Sunday, 16 December 2012


I have always been very fond of Trilobites - they kind of remind me of giant sea woodlice, another creature I have always had a soft spot for - they even curl up in defence in the same way! So I was delighted to discover these when watching David Attenborough the other day. I had no idea they had glamorous spines and very powerful eyes for the time that unlike any other creature were not soft but had lenses made from crystal - each one completely different depending on whether they lurked under mud or swam through the ocean - some even had wrap around eyes like crystal sunglasses - some even had solid visors to protect their eyes from the light! Here are some particularly good photos of ones found in Morocco - people think they are so well preserved here as they were buried in a landslide millions of years ago. It's making me nostalgic for my I Love Trilobites t-shirt I had as a teenager to add that extra something to my indie disco outfits... If you want to read a really good book about trilobites I would recommend "Trilobite! Eyewitness to evolution" by Richard Fortey, the fabulous expert from the Natural History Museum in London.

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Carnival - Coney Island 1950s

Iron lace reaching for the sky
prancing to a hurdy gurdy tune
watch how gently the silk lets you down
mountain climbing on wheels

Monday, 10 December 2012

Nosferatu hands

This is what happens when you let me and Ana out DANCING... Author shot for The City?

Saturday, 24 November 2012

I met reindeer!

Whilst at The Eden Project yesterday for tree decorating I also met these handsome creatures! They have very mysterious feet - two side toes for gripping snow!

My Tree, My Community at Eden 2012

I was very lucky this year to run this project again, this time at Nanpean school where the kids were wonderful. They created these amazing book/house/lantern decorations based on Christmases past in their village and the things they discovered in morning workshops and at a tea party for elder locals. Thanks to the teachers and to Elliot and Beverley for coming and helping decorate the tree yesterday. All trees can be seen at the entrance to the Eden Project over this Christmas period!

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

'50s kitchen millinery

A colander needs a little embellishment and when in doubt use a jelly mould! Genius...

Get ready for Autumn 1950s Paris stylee

Figuring out whether I can afford to buy new vests from M&S this Autumn somewhat makes me wish I could be in this fashion world instead - hint of pagoda lighting up the boulevards via veiled witchy hats anyone? And nice coats... Click image to watch full British Pathe video!


Saturday, 6 October 2012

My favourite Narnia.

The previous post made me remember the cartoon of The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe that me and my siblings were all obsessed with when we were little. I still think it's my favourite and the most atmospheric adaptation, and Sheila Hancock as Jadis is amazing... Turkish delight... Turkish delight!

Camel sleigh racing!

Now whilst I have always lusted after a sleigh pulled by wolves a la the White Queen, Jadis, in Narnia, and thought maybe I would have to settle for huskies (though living in the somewhat temperate West Country with a giant cat that attacks dogs, not the most viable plan) I am now starting to think this could be another option. This is in Mongolia too, a country I've always been fascinated by - icy deserts, horse fairs and lots of dinosaur bones and now camel sleighs! And of course they are furry Bactrians, which are definitely my favourite type of camel. Need I say more...

Now that's how to impress a lady - antler stylee...

I've always been rather fond of natural crowns, now if only I had antlers too...

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

This Tornado Loves You...

I've recently been working on some poetry for a dance performance, so here's a taster... It should be read very slowly and languidly with music...

Broken Home.

This tornado loves you
Swirls dust caresses
Lifts your feet to drop ballerina toes
To drift over confetti
Of dirt and leaves
And somewhere you are dancing through all this

Dust devils lilt like hula girls
Pushing the sky with hips side to side
Liberating the earth
For sky and wind and impending water
This rain will soak you through

And when it does you are transparent
A magnifying body for the view
An eyeglass of diaphanous flesh
And crystalline bones

They do not break but guide my eye through landscapes
A hint of fingers points to the old tree as it is uprooted
And its roots spin cobwebs from the ground

Objects scar the wind like key scrapes down a car
They are homeless
Call out for their lost owners like misplaced pets
Impending fossils, they do not understand
This delicate balance
Of light and shade – a chiaroscuro of movement


Curls invisible ribbons

A childhood gymnastic trick

I remember how good you were

(Isn’t it funny to think that everything that is everything has come from the earth? Is made from these same atoms? Is grown or smelt or smashed?)

This tornado is a leveller
An activist for new starts
A pellucid tear
A keepsake for lightning

(Did you ever have one of those toys when you were little? A creature for secret compartments? A plastic shell in which to place treasures? Push them down. Hide them so they are hard to pull out again. Some actions have semi-permanent results. Mine was an amber snail called Sweet Heart.)

