The RAW CANVAS issue Featuring..... SPY CATCHER ROSE CRONIN KATE KAMIKAZE ++++++++
Sam Felgueiras Doing it for the kids Matt Frame Warehouse dwelling, fashion designing, Tate submitting artist. Spy Catcher Come now, we’re reasonable men Life is Beautiful New, from the people who brought you Art and Things Brainlove Festival – in pictures. Good times from BRNLV RCRDS Kim Stephens Tiny worlds…
Cover image - Simon Cook for the short story ‘East’.
Kate Kamikaze And her amazing side-kick Samantha Sepuku.
Diy Womp & Raw Canvas Tate Takeover Us + Turbine Hall + ????.... = Profit. Letters to the Editor Oh grow up. Rose Cronin And other explanations about how this all happened. Bumblebees Honey drippin’. East Life is peaceful there. List It’s at the back for a reason.
Hello again, put issue of Art and Things. We’ve Welcome to the Raw Canvas Raw with on rati abo coll Diy Womp’s together this issue as part of r thei got ve We’ n. der mo Tate the Canvas, the youth initiative at couple a ng turi fea trate for us, as well as members to design and illus of them too. t runs out involve young people in art tha Raw Canvas is an initiative to three ntytwe to en fifte at ed aim ir work is of the Tate Modern itself. The can you and , rses and events at the Tate year old artists. They run cou ting visi by lved invo get do and how to find out more about what they tion/rawcanvas/ uca sed ent n/ev der tate.org.uk/mo and earlier with Raw Canvas for a while Diy Womp have been friends party in ether and throw a Halloween this year we decided to get tog what ut abo tion plenty more informa the Tate’s Turbine Hall. There’s basics the are e her but e, issu to inside this we’re going to be getting up it’s , ern of October, it’s at the Tate Mod – it’s on the evening of the 31st d like to see you there. going to be brilliant and we’
people like ve got some lovely stuff from As for the rest of the issue, we’ raphs tog pho e som Kate Kamikaze, Spy Catcher, Kim Stephens and who nin Cro e Ros te ma our a chat with of the Brainlove Festival, and partnership. vas Can w p/Ra Wom al ntu eve served as the conduit for the r you ugh our latest offering. As eve We hope you enjoy flicking thro w. ww or m ting www.diy-womp.co can get more involved by visi @ g Pete, Jamie, Sonny or Shiv ailin e-m or k, aatmagazine.co.u aatmagazine.co.uk. Enjoy and contact us please, Jamie, Peter, Shiv and Sonny
we’d really like that.
Art and Things: Hi, Sam! So what did you study?
Sam Felgueiras: Ba (HONS) in Graphic design and Illustration (I say Graphics but I ALWAYS went for the Illustration briefs) at the University of Hertfordshire And what was it that attracted you to working with kid’s books?
I was always drawing and writing my own stories when I was 7 or 8 years old. I had written and illustrated a whole book when I was at school, it was called “The Book Of Scary Stories” (I say “scary” very loosely). There were endless amounts of spelling mistakes, which makes it very funny to read now. I would love to get that book reproduced because it is actually from a child’s mind and no (sane) adult could make some of those stories up. Theres one called ‘The Death Of Billy Buff’, he wrecked his boss’s home. There was another one called ‘The Bloold That Was A Live’ (that’s actually how I spelt it at the time).
I love how much freedom you have with children’s books and love the innocence and honesty in them. There are no limits to a child’s mind. Also I have an active imagination and I get to use it when writing some of my stories.
A serious question: Do you reckon eBooks affect the way picture books are published? Or does the format not work with eBooks? No, I don’t think eBooks will
change anything regarding picture books to
be honest (I hope not anyway).
