Archives for category: 1990s

Untitled digital photograph, 2012

Untitled digital photograph, 2012

The first shot reminds me of that point in the mid-late Eighties when grunge was the dominant strain of popular music. I was a fan of Sonic Youth and Dinosaur Jr. at the time and was trying hard to find a visual equivalent of their noise antics. Not sure I ever pulled it off. Anyway, the first shot…doesn’t remind me of the music so much as the film, Singles (1992) – a grunge cash-in starring Matt Dillon.

No.s 6 & 7 in an occasional series.

Between 1988 and 1992, I made nineteen book works. The idea was to make sequential works you could experience in a similar way to listening to music, books that had rhythm, and repeated themes – books that you could dip into and out of without losing the sense of what the book was about. In the most part the content comprised  juxtaposed “found” images and text in increasingly complex arrangements. Round about book thirteen, I started introducing blank pages. Looking back I think this marked the beginning of the end for the project. The number of blank pages increased with each book until I found myself facing the possibility I would end up publishing a completely blank book. So I had a rethink.

Dogfood was book nineteen. It was hand-made from photocopies and cardboard, and published it in an edition of 25 in 1992.  The images were all originals and there was no text apart from the title and a copyright notice on the final page. The rhythm was deliberately stripped down: Dog, Food, Dog, Food, Dog etc.

Dogfood was my punk album.

This is a book called Nature Poetry by a poet and artist called Christopher Twigg. Between 1989 and 1994, the artist Roy Marchant and I ran a small press called RMG Books and this was our second publication.

Here it is seen from the back:

The reason we started RMG was that Roy and I were both interested in creating sequential art works. Our original intention was to create an outlet for our own book works. We did this with our first publication, Pant II, a fifty-fifty split with a book work by each of us. We published 50 copies in hardback with a printed dust jacket and sold most of them at a launch party at the Chelsea Arts Club in London.

After the hangover cleared we discovered there was a bit of money left. Enough to fund a very small project. Fortunately for us Knife Edge Press (another small press owned by the artist Bruce McLean and the critic and writer Mel Gooding), liked what we’d done and suggested we work on a joint project with them. They knew an artist called Chris Twigg who had been writing a lot of poetry, which they thought would make a great book.

We agreed to split costs and jointly edit and produce the book. Roy and I loved Chris’ work and had a great time reading his poetry. Chris had also produced a whole lot of drawings. We laid everything out on Bruce’s floor. There was too much for just one volume, so we asked Chris if we could publish the set of poems he’d written most recently, because they had a consistency of tone. And there was a series of drawings based on the film Taxi Driver we liked a lot, which we all agreed worked best as a stand-alone sequence. So these made up a second, wordless section of the book.

We wanted something special for the cover, and I think it was Chris who suggested doing a really big painting and then cutting it up to bind the books with. The joke was if you wanted to see the whole painting you had to buy all 50 books.

Here is a selection of them at the launch event at The Eagle Gallery in London, April 1992:

So, how we did it was this:

1) Have a reason to publish. If you’re passionate about a project it will all come a lot easier.

2) Source the most economical means of producing the contents – in our case, Chris, Roy and I worked on the page layouts and produced them on a word processor. For the printing, we were lucky enough to be introduced to the poet and publisher, Bob Cobbing who had a top-of-the-range photocopier. (For our next book we found the cheapest printer in Wales, who did a great job. The one after that was a painstakingly mono-printed book.)

3) Don’t do anything yet – but work out if you can make the book viable – no one likes to lose money and the higher the production values the higher the cost and the more you have to charge for your finished book. By hook or by crook we kept our costs down.

4) If you’re on friendly terms with a book binder or printer ask them to do you a favour or, failing that, offer to cut them in on the profits.

5) Think about how you’re going to sell your book. We opted for throwing a launch party – which meant setting up an exhibition space for the books and providing refreshments for our guests.

6) Include all the above in your costing and price the books so you make a bit of profit – we did this so we had seed money for our next project.

