Rosanna Amaka, born to African and Caribbean parents, began writing her debut novel twenty years ago to give voice to the Brixton community in which she grew up, a community fast disappearing as a result of gentrification and emigration. The Book of Echoes unearths the pain of the past through the narration of an enslaved African before moving between worlds as the scars of history present themselves in the future lives of Michael and Ngozi. Amaka’s searing debut hums with heartache and [...]
Ra Page is the founder and CEO of Comma Press, a Manchester-based publisher specialising in short stories. He has edited many anthologies, including Protest: Stories of Resistance (2017), and Litmus (2011), an Observer Book of the Year. He coordinated Literature Northwest until it merged with Comma Press, and is a former director of Manchester Poetry Festival. Ra's latest collection, Resist: Stories of Uprising (2019), pairs fictional retellings of British protests through the ages with historical afterwords [...]
On 17th June 1976, Robert Greacen, Northern Irish poet and colleague of Chris Rice at a private language school in Holland Park, hosted the first of his poetry workshops from his flat in Pembridge Crescent, Notting Hill Gate. As the junior member at that first meeting, Chris kept a diary of the group’s comings and goings, and continued to do so for the next six years. The extracts below trace a ten-month period from the first meeting in a small flat in Notting Hill Gate to the group’s first public reading in Sloane Square [...]
British painter and writer Darren Coffield has exhibited widely in the company of leading artists such as Damien Hirst, Howard Hodgkin, Patrick Caulfield and Gilbert and George, at venues ranging from the Courtauld Institute, Somerset House to Voloshin Museum, Crimea. His new book, Tales from the Colony Room, is an authorized history of one of London’s most infamous arts establishment, the Colony Room Club in Soho [...]
"I discovered Martial’s poetry by searching for the number 104 for an unrelated reason, which was recorded on Wikipedia as being the year he probably died. I trust this kind of chance occurrence, and it led me to reading some of the epigrams, which I imagine I had vaguely heard of before. I responded immediately to their playfulness, sarcasm, brevity, devotion to social commentary, and general refusal of seriousness – especially things like Martial’s own admission that his poems aren’t even that good, a lot of the time." [...]
A major new retrospective at Southampton City Art Gallery examines the work of British artist John Hitchens – over fifty works spanning almost six decades char the artist’s journey from his descriptive style to a unique form of abstract painting. The landmark show, featuring recent work that has never been seen in public before [...]
'The discomfort of boredom is never something human beings have liked, but reality and nature and the lack of technology, and the rudimentary qualities of technology, pushed back on us. The friction that we want to eradicate is defined by boredom and old age and sickness and death, and we need these things to be human, and we need these things to have interesting, vital arts and letters as well.'
Jack SollowaySinéad Gleeson on solidarity in sickness, isolation and empathy With the UK government currently advising ‘social distancing’ and the country expecting further preventative measures against the coronavirus pandemic, Sinéad Gleeson’s debut book Constellations: Reflections...
HIX ART is currently presenting I know you are but what am I, the first major solo exhibition by acclaimed British artist Elizabeth Eade. In this new series of installations, Eade playfully and powerfully continues her exploration of a range of social and political issues. In 2018, Eade won the celebrated HIX Award, judged by the likes of Tracey Emin and Gavin Turk, with her piece Die Liste — a ten-metre-long handwritten list documenting the deaths [...]
Over the last decade there has been consistent growth in interest and price for modern and contemporary African artists. While this has largely been true outside of the continent, there is now a growing class of collectors domestically operating in Africa itself. One of these collectors, Rahman Akar, has been doing so for over thirty years. In 1992 Akar founded Signature African Art, a gallery dedicated [...]
'Depicting the body is a very political act in my culture, no matter what you do with it; even if it’s abstract. Nudity is a political act. Unveiling the body is engaging with the essential in life, the universal. The body is fundamentally the same regardless of gender. Some political regimes divide the genders along the lines of insignificant bodily differences. Politics often create a contradiction between the sexes when, in actual fact, it’s just a difference, nothing else.' [...]
