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 [...]
No sooner than I started reading Wing, Matthew Francis’s latest collection of nature poems, did I want to read it out loud to the nearest person who would listen. ‘Longhouse Autumn’, the first, is a pungent broth of imagery, stuffed with suety metaphors: a remote Welsh beach is covered with ‘pick-and-mix shingle’, stippled with the ‘semolina and jam’ of pigeon droppings, concealing a ‘leathery mummified dogfish.’ [...]
One Wednesday evening, on the stone steps outside an umbrella shop somewhere near Tottenham Court Road, Sam encountered Silvestra de Winter in person for the first, and last, time. Rain droplets spattered down the back of his neck. The umbrellas, lining the window like carcasses in a butcher’s shop, were striped in pinks, greens, and oranges. Some, in what was evidently thought a rather witty touch, had carved animal heads. One duck-headed umbrella looked like [...]
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 [...]
For contemporary fiction to stay pertinent in the twenty-first century, it must continue to do what great novelists have always striven to do: challenge, interpret, and risk offence. Michael Arditti’s new novel The Anointed challenges the ultimate orthodoxy, the Bible – in particular, the ancient tales of the Old Testament, which have endured for thousands of years, despite their capriciousness and morals archaic to the modern reader [...]
Things were not so free back then, but I was. Still a girl, living in my body. We’d been at the pictures, her dad and me, slurping pop, finding each other’s hands in the space for drinks. He waited until we got to the station to kiss me, which seemed so out of character. I’d seen no proof of happiness in marriage and dishwashers, so when he asked me back to his flat, I didn’t mind. It wasn’t 'beyond' I was after [...]
Gaby didn’t mean to do it. She wanted to, though — wanted to do something so bad that she might have something to write about — to make the words better than her own life, own breathing, Mark’s breathing. What else is there to it? They met a decade ago when she was halfway through a bland novel, an equally bland degree. They married and less than a year later, she began wanting. She thought that ten years was a decent run of things, a human sort of number [...]
Georges Seurat (l859-91) was a mysterious and elusive personality. Reserved in character and manner, extremely reticent about his private affairs, he kept no diaries and his rare letters were factual and impersonal. Born in Paris, the son of a retired court bailiff, he learned what he called the routine and dead practices of the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, did his military service in Brest, painted in Paris and, in summers, on the Normandy coast. Like Caravaggio, Watteau, Van Gogh, Lautrec and Modigliani, he died in his thirties [...]
‘Why not just burn everything?’ Sarah puts down her cup and reaches for the bottle. She pours herself more wine. On the table, all the glasses are full. ‘You know we can’t,’ I say. ‘Why not? Let’s just get rid of them, once and for all.’ She gestures at the plants making their way through our windows, through every crack in the walls. Around our kitchen and living room, short green stumps line the edges of the ceiling like sharp poking fingers, their flesh covered with a thin [...]
The sliding doors at Tesco are fastened open. A torn flyer that reads PAINTBA pokes out from under the felt. I roll one of the smaller trolleys through, forearms leaning on the handle, head stooped forward and turned right so I can see the cashiers, left ear to the ground, left thumb and forefinger dangling my phone in a small fanning motion over the cart. I see all the lines extend back into the aisles, I can hear a steady blip of scanners, feet shuffling forward, light and heavy ruffling: packets of crisps and [...]
"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 [...]
At first glance, Zonal looks like a change of direction for Don Paterson. He made his name as a colloquial formalist, someone who could make rhyme and metre feel like the natural way of writing poetry in English. In this book, the carefully managed forms that dominated his work till now have been replaced by a longer, looser and less metrical line. [...]
'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.'
Sean Bonney died in Berlin last November at the age of fifty, a couple of months after the publication of Our Death. The collection is a follow-up to his well-received Letters against the Firmament, described by Bonney, in an interview with BOMB magazine, as ‘open letters to the poetry community about the political situation in Britain’. Our Death expands on these epistolary poems: loose translations of the Greek poet Katerina Gogou appear alongside other revelatory material in both prose and verse form. The tone is bleak, drenched in premonitions of death, yet utterly gripping. [...]
Jack Solloway Sinéad Gleeson on solidarity in sickness, isolation and empathy With the UK government currently advising ‘social distancing’ and the country expecting further preventative measures...
The similarities between the life paths of the 17th century Dutch painters Nicolaes Maes (1634-1693) and Rembrandt (1606-1669) are intriguing. Both grew up in small town Holland, both were apprenticed to local painters at an early age, both moved to Amsterdam to work with a master, both returned to their home towns to perfect their own style, both ended their lives in Amsterdam to which each had returned as their careers began to burgeon [...]
We’d agreed to the terms and conditions. How to accept and decline an invitation of touch. What to do in case of accidental erection. We’d ticked the box that confirmed we were clean, contagion-free, sound of mind people. Pierre roamed the yoga studio with a disarming smile. He was there to enforce the rules: platonic touch. No funny business. Most people in the studio had paired off, their bodies locked together on those tired mandala cushions. Some lay hidden under white duvets like dead unmoving things [...]
The figure is wearing pyjamas and a pensive expression. He juggles, or simply tries to catch, a piece of falling fruit, the parent of which coils its leaves against a clouded orange backdrop. He is the subject of A Dream (2019), one of a series of paintings by Düsseldorf-based artist Lenz Geerk. Sleepless, as the name suggests, is the result of its creator’s insomnia, and is one of two exhibitions at the newly-launched Mamoth contemporary gallery in Bloomsbury [...]
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 [...]
For a long time, William Wordsworth had little interest in the sonnet form. ‘I used to think it egregiously absurd,’ he claimed in an 1822 letter to Walter Savage Landor, 'though the greatest poets since the revival of literature have written in it’. If his origin story is to be believed, 1802 was the turning point, when his sister Dorothy read him some of Milton’s sonnets. Struck by their ‘dignified simplicity’ and ‘majestic harmony’, William ‘took fire’, and produced ‘three Sonnets the same afternoon’. He would go on to write no fewer than 523 over the course of his career [...]
A cold, rainy night in February was apt for revisiting W. W. Jacobs’ 1902 short story, ‘The Monkey’s Paw’, first published in the collection The Lady of the Barge. Set in imperial Britain, the story endures as a spine-chilling classic of genre fiction; one which explores the folly of dabbling with the supernatural, darkness in its many forms, and the threat of the outsider.A non-commissioned officer, on leave from India, visits an elderly couple and their son. That evening he reveals [...]
Hugh Dunkerley Home Farm Divided into seven sections, this moving and formally restless collection delves into the life of the farm in Wiltshire where Janet Sutherland...
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 [...]