documentary may be watched or downloaded for free at: http://starwoodpromos.com/whotelsfashion/gallery

For the next stage of Fashion Next, which launches in October 2011 during Moscow Fashion Week, Lombardo has worked with the Russian Fashion Insider, Vika Gazinskaya, and their  upcoming Russian Fashion Next talents, Anna Miminoshvili and Alexander Terekhov.

W Hotels: www.starwoodhotels.com/whotels

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Single review: Dirty Lakes – Let’s Buy Happiness


(Ghost Arc Records) On release
Reviewed by Dave Collins

Warmed only by a Motown backbeat and some woolly fuzzed-up guitar Dirty Lakes, the latest transmission from Tynesiders Let’s Buy Happiness is fitted around the neat, clean lines of a Scandinavian design school with a hand-stitched folk-art finish. It’s entirely the style of a midnight lullaby that’s a ready-to-run storyboard for an animated Eastern European short film. The delicately textured ghostly guitar washes from James Hall/Graeme Martin and Sarah Hall’s pixie-voiced skipping gives Dirty Lakes the close-mic’d intimacy of a fireside confessional from Kate Bush’s pen pal.

Let’s Buy Happiness:  letsbuyhappiness.com

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Single review: Miracle Worker – Superheavy (Mick Jagger, Dave Stewart, Joss Stone, Damian Marley, A.R. Rahman)



(Universal Music) On release

Reviewed by Dave Collins

How do fidgety rock stars busy themselves during their downtime? By forming a supergroup with similarly loose-ended friends. SuperHeavy is a tag-team which at its heaviest-hitting end stars Mick Jagger, Dave Stewart and Joss Stone. Buffed up with international swish from Damian Marley and A.R. Rahman (composer of the Slumdog Millionaire and 127 Hours soundtracks).

It’s a collective whose debut single dips a toe into the shallows of extra strength reggae. The ‘extra’ being soul vocals with rock guitar. However – music that may pump with muscular dub ‘n’ thump during a high end studio playback, can, on standard issue home audio sound, well, overcooked and/or sterile.

Certainly there’s enough ‘song’ and substance buried under the gloss, but an over polished production positions Miracle Worker at the wrong end of the reggae spectrum, leaving the backing track uncomfortably close to the white bread dynamics of UB40.

The irony here is SuperHeavy aren’t actually heavy enough. The single lacks the thick rhythmic fug and touches of Coxsone Dodd’s Studio One output or some dubbier dynamics. Hinting-at, but never quite hitting the genre’s heady textures.

As a song it’s a fine enough piece of pop built on a solid body of workable raw material and nippy top lines. As a production it’s in need of a snappier remix. To these ears, SuperHeavy should tighten up the loose Lovers Rock grooves and let Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry loose on the tune to wing in some vintage grit, shuffle and skank.

Dave Collins is editor of Planet Mondo and a regular contributor to Plectrum – The Cultural Pick

Superheavy: www.superheavy.com
Planet Mondo: planetmondo.blogspot.com
Universal Music: www.universalmusic.com

Further reading
Recent music reviews in Plectrum – The Cultural Pick:
Turn 2 Dust – Boy George
Elephant Room – Channel Cairo
Different Story – Wolfette

Or click on the tag Music Reviews to browse all the music reviews in the webzine edition of Plectrum – The Cultural Pick

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Single Review: Elephant Room – Channel Cairo

elephant room channel cairo cover

(Laissez Faire Club Records) Released 29th August 2011

Reviewed by Guy Sangster Adams

Opening floatingly with a piano like sunlight crested waves, and harmonies that gently build the swell, the debut single by Channel Cairo, Elephant Room, quickly becomes a bracing walk along the beach of a seaside town, as layers of fascinating and atmospheric refrains, vocals, piano, guitars, and rhythms, fleetingly and enticingly reach one on the ebb and flow. Or perhaps the allusion is to AM radio waves and the fluctuations of reception and interference, creating a sonic collage. Either way, as all the disparate threads evocatively coalesce with complete and rousing clarity for the song’s epic, climactic crescendo, one is already hooked and on the strength of this refreshingly original single determined to stay tuned to Channel Cairo.

The intriguing multi-layering also extends to the band’s name and, in its evocative combination of kidnapping and hieroglyphs, brings an extra suggestion of a thriller or film noir title. Cairo is a city that has haunted lead singer and keyboard player, Josh Bowyer, since he was kidnapped there, albeit very briefly, at the age of nine. But it was only when he put together the band with old friends Hamish Murtagh (guitar), Joe Cross (bass), James Gardiner (drums), that he discovered that Gardiner’s great, great grandfather was the preeminent early – mid twentieth century Egyptologist, Sir Alan Gardiner, who in 1927 published the important work, Egyptian Grammar: Being an Introduction to the Study of Hieroglyphs. Whilst ‘channel’ is a reference to the Anglo-French line-up of the band, as a few weeks after the old friends got together they met a French guitarist, Luke Saunders, at an open-mic night and asked him to join the line-up.

The cover of the single includes the imprint of a letter written by Howard Carter to Sir Alan Gardiner, discussing the former’s discovery of the tomb of Tutankhamun in the Valley of the Kings, Luxor, Egypt. But don’t wait for the sands of time to settle before you unearth Channel Cairo… discover them now with this excellent debut single.

Channel Cairo:  www.channelcairo.com

Laissez Faire Club Records: laissezfaireclub.com

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Book Review: The Novels of Simon Astaire: Private Privilege, And You Are…?, Mr Coles

(Each book published by Quartet Books)

Reviewed by Sam Burcher

Simon Astaire (c)Simon Astaire

Simon Astaire ©Simon Astaire

Simon Astaire’s loosely woven trilogy of novels is an attempt to free himself from his past and become a respected writer. No longer content to manage the lives of other people, he has come a long way from being the best friend of Sting, the squire of Tara Palmer-Tomkinson and Ulrika Jonsson, and the personal manager of Princess Michael of Kent.

By his own admission, Astaire began writing because his therapist suggested it after they hit upon the fact that he had been so emotionally unavailable in his relationships. This is something that he relates directly to the experience of being sent away from home at a very young age to Harrow School.

