I’m currently reading Sacrifice & Transcendence: the oral history of Swans and it reminded me that about 10 years ago I drew Michael Gira. The book is made up of selections of interviews from people who were there when it happened, as Swans emerged out of the residual discharges of the New York No Wave scene, and almost without exception it reads like the accounts of Vietnam war veterans who, against all the odds, survived to tell the tale. I found these words from Gira himself especially resonant:
“I’m no stranger to failure, and I’m aware it can arrive at any minute – as it often has. You have to keep things close to your chest and be aware of what’s really important: the work, not everything around it. If you have faith in the work then the people will come...”
Further to last week’s post, here’s a progress update. It’s all fine detail from here on, meaning that you can work on a painting for hours and there’s no obvious signs of progress. Yesterday evening I worked on a two square inch area for several hours, fully aware of the obsessional futility of my endeavor, but doing it anyway, which I think is a good description for any serious artist.
I’ve been working on this painting for the past month. This is just the undercoating and for the rest of the year I’ll be adding an insane Millais-esque level of fine detail in order to do the subject justice. I intend to make the final single-haired brushstroke on New Year’s Eve, with the finished painting standing as an emphatic statement of intent regarding my artistic plans for 2022.
Those who have read my first novel Daddy Witch will know that a key chapter includes our protagonist David Warwick making a painting entitled ‘We Are Flames Which Pour Out Of The Earth’. It’s also the title of one of the band’s songs, and comes from the private journals of Edvard Munch, a heavy influence on the young artist. Here is that very painting, unearthed from the archives. I’m offering it up for free to anyone who orders a copy of the novel and Laughing At The Funeral, the book collecting all the art and design of Daddy Witch. All you need see is email me screengrabs confirming you’ve ordered a copy of each book, together with a postal address, and I’ll send it to you, just in time for Christmas.
Daddy Witch – order a copy HERE
Laughing At The Funeral – order a copy HERE
With Christmas almost at our throats once more, I’d be remiss in not taking the opportunity to remind you of potential gift ideas that you may have not yet considered. A few copies of my novel DADDY WITCH are still available, via Exile In The Margins. Daddy Who? Allow me to explain:
It’s the early 1980’s. Thatcher’s banshee wail echoes across the post-industrial wasteland towns of northern Britain, and it’s in one of those town that four young men, told that they have no future, plot their revenge through art. Caught in the exhausted backwash of punk, they channel their anger and their passion into music that compresses all their ideas and influences into a primal shriek of defiance. Their band is Daddy Witch and this is their story.
This is my first published novel. 140 pages. Pocket paperback, fully designed by yours truly.
During the writing of the novel, I made a lot of art and designs inspired by the band, including singles and album covers, posters, zines and postcard art. This was to assist with the writing of the novel, adding to the aching verrisimilitude of the time and place I was revisiting, and it seemed too complete a body of work in its own right to let it go to waste, so I collected it all as a self-published title: LAUGHING AT THE FUNERAL: THE ART OF DADDY WITCH
It’s available as a print-on-demand book, under my Genius Loci imprint.
Full colour. 44 pages. Square format 20cm apx. £5 & shipping, Order your copy HERE.
Martin Jones, my co-conspirator on Exile In The Margins, described Daddy Witch as “essence de Rik”, and that’s absolutely correct. Order some copies and find out exactly what that means, but – caveat emptor – here be monsters.
I dug out this old drawing, given its appropriateness for tonight’s ritual. Not that anyone has bonfire’s anymore. There’s plenty of organised firework displays but… it’s not the same. All the dark pagan elements have been excised in favour of a bland and joyless spectacle, all sound and fury signifying nothing.
The sky of our time has been lit from the beginning of childhood by the light of the Apocalypse, always before our eyes have ridden the Four Horsemen. Such a light is therefore the light in my pictures.
It is finished. My latest painting, inspired by a muse-invigorating visit to Pembrokeshire back in August, a place that always serves as a purge for all the poisons that build up when you’re trapped in the rat’s maze of suburbia. Below is a history of it’s progress from first to final brushstroke:
I’ll leave it to you to decide who the “ghost” is.
Even a stopped clock gives the right time twice a day. And for once I’m inclined to believe that Withnail is right. We are indeed drifting into the arena of the unwell. Making an enemy of our own future.
Another new Withnail & I drawing, which along with this one, will not now be featured in a book collecting all my drawings inspired by the film. I don’t know what made me change my mind, except perhaps that it felt vaguely parasitical to be leeching off the entirely deserved reputation of the film, when what I really ought to be doing is using it as a smouldering ember of inspiration with which to spark my own personal creative visions.
“You want workin’ on, boy”
The one and only Michael Elphick, as Jake The Poacher, from Withnail & I, my favourite film of all time. I had been planning to do a new book, including all the Withnail & I drawings I’ve done over the past 10 years, together with some new ones – like this one – but on Sunday morning I had an Uncle Monty moment. Rather than the dawning realisation that “I shall never play The Dane” I realised that it just wasn’t worth the effort. Bill Callahan sang that “the mountains don’t need my accolades”, and this film, perfect in every respect, does not need me to draw attention to it.
Further to previous posts, here’s how far I’ve got with my current painting. The sky is finished, and I’m now working on the reflections. As usual my “rudimentary” photographic skills (picture a chimpanzee being shown a camera for the first time) don’t do the painting justice. I aim to be finished by the end of the month, as the next painting is already demanding my attention.