A secret charity auction with contributions from major artists and emerging talent

Art on a Postcard raises money for The Hepatitis C Trust through an annual secret postcard auction and ‘postcard lotteries’ which occur throughout the year. In recent years, work has been donated from established artists such as Peter Blake, Damien Hirst, Harland Miller, Gavin Turk, Rachel Howard, Gilbert and George, Polly Morgan, John Wragg RA, Stephen Chambers RA, Micheal Craig-Martin and Cecily Brown and emerging talent such as David Shillinglaw, Hayden Kays and Daisy Cook as well as urban artists, Ben Eine, Pure Evil and Inkie and photographers Dougie Wallace and Rankin. The project was founded by Gemma Peppé.

“I’m delighted to be part of this year’s The Hepatitis C Trust’s Art on a Postcard Secret Auction. While the secret auction democratises art, funds raised will help The Trust in its work towards ridding the county of hepatitis C, a killer disease which disproportionally affects an underprivileged community.”

— Grayson Perry

I caught up with some of this year’s artists to ask them about their involvement with the cause, and how they met the challenge set by the project. (more…)

Jon Lys Turner’s The Visitors’ Book sheds light on one of the most significant post-war British art archives discovered in decades

How did you come to write The Visitor’s Book?

Jon Lys Turner, The Visitor's Book: In Francis Bacon's Shadow: The Lives of Richard Chopping and Denis Wirth-Miller
Jon Lys Turner, The Visitor’s Book: In Francis Bacon’s Shadow: The Lives of Richard Chopping and Denis Wirth-Miller

I was a co-beneficiary of the estates of the artists Richard ‘Dicky’ Chopping (1917-2008) and his partner Denis Wirth-Miller (1915-2010). I had been a close friend of both for thirty years having been taught by Dicky at the Royal College of Art.

After their deaths, on entering their discarded studios behind their estuary-side home in Wivenhoe, Essex, I was astounded to find pile upon pile of canvases, sketchbooks and correspondence.

A director of the Tate visited the studio and explained that these articles were important – maybe one of the most significant post-war British art archives to be discovered in decades and asked if I would put together the structure of a catalogue for a potential show. This soon grew beyond a catalogue. Representatives of the Estate of Francis Bacon suggested that, with so much unseen material, my project should become a book. (more…)

The author talks about his new book, his influences, and his fascination with modern urban spaces

What made you choose the title “Imaginary Cities”?

Darran Anderson, Imaginary Cities
Darran Anderson, Imaginary Cities

I had more romantic or esoteric titles in mind but it had to be something simple to give, what is a fairly sprawling and extremely rambling text, a sense of coherence. I’ve always liked books with minimalist titles; The Castle, The Plague, Notes from Underground, The Tin Drum, The Lottery. They seem far more evocative to me than The Lighthouse-Keeper’s Daughter-type titles you see a lot. At the same time, my intention was to write something that isn’t self-contained; a book that somehow spills out of its pages and into the world. Reading Susan Sontag’s On Photography, I was initially frustrated that she hadn’t included the photographs she was writing about. Later I came to realise this was a godsend as it sends you out searching and you end up finding entire worlds you didn’t know about – Diane Arbus, Roman Vishniac, Weegee, Vivian Maier. I tried to do the same with Imaginary Cities. I wanted to send people out looking for Sant’Elia or Chernikhov or whoever. It would be as much a map as a book.   (more…)

Joseph Anderton’s compelling new study explores the role of creaturely life in Beckett’s post-war prose and drama

Joseph Anderton, Beckett's Creatures: Art of Failure After the Holocaust (Bloomsbury, 2016)
Joseph Anderton, Beckett’s Creatures: Art of Failure After the Holocaust (Bloomsbury, 2016)
In the immediate aftermath of the Second World War, Samuel Beckett volunteered with the Irish Red Cross on the European continent. With a strong grasp several languages, the writer was assigned the role of driver and translator in the devastated Normandy city of Saint-Lô. During this time, while still stationed in the city, Beckett submitted a record of his experiences to Ireland’s national broadcaster, Radio Telefis Éireann (RTÉ). It was entitled ‘The Capital of the Ruins’. This unaired report on a landscape of wounded civilian casualties and collapsed buildings is the starting point for Joseph Anderton’s compelling new study, Beckett’s Creatures: Art of Failure After the Holocaust. [Read More]

This is an excerpt from a review of Joseph Anderton’s Beckett’s Creatures: Art of Failure After the Holocaust (Bloomsbury, 2016), published in Studies in Theatre and Performance(October, 2016).

Why critics of the Nobel Committee’s nomination are missing the point
Bob Dylan in the 1960s.
Bob Dylan in the 1960s.

On 13 October, I was surprised and delighted to hear that Bob Dylan was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. The Nobel Committee selected Dylan ‘for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition’. Few would question the songwriter’s contribution to the cultural landscape of the twentieth-century. His albums for Columbia Records in the 1960s document a deep knowledge and respect for American folk music, blues music, and poetry; Dylan adapted and reworked these forms to forge a compelling picaresque of the post-war American landscape.