The first two books, Private Privilege, And You Are…?, are his rites of passage, whilst Mr Coles is an extension of that exploration and written with extraordinary darkness.


In Private Privilege, Astaire’s alma mater is thinly veiled as Montgomery House, and it is through this medium that I found myself vicariously returning to a world of Sunday exeats, black tails and boaters, and bumpy rides on the Metropolitan line to Harrow-on-the-Hill, on London’s outermost margins, for Speech Day.

Reading this book has helped me to understand what happened to my brother Julien during his time at Harrow, which was concurrent with the story told here.  Astaire’s peripatetic take has undoubtedly demystified some of my private perceptions of public school education.

The books central character Samuel Alexander, note the initials match the author’s, is sent away from home at 13 to begin a life at Montgomery House. From day one he is greeted with an oppressive regime of fagging, toshing, and bullying by older boys as the norm. Calculated acts of rebellion such as graffiti, theft, truancy, and drug taking intensify to arson and even suicide, all of which are hushed up by the school.

In empowering Sam in whichever ways he can against this dysfunctional backdrop, Astaire is giving a respectful nod to Lindsay Anderson’s powerful film, If, which is about a schoolboy lead revolution in a public school. From this forms surreal images of the shape shifting and shamanic psyche of a schoolboy torn from his roots and situated in a conditional culture where loneliness and abandonment reign and, fortunately, Matron is the only succor.

The task of raising public consciousness about the sticky subject of adolescent boys from an insider’s view of an ‘establishment’ institution is a tricky one. But the author manages it by using a literary camera obscura that allows him to entertain, whilst asking questions that go beyond mere survival.


Astaire’s second novel, And You Are…?, follows seamlessly and swiftly on the heels of Private Privilege. Sam, the central character, has graduated with dishonour from his emotionally deprived public school, and is ready and willing to face the challenges of young adulthood.

A former agent to stars, Astaire draws deeply on his own experience of Hollywood to entertain us.  He cleverly plays with time to measure just the right amount of reverie for the grand days of a Hollywood past to balance the book’s present.  Indeed, this mix of fact and fiction acts as a powerful stimulus to the reader’s imagination.

There are plenty of laughs, as well as an eclectic coterie of friends, acquaintances, a snake and Telly Savalas. On the other hand, the emotional darkness of the first novel remains. Only this time, the grief of a boy’s separation from everything that is familiar to him is disguised as the death of his older brother.  His grief finds company with the lonely Hollywood actors, who despite their fame, drink alone at the bar.  Perhaps no one is as lonely as the stars.

The second novel demands a second love affair, which comes in the form of the free-spirited February, who is the conduit for the author’s detailed and sensuous descriptions of nature.  She is the muse guiding the juxtaposition between the smog on the Scaletrix streets of Los Angeles and the scented forests high above the Hollywood hills. Such attention to the natural world would make the Pre-Raphaelites proud.

As I read this book one afternoon at Kentish Town station, I couldn’t help but notice a railway worker flapping a pretty grey and white pigeon off the opposite platform. After much wafting with the lid of a large cardboard box she succeeded.  I had just got to the part in the book where Sam is imagining his own death during lovemaking with his first love. I was reading about death, thinking about death and suddenly death was imminent. I looked up from my reading.

A shrill whistle meant that the worker had not finished tormenting the pigeon, which was now perched upon the track.  Its body convulsed with the electric current as the 18.30 to St Albans collided into it.  In one motion, the bird fell to its own little death and as the train departed there was no sign of it. I dared to believe that the pigeon had flown away like an angel, or a Magi. Then, from beyond the track, I saw a white wing rise once, twice, and then no more.  A railway worker looking on flashed me a cynical smile as he made towards the opposite platform with a pair of plastic litter pickers at the ready.

This book has strange ways of connecting with the reader through different mediums. As with the previous novel, music is used as a channel. So too is food, place and smell.  But it is the celebration and the tribulations of youth in search of identity that connect you to its core. Ultimately, Sam’s story is about the ambitions, with sensitive limits, of a boy who will not be broken by systems that don’t always care, be it the public school system, or Hollywood.


Mr Coles is Astaire’s third novel, published this year.  It picks up the theme of private school, this time from the perspective of a teacher in a boys’ prep school in Norfolk.  But this is no ordinary teacher; this is Mr Coles, pederast and fantasist. Written in the first person narrative it takes the reader intimately into the lurid depths of the daily machinations of an alcoholic child sexual abuser.

Lyrically beautiful, tighter and more multi-textural than the previous two novels, it is a compelling read rather than a comfortable one.  A book of two halves, we fast forward twenty years after Mr Coles has tricked the family of his most desired pupil into being invited to their summer retreat in Cannes, and is eventually found out. But who tells?

Comparisons can be made to Thomas Mann’s novella and film, Death in Venice.  However, Mr Coles is not merely a voyeur.  His sweaty desires are actualized and when not in the act, he is a lone predator prowling the dormitories sniffing the sheets of little boys.

The three novels demonstrate just how successful Astaire has been in his stated mission. All three books have enjoyed critical and commercial success. Private Privilege is a bestseller and Astaire has recently adapted Mr Coles into a screenplay for a film which begins shooting in Norfolk, in the East of England, early next year. He has also received a lot of feedback from Old Harrovians who similarly found it hard to commit to a relationship or communicate with their partners. Although equally, he has also heard from those who said their time at Harrow was very happy and the best start to life they could have had.

Quartet Books: www.quartetbooks.co.uk

Sam Burcher: www.samburcher.com

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Single Review: Different Story – Wolfette


(Lavaland Records) Released 1st August 2011

Reviewed by Guy Sangster Adams

Sublime pop from the equally stunning singer-songwriter, Wolfette, and her co-writer and producer, the multi-talented, multi-instrumentalist, Gisli Kristjansson, who together have cleverly and triumphantly melded a reimagined Hi-NRG, by way of ZTT’s take on electronica, with 1990s alt rock – Shoegaze, Britpop, and something altogether darker and heavier – to create an immediate, swirlingly anthemic song, which is perfect for the now, and to which resistance would not only be foolhardy, but most probably futile.

