Graham Ward was born in Bradford, West Yorks, and grew up in Sussex. He studied Fine Art in Manchester and Stoke, and is a painter and illustrator. He has been an archivist, bookseller and librarian for the past thirty years, and his specialist field of interest is British art of the 20th century, He has twice walked the Camino Frances to Santiago de Compostela in Northern Spain, and plans to undertake the Portugese route from Porto. He is currently operating a small cafe in Broadstairs after an abortive stint as archivist for the Dreamland Project in Margate.
Photograph courtesy of the Wildgoose Memorial Library.
'We work in the dark; we do what we can; we give what we have. Our doubt is our passion and passion is our task. The rest is the madness of art' Henry James (1843-1916)
THERE, THERE. MY DEAR...
The eternally beautiful Montgomery Clift.
A JUMBO AT JO'S
This wonderful elephant was made by painter and printmaker Jo Aylward, ably assisted by her daughters. www.joaylard.co.uk
'Tradition is not the worship of ashes, but the preservation of fire' Gustav Mahler (1860-1911)
The look of Eddie Redmayne in 'Birdsong'
This Tunnock's Teacake cushion from the Lion Street Store in Rye.
The look of Daniel Radcliffe in 'The Woman in Black'
This wonderful Redware charger was created by American ceramicist Julia Smith, and is a facsimile of an original 17th-century Staffordshire piece. The wave-decorated rim encircles a whirl of owls surrounding the perky creature at its' centre in brown trailing slip over a pale yellow ground. The jaunty bird was wonderfully appropriated by William Nicholson for his cover for the 1923 edition of 'The Owl', a short-lived publication which featured a miscellany of the best examples of contemporary poetry, prose and illustration, edited by Nicholson and his son-in-law Robert Graves. My recent attempts to contact Ms. Smith to enquire whether this wonderful piece might be acquired have so far come to nothing; it would seem that she and her kiln are not currently producing.
Ben Wishaw in Jane Campion's masterful 'Bright Star'.
Ms. WALKER SAYS
'Expect Nothing; Live Frugally on Surprise'. Alice Walker
"We must be prepared to let go of the life we have planned, in order to have the life that is waiting for us'. E.M. Forster
PACKING UP THE CHRISTMAS TREE
The ritual of putting away the Christmas ornaments is upon us again. Before he disappears into the dark of the attic for another year, here is the lovely glass clown which I found in a junk market in Prague ten or so years ago. Amazingly fragile, his companions included two jaunty birds that always occupy the upper reaches of the tree, a hot pink mirrored-glass trumpet and a pair of red and white spotted glass toadstools. Every year they re-emerge, mercifully unbroken, to take their place once more amidst the lights of Yuletide.
BRITANNIA DE LAS MUERTAS
Discovered in the lovely home of Simon Costin, Director of the Museum of British Folklore, this cushion, with its striking juxtaposition of Union Jack and Mexican sugar skull, makes for an arresting sight amid the paisley and the patchwork. I believe it has been made by a design collective in Hackney that Mr. Costin prizes for their quirky workmanship.
Lion and Unicorn
This studio bowl, made in celebration of the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953, is by an unknown hand, although there is an incised marker on the base which either reads 'sally' or 's. ally'. The wonderfully spirited rendition of the Lion and Unicorn is offset by the jaunty canopy, and the date and ER initials are skillfully rendered in a style which reflects the period perfectly.
This astonishingly contemporary-looking representation of a hare and hound are from the Church of Saints Mary and David at Kilpeck in Herefordshire (see Pauline Stainer post opposite).
King of the Mountain
I love this drawing for the cover of Kate Bush's 2005 single, King of the Mountain', later the opening track on the long-anticipated 'Ariel' album. It was drawn by her son Bertie.