“[…] literature, when traced back to its earliest forms, began as a poetic oral tradition frequently linked to rhythm, music, and song.”

There have been some who have responded to Dylan’s Nobel nomination with dismay, even anger. Some cite that his status as a songwriter might justify a place in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, but is not a ticket into the literary canon. Such detractors often fail to acknowledge that in addition to his music, Bob Dylan has also published poetry, experimental prose, and even a memoir. That’s to say nothing of his influence on countless more traditional literary figures. But this kind of categorization seems to miss the point. Those who reject Dylan’s candidacy for the Nobel forget that literature, when traced back to its earliest forms, began as a poetic oral tradition frequently linked to rhythm, music, and song. (more…)

A new title refines and condenses more than a decade of Jean-Michel Rabaté’s thinking on Beckett

Jean-Michel Rabaté , Think, Pig! Beckett at the Limit of the Human (Fordham University Press, 2016)
Jean-Michel Rabaté , Think, Pig! Beckett at the Limit of the Human (Fordham University Press, 2016)
Glancing at the title of Jean-Michel Rabaté’s excellent new book, you might be forgiven for thinking it was some kind of self-help manual from the shelf of tough love. The author clears up any confusion: “This is not a self-help book”, he writes; rather it undermines such projects of affirmation by “questioning the humanism that we take for granted”. Through the motif of the “animal”, Samuel Beckett’s prose and drama re-examines what it means to be human in the aftermath of the Second World War. Think, Pig! (Pozzo’s demoralizing order to Lucky in Waiting for Godot) refines and condenses more than a decade of Rabaté’s thinking on Beckett. The book’s focus is ethical and interrogative, but is peppered with a lively and inventive sense of humour. [Read More]

This extract is from my review of Jean-Michel Rabaté’s Think, Pig! Beckett at the Limit of the Human, published in the Times Literary Supplement, 14 October 2016.

An article for NYC’s Lincoln Center exploring the writer’s presence on social media
samuel-beckett
@SamuelBBeckett: An online resource for quotes, photographs, news, and events

Samuel Beckett is on Twitter, and perhaps we should not be surprised. As a playwright, he was what we would now call an “early adopter” of modern technology. His 1958 play Krapp’s Last Tape made revolutionary use of the reel-to-reel tape recorder the same year RCA manufactured full-size cassettes for home use. His works for radio and television—including All That Fall, which is being presented as part of the 2016 White Light Festival—stretched each medium to their technical limits, producing sights and sounds that had never before been broadcast. And it’s not just his engagement with technology that makes Beckett a natural candidate for Twitter: his compact observations and incisive remarks are perfectly trimmed for our social media age.

Beckett always had a talent for pithy observations about birth, death, and all the pesky stuff that happens in between. In 1984, when The Times (London) asked him about his New Year’s resolutions, he replied: “resolutions colon zero stop period hopes colon zero stop beckett.” His short, sharp telegram cuts to the quick, but also makes us smile at our own obsession with self-improvement. This is the kind of wit and economy that became his signature in plays like Waiting for Godot, Endgame, and Happy Days. (more…)

Innovative arts journal promotes the work of Welsh-born writer, critic, and librettist
music-and-literature-paul-griffiths
Music & Literature (No.7): Paul Griffiths, Ann Quin, Lera Auerbach

Today’s artistic landscape can often feel like a busy marketplace, where voices compete for attention and creative validation. And, as a result, some voices do not get heard. Since its launch in 2012, Music & Literature has been a torchbearer for writers and artists that are often neglected by the mainstream: its first issue was notable for its discussion of avant-garde composer Arvo Pärt, offering an unprecedented glimpse into his life, work, and motivations. Scott Esposito points out that the journal offers ‘the kind of thing that’s unavailable anywhere else’, and he’s right. Music & Literature is a fascinating read for enthusiasts, and a valuable cultural resource for scholars.

Now publishing its seventh volume, Music & Literature is celebrating the work of Welsh-born writer, critic, and accomplished librettist Paul Griffiths. His first novel, Myself and Marco Polo: A Novel of Changes (1989), is a work of speculative fiction that reimagines the life of the world traveller through his memoirs. More recently, Griffiths translated eleven Japanese noh plays, published as The Tilted Cup: Noh Stories (2014) in a beautifully illustrated volume. Paul Griffiths has written five librettos, and is an insightful commentator on modern classic music; he is the author of a number of critical works on topics ranging from electronic music to the history of the string quartet, and was a music critic for both The New Yorker (1992-96) and The New York Times (1997-2005). As if that wasn’t enough, Griffiths is also the biographer of a number of modern composers, from György Ligeti and Bela Bartók to John Cage and Igor Stravinsky. (more…)