Different Story tells of impasse in a relationship on the verge of rupture and the spirited eleventh hour refusal to forget the love that first brought the couple together, or to forgo hope for reconciliation and passion reiginition. Wolfette’s wonderful vocals evocatively colour the light and dark, from the breathy, brightest of bright choruses, to the more sinister, stiletto sharp, edginess of the bridge. All of which adds to the very welcome stylistic echoes which imbue Different Story, from Kim Wilde’s Kids in America, to Lush’s Single Girl, and shades of Shirley Manson and Debbie Harry, intriguingly bringing to mind two Blondie tracks from opposite ends of their discography, One Way or Another and Maria.

Lyrically and musically Different Story urges, infectiously so as it transpires, to dance all over deadlock, and in so doing embrace hope and the promise of brighter things to come. Different Story also highlights the promise of a bright future with which Wolfette abounds, whilst also providing a fantastic, hope inspiring moment to enjoy right now!


Gisli Kristjansson:

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Book Review: The Hardy Tree, A Story About Gang Mentality – Iphgenia Baal


(Trolley Books) £14.99

Reviewed by Delisia Howard and Chris Price

We really like this book… It’s a wild and poetic history which, while hanging on by white knuckles to the facts, stirs up a dark potion rushing through the stygian channels of London – the ragamuffin gangs of ne’er-do-wells and resurrection men, Coney catchers and bawdy bastards. The book itself, beautifully produced, is stained by a ‘dish o’ tay’ thrown in the mists of time, seeping into the type like unconscious memory. There are also very nice pictures, well-spaced and by human hand.

Baal touches the dead hand of Hardy as a young man working for the railway as an engineer, moving the rotting dead cadavers from the St Pancras bone yard, with the help of Jerry Cruncher look-alikes and gin and porter soaked navigators, and the gilded dustman admires his seething heaps against the fire of a Mad Martin sunset. Magically their stones are girt around a huge tree like a ruff on a Danish Lutheran proclaiming the Day of Wrath.

Hardy’s dark world – the whispering Egdon Heath, the hanged children in Jude, his miskatonick Fates weaving their cold logic as it guides lost souls to destruction from Casterbridge to Christminster – this book explains it all.

When St Augustine preached from old St Pancras Church, the Angles had already been identified as angels in their chains, with golden hair and milk white skin… The pale kings and princes too stalk this marvelous place… All England stretched out on a once rural hillock…  Here lay Bristol’s Marvelous Boy, Chatterton, leaping out of a sarcophagus months before expiring in that lonely attic in Brooke’s Market, Holborn, a small blue vial and a fragment of forged Saxon verse falling from his 17 year old hand…   Here reigns, in his Portland stone telephone box, Sir John Soane, dreaming of a London in ruins, the ragged manacled gates of Newgate opened at last… Blake and Fuseli chatting to Augustine’s angels and Charles Dickens summoning up the marsh gas as it rises above the image of a man with a spade…

Iphgenia Baal has created a spectacular panorama, a thrilling breath of fresh air, crackling with life, as well crafted as a Flaxman bas-relief, even if it is about the lives of the dead…

Read Delisia Howard and Chris Price’s regular column in the print edition of Plectrum – The Cultural Pick.

Iphgenia Baal: iphgeniabaal.wordpress.com/
Trolley Books: trolleybooks.com

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Global Geo Art: OK Go, Henry Holland, Josh Rubin, Natasha Slater, and Mia Freedman draw on their cities with the Pulse of the City Range Rover Evoque GPS app

OK Go in the streets of Los Angeles

OK Go parading through the streets of Los Angeles

By Guy Sangster Adams

The new Range Rover Evoque, for which pre-orders are now being taken, is inspired by city architecture and is designed to appeal to a younger, urban minded driver. It is the smallest, lightest and most fuel efficient vehicle the company has yet made, and owners can choose from an host of exterior and design features that make each car eminently easy to personalise. Since the car was unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show in October 2010, Range Rover has worked with a great array of influential and cutting-edge artists, designers, and taste-makers on creative projects anticipating the launch of the Evoque, from 40 plus wireframe sculptures exhibited in diverse international locations, to a piece of collaborative living art created using Range Rover’s Pulse of the City GPS iPhone app, the creation of which has been documented in a new short film released by the company.

Launched in October 2010, concurrent with the unveiling of the Evoque, the Pulse of the City app allows the user to create vivid and striking data visualisations of their movements across their city, or any city worldwide. They are then sent a graphical representation of their journey, which can be displayed on their iPhone.

Henry Holland filming on the streets of London

Henry Holland filming on the streets of London

For the creation of the work of global geo art, documented in the film, Range Rover equipped OK Go, Henry Holland, Josh Rubin, Natasha Slater, and Mia Freedman, with the Pulse of the City app and asked them to use it to draw on the streets of their cities. Range Rover also invited submissions from city residents around the world; content was uploaded to helloevoque.com and OK Go then selected works to include in the film. Thus, the world’s cities became a giant canvas painted on with the app.

In LA, neon-clad fans and musicians armed with recorders, drums, saxophones, trombones, maracas, a toy piano, horns and a fiddle joined Grammy Award winning rock band, OK Go, dressed in Costume National suits in primary colours, on an 8 mile journey through the city, inspired by the high colour and joyousness of the second line street parades in New Orleans. As the band walked and played around the city their movements spelt out the words ‘OK Go’ in giant letters. The film of their LA parade has been nominated by MTV for an O Music Award for in the Innovative use of technology in a video category.

Range Rover Evoque

Range Rover Evoque

For his geo-art journey around London, Henry Holland chose to draw out the House of Holland logo, whilst also along the way stopping at his favourite landmarks to shoot the look book for his AW11 collection. “This project was the perfect fusion of art, fashion and technology,” he says, “who’d have thought three years ago that we’d be making art through GPS tracking and creating chaos across London as we went!”

