Sunday, 28 November 2010

Den/ treehouse (sort of) of the day!

I came across these when thinking I would quite like a nest and also thinking of expanding my den project to incorporate nest building. The artist Patrick Dougherty makes lovely woven buildings that I would really quite like to have one of. They are somewhat less lo-fi and more impressive than my dens, though I guess mine are more about the interior decoration like the memory scrapbook / personal archive of the imagined feral inhabitant, so... Though that's no excuse and I'm now thinking I should go on some basket weaving course (it's the sort of thing in over-abundance in the hippy west-country) to get my skills up! I was worried about getting the image credits wrong so please see for those.

Pictures of Nikola Tesla

That's all. I've posted the top one before when waffling about one of my Belgrade trips (though looking back I think I failed to mention the wondrousness that was having a light saber style battle with "wireless" tube light bulbs powered by Tesla's machines with the guy that worked in the Tesla museum!) as it's one of my all time favourite photos, but here it is again along with some more. I just thought it was time that along with his other skills he was finally appreciated for his casually reading a book in extreme circumstances stance. 'Nuff said.

The Car Boot Museum

Woo new project (that kind of fits with all my old projects)! Combining two of my favourite things, personal archives and car-boot sales, this project will also tie in with my new penpal writing and illustration collaborations. I love pop up museums - I remember being in Berlin about 8 years ago and finding what seemed like galleries open at 2am that the next day were somewhere else. Looking back it almost seems like I was imagining things, but I'm pretty sure it was real. Later that year I briefly lived in Paris and I remember this room under the post office on Rue Oberkampf where I saw handsome boys apparently randomly building miniature wooden rollercoasters - I now know that it was a gallery, but I have never forgot the delight at finding art in such an unexpected place (though I have to say in this case I kind of wished it hadn't been a gallery but more of an art guerilla affair - handsome boys building rollercoasters for random fun is like my perfect dream!).

The Car Boot Museum will stop and pop up wherever it seems is a good place, be it the side of the road (I'm hoping a couple of foreign road trips can be incorporated), a car park, an empty field (cows deserve art too) or outside a friend's house, and the inside of the car boot will contain text and images, created by me and friends collaboratively, or found things that fit as an almost memory atlas that is illustrated anew by each place it is viewed in. I was also thinking a lot about the Mnemosyne Atlas (see previous post on said marvel) and how we collate images and link things in our heads. The black voids in the display here are as important as the images in that the space represents the "ghost links" between things that can be filled in by people's imaginations. This completion by the reader/viewer has always been an important part of my work and I hope this project will explore and enable some of these ideas further. I also love the idea of drawing on that feeling at car boot sales when you peer inside a stranger's car not knowing what treasures you might find... It has a treasure hunt quality which also fits with my projects! And a travelling cabinet of curiosities one...

Soooo... Who wants to join in?

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

It's somewhat stormy today...

I was debating coming to London today to see a friend's band play, but I think the weather gods have decided against it... Not that it is quite as bad as this old photo of my village! But with all the trains stopped I don't think I shall be picking wild mountain berries with Kurt and Cortney this evening...

Saturday, 13 November 2010


When left to its own devices nature really knows the best idea for topiary. Though I would prefer a triceratops. Google kudzoo as opposed to kudzu - oh yes it exists...

Tree house of the day!

Designed by Tom Chudleigh. It has a sleeping platform inside the pod. Double joy!

Supernova rocks (almost)!

Wooo the wonderful internationally collaborative Supernova poetry anthology I am in is off to the printers and the website with extra work will be live before too long! I am sooo excited that this wonderful project from the Auropolis folks in Belgrade is soon to see the light. I will post again when it is available. Here is my super posey autofictional poetess portrait for my biog - I was going for the intrepid turn of the century lady explorer returns and has to give a poetry reading at a Royal Geographical Society dinner look...? Taken by my sister.

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Call out for silver ghosts (collaborators)...

Hello friends,

This is a call out for anyone who wants to participate in expanding my projects overseas. The miniature books project has taken place in Serbia and Georgia but if anyone would like me to send them some mini books to hide round their local city let me know. Also I am looking for illustrator creative "pen pals" for a new collaborative project whereby I send you a piece of writing, you send me a drawing based on it, I send back writing based on that etc etc... Finished illustrated letter books will be published here and possibly as an and the ghosts so silver publication if I finally launch that side of things properly! I am quite interested in people whose style is quite different to my writing - ie someone who creates crazy monster worlds that would be an interesting juxtaposition against my romantic dreamy strangeness, or someone who does quite clinical technical drawing for the same reason, but I am open to all possibilities. I was reminded yesterday of how amazing kids' art is too, when running Christmas decoration making workshops for The Eden Project (though for trees not the geodesic domes sadly), so if you have any kids or a younger sibling or nephew/niece etc who might like to draw some pictures that could be amazing and I would make sure the text was suitable for children. Also if you fancy doing a post-it trail or anything let me know! Details of all my projects can be seen on my website here.

Alice x

Ornamental hermit of the day!