Picture books tend to be something very personal to a child; they will always have their favorite book that they take everywhere. Children want something tangible, something that they can interact with. With eBooks, every page is already laid out on the screen (not much fun). Also I don’t think they would work with kids books pop up books! So do you hate eBooks as much as I do? Uhrrrrm.. I cant say that im much of a fan!!!! Favorite books, kids and in general? It’s hard to choose, I love all different kinds of books. When I was a kid, my favorite book was ‘The Elephant And The Bad Baby’ (Author-Elfrida Vipon and Illustrated-Raymond Briggs) and I generally loved ‘Sleeping Beauty’ and ‘Hansel and Gretel’. I still love them for the illustrations and magical stories. I buy lots of kid’s books now. I like Sara Fanelli and all of ‘Charlie and Lola’ books (Lauren Child). They are great and very quirky. As for grown-up books, I recently finished ‘P.S. I Love you’ (Cecelia Ahern) and have nearly finished ‘My Sisters Keeper’ (AuthorJodi Picoult). There’s a book I’ve read that could be described somewhere in between a kid’s book and an adult’s book called ‘
What’s your ultimate dream project? I don’t know about an ultimate dream project but as I said, I love ‘Charlie and Lola’ books, and it would be great to become such a large
influence on children’s reading habits like Lauren Child has. It would be amazing to get my books published and see some of my little characters being featured across a range of accessories. How’s that looking for you? I’m spending alot of time writing, drawing and updating my portfolio and website. I’ve had interest from one big publisher and have sent pieces off to other
www.myspace.com /samdrawsgood Interview - JF
Six months from now? Well hopefully by then, someone will have seen my work and realised just how amazingly marvelous I actually am! I would like to be working in a gallery in London by then too, but I don’t think anyone’s computers are working at the moment, because I haven’t got a single reply.
The Thirteen and A half Lives Of Captain BlueBear’ (Walter Moers). It’s such a fun and unusual story with odd characters like the tiny pirates (They were born with their wooden leg and eye patch). The illustrations are quite eccentric, but it is still aimed at a mature audience.
publishers. But I have to be realistic and just because I’ve graduated, it doesn’t mean things happen straight away and most definitely doesn’t mean the hard work stops.
Matthew Frame lives in a warehouse in North East London with some other artists and creative types. Heâ€™s escaped suicidal suburban train stations, excelled at art at a high level, drawn iconic New York mutant turtles, and has even dabbled in the dark arts of fashion design. Heâ€™s an artist who has been picked from the entries we had sent to us to exhibit at the Raw Canvas & Diy Womp Tate Takeover this October.
Art and Things: Hi Matt. So have you always lived in warehouses? I’m originally from Harrow but escaped the suburbs as soon as I could. People kept throwing themselves to their deaths from the local shopping centre roof, so I thought it best to leave before I suffered the same fate. I moved to Bournemouth for a bit and then back to London, then Manchester for university and I’m now firmly ensconced in a warehouse in North East London.
Marvellous, sounds fun. So what did you study through university? Well, Art has always been the only thing I excelled at, from drawing teenage mutant ninja turtles and sonic the hedgehog in primary school to graduating from Middlesex University. I had a brief detour into fashion design for two years at Manchester Met before coming to my senses and returning to London to study Illustration. It slowly dawned on me that only a lunatic cares about buttons that much and I should stick to what I was best at.
Pen and ink it is then! How long do you suppose you’ve been working with that medium? Forever it feels like, being brought up on a diet of Aubrey Beardsley and Andy Warhol definitely had an effect on me. I guess I properly got into pen and ink/screen printing whilst doing art foundation in Bournemouth. The amount of money I’ve spent on Nibs doesn’t even bear thinking about; they do have a tendency to break, leak, and rip up the paper. But it’s worth it.
So… are you excited about the Raw Canvas & Diy Womp Halloween Tate Modern show? (say yes.) Very excited, it’s the Tate! It’s going to be great and I’m really pleased with the work I produced for the show too. Collage is something I’ve always loved but never really worked with on a large scale so I feel like I’m pushing myself in new directions, which is always a good thing.
