Tuesday, 23 December 2014

The Library and the Damage Done

Malicious Damage
The Defaced Library Books of Kenneth Halliwell and Joe Orton
Ilsa Colsell
Donlon Books, London, 2013 

From the blurb:
"In 1962 John (Joe) Orton and Kenneth Halliwell were charged with, "larceny, malicious damage and willful damage," involving hundreds of books in the Islington Library's collection. Over the previous three years the pair had been stealing these books, removing thousands of illustrations and either using them to create alternative dust jackets for other books (which were then returned quietly to the library's shelves), or pasting them directly into a large collage spanning the interior walls of their flat. The reconfigured dust jackets were part of a decade of often shared creative endeavor. Malicious Damage looks closely at the collaged dust jackets still remaining within the archive at Islington Local History Centre and focuses on the early collaborative nature of Orton and Halliwell's relationship."

Interior wall collage in the Noel Road flat

Joe in cap

Kenneth in wig

Friday, 19 December 2014

Outrage (Slight Return)

Counter-Attack Against Subtopia
Ian Nairn
Architectural Press, London, 1957 

In this book, the follow-up to the polemical Outrage!, Nairn and pals look at solutions to problems in the urban environment. The layout was very progressive for 1957 and still looks great. Gordon Cullen provided illustrations and the photographic taxonomy anticipates the typologies of Bernd and Hilla Becher, who began their partnership soon after.

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Toys Toys Toys

A History of Toys
Antonia Fraser
Weidenfeld and Nicolson, London, 1966 

A fantastic and authoritative history of toys from pre-history to the 1960s. Lots of dolls houses for those interested in that sort of thing, plus many other more strange items that would have entertained and scared kids, and inspired a number of artists, designers and film-makers.

A terrifying Victorian 'Shoe Doll'
The Osmonds favourite - Cheesy Horses

The monkey automata could be straight out of Sleuth (1972), whose trailer features a lovely snippet of Johnny Scott.

The louche 20s

Which Sindy are you?
Toofy Tiger (China, early 20th century)

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Burra Market

Market Day (detail) 1926
Edward Burra 
Hayward Gallery Exhibition Catalogue
Arts Council, 1985
The Tea Shop, 1929

Opium Den, 1933

Harlem, 1934

Newport, 1971

An English Country Scene No.1, 1970

Composition Collage, 1929

The Fruit Seller, 1930
Listen here to hear more about the life of Burra from Jonathan Meades. British visitor may also find a rare documentary film here.

Friday, 14 November 2014

Archigram! Archive! Ahoy!

Look!! An exciting new online resource has been launched recently, collecting much of the work produced by seminal architectural group Archigram (actually I'd prefer them to be called Archigram! with an exclamation mark, after Neu! or maybe Oliver!) which included Peter Cook, Dudley Moore, Richmal Crompton, Warren Clarke, Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Titch, and possibly a few others.

As a practice that planned so much and built so little, the archive is really the best place to appreciate the revolutionary ideas that Archigram's six members promulgated, a legacy that still provokes, entertains and inspires.
The Archigroup... and a woman!
Some important film and television projects are missing from this site for technical/copyright reasons, but there are many multimedia items to discover, and YouTube hosts plenty of Archigram interviews and insights - remember Justine Frischmann?!

Not that one.