Thursday, July 26, 2012

A Mind Blown is a Mind Shown - 60s Psychedelic Posters

As a follow on from the Harry Clarke illustrations, let's move on a few decades and look at some 60s psychedelia which he was credited with inspiring. You may want to down a few the recommended dose of paracetamol before looking at these. They are beautiful but lurid.

I've had these images for years after finding one particular track by these guys and researching them (they did music as well as posters) and now I can look at them afresh and see the connection with Harry Clarke and illustrators of his ilk.

Here is the track that you can listen to while looking at the posters to get the full Hapshash effect. I made this video in 2008 with my own footage of Mongolia, the Trans-Siberian railway, Morocco, ducks and the sea at Beachy Head.

Fill one entire room with 'essence of 60s' =  this image
"Late in 1966 the London underground newspaper International Times held a launch party for their new paper. After the success of that event the promoters opened their own underground club, the UFO. Upon learning that other clubs in the US were printing posters for their events, they decided that this was a necessity for their events as well. In early 1967 Michael English was introduced to Nigel Waymouth and the two agreed to work together designing posters for these promoters. The two first chose the name 'Cosmic Colors', but produced only one poster under that name. Next they chose the name 'Jacob and the Coloured Coat', but produced only two posters using that name. In about March of 1967 the settled on 'Hapshash and the Coloured Coat', the name by which they are best known."


14 Hour Technicolour Dream

5th Dimension

Arthur Brown

 The Incredible String Band (I will do a whole post about these guys some time... omg, I love them)

 Jazz at the Round House

 Julie Felix (You can see the Harry Clarke/Beardsley influence straight away in this one. In fact it looks like a bit of a rip off!)

My White Bicycle

Crazy World of Arthur Brown at the UFO

 Julie Felix again

My dad used to make posters like this back in the 60s. Years ago someone contacted him asking if he had any left because they wanted to include them in the 1997 'Les Sixties' Brighton exhibition of 60s art. It turned out that his first wife had them all in her attic and was cutting them up to use as colourful scrap paper for the schoolchildren she was teaching!

He also tells a story of taking some of his posters into a hippy shop in Brighton to see if he could sell them.  Through a dense cloud of hash smoke, the owner admired them and drawled "Woah, what did you do these ON, man?"

And my father who, although arty is quite straitlaced, bemusedly says "Well, they're screen printed."

These are the only traces I can find of any of his posters on the internet. They are hardly worth posting as the images are so small and bad:

This battered copy of By Day Fantastic Birds Flew Through The Petrified Forest, with an extract from a JG Ballard novel, was sold on ebay for £108 in 2008..

"A related item that is sometimes listed as one of Ballard's publications is By Day Fantastic Birds Flew Through the Petrified Forest. This is in fact a poster which includes a 43 word extract from The Crystal World. It was issued in 1967 by Eosgraphics for Firebird Visions Limited, with 50 copies of the issue being signed by Ballard (the remaining issues were unsigned), and is screenprinted in dayglo orange, yellow, dark blue, and gold. From here"

And here is a tiny copy of The Illuminated Man which also must have been sold on ebay at one time.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Looking for a house...

One of our aims for this year has been to buy our first house.

After saving our arses off for years as well as some generous help from parents, we finally have a deposit. A close shave on a tiny terraced house in Caerphilly means we have a mortgage offer but not an actual house, so we've been looking and looking for months for something we like, has everything we need and can afford (seemingly an impossible task, we've viewed loads).


I love looking round houses, and I really believe you can tell the second you walk into a property whether it's the right one for you. We've seen huge ones and small ones, shabby ones and pristine ones, awful ones and dreamy ones. We liked one in Chepstow but that potentiality seems to have come to a dead end with the vendor not being willing to reduce the price to what we can afford, which is fair enough but still a shame.

It's sad but house viewing in Chepstow is always nice anyway, as it's such a lovely place. I would have liked to have lived there.


Saturday, July 21, 2012

Melissa Sue Stanley: Superlative Soft Sculpture pluS other Splendid thingS

I've wanted to write about Melissa Sue Stanley's art work for a while and now I finally have a moment to do so as the baby has gone on a nap inducing walk with his 'da-doo', exhausted after finally cracking the complicated maneuver known as 'walking' (he's only 10 months old! ! ! *brag*).

It's a beautiful day, I'm listening to Bob Dylan, I have a flapjack and a cup of tea, let us begin:

Melissa Sue Stanley

Melissa Sue Stanley is a Chicago based artist who I've internet-known for a long time now.