Dreamboy: Thoughts on Lindsay Anderson's 'O Dreamland'
Although made in 1953, Lindsay Anderson's 'O Dreamland' was shelved by the director with, he opined, little prospect of it ever being shown. He said 'you don't do anything with a 10-minute, 16mm. film. It's just there, that's all'. It was, therefore, not until 1956, when the Free Cinema programme was launched, that it occurred to Anderson to include it. He used one assistant of photography on its production, a young man named John Fletcher, who was to become a hugely important figure in the Free Cinema movement. Their sole equipment was a 16mm camera and an audiotape recorder. The film is a whistle-stop tour of the Dreamland park of the period, and its style is defined by the bleak, largely unattractive style of the footage, the spare and expressionistic soundtrack heightening the mood of the filmed sequences. Devoid of commentary, but overdubbed with an almost exaggerated babble of voices and sounds, this is the world of the 'Penny Dreadful', the end-of the pier atrocity exhibition (featured is a 'Torture through the Ages' show with Joan of Arc at the stake, and a cavalcade of badly mechanized mannikins who rock, cackle and roll in their cages and glass enclosures, much to the awestruck and hesitant gaze of their onlookers). Here too, are the diversions of bingo, bangers and mash, the endless fug of fag-smoke. The lack of commentary- which I believe lends the film its air of menace and melancholy-was a decision forced on Anderson by the costs that synchronized sound would have involved. A constant feature of the soundtrack is the mindless, recurring laughter of the mechanical policeman that the camera returns to frequently, and which gives the film its edgy, rather unsettling feel, whilst the shots of the grisly attractions are counterpointed with the gaze of children, and a haunting, film-noir sensibility which remains long after the film has ended. The effect of 'O Dreamland' is perhaps best summed up by Gavin Lambert in his article on Free Cinema: '...Everything is ugly...it is almost too much. The nightmare is redeemed by the point of view which, for all the unsparing candid camerawork and the harsh, inelegant photography, is emphatically humane, Pity, sadness, even poetry is infused into this drearily tawdry, aimlessly hungry world'
ON ZELDA FITZGERALD
' She was never bored, mainly because she was never boring'.
The look of Malcolm McDowell in 'O Lucky Man'
The look of Daniel Craig in 'Love is the Devil'.
the look of Rita Tushingham in 'A Taste of Honey'.
This ceramic tile, discovered in the kitchen of Ms. Elinor Malcolm and Mr. Neil McKelvie, was bought in the Trianna in Seville. It reads 'Better Bread with Love, than Chicken with Sorrow.'
Domestic Interior with Dalek Playsuit
This charming fireside scene is to be found in the lovely home of international stylist and proprietor of the Museum of British Folklore, Mr. Simon Costin. The surreal dichotomy of the bewhiskered fin-de-siecle shop-dummy, peering through the headpiece of a Dr. Who dress-up suit from Argos, where a child's should be, needs no further verbal embellishment.
HEADS SHE WINS
This stunning head is by Oriel Harwood, who recently hosted an at-home exhibition of works at her beautiful house in South London.
Another of Oriel's heads, in unpainted terracotta. It is one of my most treasured possessions, and now graces the corner of my bedroom in Broadstairs.
The primary focus of attention in Jane Wildgoose's North London apartment, which is also home to the Wildgoose Memorial Library, is this fabulous cabinet of curiosities. The WML exists, in the words of its august proprietor, as 'an ongoing accumulation of reference material that informs [her] work as an artist and writer', and as 'a place of meditation and consultation on the universal themes of life and death'. The WML 'pertains', says Wildgoose; 'to the mysteries of the living in relation to the dead, transience, memory and immortality'. This wondrous cabinet, with which, as a frequent visitor to the Library, I am familiar, often undergoes metamorphoses according to the whims of the proprietor, and was at one stage, the setting and showpiece for a series of portraits of friends and contemporaries, where each subject was requested to bring an object of particular significance to them personally. Subjects were photographed with their treasured items and were also asked to choose an item from the Library collection upon which to meditate and reflect. For further details of the collection, and the work of Jane Wildgoose, see www. janewildgoose.co.uk
A windswept Ms. Wildgoose at Hastings Jack-in-the-Green, 2009
SURF'S UP: COVERS FOR HOME-MADE COMPILATIONS OF THE MUSIC OF BRIAN WILSON
'Jumping Girl' graffiti, Viking Bay, Broadstairs.
MUSEUM OF BRITSH FOLKLORE: SIMON COSTIN IN LAUNCH PARTY HAT BY STEPHEN JONES
This remarkable stovepipe, commissioned especially by Costin from milliner extraordinaire Stephen Jones, comprises a soft green leather body and base, hand-embellished with barge-art roses and with a striped silk under-brim. The cut-out front alcove features a miniature miscellany of objects, including a swinging bird cage, a blown painted egg and dolls' house furniture with arrangements of tiny knick-knacks. A cockade of barley ears and pheasant feathers complete the look. See opposite posts.
This wonderful cushion was a gift for Christmas. Its homespun qualities belie its nascence from internationally-renowned Parisian perfumiers Fragonard. J'adore.
These lovely woollen boys are the creation of artist and craftswoman Marion Gore. They were a gift from my friend Emma Braid-Taylor, and they now live in Broadstairs. I love the studious nature of one, with his stitched-on spectacles, and the slightly surprised insouciance of the other in his striped jersey and red beret. I have always thought that they have a ring of 'Emil and the Detectives' about them.
This wonderful topiary herald is to be found in St. Peters, Broadstairs. Standing almost two storeys high, its charming demeanor always brings cheer when I see it. His creators are never tempted to embellish it during the Christmas season, as it needs no further adornment in my opinion. The brim of the top hat is a green wooden circle, and the buttons are painstakingly rendered. Note the eloquent, expressive gesture of the fingers.
