Thursday, 30 April 2015

Me So Hornsey

The Hornsey Affair 
Students and Staff of Hornsey College of Art 
Penguin, Middx, 1969

Everyone knows about the soixante-huitards, the French student revolution of May '68, the birth of Situationism and the beach beneath the pavement, right? Worn as a badge of honour by Parisians of a certain age, they certainly made their mark on social history despite being flattened by the Gaullist authorities when total revolution seemed within their grasp.

Less well known are the events that occurred simultaneously on the other side of La Manche, in a leafy corner of North London. The students at Hornsey College of Art were browned off with the authorities and decided the answer was a 'sit-in' (it was the 60s) and three days of rambling debates between themselves and the college staff. 

The film I posted the other day gives a more immediate impression of the events than this little paperback can muster, but the text gives a more complex flavour of the way both sides articulated their thoughts. Plus some nice student illustrations. The counter-culture may have been crushed but the ideals remain.

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Seaside Treats

The Sea In Their Blood (aka The Coastline)
Dir Peter Greenaway
UK, 1976-83, 26 mins.

The British seaside getting the Greenaway taxonomy treatment, complete with dubious statistics and Michael Nyman score.

I live by the sea, in case you didn't know, and I like it.

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Art School Revolution

The Hornsey Film
Dir Patricia Holland
UK, 1970, 59 minutes 

Great film found on the Internet Archive of staff and students recreating the action and debate that took place during the student take-over of the art school in 1968. Almost fifty years later and much of the discussion still seems relevant, especially as the tentacles of corporate education close ever tighter.

Bonus sounds from Radiophonic demi-god Malcolm Clarke, reminiscent of Wendy Carlos on A Clockwork Orange.

Nash Up

Paul Nash's Photographs
Andrew Causey 
Tate Gallery, London, 1973

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Eh Joe

Pop to Present 
Royal Academy of Arts
London, 2002

I've posted some of these before but this catalogue has better images and the work still looks mighty fine.

Monday, 13 April 2015

Good Fortune

A Fortunate Man
John Berger and Jean Mohr (photographer)
Allan Lane, 1967
(this cover Penguin, 1969)

A wonderful collaboration between writer John Berger and photographer Jean Mohr, observing the life of an English country doctor in a small rural community in the mid-1960s. Berger's reportage and left-leaning social commentary is concise, admiring the many qualities of the doctor and the village in which he works, while acknowledging their limitations and the problems they face in a changing world.

Swiss photographer Jean Mohr worked with Berger on at least three further books, him imagery capturing the small-scale, timeless rustic beauty of the landscape, and achieving an intimacy with the locals that echoes their close relationship with their doctor. This is the same world inhabited by the lyrical documentaries 'Requiem for a Village' and 'The Moon and the Sledgehammer', capturing the end of an age as old country practices were dying out in the face of economic pressures and rapid social and technological changes.

In fact, this volume is almost a documentary film in a book. The design layout gives generous space to images and has a carefully considered composition of word and image. This truly is a photobook, images complimenting text and also acting in place of words when an image better communicates a point. 

One can hear Berger's voice as narrator and Mohr's photography is perfect in revealing the locale and the relationship and emotions of the doctor and his patients. Contemporary NHS managers would be advised to read this book and consider the deeper role of rural GPs within the society they care for.

They don't make faces like these any more.

It is noted in the book that the doctor, John Sassall, was prone to periodic deep depression, plagued by self-doubt and worries about his inadequacy and inability to help his fellow man. Fifteen years after the book's publication Sassall shot himself, an act which Berger suggests makes the tone of the book not darker but more mysterious. Thanks to Berger and Mohr, both current members of the medical profession and general reader alike will still empathize with the doctor's predicament.

Live BergerFest event this week at the Royal College of Art.

Thursday, 9 April 2015

Finders Keepers

Joseph's Yard
Charles Keeping
OUP, 1969

A fine example of Keeping's visionary psychedelic illustrated children's books.