What other exciting exhibitions have you been a part of? Some fellow ex-Middlesex students and I put together a show last May in The Rag Factory just off Brick Lane. It was just a 4 day exhibit but it was nice to not be working to a brief for the first time in 7 years. I got to go back through my sketchbooks and dig up some ideas that I had completely forgotten
about so seeing them realized finally was great. What’s your goal as an artist? I want to make people sit up and pay attention. There is some much going on around us and we are completely blinkered too it. I feel like we spend most of our time wandering around with our brains on standby, being fed lies by the government, being given false desires by the advertising industry. I just want to make a difference, in whatever way I can. Most of my work revolves around the themes of politics, loss, memory, death, love; important stuff. What advice would you give to other artists out there? If you are studying, make the most of the facilities. You won’t have an entire studio filled with cool equipment when you leave so try and do as many different things as possible before you are chucked out into the real world. Keep a sketchbook; try and draw every day. I feel like I’m going backwards if I don’t draw all the time. Even if it’s a quick sketch of some mad woman on the night bus its still questioning the world and recording your life, it helps to keep track of those stray ideas too.
You can e-mail Matt at matthewframe83@ googlemail.com
Interview - Rob Walker
Fair. If it’s not buttons and fabric, what medium are you most happy with? I love working with pen and ink, it’s the best. I like how it can all go wrong in a second if your pen dribbles in the wrong place. I also work with screen printing and etching although not as much as I used to, I miss the university facilities, especially as the local screen print workshop has become hideously over-priced. A few friends and I are going to be setting up a small screen print studio in an adjoining warehouse soon though so hopefully I’ll be back on it. It
has forced me to get to grips more with Photoshop & Illustrator, which is a good thing; I was vehemently against all computer programmes when I was studying. Things look so much better when they are done by hand.
Spy Catcher is a new band from Watford, formed by members of Cry For Silence, Haunts and Gallows. They have recently completed a UK tour with the Get Up Kids and have forthcoming shows with Funeral For a Friend and Gallows. We caught up with Spy Catcher to discuss music and watch them try and win money on slot machines. Art and Things: How did Spy Catcher get started, was it a solo project that morphed into a band, or did it start as a band in its own right?
Spy Catcher: I guess the whole Spy Catcher thing did start with me demoing a few songs on my own, but I always kind of had the idea that it would end up being a band in some shape or form. Stu (bass) was really up for tracking bass on a bunch of tracks and I think it was at that point we started getting pretty excited about the whole idea. Ali (drums) and Mitch (guitar) had heard what weâ€™d been doing as the demos came together and were really keen to get involved
Photography - SMh
as much fun as you can and put on a great showevery night whether you’re playing The Manchester Academy or acommunity centre in Leatherhead. We have the same work ethic wherever we go. It’s great to have that enthusiasm with a new band. We’re not some super group; we still play quiet shows and lug dodgy equipment around in the rain. It’s all part of the fun at this point. I suppose some touring experience really helps you stay positive when things start getting hard, or you get a knock back. You don’t lose sight of the big picture Best gig so far? That’s hard to say... we just got home from a show in Bridgend that was pretty cool loads of kids losing their minds and falling over each other. We expected it to be pretty lame to be honest, but we managed to get people involved and have a good time. It was mental. The best gigs are when you have the challenge of winning people over and come out on top. What’s with the name? Spy Catcher is a famous autobiography by Peter Wright, a guy who used to work for Mi5. It basically exposed a whole lot of shit that they were up to - secret assassination attempts and all sorts. Having that as our name isn’t any sort of political statement, we’re just fascinated by conspiracy theories, exposés and scandals! Spy Catcher would not exist without....? Rosie and Jack. It’s a drink we made up while we were in the studio. Jack Daniels with Rosé as the mixer. It messes you right up. Future plans?
