delighted to find a blog post about Margate, featuring many of the stories I drew there, and that we made into a 48 metre hoarding on the front, with Marine Studios in 2011.
An der Uferpromenade, zwischen heruntergekommenen Spielhöllen, staubigen Pound-shops und lange verlassenen Läden, deren zerlumpte Markisenreste in der Meeresbrise flattern, erblicken wir plötzlich diese Kunstwerke. Sie erzählen Geschichten über die letzten fröhlichen Jahre in Margate, bevor der zunehmende Auslandstourismus dem historischen Badeort den Todesstoß versetzte.
Geschaffen wurde die Geschichten-Wand von der Künstlerin Sophie Herxheimer auf Basis von Gesprächen mit Einheimischen im Jahr 2011.
Margate war im 18. Jahrhundert einer der ersten Badeorte an der Küste Englands. Unter dem Staub der Erinnerungen kann man noch die teilweise pompöse Architektur erkennen, die bezeugt, dass die Stadt einst Besserbetuchte angezogen hat.
Mein erster Besuch in Margate liegt mittlerweile über zehn Jahre zurück. Damals war ich vom Zustand der Stadt schockiert. Anlass für unseren Ausflug war seinerzeit der Film „Last Orders“. Eine Rezension des gleichnamigen Buches findet Ihr bei Buchpost.
Mittlerweile sieht Margates Zukunft nicht mehr ganz so hoffnungslos aus. Als ich 2014 auf…
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Pleased that this new poem from my seekvenz Inklisch Rekortdinks has found a place in beautiful online journal Poems In Which
Vot you sink off my new Hett?
Frenkly it iss rarzer gordee.
Vair ditd you feint it from?
Vy you not try Markz?
My Poem zat to you I sent ofa, you leikt it?
You know Dear, I’m olt-feschont!
Some Sinks I don’t visch to know apoutt,
Ze Deetayells, I don’t visch.
Vot is ronk viz some Rhymink anyvay?
I know you ken do Rhymink
you such a tellentet Girl.
I voz vunderink dear Grent-Muzzer,
vot you sink off Peter, my new Husspent?
Vy you eskink me?
Duss it metter vot I sink?
Vot you sink off him?
Zenk you Grent-Muzzer.
Viz you, et least I know
you tellink me ze Truse.
I luff you.
Bah! Zis ze keint of Schit
zay teetch you to say in Emerica?
In October I was one of a group of eight artist printmakers engaged in making a new piece of work to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the founding of the world’s first ghetto.
This was a space established in Venice in 1516, on the site of the old foundry there, (making it one of the few campos without a church) that was created as a concession to Jews, permitting them residence in the city.
Originally the word would have had a soft ‘g’ as it was where the metal was thrown (or jettisoned,) a ‘getto’, but as the first wave of incumbents were Ashkenazy Jews, and strangers to the soft ‘g’, they pronounced it like get, and thus introduced the world to the ‘ghetto’!
The commission was to make a New Venice Haggadah, deriving inspiration from a beautiful edition published in Venice in 1609, as well as with reference to the contemporary community, and of course our own personal responses and processes.
The haggadah is the Passover text, and is like a script for use at the Seder table. It conducts all the members of the family through the story of the Exodus, with ritual foods, questions, songs and wine. It is a chance to think about oppression and slavery, and wish freedom to all who remain oppressed. There may be nearly as many haggadot and interpretations of the story as there are families who mark the festival.
We were invited to do this work by Beit Venezia, headed up by Shaul Bassi, (far left, above) and as well as us artists, Vassar professor Marc Michael Epstein, (far right, above) joined our group to show us some of the vast history of illustrated haggadot. We were also lucky to be shown many intriguing aspects of Venice and its workings by our events coordinator Barbara del Mercato.
Right to left (like Hebrew) we are Barbara, Shaul, Frances Katz Levine (a supporter of the project), Kyra Matustik, Josh Baum, then on the sofa, also right to left: Andi LaVine Arnovitz, Nathan Gotlib, Jacqueline Nicholls (lead artist) Hillel Smith, Yael David-Cohen and me.
Our group of eight artists came from the UK , the US, Belgium, Israel, the Czech Republic – and with varying degrees of knowledge and experience in both etching and Jewishness!
Our base for the three week residency was the Scuola Grafica Internazionale di Venezia, a gorgeous and well equipped printmaking studio in Cannaregio. We stayed in apartments about a half hour walk away. My room made a nifty temporary studio.
A peal of bells came echoing out from this jaunty corner tower to wake us promptly at 7:00 each morning.