7) Decide how you will split the money with the artist – 50/50  in our case.

8) Think of a name for your publishing company.

9) If you’re going to publish a large number of copies, consider getting an ISBN number. You’ll find it a lot easier getting your book into the shops if you do.

10) Draw up a schedule so that all the work is done in time for the launch event and stick to it.

11) Happy publishing!

Between 1988 and 1990, I produced a series of book works, juxtaposing (mostly) found text and images. Index and Interviews compiles all the text used in those books. Two interviews with prominent scientists (more of which later) conducted for Pant Magazine are also included.  Index and Interviews was published in an edition of 1 in 1990.

Texts were reproduced without their accompanying visuals.

In the bottom right-hand corner of the page on which the text was reproduced, I listed every instance of the text being used in the series. In this instance, the text appeared in the book Blood, Skin, Bone on the listed pages.

Texts were arranged alphabetically and preceeded by a page (like the one above) which listed the found images that had been used in the book works alongside the texts. But not in the order they were used – in alphabetical order.

No Bulbs is the third track on The Fall’s Call for Escape Route EP (1985). You can read all about The Fall at The Fall Online.

 Untitled digital photograph (1990)

Kandinsky “Spark Out”
By Dave Swallow
Crime Editor

Shamed singer Tony Kandinsky has admitted his arrest on suspicion of possessing drugs was “stupid – whatever – my own fault.”

The former Blue Rider star was taken into custody yesterday after being found out cold in his car in London’s West End. A Good Samaritan who phoned emergency services spotted the semi-conscious star, 41, slumped at the wheel of his Saab 900 convertible, outside the Commoners Club. Police and an ambulance raced to the scene.

After making sure he had no obvious injury, officers breath-tested and searched the millionaire star. Police allegedly found cocaine and heroin on his person and in the Saab. A breath test proved positive.

Flash Tony, whose smash eighties hits included The Colour (of Love) – was arrested on suspicion of possessing controlled substances and driving while unfit through alcohol.

One witness said, “Tony was spark out – he looked a right old state. He could hardly speak.” The ex-Blue Rider star was taken to London’s West End Central police station and kept in a cell overnight…

 The Mercury, 19th February 1999

Ascent (1990), bookwork in an edition of 1.

The Siren Songs is the first track on Thomas Feiner & Anywhen’s 2008 album, The Opiates Revised. You can read more about it here.


All the above pictures are of a bookwork called 16: Fear of Flying (1991), which was produced in an edition of 10. There was only the one hardback version, the rest came wrapped in black plastic, sealed with a date sticker.

Flight (comprising: Flying Blind, The White Cane Fandango, Control, Cockpit, Silk-Worm Wings, and A Black Box) is the eighth track on Peter Hammill’s 1980 album, A Black Box. You can read more about it here.

My Parents…The Dinosaurs (digital art/ web comic, first published 1997)

In 1984, I didn’t kill the things I loved, I simply wore them out. I gorged myself on TV, music, food; anything that came along. Bright, coloured objects; plain, grey, casual clothes; and clinical, electronic music were the axis around which my body revolved, trying to find substitutes for love. Because love was everywhere, but just out of reach; in the records I listened to, on the radio, on TV, in magazines and books…everywhere. I wanted it, but I just couldn’t get love. From the trials I had done on my own I was certain that, with another person involved, its possibilities were inexhaustible. But I didn’t socialise, (outside college), and thoughts of specific girls, or love in general, always brought with them a whispering, jealous anxiety, for example: Once you’ve got your girl, what will you do with her? Where will you take her? How will you keep her entertained?

I did not act on love, until September. In the meantime, I paced about my family cell, listening to the same songs over and over again; hearing nothing beyond the stylus crunching into position on the record’s edge; the songs merging with my longing and the nights that always accompanied it…

Download: A Lemming Named Desire

Originally published in Girlboy (a Pulp Faction anthology edited by Elaine Palmer)               

B&W photographic print

Untitled photographic print (1990, rephotographed 2011)