It all came together pretty quickly really because we’re all mates who hang out together all the time anyway; we’ve all been involved in each other’s music at some point before Spy Catcher so we had a good idea how to get things started out. It’s been a lot of fun. Does it work well with the members having so much experience of touring etc from life in other bands? Being on the road with this band is great, because we know that it’s important to just have
We have the Funeral For A Friend Tour coming up and a load of other shows before Christmas, but we’re trying to write a lot of new tracks and get them demoed in preparation for our debut album, which we’ll start thinking about in the New Year. Basically, we’re trying to keep as busy as we can, there’s no industry game plan or any balls like that. We’re just working towards being a better band. Spy Catcher will be playing acoustically on 31st October at the Tate Modern. They will also be supporting Gallows on 17th December at Watford Colosseum.
Diy Womp - the e that makes artists collectiv to - have decided Art and Things fe is Li d lle new. It’s ca start something g of art, in en a regular ev s it’ d an ul tif d. Poets, Beau and spoken wor ic us m ic st ou live ac tists come ns and visual ar t, relaxed writers, musicia a r work in quie ei th e ar sh to eir friends together a table with th at ts si ne yo er cup of tea venue. Ev wine or a nice of s as gl ly ve lo have been and has le creatives that hi w ke ca of t ith Diy Womp and a bi ings, worked w Th d an t Ar in e their work on featured really like shar e w le op pe st or are ju a small stage. Cha’s café in uple in Cha Cha co a d ne do ve e’ W d they ’ve worke rk, Watford an e or m ts lo g Cassiobury pa doin re going to be ch ar se – e ac really well. We’ pl about the l al em th g p in and mov cebook grou fe is Beautiful fa and join the Li er to keep up ywomp on twitt xt event and follow @di th d where e ne an n he w on to date to be d who’s going is happening an featured. h
Photography -SM Illustration - SM
! !!!!! Q BB
At the first DIY WOMP night at London’s 93 Feet East we decided to feature our favourite artist of the evening in an issue of Art and Things. Kim Stephens won our affections with her diverse and exciting submissions that had us all staring and taking pictures. We spoke to Kim about her work and swimming.
Art and Things: What were your beginnings as an artist and where did you study (if you did)? Kim Stephens: To be honest I can’t pinpoint the beginning as I come from a background where creativity has always been encouraged. I became interested in textiles during sixth form and began creating sculptural pieces. I am just about to graduate from Norwich University College of the Arts with a degree in Contemporary Textile Practices and a year ago I studied illustration in Switzerland, which sparked my interest in drawing and set my work off in a new direction.
The work we’ve been looking at online includes origami, photography, drawing and set creation. What’s your favourite medium to work in? Drawing, though I like to encrust my drawings with embroidery, found materials or animation to push it away from the raw sketch. There is an immediacy and a spontaneity with drawing, no long-winded preparation, priming or editing has to be involved. I love the action of drawing, how you can alter a scene and subsequently the memory of a place. The sustained studying that occurs through drawing something gives you time to get to know it and become more familiar with it. Like an in depth conversation between you and your subject.
Where do you find most inspiration? In other artists, or do you tend to look elsewhere? I like to travel to discover new things; most of my inspiration comes from these experiences. The feeling of awe and fresh excitement that you have when in new surroundings is unique. I try to capture that through my drawings, only recording what is exciting to me. I am envious of the constant excitement children have when they discover things for the first time; picking up insects, unafraid of their sting, or running into the crashing sea. I also find a lot of inspiration in films and in the quality of stop frame animations by people like Jan Svankmejer and Michel Gondry. I love their clunky, unpolished aesthetic.
Biggest achievement to date? Walking through the check-in gates at Luton on my own for the flight to Luzern, where I would be studying for two months. The classes were not easy to follow being taught in Swiss-German, but I discovered my passion for illustration and revelled in the challenge. Our Hungarian tutor put the emphasis on spontaneity and joyfulness, so our drawings became full of colour and life. The lessons were boat trips and walks around the city, and everything was subject matter for another drawing. We would eat with a fork in one hand and a pencil in the other.
What do you do other than art? I like going to the Norwich Castle and studying their drawers of insects. The beetles are my favourite collection as they are all such exquisite colours and brilliantly shiny like miniature jewels. The tufted beetle and hairy kneed bee are stars of the collection.