Bright light escapes from the sky
To reach for the ground
A longing for earthing
A self-destructive adventure

I understand that one

But you?
This tornado loves you
Holds you suspended
In animation
The landscape comes alive
With unforetold movement
Waves of dust like the aftermath of cartoon chases

But you are a terranium
A glass dome licked with butterflies and ladybirds
Sweet tooth to their touch
Stroked with ferns like Egyptian fans
You are temperate
In this tempestuous climate
It is only you who are safe

I write letters with biro on leaves and hope they reach you
Open scrunched up palms
Let the sky take them
My words are taken from me
To you
I don’t know if they will reach you
If the sky will let them reach you

I know this
Small jealousies
Petty arguments
This tornado loves you

And I am still

Sunday, 29 July 2012

Some ways to dis/reappear - thoughts on travel.

I've been slowly working on a travel book, but rather than wanting it to be a journal of my time in Georgia I wanted to go further to think about the nature of travel itself. It's taking me a long time - a labour of love in between all my fiction writing and poetry projects, so I thought I'd publish some extracts here...

Some ways to disappear.

Sitting in the dark staring at the still of night skimming the Black Sea it was easy to imagine walking in to never return. Not a suicidal wish, but rather a curiosity at the reality of being able to disappear; a curiosity as to whether anyone would notice. Except in this case it would have been noticed quite quickly before I even reached the water, surrounded as I was by chain smoking, drunk, but incredibly sweet boys who had adopted me as their guest. A status akin to sacredness in Georgia – they would never forgive themselves if I slipped away. But it got me to thinking about why we travel – yes to discover new places – that much is obvious – but also how if you go far enough and shed companions from your normal life, part of the appeal is this ability to disappear. To be wholly swallowed by a distant world no one from your past in your own country could know about. As well as a lust for life and new experiences there is an arguable nihilism in the persistent traveler, echoed in how we often behave like we never would at home, but there is also a regenerative power in this reinvention of self.
When you return from traveling, the days or months create a hollow shape in the events of your home life – that there will always be a time carved out when you knew nothing of what was going on and were not part of any of the details of your friends everyday lives. What can be an intensified moment of living in your personal interior and exterior life becomes an absence in the continuum of your everyday life at home.
As I sat on the beach listening to the gaggle of Georgian exclamations and ponderings I quietly put my headphones in and pressed play on New Partner by Palace, a song that reminds me of my teenage years. I have often been fascinated by how music when listened to out doors or in the company of people who cannot hear it can change the atmosphere of the experience of the place where you are sitting, and as I sat staring at the mass of dark water and pebbles dappled with the light of cheesy empty bars I felt like I had entered into a different realm – that here too was another way to disappear into the interior – to create ones own world within a living experience.
We were staying in the village of Gonio a few miles south of the Black Sea port of Batumi and close to the eastern Turkish border. I had always been fascinated by the Adjara region where this place lay ever since years before I read about how during the 90s and the civil war it had been run as an autonomous region by a tyrannical but charismatic man named Aslan, who at least had the benefit of keeping Adjara’s residents out of the trouble. Aslan is a common enough Georgian name, but for me it instantly conjured associations with CS Lewis’s charismatic lion of the same name who I had spent much of my childhood wanting as the ultimate pet I could ride off on and leave my west country village life behind. Because of this no matter how many times I heard tales or read serious articles about how he ruled I could not help but see him as somehow a gentle figure, and Adjara as a potential Narnia within Georgia. The reality was different obviously. In fact I have visited many regions of Georgia with a Narnia-like quality, most notably Khevsureti near the Chechen border, but Adjara felt overwhelmingly like what it was in that moment: our August summer holiday destination.

The hologram of travel.