Josh Rubin, founder and Editor in Chief of Cool Hunting, designer, photographer and entrepreneur, and Mia Freedman, journalist, author, and blogger, took to the streets of New York and Sydney respectively to draw pictures across their cities. Whilst Natasha Slater, the Milan-based editor, broadcaster, DJ and club promoter, took a journey through the Italian city’s nightlife, spelling out the word, ‘party’.

Meanwhile the public submissions include a little boy called Jethro who draws a tractor on London, whilst across the world, a double clef, a star, a flower, and the word ‘peace’ all appear on the streets.


To watch the film: http://media.helloevoque.com/VideosCategoryIndexPage/lifestyle-videos/OK-Go-Geo-Art.html

To download the Pulse of the City app for iPhone for free: http://itunes.apple.com/uk/app/range-rover-pulse-of-the-city/id398471586?mt =8

Range Rover Evoque: www.helloevoque.com
OK Go: www.okgo.net
House of Holland: www.houseofholland.co.uk
Josh Rubin: joshrubin.com
Natasha Slater: www.natashaslater.com
Mia Freedman: www.mamamia.com.au

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Off_Press: Three Contemporary Polish Poets in Translation

Krzysztof Ciemnołoński, Roman Honet, Joanna Małgorzata Przybylska
Translated from the Polish by Marek Kazmierski


Marek Kazmierski is the director and founder of OFF_ , a UK-based independent press, promoting contemporary creative writing in English and Polish translations, using multimedia and live events to celebrate reading and storytelling in different languages/genres around the world.

The aims of OFF_ are fivefold;

  • encourage the reading of literature in translation

  • bring writers together around an independent press

  • create a bridge between English and Polish literary worlds

  • publish books and anthologies under the OFF_Press banner

  • use multimedia tools and networks to promote literature worldwide

Krzysztof Ciemnołoński

Krzysztof Ciemnołoński

Krzysztof Ciemnołoński, born 1985 in Warsaw, Poland, is a  DJ, events organiser, music critic, and loves post-punk and psychobilly. He has  published the poetry volumes, płaskostopie (SDK 2003) and przebicia (SDK 2005). A new volume, eskalacje, is currently being readied for publication.  He lives in Zalesie Górne with his wife and son.

ruptures (medley)

and another line deprives access to the sea
we stand on the pier paralysed like all
those stories about a group of friends honouring

the final wish of one dead rolling through countries and bars
cross crossroads with the promise of ashes scattered along the coast
but once there can’t do anything other than turn circles

wandering is an aim in itself (when setting off on a
journey choose the furthest route) something constantly
piercing through out of the background like a wave function
explicitly describing the edges of body
sensitive like slabs dragged onto the surface of union
soon background noise will be betrayed by a new frequency
which will leave it all along with the tide

a may night

these days follow each other like minced
meat every set list revealing the decay

fireflies over the lakes millions of dead souls across
the marshes just the one explosion in the labs
residue in the narrow gullet of the woods blossoming

conflict between the locals and onslaughts of mist
who will cast the first stone who will swallow slime
call near animals who by hearing alone will read

the breakdown of systems as new tribes
won’t come won’t explain themselves

when the noise stops no
one will enter here again

Roman Honet

Roman Honet

Between 1995 and 2008 the poet, Roman Honet, who was born in 1974), was the editor of the bimonthly literary and artistic magazine Studium. His poetry is representative of the trend known as the “emboldened imagination” (a term suggested by Marian  Stala), and he is also known as one of the new existentialists. He teaches creative writing at the School of Literary Arts, Jagiellonian University, Krakow.

on recalling

it is early evening camp fires, aniseed
particles on women’s lips. it is listening to
the whisper of motorways coated in a transparent
film of lights like the preparation of our epoch,
the chill of equalizers made by Diora, Radiotechnika,
Unitra. it was all that. boys
carrying the cobalt seas in their eyes and a spade,
they, who so far back fell under the spell of shadows,
engrossed, and now – look –
immense power expels them out of there,
awakens. costs of living have spiralled,
they say. a year gone by
and it’s all the same. the same void
has, then loses him

beach. christmas

at first, there is a stick thrown high,
motion in slowed sequences like the descent of crushed ore
through oxygen, a thoughtless dream. Bricks
licked with a steaming tongue,
chokeberry. a fairytale – about a bold knight. kites, dark lines
linking them with the hands of children on the beach, an air show
of refuelling blood mid-flight,

(the days are blind and tremble gently,
otokar balcy and alojzy mol)

then another month comes along. a year
different again. snow falling on desolate car parks,
on kings among men weighed down by their gifts:
nectar and a hook – suddenly birds, disturbed, their wings in neon
and thorns. then it’s christmas eve.
head surgery. from shadows

emerge long unseen guests
then fall back into shadows.

my dear departed –
I say – nothing connects us any more

Joanna Małgorzata Przybylska

Joanna Małgorzata Przybylska

Born in Lodz, Poland, in 1984, Joanna Małgorzata Przybylska, studied at the University of Lodz, graduating with degrees in sociology and Polish literature. She has won numerous poetry competitions, and her poems have been published in Arterie, Tygiel Kultury, Cegla and various anthologies. She works in a second-hand bookshop in the Limanka district of Lodz.

tell me babe

I don’t know how to be all alone in my poems,
I invent wicked men for company, never sure what it is
they’re made of, horseradish perhaps? rank, but good for you,
seeing they are particularly harmful and healthy and fit,
which may be why I value their company, without admitting to it.

I unleash hysterics and tell ugly tales about them, slanders
make little impression, they head for their summits unmoved.
I want to tell them apart before they set behind the sun, preserved
in jars, keeping verses alive.

joanna comes to the defence of pansies

yes, it’s because you never thought about the flowers,
across yellow wallpaper they escaped in search
of water. too late, they wilt, shrivel – now you should
glue, but I don’t want a dead wall. let’s let them

leave. yes, it’s because you’ll never understand, blurting:
women, pounding fists against dear departed roses,
until they stick for good, get their teeth into
the plasterboard, and then: you crying again? without me
you’d never blossom. it must have been tough, the laws
of physics broken. I asked; ease off, I’m cracking along

the yellowing wallpaper, won’t fit inside me all of the dead
carnations. yes, it’s because you always took me with a pinch,
without asking you unwrap, knot a lasso, and yet without me
you won’t catch, and again: hold here please.