We read and thought about the text together in detail over the first week, as well as looking at significant treasures in Venice, such as the first printed Talmud there, which I was pleased to discover looks quite a lot like concrete poetry.
At the end of the first week Jacqueline allocated each of us two sections of the text to respond to visually. Mine were both densely emotional passages, one of suffering, one of joy. This was re: We cried out and the one below represents praise (very necessary Hebrew help came from my fellow artists Josh and Jacqueline )
During the second week, we drew and prepared, then etched our copper plates… as well as exploring the city, getting lost and looking at as much art as we could possibly squeeze in around the coffees.
It is such a sensational city: light zipping off the water to illuminate everything from the intricate and wonky palaces to the vegetable delivery boats, and the bridges; more of which seemed to appear daily, like a baffling dream.
Week three saw us unite and print: 6oo sheets of dampened Fabriano paper, many inky rags, many ragged but mainly undampened spirits!
The original copper plates and the editions of 25 prints per etching per artist (we each made 3 plates, that’s why we were editioning 600 prints in week 3!) remain in Venice for now and will be exhibited as part of the ghetto quincentery events. A beautiful version of our New Venice Hagaddah is also in production in Jerusalem, and will be for sale in time for Passover 2016.
You can read more about the project in the current (January 2016) issue of Jewish Rennaisance magazine, or watch us and laugh as we are dubbed in Italian on TV – and see the studio, the ghetto and the other artists.
Thanks to all members of our group, who were wonderful to work with, to Jacqueline Nicholls in particular for inviting me, to Shaul Bassi of Beit Venezia and Lorenzo de Castro and Alan Rogers at the Scuola Grafica for hosting us, and to Barbara del Mercato for showing us Venice from the inside.
I have also written a small stack of new Venice poems, hopefully these will find a home one day, in or out of the poetry ghetto…
Meanwhile, here’s to 2016: ink, friendship and freedom!
The project that catapulted me into Nature and away from my habitual London scenery: The Listening Forest, is now up in another form, as an exhibition at the HQ of the Poetry Society at 22 Betterton Street Covent Garden: The Poetry Cafe.
About thirty of the original drawings are on the walls, chosen from the hundred or so that make up the book, which in turn, were chosen from perhaps twice that that I made whilst in residence for Fermynwoods Contemporary Art in Northamptonshire.
Many of the drawings on show are those I drew live from local people recounting to me what they get up to in the woods; others are ones that I made away from company, on my own in the cottage I was put up in.
There are also the six paper cuts I made as a structural device to tailor the book into its shape as a mirror to the forest, filing stories as appropriate under section headings: noticings and changes of direction in path, strange sightings and confessions in undergrowth, the ordinary and everyday in shrub layer, revelations and insights in clearing, lofty thoughts in canopy, base material in floor…
New for the space in Covent Garden, I replaced Ralph Steadman’s Byron scribed lampshades with new ones of my own, some written on in loose ink with excerpts from my forest poem sequence, some coloured with streaks of Nepalese paper cut into leaf-spiders, moth-women, crow-huts.
The show opened on my Dad’s 90th birthday, so he came along, and after I’d read some poems, the audience sang to him and we all shared cake!
The same week it was the The Poetry Library open day at the Festival Hall, which took as its theme: The End of the Poem. It was exciting to see the library’s copy of the limited edtion huge version of The Listening Forest in its thirty metre incarnation, laid out on one of the tables, near another recent collaborative work: Collective City, the book we assembled from visual poem collages made by visitors to the Southbank Centre’s Poetry International Festival and made into an inventive street shaped book by the same team who bound the forest book: the inimitable Henningham Family Press
The Listening Forest exhibition runs until February 4th and is open most days and evenings, but please do check the Poetry Cafe website.
Another evening viewing is scheduled for Thursday December 17th, with mulled wine, a chance to buy screen prints, books and original drawings, and a short reading of some forest and city poems by me and some surprise guest poets!
I will also be running a day workshop in conjunction with The Poetry School, called Hide and Seek in the Ideas Forest, on Saturday January 30th. We’ll be working on how to set traps for the unconscious, and turn what we find into art and poetry.
So many people have been involved with this project, big thanks to all who joined me on the path: including Yasmin Canvin and the team at Fermynwoods Contemporary Arts, Kate Dyer and Lorraine Dziarkowska of Corby Community Arts – and everyone who told me a story or listened to a poem or idea. Particular London thanks to Tanya Peixoto of The Bookartbookshop and Mike Simms of the Poetry Society.
Here’s a poem.
Forest Of Experience
It’s a flophouse for moths
they flail in beige stupor
all eyes and faintings
Victorian ladies with the vapours
I tune my ear
to their sighs
floating up in snatches
from hazy gilded blades.