TROUBLE IN MIND
'...Miracles happen when you surrender; the trick is surrendering on your own terms'. Divine (as Hilly Blue), in Alan Rudolph's 'Trouble in Mind' (1985).
This stunning poster for Bruce Weber's 1987 film 'Broken Noses' features the film's hero Andy Minsker, with handwritten calligraphy by Weber overlaying the image. An alternative poster was also released, featuring collaged photographs by Weber of Minsker and the boys from the Mt. Scott Boxing Club, the subjects of this engaging and at times, deeply moving documentary film. The power of this poster lies in the sheer audacity of Weber's image, with his subject's portrait, the face over ten times life-sized in close-cropped detail, making this this one of the most collectible film posters of the past twenty years. I was foolhardy enough to part with a limited-edition version of this poster, which I acquired in 1987 from the film's UK distributor, printed on heavy handmade stock, with Weber's calligraphy in silver overlaying the image which may even have been reproduced in collotype. So lavish and enormous was it that it is probable that a mere handful were ever issued, and doubtless to the industry only. This is the German version of the poster, no less stunning for its reduction in stature, which I bought from a Berlin poster dealer some three years ago.
CAMINO TYPOGRAPHY 1: WAY-MARKER AT PALENCIA. PHOTO. C. GRAHAM WARD 2005
This impressive stone-carved marker is situated at the city limits of Palencia, a town on the Camino Frances route to Santiago de Compostela.
CAMINO TYPOGRAPHY 2: SHOP WINDOW SIGN: SANTIAGO DE COMPOSTELA. PHOTO. C. GRAHAM WARD 2006
This charming notice seeks the need of a shop-boy for the establishment concerned. It asks any prospective candidate to enquire within as to the nature of his duties!
CAMINO TYPOGRAPHY 3: INCISED PLAQUE IN THE CLAUSTRO ALTO OF LEON CATHEDRAL. PHOTO: GRAHAM WARD
This beautiful stone plaque, elaborately carved with embellished lettering, retains its original polychromed colour.
CAMINO TYPOGRAPHY 4: TRAVEL BOOKSHOP, BURGOS PHOTO: GRAHAM WARD 2005
This wonderful fascia is to be found near the cathedral square in Burgos. The Art Deco feel of the typography lends the shop a timeless quality all of its own.
CAMINO TYPOGRAPHY 5: METAL SIGN NEAR ATAPUERCA, CAMINO DE SANTIAGO. PHOTO. C. GRAHAM WARD 2005
This stencilled sign, complete with scallop shell logo, marks the boundary of the Atapeurca region of Navarre, the province which includes the cathedral city of Burgos. The Sierra de Atapuerca is of prehistoric significance, and is honeycombed with ancient cave dwellings. In 1992, human remains were discovered here. So ancient was the find, the so-called 'Atapeuerca Man', may constitute the earliest example of 'homo sapiens' in Europe.
Pilgrim Door, Castrillo de los Polvazares photo: c. Graham Ward 2005
This striking door is to be seen at Castrillo de los Polvazares, a tiny village between Astorga and Rabanal on the Camino de Santiago. It is regarded as the most typical village of the Maragato region, and was immortalised by Concha Espina in her novel 'The Maragato Sphinx'. The creator of the door is justly proud of his work, and is invariably on hand to sell you his wares.
A SONG IN STONE: PHOTO C. GRAHAM WARD 2005
This astonishing relief is a fragment from 'the Cortege of the Magi', a one-time feature of the original stone choir in the cathedral at Santiago de Compostela in Northern Spain. Carved by Master Mateo at the end of the twelfth century, its creation was believed to be roughly contemporaneous with the sculptor's jaw-dropping 'Portico de Gloria' which dominates the cathedral's entrance and overwhelms the onlooker with its complexity and power. Mateo's original stone choir was dismantled in the late 16th century and replaced with the carved wooden stalls that remain today. I love the conundrum of its incompleteness, and often wonder about the adjoining fragment which would have made the horses whole and given meaning to the lilting tower from which they emerge. That the architecture makes a nonsense of their scale, yet seems in perfect harmony with their attitude of purposeful power is what appeals to me most of all. I love their heads bent in supplicance, and the remnants of polychrome that still adhere to their bodies, despite the centuries that have intervened since their creation. Now displayed in the cathedral's crypt, were I ever in a position to be asked to name a luxury item to take to a desert island along with my hard-considered playlist, it might just be this.