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Krzysztof Ciemnołoński

Jagiellonian University, Krakow

Literary Event: Crime and Writing – Frances Kay and Cathi Unsworth


University of Brighton Faculty of the Arts, Grand Parade, Brighton, East Sussex. UK
Thursday 24th March 2011 from 6pm – 7pm

By Guy Sangster Adams

Cathi Unsworth Allison McGourty

Cathi Unsworth ©Allison McGourty

Plectrum favourite and contributor, novelist, writer, and editor, Cathi Unsworth, is joining acclaimed children’s playwright and novelist, Frances Kay, for a fascinating and free event which forms part of the University of Brighton’s Faculty of Arts’ ongoing programme of events featuring leading 21st Century authors.  The evening will include readings, interviews, and an audience Q&A about both writers’ experiences of writing for publications and the challenges of working within the contemporary popular fiction market.

Frances Kay was born in London, but now lives in Ireland, with her husband the musician, Nico Brown, and their two daughters. In both countries she has worked with gypsies, prisoners and children. At the end of January it was announced that her first novel, Micka, has been shortlisted for the People’s Book Prize award for Fiction (which is voted for by the public alone), adding to the commercial and critical success that the book has enjoyed since it was published in July 2010. The story revolves around 10 year old Micka and the dangerous game his new classmate, Laurie, draws him into. The Guardian‘s review of the book said, “This pulverising account of two boys and the dire consequences of casual neglect seems familiar, but is superbly articulated [ . . .] The book’s brutality is sickening in places, yet each voice is distinct and matter-of fact, the imagery lucid, spare and uncompromising.”

“A magnificent tapestry of period and place, confirming her status as one of Britain’s most potent writers of noir,” is how Marcel Berlins described Cathi Unsworth’s most recent novel, Bad Penny Blues, in The Times. A quote that is indicative of the critical acclaim that the book, which centres on the ‘Jack The Stripper’ murders which took place in West London in the 1950s, has achieved since it was published in 2009.

Unsworth began her professional writing career when she was only 19 on the legendary weekly music paper, Sounds. Since when she has worked as a writer and editor for many other music, film and arts magazines since, including Bizarre, Melody Maker, Mojo, Uncut, Volume, Deadline, and reviews crime fiction paperbacks for The Guardian. In addition to her novels The Not Knowing (2005) and the ‘punk noir’ The Singer (2007), she also edited and contributed to the award winning short story compendium London Noir (2006). She also regularly takes part in live events including screen talks at The Barbican and spoken word gigs organised by Tight Lip, The Sohemian Society, Ace Stories, and also Plectrum – The Cultural Pick!

Crime and Writing: Frances Kay and Cathi Unsworth
CETLD room, University of Brighton Faculty of the Arts, Grand Parade, Brighton, East Sussex. UK
Thursday 24th March 2011 from 6pm – 7pm

Tickets: Free, but spaces are limited and must be reserved in advance.
To reserve a ticket email: k.shaw@brighton.ac.uk


If you enjoy reading Plectrum – The Cultural Pick and would like to stay up to date with news of Plectrum events, please connect with us at Facebook.com/PlectrumTheCulturalPick

Cathi Unsworth


University of Brighton Faculty of the Arts


Literary Event: Ace Stories #10 – Rachel Cusk

Sara Lenzen, James Burt, 21 Crows
Hotel Pelirocco, 10 Regency Square, Brighton, East Sussex BN1 2FG, UK
Sunday 6th March 2011 from 6pm – 8pm

Rachel Cusk (photographed by Adrian Clarke)

Rachel Cusk (photographed by Adrian Clarke)

by Guy Sangster Adams

Ace Stories concludes its first season of literary events in the impressive fashion which has marked out the series as a whole. Highly acclaimed writer, Rachel Cusk, will read from her latest novel, The Bradshaw Variations (Faber & Faber), and will also be ‘in conversation’ about her life and work with Ace Stories creator and director, Jay Clifton. There will also be live music from 21 Crows, and support readings from Sara Lenzen and James Burt.

Jay Clifton conceived Ace Stories, which is based in the English south coast city of Brighton & Hove, as arena which would “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, which have featured writers such as, Cathi Unsworth, James Miller, Scott Bradfield, and Amanda Smyth, Ace Stories has also included film screenings, screenwriting workshops, and attendant ‘in conversation’ events at the De La Warr Pavilion, in the neighbouring coastal town of Bexhill-on-Sea.

Rachel Cusk, who is now similarly based in Brighton, was born in Canada and grew up in Los Angeles, USA, before moving to England where she completed her schooling and English at New College, Oxford.  Her first novel, Saving Agnes (1993), won the Whitbread First Novel Award, and her subsequent six novels and two works of non-fiction have all received great acclaim. In 2003, she was nominated by the British literary magazine, Granta, as one of 20 ‘Best of Young British Novelists’.

Ace Stories #10: Rachel Cusk, Sara Lenzen, James Burt, 21 Crows
at Hotel Pelirocco, 10 Regency Square,
Brighton, East Sussex BN1 2FG, UK
on Sunday 6 March at 6pm.

Admission: £3 on door


Ace Stories Brighton Facebook page

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 heading.

Hotel Pelirocco

EP Review: Field to City – Ben Clarke


Four track EP: Until You Come Calling/Your Reasons Have Escaped Me/The Longing/Change Your Story
Revtone Records
Available from iTunes

By Guy Sangster Adams

Ben Clarke’s debut solo EP is an absolute pleasure. Its sunlit, ethereally melodic pastoralism interwoven with the irrepressibility of urbanist swagger and momentum is equally evocative of the sheer breadth of experience, inspiration, and excitement of Clarke’s progression over the last six years from, as the title has it, Field to City.

After growing up surrounded by endless fields and infinite skies deep in the countryside of England’s second largest county, Lincolnshire (a particularly rural county in which the land is predominantly given over to agricultural use), in 2005 aged just 17 – having left school at 16 to pursue a musical career – Clarke co-founded the band, Littl’ans, with Andrew Aveling.