Car salesman newt zips
in and out of his slovenly
basketwork: rotted black twigs
laced with bark ribbons.
A glowing toadstool
in coral polyester
her beauty tips.
My forest of experience cracks
under the books I’ve read
the words I’ve spilt
and pictures that I’ve made
so badly, so laboriously.
My painting arm remembers
Prussian Blue, Chrome yellow –
squeezed from tubes
crude globs, unlike this life
where ferny fountainheads
prise lids off every shade
from eau-de-nil to sludge
and nodding fronds of fronds
swish me like a sap
into their losing green.
rise smooth as vaulting
in my restless cinema
and up in the spaghetti
canopy, sinuous capillaries
make grids for clouds
and trap me in a silence test.
Strain, for what?
Your ghost? A hare?
But only midges jitter
have they not seen lipstick before?
Their dots itch every inch
of me, tiny tireless clubbers
mobbing the street.
Through tough foliage
glimpse bolts of deer
shaded in private fur
impervious to sting
or stinging remark –
every day there’s carnage.
Bird spangled branches
trumpet fat green notes
filling all imagined spaces
in between parked stars.
A tiny dandelion bud
sucks in its yellow cheeks –
I’m the jam and you’re
the butter dripping sun
it’s easy to lie down
in blackthorn studded mud.
The wonderful Kitchen Counter Blog creator has written a post about me and my work around food and food story collecting. Thanks Annie!
I have a Celebrity Crush. Well… maybe she’s not really a celebrity, but Sophie Herxheimer is a London artist who works with people, stories and food. She’s an incredibly talented illustrator and poet, and I get that tingle of excitement and possibility when I see or read her work. It seems like her talents, interests, politics, and spirit are united and energised in a way I aspire mine to be. She works with topics beyond food– but I wanted to share with Kitchen Counter Culture readers some of the work that might interest us the most.
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The Listening Forest is to take root in Covent Garden, at the Poetry Cafe.
Please saunter under its inky boughs, as they spread into the wintery world of a London November.
I’ll be showing original work from the residency/ project undertaken with Fermynwoods Contemporary as well as new screen prints I’ve developed. Drawings and prints will be for sale, as will the book in both A5 and A3 concertina incarnations. I’ll also be running some events alongside the show, so watch this space.
Private view: Thursday 4th November with readings, drawing, cake and wine.
If you want to experiment and make a book where image and text cohabit, however cosily or haughtily, there are still places left on my course at Morley College, starting on September 21st for nine weeks: BOOK IMAGE TEXT and also in the spring and summer terms.
Here’s an example of sheer image text mastery by a small citizen of Brent, from a holiday session in Willesden library.
A page inspired by each item in this sunlit window would make a nice fancy poem sequence!
Talking of which, I have three visual poems featured in a lovely online journal called wardrobe, find them and wear them straightway, they are in drawer five, and are written from the point of views of a skirt, a mans jumper and a slip.
Also in textile mode, my screen printed cotton Disaster hankie appeared in the glorious new volume from Hayward Gallery Publications THE NEW CONCRETE, where I’m proud to be in company with poets and artists I’ve long admired, like John Furnival and Edwin Morgan.
The launch at The Whitechapel was epic, with brilliant readings from many contributors.
Last week also saw the launch of another genre-busting book. Over the Line has over 70 pages of brand new poetry comics, including a collaborative spread by me and Chris McCabe, called The Practical Application of Colour. It was fun reading the piece which has very few words in it, (unlike this palaver.)
A good place to buy the book is at Free Verse book fair which takes place at Conway Hall on 26th September, and is a great treat for those interested in alternative publishing and new poetry.
Or at launch number 2, coming up at Gosh Comics!
Some unLondon things coming up: I’ll have a couple of works in 50 artist strong new show: a wide interpretation of still life, this autumn at The Art Stable, Dorset. I took this still life at the farm adjacent to the gallery on a visit, but my actual pieces are painted and feature words again.
I’m also excited to be reading at the famously fabulous Swindon Poetry Festival on Sunday 4th October. There will be all kinds of top poetry and related capers going on in town for a few days, so have a look at the programme and come along.
For the remainder of October I’ll be in residence in Venice at the Scuola Grafica Venezia. One of eight invited artists, I’ll be working in their beautiful printmaking studio, on a project to make a new and contemporary Haggadah to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the worlds first ghetto, set up there in 1516. Fascinating stuff.
Any quality work that comes from this will be added to the forest show forthwith.
Looking forward to plenty of real tea under imaginary trees at the Poetry Cafe, see you up there.