'If you are to fail, you might as well, as Beckett put it, 'fail better'; you might as well volunteer to fail. And failure is, possibly, a necessity in art-making, and it's not necessarily a negative thing in art. It can prove to be a turning-point, to open up a space for discussion, for something that you haven’t expected to see or experience. So it can be a positive thing, so I think there's a double-edged sword in what Beckett means by failure.' […]
What do we even want from coming of age? Do we want to be wise, mature people, or do we just care about ticking off a list of pre-agreed markers: homeowning, or a long-term relationship, or whatever it is? Ultimately, you can be a child, you can be the most immature and undeveloped human, and have achieved all those things. So obviously it’s a problematic term. Obviously, Catcher in the Rye is the ultimate touchstone for literary coming-of-age for most people [...]
‘...Some were to say, “At last, a Christian play!” but I soon came to the conviction that for Beckett it was a mockery. I didn’t want to press the symbolic side. I didn’t bother the actors by saying, “Look, careful, this is very important, it means something other than it seems”. I wanted them to discover it for themselves; through the rehearsals they should give something surpassing the everyday realism of tramps — who finally are not tramps but you and me.’ [...]
A new work by composer Keith Burstein, marking the 250th anniversary of the birth of Ludwig van Beethoven, will be performed by the London Chamber Orchestra at the Cadogan Hall in March. Burstein is renowned for his fervent championing of tonal music, as opposed to the atonal style which has dominated classical music teaching and composition for over a century, and Memories of Bonn looks set to ignite the ongoing controversy surrounding the on-going pre-eminence of atonality [...]
As I wandered through the pacific silence of Nosco Gallery, London, I came across the universe of Radu Oreian's art – and ‘universe’ really is the proper word for it. His works are often massive both in scale and scope. The longer you look, the more you’ll find of the following: sea creatures, bodily fluids, thumb prints, flush plasma, veins and arteries, infinity in pointillism – even nostalgia for your childhood dreams. ‘Microscripts and Melted Matters’ represents a contemporary [...]
Set in Ireland in 1858, seven years after the potato famine, The Wonder tells the story of an English nurse who is hired to spend two weeks observing an eleven-year old girl, who, her parents claim, has not eaten for months. Based on the almost fifty cases of ‘fasting girls’ - of women who claimed to be surviving without food for months on end in Europe and North America between the sixteenth and twentieth centuries - Donoghue’s novel anticipates the invention of anorexia [...]
Currently illuminating the window of Tintype gallery, on the Essex Road, in the London borough of Islington, is the sixth edition of the Essex Road project, which commissions eight artists each year to create a moving image work in response to the road itself. At the helm of the gallery is Director Teresa Grimes, who has created a dynamic programme featuring UK-based and international contemporary artists, including exhibitions, talks, workshops, performances and walks [...]
'It’s dark in here and forest green: Britannica, sixteen oak trees in a London living room, / the little girl, my mother, in the bookcase glass. / Italy, Ithaca, Izmail, Japan, each page a mainsail, / turning, HMS Discovery – none of the rivers of southern Italy is of any great importance.' - Jane Draycott, ‘Italy to Lord’. British poet Jane Draycott is interested in sound poetry and collaboration. Her translation of the Middle English poem Pearl won the Stephen Spender Prize [...]
Stuart MartinLeo Dixon on Death in Venice at the Royal Opera House At only 23 years old, British dancer Leo Dixon has already begun an impressive career at the Royal Ballet. Not content with conquering the...
Eric BlockCecilia Brunson Projects Founder on I Am Awake by Feliciano CenturiónCecilia Brunson opened her eponymous Bermondsey-based gallery in 2015, providing a much needed European platform for historical and contemporary Latin American artists. A champion...
Author George Salis has just published his first novel with River Boat Books. Sea Above, Sun Below is described as containing the following elements: ‘Upside-down lightning, a group of uncouth skydivers, resurrections, a mother's body overtaken by a garden, aquatic telepathy, and a peeling snake-priest’. Read on to get a taste of this oneiric world [...]
Best known for his illustrations of Roald Dahl’s books — including Fantastic Mr Fox, Matilda, The BFG and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory amongst others — Quentin Blake's latest exhibition, Anthology of Readers, turns his eye to book-lovers [...]