Within months of forming they were not only the main support act on Babyshambles’ sold out tour, but had also released their debut single, Their Way, featuring Pete Doherty. The single reached number 2 in the UK Indie charts, and by the end of the year Littl’ans were headlining their own Club NME tour. The following year they collaborated with French fashion designer, Hedi Slimane, to provide the soundtrack for the Dior Homme Spring/Summer 2007 catwalk show. Their debut album, Primitive World, which had been recorded in New York, was released in 2008 and their tour dates took them around the world, and included playing 2009’s South by Southwest Festival (SXSW) in Austin, Texas, USA. But late in 2009 Clarke left the band to concentrate on his own material.

Ben Clarke photographed by Sarah Thompson

Ben Clarke photographed by Sarah Thompson ((Gig Junkie: gigjunkie.co.uk)

The first released fruits of which are the four tracks on Field to City, which were once again recorded in New York. Perhaps unsurprisingly as Clarke was the drummer in Littl’ans, the rhythm section is very much to the fore in each of the tracks which, as alluded to above, creates a fantastically charged upbeat inner city rock contrasting to great effect with the more bucolic or folky elements of the mix. This brings a welcome suggestion of both The Kinks and Love. Indeed, Clarke’s vocals and harmonies which by turns are wistfully reflective or soaring to meet the swallows flying high above, have shades of Ray Davies and Arthur Lee, and throughout Field to City there is, carried in the light summer breeze across from Lincolnshire’s neighbouring county, Cambridgeshire, a note of Syd Barrett.

In addition to singing all the vocals and backing vocals on the EP, Clarke also proves himself to be a talented multi-instrumentalist, playing not only the drums on all the tracks but also the rhythm guitar, tambourine, and cabasa. Whilst Ian Everall from The Albertans plays bass guitar on all the tracks, Federico Zinelli lead guitar, and David Brandwein, who was also the record’s recording engineer, plays an extraordinary sounding 1960s Haggstrom Futurama guitar on the EP’s closing, and far heavier sounding track, Change Your Story. The particularity of the guitar sound was added to, as Clarke recounts, by Brandwein, “putting it through an old battered 15 watt Fender amplifier”.

Ben Clarke playing live at the Plectrum Live Editon: Brit Bitz December 2010, photographed by Emma Jane Clarke

Ben Clarke playing at the Plectrum Live Editon: Brit Bitz December 2010, photographed by Emma Jane Clarke

For me, all of the elements come together most strongly on the second track, Your Reasons Have Escaped Me, which though implicitly of the now, would sit wonderfully well as a contemporary reworking of Forever Changes period Love, but that is not to take away from the other three tracks on Field to City. Taken as a joyous whole it is the richest colours even on the greyest day, a captivating smile from a passer-by which melts the concrete and steel of a city street and uplifts even the most jaded soul.

Ben Clarke:
Field to City EP on iTunes

Ben Clarke Myspace

Ben Clarke Facebook

Ben Clarke Twitter

Sarah Thompson/Gig Junkie

Plectrum – The Cultural Pick

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Music reviews in the webzine edition of Plectrum – The Cultural Pick:

Marilyn Monroe (Wam Bam JFK) – The Wolfmen/ The Corridor – Youri Blow/ One Born Every Minute – Roses Kings Castles/ War is Noise – Jaakko & Jay / Beachcomber’s Windowsill – Stornoway/ Sisterworld – Liars/ Nintendo EP & Love Is Not Rescue – Chris T-T/ Sometime Around MidnightThe Airborne Toxic Event/ Jackie, Is It My Birthday? – The Wolfmen feat. Sinéad O’Connor / Poetry of the Deed –  Frank Turner/ The Cost of Living – The Tunics/ Reasons Not To Be An Idiot – Frank TurnerSingles – The Long Blondes/ Echo & The Bunnymen at the Roundhouse, London, 15th October 2009

Exhibition: Dorothy Circus Gallery – Private Collection Carnival

Dorothy Circus Gallery, Rome, Italy
12th February – 20th February 2011
(NB: Private Collection Carnival is open to the public from 15th – 20th February; whilst 12th – 14th February (incl.) admission is reserved solely for collectors and accredited representatives of the press, museums and other institutions etc)


By Guy Sangster Adams

Later this year the Dorothy Circus Gallery will celebrate its fifth birthday and it begins its anniversary year in inimitable style with a move to fantastic new premises in via dei Pettinari, deep in the beautiful and historic heart of Rome, and inaugurates the new space with Private Collection Carnival. The exhibition brings more than 50 works from the highly successful Pop Surrealism exhibition which the Dorothy Circus Gallery presented in collaboration with the Jonathan LeVine Gallery at the Museum Carandente, Spoleto, Italy, from June to October last year (to read Plectrum’s coverage of the Pop Surrealism exhibition click here).  Amongst the highly influential and innovative artists featured in Private Collection Carnival are Mark Ryden, Joe Sorren, Marion Peck, Ron English, Ray Caesar, and Colin & Sas Christian (there is a full list of the artists included in the exhibition at the foot of this article).

From the exhibition Private Collection Carnival, Joe Sorren, Portrait of Gelsomina and Romeo, image courtesy of Dorothy Circus Gallery

From the exhibition Private Collection Carnival, Joe Sorren - Portrait of Gelsomina and Romeo, image courtesy of Dorothy Circus Gallery

All of the works in the Private Collection Carnival are from the personal collection of Alexandra Mazzanti, the owner and director of Dorothy Circus Gallery. In describing the exhibition, she says, “in perfect harmony with the Surrealist roots of the 1930s, the figurative prophecies of Pop regenerate in a constant movement between the registration of the real and an immediate dreamlike reworking.” On this borderline, as she says, a new world is revealed “somewhere between reality and dream, where girls with large eyes and slender bodies hide arcane secrets and helpless and sad demons play with monsters, where everything looks like the real but transcends it, telling a new and ancient mythology.”