Sometimes you feel a sort of connection to other internet denizens and Melissa is one of those people to me. I hope I will know her for a long time. Her work never ceases to impress me because, as well as being a masterful watercolour/graphite artist, she is equally as capable in a completely different area: soft felt sculpture and the Japanese art of 'amigurumi' (knitting or crocheting small stuffed animals and anthropomorphic creatures).

Personally I think that Melissa has TRANSCENDED traditional amigurumi, creating perfect and unique creatures that are a far cry from the pages of knitted cupcakes and cutesy balls with eyes you get if you type 'amigurumi' into Google images...

Compare those with her sophisticated and intricately designed monsters which just ooze character and emotion (never thought I would ever write that about wool):

Small beardy with world weary eyelids
Alert cat cow
Melancholy Monsters: Sad blue wiggly legs
Melancholy Monsters: Sad blue-er wiggly legs
This one is now mine!! I love him so, and he has a little birdy friend!
Feast your eyes on her soft sculpture. My mind boggles when thinking about how she puts this stuff together, I literally have no idea how she does it!

 Baba Yaga and the chicken shacks
What is this beast? I have no idea!
And her latest incredible creation, displayed at the OhNo!Doom gallery in Chicago, Queen Mab from Romeo and Juliet -

"O, then, I see Queen Mab hath been with you.
She is the fairies’ midwife, and she comes
In shape no bigger than an agate-stone
On the fore-finger of an alderman,
Drawn with a team of little atomies
Athwart men's noses as they lie asleep..."

Melissa runs a successful Etsy shop for her creatures (this one seems to be having a slight hiatus) and art and you should follow her blog and flickr for regular posts filled with paintings and creatures in progress as well as her finished pieces. Also see her tumblr.

Here are some of her paintings and sketches:

She offers portrait commissions and it's not difficult to see why:


Friday, July 20, 2012

Harry Clarke monochrome illustrations: morbid and beautiful

Harry Clarke (1889-1931) was an Irish stained glass craftsmen.

As well as creating beautifully coloured stained glass panes (his favourite shade was deep blue) he was also an illustrator, making his name during the 'golden age' of book illustration along with Beardsley, Dulac, Rackham, and Neilsen.

He died from tuberculosis aged 42, possibly exacerbated by the chemicals used in his glass work.

I have a book of Goethe's Faust, illustrated by Harry Clarke which I took pictures of in order to show these morbidly magical illustrations. He's been credited for inspiring the 'disturbing imagery' of 60s psychedelic art, and now I know that, I can't un-see it in his work:

Enough of this cold cant of future ages,
And men hereafter doting on your pages;
To prattle thus of other times is pleasant,
And all the while neglect our own, the PRESENT.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Glenn Gould plays Bach

The Canadian pianist Glenn Gould changed the way the world listened to Bach. The piano, Gould said, "is not an instrument for which I have any great love as such... [but] I have played it all my life, and it is the best vehicle I have to express my ideas."

"Glenn Gould usually hummed while he played, and his recording engineers varied in how successfully they were able to exclude his voice from recordings. Gould claimed that his singing was subconscious and increased proportionately with the inability of the piano in question to realize the music as he intended.

Gould was renowned for his peculiar body movements while playing, (circular swaying, conducting, or grasping at the air as if to reach for notes as he did in the taping of Beethoven's Tempest Sonata) and for his insistence on absolute control over every aspect of his playing environment.

The temperature of the recording studio had to be exactly regulated. He invariably insisted that it be extremely warm. According to Friedrich, the air conditioning engineer had to work just as hard as the recording engineers. The piano had to be set at a certain height and would be raised on wooden blocks if necessary. A small rug would sometimes be required for his feet underneath the piano. He had to sit fourteen inches above the floor and would only play concerts while sitting on the old chair his father had made. He continued to use this chair even when the seat was completely worn through. His chair is so closely identified with him that it is shown in a place of honor in a glass case at the National Library of Canada."

Gould lived a private life. Yehudi Menuhin said of him, "No supreme pianist has ever given of his heart and mind so overwhelmingly while showing himself so sparingly."

Monday, July 16, 2012

hongkonggourmet's Easiest Bread in the World Without An Oven or, 'Never Buy Naan Bread Again'

I met Lucy several years ago when we did the same psychotherapy diploma course together and we've been facebook friends ever since.

She is a very interesting, wordly (I just typed 'wordy' by mistake, sorry Lucy!) woman with a wicked sense of humour. When we met she had just come back from living in Morocco and now she is based in Hong Kong. However, as her hilarious tales from many different countries reveal, she has the sort of globetrotting existence many can only dream of and has lived everywhere in the world at one point or another (probably).