From 'FINISTERRE' - Sylvia Plath Photo c. Graham Ward 2006
'The cliffs are edged with trefoils, stars and bells such as fingers might embroider, close to death, Almost too small for the mists to bother with. The mists are part of the ancient paraphanalia. Souls, rolled in the doom-noise of the sea. They bruise the rocks out of existence then resurrect them. They go up without hope, like sighs. I walk among them, and they stuff my mouth with cotton. When they free me, I am beaded with tears.'
DISH OF THE DAY
This small, press-moulded trinket dish was a staple of the famous Cinque Ports Pottery, still actively based in the town of Rye, and sold to visitors as a souvenir. The boat device and distinctive letterforms are typical of the style, with the traditional double outer rings of dark blue glaze. The company have made variations on the design for a number of local organisations and businesses, including the Flushing Inn, the renowned gourmet restaurant in the town's Market Street. Their version is slightly larger, and features a similar boat design, with the name of the establishment set in a circle around the rim, and with six incised stars as decoration.
'Taurus the Bull' by Arnold Machin, for the Wedgwood Company, Stoke-on-Trent. c. 1945. Earthenware with hand-coloured printed transfer decoration; length 41cm. Widely-considered to be the first 'Contemporary' style ceramic to be produced in Britain, Arnold Machin's 'Taurus the Bull', designed for the Wedgwood company at Barlaston, continues to astonish by its sheer modernity. Variously-called 'Ferdinand the Bull' and 'The Zodiac Bull', the astrological symbols that cover him were designed by Eric Fraser. There was also a black basalt version without the decoration; rarer is the floral-pattered edition, both of which use Machin's original form. First exhibited at the 'Britain Can Make It' exhibition of 1946, it was suitably feted in the 1947 volume of 'Designers in Britain'. Machin's design spearheaded the drive towards the Contemporary in all aspects of British ceramic production, with companies such as Poole and Hornsea employing young designers such as A.B. Read and John Clappison in the 1950s. The achievements of companies such as Midwinter, Hornsea and Rye undoubtedly affected the most established of British ceramic institutions, who soon chose to include contemporary products in their catalogues. Although many of the new designs were derided by an establishment slow to embrace the new, many began to gain acceptance, particularly with the help of exhibitions such as the 1951 Festival of Britain, which showcased the best of British contemporary design. By the close of the decade, the Contemporary style was an accepted facet of British ceramic production, influenced no doubt also by the new wave exemplified by European ceramic and glass companies such as Orrefors in Sweden and Littala in Finland.
Dish of the Day
'Peaceful Village' by Scottie Wilson, for the Royal Worcester Porcelain Company c. 1963. The imagery of Scottie Wilson's ceramic designs is of a landscape of paradise regained. When Robert Baker, who was chief art director for the Royal Worcester company during the sixties, viewed some of Wilson's home-painted plates, he realised a mass-market potential for the wondrous landscape designs of the Outsider-artist from Glasgow; a magical, internalized world where swans glide gracefully above shoals of fish in pools overlooked by tall trees and curious architecture. Now highly collectible, the tea, coffee and dinner services that Scottie designed for the company were available in various colour combinations, including terracotta with black, and in this instance, soft grey and black on a white Queensware ground.
One of Jenna Rossi-Camus's costume designs for Simon Costin's national tour to promote the Museum of British Folklore. See opposite post.
'Nature Cure' by Richard Mabey. London: Chatto & Windus. 2005. In the final year of the old millennium, the author, one of Britain's foremost nature writers, fell into a severe depression. Unable to do more than lie in bed for the best part of two years, this remarkable book is the account of his route back to recovery and ultimately, into a new life. At once a rite of passage, a diary and an observation about our ever-changing yet somehow constant seasons, it recounts Mabey's departure from a long-cherished Chilterns home, and his subsequent relocation to the flatlands of Norfolk. In his gradual rediscovery of self, the author finds a new niche that gains him crucial insight into our human place in nature. A contemporary reflection on the inherent value of all creatures, 'Nature Cure' confounds mankind's perceived wisdom as to his superiority over other creatures, setting us instead in the greater, changing context of a world in flux. Intricate and intelligent, this novel is a joy from beginning to end, and a work of hope for all species.
Ms. Flite's Birds
Hope, Joy, Youth, Waste, Ruin, Despair, Madness, Death. The Wards in Jarndyce.
'In love, ask for madness, a life abandoned and a mind lost, ask for dangerous adventures in deserts filled with blood and fire!' RUMI
WE LOVE SCOTT
'The angels of ashes will give back your passion again and again. Their light-shafts will reach through the darkness and touch you, my friend. They'll fly in a mind-dance, and blind you with wings wrapped in flame; if you're down to an echo, they just might remember your name'.
This tiny gift box contains a Festival of Britain souvenir brooch of the Britannia logo in gold metal, with coloured imitation gemstones. It features an aerial view of the South Bank site by night, with the Dome of Discovery and the Royal Festival Hall.