From the exhibition Private Collection Carnival, Leila Ataya - Her Highness, image courtesy of Dorothy Circus Gallery

“A space on the border between New York and Wonderland,” is how K.N.Wikstrand described the Dorothy Circus Gallery when it opened in 2007, and over the last five years Alexandra Mazzanti has championed Pop Surrealism, Lowbrow art, and new figurative art tendencies, and during that time gallery has been responsible for introducing to the contemporary Italian art scene many key international artists including Joe Sorren, Ron English, Colin & Sas Christian, Jonathan Viner, Camille Rose Garcia, Alex Gross, Tara McPherson, James Jean, and Travis Louie. Mazzanti has also championed influential Italian artists such as Nicoletta Ceccoli, and has equally remained committed to “launching tomorrow’s new stars and talents”.


From the exhibition Private Collection Carnival, Mark Ryden - Bear Girl, image courtesy of Dorothy Circus Gallery

The second incarnation of the Dorothy Circus Gallery will, as Mazzanti says, “preserve the magic of the ‘First Circus’ style”, but adding to it “a touch of luxury” not least in its white velvet dressed Art Bookshop, and will continue to transport the visitor to Wonderland.

Private Collection Carnival features works by: Mark Ryden, Joe Sorren, Marion Peck, Camille Rose Garcia Alex Gross, Ron English, Sas & Colin Christian, Kris Lewis, Ray Caesar, Jeff Soto, Travis Louie, David Stoupakis, Adam Wallacavage, Tara McPherson, Miss Van, Lola, Nicoletta Ceccoli, Esao Andrews, Scott Musgrove, Jonathan Viner, Kathie Olivas, Natalie Shau, Mijn Schatie, Michael Page, Tim McCormick, Nathan Spoor, Paul Chatem, Ken Keirns, Ahren Hertel, Leila Ataya, Aaron Jasinski, Niba.

Private Collection Carnival
runs from 12th – 20th February 2011  (NB: the exhibition  is open to the public from 15th – 20th February; whilst 12th – 14th February (incl.) admission is reserved solely for collectors and accredited representatives of the press, museums and other institutions etc)at Dorothy Circus Gallery,
via dei Pettinari 76, 00186 Rome, Italy
Telephone: +39 338 9499432

Tuesday – Thursday 11:30 to 19:30
Friday and Saturday 15:30 to 19:30
Closed Monday and Sunday

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Articles in Plectrum – The Cultural Pick with associated content to this article:


Exhibition: Incubi Celesti/Heavenly Nightmares – NICOLETTA CECCOLI

Exhibition Preview: Interruption – A Retrospective of Work from 2004 -2010 by JOE SORREN and Collaborative Sculpture by JUD BERGERON and JOE SORREN

Exhibition: ART FROM THE NEW WORLD – A Big Brash Exhibition of the New American Art Scene

Exhibition/new work and interview: AMY GUIDRY

Exhibition: Beautiful Again (Perpetuating the Myth of Paradise) Images by JT BURKE

Exhibition Preview: Interruption – A Retrospective of Work from 2004 -2010 by Joe Sorren and Collaborative Sculpture by Jud Bergeron and Joe Sorren

California State University Fullerton/Grand Central Art Center, California, USA
6th November 2010 to 8th January 2011

Flagstaff Cultural Partners/Coconino Center for the Arts, Flagstaff, Arizona, USA
22nd January 2011 to 25th February 2011

By Guy Sangster Adams

Interruption exhibition

Interruption - A Retrospective of Work from 2004 -2010 by Joe Sorren and Collaborative Sculpture by Jud Bergeron and Joe Sorren California State University Fullerton/Grand Central Art Center, California, USA ©Joe Sorren

Unveiling ten new paintings and bringing together ten works created throughout the last decade on loan from international collectors of Joe Sorren’s work, who include Courtney Cox/David Arquette, Patricia Arquette, and Nike Brand President, Mark Parker, Interruption is the first museum retrospective of the work of this highly influential conceptual artist. The exhibition also includes eight, new, bronze sculptures that Sorren has created in collaboration with Jud Bergeron. Interruption also marks the publication of the book, Joe Sorren – Paintings 2004 – 2010 (Gingko Press).

Born in a suitcase factory in Chicago, Illinois, USA, though as he is keen to establish, “not inside of a suitcase, mind you.” A surrealistically humorous retort that brings to mind Oscar Wilde’s, The Importance of Being Earnest, and Lady Bracknell’s infamous exclamation ,”In a handbag?”, when she discovers that as a baby her prospective son-in-law was found in a handbag at London’s, Victoria Station. Her ladyship would probably be equally aghast at Sorren’s childhood hobbies growing up in Arizona, first in and around Phoenix, and then Flagstaff, where he is still based, which he lists as “running and jumping” and “spit[ting] in the wind.”

Interrruption Joe Sorren

Interrruption Joe Sorren ©Joe Sorren

Early pop cultural inspiration for Sorren came via Dynamite, the children’s magazine that ran from 1974 to 1992 and featured a heady mix of magic tricks, punch out or assemble puzzles, games, postcards, and masks and the like on the back cover, plus fold out posters, sometimes in 3-D, alongside coverage of television shows from The Six Million Dollar Man to Beverly Hills 90210, film stars, and rock and pop stars. He still has, as he puts it, “a half-way decent collection of Dynamite Magazine posters that range from issue #3 (Robin Williams as Mork) to issue #7 (Jessica Lange as Mork’s dentist).” Before wryly adding, “actually that is not true, I don’t have the Jessica Lange poster anymore, not since the 2003 incident at Pay-n’-Take in Flagstaff, Arizona.”

Sorren began  painting in 1991, graduated with a BFA from Northern Arizona University in 1993, and held his first solo exhibition in 1995. Since when, along with contemporaries such as Mark Ryden, Todd Schorr and The Clayton Brothers, he has become a key figure in the new American art scene, playing a major role in the rise of the genres Pop Surrealism and Lowbrow, whilst also producing work that is its own genre, the genre of Sorren, and inspiring a new generation of artists into the bargain. Over the course of the last 15 years he has exhibited in galleries around the world, gaining international acclaim, garnering many awards, and a similarly international roster of collectors and fans. Whilst his work has also featured in an host of publications including Rolling Stone Magazine, Time Magazine, the New Yorker, the Los Angeles Times, The Atlantic Monthly, on television in NBC’s ER, and the film Penelope (2006) directed by Mark Palansky and starring Christina Ricci, James McAvoy, and Reece Witherspoon.