Oooh a new catagory! Ornamental hermits have long been a fixation of mine, a bizarre late 18th century phenomenon stemming from the picturesque movement and tumbling into the gothic, a person's life became essentially a fad in gardening design. In her wonderful book "English Eccentrics" Edith Sitwell explores the topic and there were a few aristocrats who found the urge of a hermit an irresistable addition to their estate. They advertised for the post and the rules for anyone were quite strict - there was no sneaking into the main house for warmth and comfort once any visitors had left - these hermits were expected to lead the austere life that the hermits of a traditionally more spiritual bent chose to live throughout history. They might not have been expected to live on top of a pillar like the Stylites, or fast for great lengths of time, but they were taking on a contract, sometimes of many years, to give up the outside world. I've been thinking about why this might have appealed to the psyche of the time - the urges of employer and employee should in theory be very different, though I can't help but think that in the age where the Romantic imagination truly captured England that some noblemen could have been living out an unobtainable fancy of their own to escape the world when they employed a hermit on their estate.

But anyway, I digress - hermit of the day!
Going against the idea of answering an advertisement to placate a whim of the aristocracy this ornamental hermit was self-pronounced and lived a more sensibly comfortable life than the others for who austerity was an essential part of their employers' vision. This unnamed hermit lived in the village of Newton Burgsland in Leicestershire and justified his self-pronounced title as "true hermits throughout the ages, have been the abettors of freedom" (note - Edith Sitwell's "English Eccentrics"). He played the part appearance-wise with a long flowing beard (slightly less extreme than the aesthetic demands of ornamental hermit employers - they often insisted that hair and nails must never be cut!), but why he is hermit of the day is his numbered suits and hats all labeled with a particularly symbolism. As a fan of esoteric conceptual dressing I had to give him today's hermit crown. Here are a few examples of his outfit system:
1. Odd Fellows - without money, without friends, without credit.
5. Bellows - Blow the flames of freedown with God's sword of truth.
7. Helmet - Will fight for the birthright of conscience, love, life, property, and national independence.
13. Patent Teapot - To draw out the flavour of the tea best - Union and goodwill.
17. Wash-basin of reform - White-washed face and collyed heart.
20. Bee-Hive - The toils of industry are sweet; a wise people live at peace.

The shapes of his hats mirrored their symbolic meaning. He also had a good forrester outfit made from soft suede. His garden was also full of his questions, including three seats of self-enquiry bearing the questions "and I vile?", "am I a Hypocrite?" and "am I a Christian?". He had a strange desk in his garden he used as a personal pulpit and a kitchen walk decorated with representations of kitchen utensils. A true English Eccentric - I wonder sometimes if they are a dying breed...

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Tesla's radio of ghosts

As my friends all know I am slightly obsessed with Nikola Tesla and I am rather fond of inexplicable ghosts sounds and homemade electronic instruments too, so this really is rather wonderful in my books...

How to make your own!Click here

Paper animation = v cool

Eric Power makes lovely videos. I don't really like the song on this one, but I do love the little tree ghosts like colourful teardrops... All his videos are worth watching even if you don't like the bands particularly...

Imaginary friends and personal hermit kingdoms

I've been thinking a lot about imaginary friends recently. Whether we can have just as vivid ones as adults as we do as children. It's logical somehow in my current hermit status that this would be the case I guess, but I was kind of disappointed to read cod psychology about how in adults it is simply a symptom of loneliness and these "friends" will be characters off your favourite TV show - that somehow it was impossible that an adult could have a vivid enough imagination to create a truly imaginary being that might just be who you'd want to hang out with in an ideal world - in a world where things could be truly different to how they are in "reality". I've never been a huge fan of the traditional definition of reality - I think a good dose of delusion is healthy if it leads to a happier mind. I sometimes think a happy mind is one that has just set itself free to imagine away without worrying what other people think about the "sanity" of those thoughts. When I work with children and we create characters for stories, they don't think it strange that these characters then become kind of real to them. It did not seem odd when we took these "invisible" characters on a day out to the woods and built them a theme park from twigs and leaves - it was just fun! And as a writer it is when my characters aren't real to me that my work fails to communicate with people... SO in the spirit of imaginary friends for grown ups are cool here is my new one:

M (is for Magic) was raised by owls - this makes him not sleep a lot and be able to fly. He lives in an amazing tree house he built himself that is reached by shimmying up inside a giant tree trunk. The house itself looks like a strange crooked house stolen from a fairytale witch. M spends his days inventing stuff - his current favourite invention is a woodland one man band which incorporates crickets. He has a bag of mysterious monsters and various boxes that when opened reveal strange magic that twirls through the air like a colourful night sky. He has a pet star with a fondness for sandwiches. At night he is a spy for the woodland world and his own curiosity. He flies great distances and has a particular fondness for states of the former Soviet Union. He watches people purely out of curiosity for their alternative way of life. I guess he is a hermit too in some ways. And hermit's need to build a world of their own. Kenneth Anger's below is sort of close to mine right now. Except I have a lot more sea side...