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‘Lettering rapidly rubbed out before I can read’

From the New Zealand poet Allen Curnow’s ‘Canto of Signs without Wonders’ ‘I look where I’m going, it’s the way yesterday’s and the day before’s clouds depict themselves over and over an affluently planted skyline: the clouds lay the whiteness on thick over the bluenesses. The impasto is unsigned, there’s a kind of an impression […]

‘Dim shores, dense rains and heavy-clouded sea’

‘And here again I come and only find The drain-cut levels of the marshy lea, Gray sandbanks and pale sunsets, dreary wind, Dim shores, dense rains and heavy-clouded sea. Yet tho’ perchance no tract of earth have more Unlikeness to the fair Ionian plain, I love the place that I have loved before, I love […]

‘The seemingly random’

This image is a collage, made from photograms of glass cubes exposed to low angle light from a torch. The success or failure of the juxtaposed sections all depends on factors over which I only have partial control: the exact height and angle of the torch, the direction(s) from which I shine it, the length […]

‘Small squares in perpetual motion’

‘Small squares in perpetual motion, one penetrating the other, one emerging from the other: building, unbuilding, a city of windows on windows; right and left the two corners rising asymmetrically and just beyond, noiseless, the great collapse in the midst of noiseless motion…’ from ’Fever’ by Yannis Ritsos, translated by Edmund Keeley. Ritsos (1909 – […]

‘Dim shadows within emptiness’

I’ve been reading ’In Praise of Shadows’ by Junichiro Tanizaki (1933). It’s an elegy for an older Japanese aesthetic of dim lights and shadows. He regrets the coming world of electricity and bright illumination. He describes what he loves about old-fashioned interiors: ‘An empty space is marked off with plain wood and plain walls, so […]

‘Midweek, ash-black and ash-white’

‘Who could have known, in 1959, the balloon would not go up? Who could have seen, back then, the new world’s new disorder? John Ruskin says all clouds are masses of light, even the darkest ones Hard to remember that these overcast afternoons, Midweek, ash-black and ash-white, negative shapes sketched in And luminous here and […]

‘Ancient darkness rushes in.’

From ’Newgrange’ by Thomas R. Smith, an account of a visit to a burial chamber in Ireland. ‘We know that cremated remains were brought here. possibly the flint-hewn basins were for birthing. On sunrise at Winter Solstice light plays down the passage all the way to the inner chamber for about seventeen minutes, assuming clear […]

‘The lights of home are somewhere behind me..’

‘But what I remember is standing on the back seat of a Galaxie 500, looking out the rear window as my mother drives along unlit country roads. I stare, with a deep thrill I can’t name, at the black sky above and then at the rushing road below, so briefly illuminated by the car’s taillights […]

‘Controlled recklessness…the bite of chemicals’

In 1999, Marc Atkins and Iain Sinclair published a book together, ‘Liquid City’ – writing by Sinclair, black and white photography by Atkins. It’s a portrait of an already vanished London: Bankside power station before it became Tate Modern, Canary Wharf with just the one tall tower. Atkins’ photos are grainy, dark, imperfect, in the […]

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