Headlong by Jud Bergeron and Joe Sorren

Headlong by Jud Bergeron and Joe Sorren ©Jud Bergeron/Joe Sorren

Warner Brothers, Fox and Atlantic Records have also all used Sorren’s work, and he created the cover art for the two Tweaker albums, The Attraction To All Things Uncertain (2001) and 2am Wake Up Call (2004). Tweaker is an alternative rock collaboration founded by the Grammy Award winning producer, musician, songwriter Chris Vrenna, who also played drums with Nine Inch Nails and is the current keyboard player with Marilyn Manson. Tweaker has featured contributions from many famous musicians including Johnny Marr, Will Oldham, Robert Smith, and David Sylvian.

The fashion designer Donna H. Baxter, founder of Elsie Katz Couture and collector of Sorren’s work, says of him, “Joe’s success has always been so much larger than his ambitions.” Certainly, as is borne out from the above paragraphs, Sorren’s rich sense of humour belies any taking himself too seriously. What is serious is his passion and commitment the creation of new work rather than to the trappings of celebrity.

A sense of humour along with “skilful chaotic moments of inertia” are key facets of the sculptures that he has created with Jud Bergeron for Interruption. Bergeron is a New York-based sculptor, who studied classical sculpture with Lacy DeGarenday at the prestigious Lyme Academy of Fine Arts in Old Lyme, Connecticut, USA from 1988 to 1991. After which for the next ten years he worked as a mould maker and master patina artist at foundries across the USA. All of which has lead to current renown for his “ability to take metals, wood and patinas to a sublimely abstract level.” He has exhibited extensively in New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Denver and Santa Fe. In 2004 he was selected for The Hearts in San Francisco public art project, for which he fabricated a 6ft x 6ft abstract, steel heart that was installed in front of the War Memorial in San Francisco. He is currently finishing work that will be installed in downtown Sacramento, California, USA, as part of their art in public space programme.

Interruption – A Retrospective of Work from 2004 -2010 by Joe Sorren and Collaborative Sculpture by Jud Bergeron and Joe Sorren
Runs from 6th November 2010 to 8th January 2011 at
California State University Fullerton/Grand Central Art Center,
125 N. Broadway, Santa Ana, California 92701, USA

Runs from 22nd January 2011 to 25th February 2011 at
Flagstaff Cultural Partners/Coconino Center for the Arts,
2300 N. Fort Valley Road (Highway 180), Flagstaff, Arizona 86002, USA

Further Reading – articles in Plectrum – The Cultural Pick with associated content to this article:
Exhibition Preview: Pop Surrealism READ ARTICLE
Exhibition Preview: Art From The New World – A Big Brash Exhibition of the New American Art Scene READ ARTICLE

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Joe Sorren

Jud Bergeron

California State University Fullerton/Grand Central Art Center,

Flagstaff Cultural Partners/Coconino Center for the Arts

Album Review: The Corridor – Youri Blow

Wild House Blues Records
On release

By Guy Sangster Adams

Water is key to Youri Blow’s highly atmospheric second album. En route from its source in Dijon to Le Havre where it meets the English Channel/La Manche, the river Seine flows through Troyes in the Champagne-Ardenne region of France, where Blow was born. Now his home is the port of Brest, which lies in the Finistère département in the extreme west of Brittany, amidst the dramatic landscape of the Rade de Brest, into which five rivers flow and which opens onto the Atlantic Ocean, the waves of which crash spectacularly along Finistère’s wild and rocky coastline. Whilst on the other side of the Atlantic, the area between the Mississippi and Yazoo rivers, The Mississippi Delta, and the Delta Blues that originated there, were a formative influence on Blow.

Though this influence is very apparent on the rasping vocals and rougher edged sound of the tracks Muddy Streams and Strange History, the album is a confluence of influences informed by Blow’s travels, gathered under a genre tag of Psyché Blues. The beautiful Ever Love, with backing vocals by Lucie T., fittingly as it is the album opener and therefore stepping off point for the journey, is rooted in his current home. It has a Celtic heart, Brittany being one of the six Celtic nations, and softer melodies and vocal styling more reminiscent of Nick Drake and John Martyn. Whilst Autour du Templier, titularly at least, pays reference to the Order of the Knights Templer that was officially recognised in Blow’s birthplace at the Council of Troyes in the 12th century.

But over and above this The Corridor is also inspired by Blow’s expedition to far further and more isolated shores, namely the phenomenal land- and waterscapes of Lake Khövsgöl in the north west of Mongolia. He spent two months in Mongolia, travelling with a back pack and a guitar, a large part of which was spent living in a tipi by the lake with members of the Shamanistic Tsaatan reindeer herdsmen, whose social and material culture  has remained unchanged since the Ice Age. Understandably his time in Mongolia had a profound effect on Blow, specifically inspiring three tracks on the album, Khovsgol Lake, Tsagaan Sar (which is the Mongolian lunisolar New Year festival), and Ulan Taïga (a mountain range in Khövsgöl).

Blow’s talent is to meld all the power and diversity of all these dynamic and elemental horizons into an album that works wonderfully well holistically. A multi-instrumentalist, throughout The Corridor he plays a variety of guitars, acoustic, Dobro, and electric Fender Stratocaster, whilst also mixing in violin, and instruments from his travels such as a Mongolian fiddle, Peruvian flute, and Vietnamese jaw harp, to which he also adds overtone singing, a polyphonic style traditional in Mongolia.

The Corridor is an highly enjoyable sonic travelogue, through vistas both real and imaginary, an evocation of the broadest horizons, and as the closing track, L’Eveil de la goutte d’eau, recognises, if you let it, the rhythm of rain drops can transport you wherever a river of imagination may take you.


Youri Blow



Plectrum – The Cultural Pick

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