Wednesday, 22 October 2014

echoes: sara maitland - forests, fairytales and secrets

Kathleen Lolley: The Energy Between You and I (2013). More Kathleen Lolley.

"I believe that the great stretches of forest in northern Europe, with their constant seasonal changes, their restricted views, their astonishing biological diversity, their secret gifts and perils and the knowledge that you have to go through them to get to anywhere else, created the themes and ethics of the fairytales we know best. There are secrets, hidden identities, cunning disguises; there are rhythms of change like the changes of the season; there are characters, both human and animal, whose assistance can be earned or spurned; and there is - over and over again - the journey or quest, which leads first to knowledge and then to happiness. The forest is the place of trial in fairy stories, both dangerous and exciting. Coming to terms with the forest, surviving its terrors, utilising its gifts and gaining its help is the way to 'happy ever after'." 

Sara Maitland: Gossip from the Forest - the Tangled Roots of our Forests and Fairytales (2012)

Monday, 20 October 2014

70s children's TV: raven - oi, leave it out, I'm arfur

1977. Punk's hitting the mainstream, hippie psychedelia has become new age astrology-fuelled environmentalism and British children's TV drama has already introduced a generation to the clash of mystical ancient forces and modern technological progress in the likes of The Owl Service, The Changes and Children of the Stones. 

Cue Raven, a six-part series by the writers of Children of the Stones - Jeremy Burnham and Trevor Ray - that mixes Arthurian legend, government nuclear plans, spirit guides, scientists, psychic visions and a battle between a teenager and authority figures that goes centuries beyond the pop culture generation gap. 

A pre-Quadrophenia Phil Daniels stars as the titular hero, 15-year-old Raven, a denim-clad London Borstal Boy on probation in the countryside who discovers his true destiny as the reincarnation of King Arthur (just go with it), helping a Merlin-like grumpy archeologist stop a nuclear waste reprocessing plant being built on top of an underground labyrinth of caves. Phew. 

The whole thing's given a touch of The Stone Tape, with flashes of timeslip hallucinatory visuals, eerie sound effects and the archaeologist's use of CCTV, and the CCTV also neatly adds an Orwellian dimension to the sense of unseen forces that watch over us. Can't beat seeing Carry On regular Patsy Rowlands completely out of context either, as the archeologist's lovely wife and unlikely expert on birds. It's a bit of a treasure.

Sunday, 19 October 2014

peter lorre: pumpkin-time pin-up

Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine, 1962
See lots more scans from Famous Monsters of Filmland in the flickr group.

Friday, 17 October 2014

jean veber's enchanted grotesques

Queen Victoria and Mrs Kruger, illustration for the French satirical weekly L'Assiette au Beurre, 1901.
The return of Goya to his homeland, 1899.
Illustration for FĂ©lix Duquesnel's Tales of a thousand and two nights.
The Spider (anyone know more?)
Glory Face, First World War illustration.

Jean Veber (1864-1928) trained as a painter before becoming a popular political cartoonist, notoriously capturing Edward VII's face on the bottom of Britannia during the Boer war. But his work also included illustrating fairytales, Marcel Schwob's Mimes (the text of which was recently revived in a great crowd-sourced translation by Asymptote) and a series of quietly mordant drawings from the trenches of the First World War. 

I like his theatre drawings too - I'd like to see more.

Browse Les Vebers, Les Vebers, Les Vebers, an illustrated satire from 1895 by Jean and his brother Pierre.

Thursday, 16 October 2014

edgar allan poe: louder, louder still

So, after Lewis Carroll and Edward Gorey, Edgar Allan Poe seems to be the third invocation in some kind of unintentional but apt trinity here. Ted Parmelee's 1953 animated version of Poe's Tell-Tale Heart is one of the unexpected treats of the British Library's Gothic Imagination exhibition in London: tense, abstract and a Hollywood cartoon that was definitely not for children. At least not Disney-fed children. Or even Rocky and Bullwinkle-fed children. Paul Julian's fractured designs, which were influenced by the theatre sets and paintings of Eugene Berman, are filled with see-through structures, looming shadows and sudden shocks of colour and angle. It's a horror that's drained of blood; instead it pulsates (there's really no better word, I promise) with the strangeness of Poe's murderous psychological nightmare in look and feel. But it does also look very pretty. Oh, and James Mason narrates too. Watch it - it's only 8 minutes long.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

edward gorey's doubleday anchor book covers

Between 1953 and 1960 Edward Gorey was the art editor for the new line of Doubleday Anchor paperbacks, working with illustrators including Philippe Julian, Milton Glaser and Andy Warhol on the covers for around 200 titles. But around 50 covers were drawn by Gorey. What makes them look so amazing now is that we're used to Gorey as both author and illustrator of his own books. Here, the strength of Gorey's wry macabre style pulls an apparently unlikely range of authors into his distinctively subversive Victorian world. He doesn't even need to use images - Gorey can conjure a curious kind of gothic dread with typography alone. 

See the full set on flickr. A good piece about his other wonderful book cover work.

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

the haunted house panorama

More than you ever wanted to know about the 70s giant Letraset haunted panorama

(It was very big. There were lots of transfers. You could make it look as if the skeletons and Swamp Thing transfers were dancing with each other if you placed them right. The panorama looked great on a wall without any transfers at all.)

Monday, 13 October 2014

alice in broadcastland

Hello. I'm back, or at least circling back around where I was, so here's a start to winding up the spectral gramophone with this montage of scenes from Jonathan Miller's 1966 film of Alice in Wonderland set to a soundtrack using the music of Broadcast.