I recently watched a television programme on which a physicist explained the theory that reality is a hologram – a result of the inevitable unloseablility of information resting on the edge of a black hole. Or something along these lines – I am not a scientist though I acquired an adult fascination with physics having rejected it as boring at school. But the more I began to think of the idea of reality as a projected image – an image that gets more blurred the closer we look at it – the more I began to think about the significance of the moments when we feel most alive.
There have been times when travelling that my normal life, my “real” world, has seemed like an illusion compared to the intensity of life when not at home. That I have somehow woken up and the real world is a dream and this other world, the one that is an illusion of my reality, is actually where I am alive. There are certain dreams I have like this too. Where I visit dream versions of real cities and these fictional versions of places I know seem more real to me, more alive, than the places I visit in my waking life. They are more vivid, more intense in atmosphere and feeling. It is in the cities I travel too when awake in far away lands where I can recapture these feelings.
The first thing that drew me to Tbilisi was this sense that this place would become like a dream city to me. Looking at faded photographs of wooden glazed balconies hovering like precarious bunches of glass grapes above cobbled streets I recognized this place I had never been to. It looked like the cities I had dreamed of all my life – not so much visually, as somehow the images had their atmosphere. Perhaps I knew that the reason I had to go to Tbilisi one day was that somehow it would wake me up. I never thought about the other side to this – how it would mess with the sense of reality of my normal life – my ability to settle down back at “home”.
I often wonder what home means to the chronic traveller. Whether taking that first wandering step is like taking a drug, a hallucinogen, that will somehow affect how you see things forever. How you relate to the places that are most familiar. There is no true going back home once you have left it.
Thinking again about the world as a hologram I wallowed in the poetic interpretation of physics. I knew I would never fully understand the concept, as many scientists say they don’t, but that somehow I could interpret it. The interesting thing about creative work is that it can be good or bad but not wrong as such – that is not the point of it. I would never be able to prove any theories but I could ruminate on them creatively as much as I liked. I looked at the intensified world around me and pictured myself wandering on a different level – that my life back home was a shallower or dimmer layer – that somehow I had surfed the flickers of information my life was made of to land on the place where it was brightest. Maybe travel is the search for this. The continual journeying towards hope; towards the place we know is resting somewhere muffled amongst all the interference.
On the same TV programme another scientist was talking about how he believed in parallel worlds – infinite numbers of them hovering around us in the here and now. That the combination of all these possible lives we are multiply living is what constitutes reality. We don’t know any other world than the one we think we know with our definition of reality, and yet I started to think about how we have to know all of them at the same time as we exist in each. I wondered about this in relation to travel too. Whether the places that we love cause us to split and divide and continue a parallel life there after we have left. That each time we fall for somewhere new we snap ourselves apart again. I wondered what my parallel life in Georgia was like. That maybe I preferred it to the one I was really conscious of and whether my subconscious knew all the other lives I was leading and kept trying to pull me back to the one it preferred. I was continually drifting into more than one place; my imaginative life was getting more dominant.
As a writer of fiction and poetry I often wonder about how the imaginary world is in some ways just as vivid as the world we think of as real. That there could be different definitions of what real is, and certainly in terms of science no one really knows what real is, so why shouldn’t what we imagine have its own validity as important as other forms of experience? Hume argued that all knowledge comes from experience, but if experience is more vivid in the imaginary realm does this not give its own kind of knowledge – a different kind of truth. Could traveling somehow get mixed up in this – be the ultimate way to catch this truth?
People often talk of travel in terms of clichéd ideas of self discovery, and life is often described as a journey, again in a horribly clichéd way these days. But maybe it's not so much a discovery of the self or life as a metaphor of movement, but rather travel is a discovery of the possibilities of these parallel lives – the other lives being lived in the world and how ours would change if interwoven with them in a life that moved forward with them endlessly, rather than being abruptly stopped and taken back to what we “know”. That we can always keep moving and change, and this human ability to adapt and change and reinvent itself is part of the nature of reality – is what keeps the world evolving if we try not to control it.
And if this hologram is information that cannot be lost I wonder if what really we are all made of is memories. That the whole world is a giant memory projected into infinite space. That what defines us and the places around us are the memories that cannot be lost. We will be remembered somewhere.

Copyright Alice Maddicott 2012

Sunday, 3 June 2012

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Tree house of the day

Designed by Pacific Environment Architects in New Zealand and housing the Yellow Tree House Restaurant.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Urban Swans Part 2

They've hatched! The wondrous seaweed nest on the edge of the pavement in Plymouth has done its job...

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

The bluebells are out...

And soon shall disappear again till next year. Here's a photo my friend Alice Mahoney took in my local woods a couple of years ago - the trees descend to the sea...

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Urban Swans

Sod London with its urban foxes - in Plymouth we have urban swans. Taken on Friday whilst waiting for my ferry home. They are a bit grubby and one of them glares at dogs whilst the other tidies up the nest.

Why Nikola Tesla is the first superhero

This is from the great BBC series Shock and Awe The Story of Electricity. A visual demonstration of just how extraordinary Tesla was - this is science as adventurer or explorer. He shot lightning from his fingertips! I actually had a go with one of the light tubes when I was at the Tesla museum in Belgrade (god bless Serbian lack of health and safety rules...). This series also had some amazing early electricity experiments in it - when it was science as wonder, more mysterious than any magicians trick (though actually there are links between the history of electricity scientists and magicians - there were certainly electricity parlour tricks - maybe another post..) - I will post the whole first episode here too - I like the experiment involving levitating gold and a swing...
Tesla as superhero:

Episode one on early electricity scientists:

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Into the Ice - radio recording online now

The full recording of me and Ana reading part three of The City on the radio in Belgrade. The final version for the cd will be a lot more rehearsed and the music changed a bit, but I'm pretty pleased with this for a first live performance... Music as before by Ryan Norris.

Into the Ice video

Ana has uploaded our recent radio reading to youtube with some photos, though as it was 18 minutes long youtube has cut off the last three bah humbug. However one gets the idea. I am currently trying to upload the full recording to soundcloud but am having some problems, so watch this space. Oh and this is part three of me (Alice Maddicott) and Ana Seferovic's collaborative poetry book The City. Music for this part by Ryan Norris.