When I saw she had started a food blog called hongkonggourmet I was excited as her writing is hugely entertaining and the good lord knows I love looking at pictures of food on the internet.

A vegetarian who cooks meat, Lucy blogs about her life as well as including a delicious sounding recipe at the end of each post. My personal highlights include the tale of herself and her husband being accused of Chechen terrorism in Uzbekistan,  
"I thought we made very unconvincing Chechens – most Chechens are small and swarthy, and at the very least, would be able to speak some Central Asian language. But perhaps that was the point – we were hiding -in -plain -sight, super criminals. Not two tall, pasty tourists, holding an oversized bag of grapes and waiting for a train." 
..and her method of getting away from the tedious British ex-pat circuit in Beijing,
"I got around that problem by finding new places to go out, where I wouldn’t bump into the whole of the British Embassy visa section, the expat football team and all of the Hash House Harriers. I managed to do this by being mistaken for a Siberian prostitute..... Because I am blonde and tall and have the sort of bone structure normally found in a socialist country, I used to get propositioned a lot if I found myself in the wrong part of town. I didn’t mind, apart from the fact that I was never offered very much money."
I wanted to try out one of Lucy's recipes because I love her blog, but my other problem is that I have very little time to cook properly these days because of the baby (excuses, excuses..) so I hadn't got around to it yet. However, yesterday I found myself in the exact situation Lucy describes at the beginning of this post, apart from the Hong Kong and Cath Kidston part (the monsoon rain part is correct):  
It’s Sunday. You have run out of bread. The 7/11 only sells that revolting, plastic stuff, and anyway, even if they stocked organic, stoneground rye, harvested and baked by fairtrade workers with soft hands, it would still be too far to walk in the monsoon rain for. You don’t have a bread machine, as you aren’t actually Cath Kidston. Come to think of it, you don’t have an oven either, because not that many people in Hong Kong do. You could eat rice instead – but rice just isn’t going to do the business bread does. What do you do?
Well, I decided to make Lucy's Witchcraft Flatbreads for lunch, and they were so fast, easy and tasty, I am dedicating an entire blog post to them and their delicious, soft breadiness.

The baby devoured them and I had mine with gryuere cheese whilst smugly congratulating myself on the fact that I would never buy naan bread again (I do like to save money). Seriously, I command you to make these, they are delicious and I might make them again tonight to go with some kind of chicken curry that I haven't really thought through properly yet:

hongkonggourmet's Witchcraft Flatbreads
(for a better description of the process you'd better go straight to Lucy's blog but here is what I did:)

Making these is probably quicker than trudging to Budgens in the rain for plastiky bread, and you only need a few ingredients, all of which I had in the house but then I am the type to eat plain yoghurt straight from the tub.

- 250g Self-raising Flour
- 250g Plain Yoghurt
- 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder.
- Whatever you want to flavour them with, I used sea salt and rosemary but you could almost literally use anything.
- Sea salt (add after if you have a baby)

Mix ingredients together in a bowl apart from flavouring.... How patronising is this photo? Sorry.

Make into flat shapes, sprinkle with your chosen flavouring and fry in a pan in olive oil on a fairly high heat but not too high or they will burn. Don't do what I did here, I used too much oil and made them too thick, make the dough really thin and fry one at a time over the base of the whole pan. Luckily the dough makes 4 flatbreads so I had a second chance..

After a couple of minutes on each side the flatbreads are done, and as you can see from this photo the consistency is just perfect, incredibly soft and delicious. Oh my god I want to eat one now.

Here is my second, far more successful attempt with the rest of the dough, less oil and thinner flatbreads. They turned out amazingly, I put salt (no salt on the baby's one) on them and ate them all up as fast as I could.

No really, don't thank me, it's my pleasure.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Punch Cartoons

I have a huge coffee table book of Punch Magazine cartoons, and I can spend endless hours leafing through it and chortling to myself.

I want to share some of my absolute favourites here. Sorry they are such bad quality, I had to take photos of the book.

Punch cartoons are one of the (extremely few) things that make me proud to be British as I think they really sum up the subtle and wry sense of humour that pervades this damp land.

I'll start off with the one that I find most amusing. Had to cut the caption off, sorry, but it's there beneath:

"It's very well to go down for six weeks into the country by yourself, to give up tobacco and stimulants, and to live the whole day, so to speak, in the open air: But all this will do you no good, unless you cultivate a cheerful frame of mind and take a lively view of things." This cartoon is from 1869!

And some more:

 "..and of course there will be the usual search fee"

"Money can't bring them happiness."

I could go on forever..