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Forest in a cave - Hang son doong, Vietnam.

I'm a bit fearful of underground, always liking to be as high up as possible (hence tree house obsession), but if I had to live in a cave I'd want one with a forest - who thought you could have a tree house in a cave?! Hang son doong in Vietnam is the largest cave in the world, with amazing giant caverns you could fit buildings in, but where part of the cave roof fell in many many years ago the light coaxed life out of the previous darkness and now a miniature rainforest thrives. I saw this the other day on the BBC's wonderful "How to grow a planet" documentary. I really recommend seeking this programme out (it might still be on iplayer) as it also had fascinating bits on fossilised forests and tree defences against dinosaurs, as well as a wonderful sequence where the warning communications between plants were filmed (they release an until recently undetectable gas when their leaves are cut to warm others about predatory herbivores). Here's a clip of the cave forest segment.

Here's also a couple of photos courtesy of National Geographic taken by Carsten Peter - there's an article on the caves on their website too that is worth checking out.

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

We Are Reading

Photos from me and Ana reading on the radio - we look slightly less like Victorian Kraftwerk this time... Link to recording of part three of The City coming soon. Thank you to the Belgrade gang for a lovely evening.

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

The City - reading on radio this Friday

Me and the wonderful Ana Seferovic will be reading from our poetry book The City, as well as other bits and pieces, with lovely musicians this Friday 27th January. The show starts at 9pm Belgrade time (8pm GMT)and will be broadcast in front of a live audience. You can listen in for free at

Here is a little blurb about the project (and a silly picture of me and Ana...)

The City.

The city seeks to poetically excavate the concept of urban space from a priori concrete ideas to personal memory - the hidden rather than the monumentally enforced stories of a place. The foundations are laid by two poets, Alice Maddicott (UK) and Ana Seferovic (Serbia), working in close collaboration to deconstruct cities of personal memory to form one constantly evolving city; seeking out atmosphere and the intangible as much as streets and buildings, to create an intrinsic sense of place that can communicate universally.

Created in three movements from architectural facts, through intimate and post-apocalyptic visions, to an ultimate losing of oneself to space and the absence of recognisable place, the project is a distillation of the essence of a city rather than its physical building blocks. These foundations will be built upon by other artists, in the first instance by musicians Manja Ristic (Serbia) and Ryan Norris (USA), who are creating a score in three parts in response to the atmosphere of different areas within the poem.

The first stage of the project sees the publication of a book, CD and archaeological poetry map by the organisation Auropolis. The intention is to follow this with an exhibition, recreating the poem in physical space with the collaboration of visual artists, as well as a series of performances. The project brings together writers, musicians and artists from across the world, all of who will bring their own sense of place to the work as it continues to be built.

I would also direct you to the Supernova Poetry website for more on me and Ana and the poetry work Auropolis does.

Saturday, 21 January 2012

I'm off to Belgrade...

So in honour of the trip and the work me and Ana are going to do there, here's a short story/poem about one of our more bizarre days out in that city...

Ada lake, Gypsy Island.

We walked through torrents
Lapped deeper water
As drums struck
Promises of fire

Round the corner
Past stubborn swans
The fishing champions laughed and
Gave us cigarettes for beer

I don’t think they heard
The reflections dripping hints
Of what was really going on

We followed rhythms
Across the coming night
Stumbled through a lost village
With houses too small and covered
With flowers
For real people

I held her hand and tried
To catch the whispered
Laughter dark
On the softened wind

It would lead us there if we were careful
Listened out and followed
Puffs of potential parties
Blown in waves of frothy
Promises of misadventure

We sought them out
Giggled and clapped our hands
Sped up through sinking mud
Past floating houses
Treading water to reach the
Safety of overhung trees and
Tied up plastic bags

We snatched them so
They flew out behind us
Like sodden flags of rubbish
Torn from where it should


Grow now

The pedalos waited in silence
Past an abandoned sports court
Blaring music that
Confused us
With burnt out expectations
Glowing neon in the too bright light

We kept going till we heard a different tune
A song so old it broke its heart
All over the lake
Bled minor chords in trickles
That floated, shining -
A slick of tortured treacle
Calling hidden rainbows
To the moonlight

The old man in the bar
Sitting behind a bleared clear curtain
Of fattened clingfilm
Beckoned wistfully with wafts of smoke
From falling ash
His other hand curved round a beer
He wanted us to join him for

We did not stop
As the songs crept backwards in time.
Tripped past the concrete bunker
That looked out
Just as a mystery
Watched us as our
Shoes filled up with puddles
And confessions till the other side

Unwoken we walked through
Folds of places
Hiding in a different layer
Sweating secrets
Of this city.