Plans for the future? Expand my vocabulary in many other languages, starting with German. I would like to travel slowly round Europe picking up new languages on the way. There would be new sights and experiences every day. Perfect for inspiring new drawings. I would like to leave a trail of illustrations behind me being regularly commissioned by foreign magazines and writers. Also I find the work of Tim Walker incredibly inspiring and exciting and would love to one day work alongside him in his world of cardboard swans and lifesize ladybirds.
Whatâ€™s the best thing youâ€™ve ever done ever? Swimming in the freezing cold waters of the Vierwaldstatter See early one morning, before a large fish slowly snuck by. Check out Kim at: www.kimrebecca.blogspot.com and www.contemporary-textiles.com -JF
ate Kamikaze lives in Brighton. She’s an artist, promoter, organiser and spokesperson for the creative youth of the Brighton area. Since we opened an online community on diy-womp.com she’s been all over us like cheese on toast and we wouldn’t have it any other way.
While participating in our art sharing online hippy-free-for-all she’s been co-running the Milk & Sugar group with fellow Brightonian artist Colin Newman and helping our members to keep their creative motors running. Oh yeah, and she’s doing some live illustration for us at our Halloween party in the Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall.
Art and things: So what’s with the name Kate Kamikaze? Ever get the urge to sacrifice yourself in a hail of fire? Only first thing in the morning before my first cup of tea, ha! The name sprung from a few things; my obsession with Japan, my messy and sometimes chaotic approach to art and it’s catchier, and easier to google than my real name. You’re from a lovely creative town called Brighton, have you always been from that area? I’m originally from Chessington - the world of adventure, I’ve lived around London and Surrey for a while and eventually moved to Brighton where I applied to do illustration this year, but they didn’t want me. I’m pretty much going it alone now. Tsk. Guess they’re missing out. So you’re a pen and screen kind of lady, then? Not really. Spray painting is something I got into within the last couple of years, but I’ve been using oils since I was at college. I love trying out loads of different ways of working, but I always go back to pencil, oil paint and spray paint.
So tell us what’s about this Milk & Sugar and how you’re now running out of diy-womp. com Milk & Sugar is an online group myself and my mate Traumatron started up a while ago on Facebook, but we’ve since re-launched it on Diy Womp. Every two weeks, we shout out a topic title and everyone produces a piece of work based on that topic. Writers, painters, musicians, photographers, illustrators, we welcome anyone who wants to contribute. Also, as an artist, it’s easy to become isolated from other creative people, so Milk & Sugar is a good way to see what other people are up to and to share opinions and ideas. Well we’re really glad you’re involved in our Tate Takeover with Raw Canvas. Tell me, what’s your goal as an artist? Maybe you have some advice for other artists? Crikey, I’m hardly in the position to offer advice! In terms of my goal, I’m sure it’s a common goal, but I’d like to be able to paint and create for a living. Hmm, I try and paint or do something creative for up to 8 hours a day. Keep working through creative blocks, feed your soul by spending time with other creatives, trying new things, going to interesting places and doing the things that inspire you.
Check out Kate’s blogkate-kamikaze.blogspot.com and search for her profile at diy-womp.com! Interview - Rob Walker
â€œIt goes without saying that one can not only correct an artwork or integrate different fragments of perished works into a new one, but one can also change the meaning of these fragments and cheat with all the means at ones disposal.â€?
On 31st October 2009, DIY WOMP will be teaming up with Raw Canvas for a Tate Takeover evening. This comes after many months of good work and friendship between the two groups and we’re extremely happy to be working together on such a fantastic event.
In the Raw Canvas issue, we’re using Art and Things to inform and excite people about the evening and the artists that will be performing and having their work on display. We have sent out a brief to a bunch of artists, and after receiving a lot of excellent submissions, we have picked out a selection of works that will be on show on 31st October. Alongside hanging art and standing pieces, there will be music from Spy Catcher, Roundhouse Experimental Choir, Thee Single Spy, The Cellar Door Sound, Odyssey, live illustration, performance from Mary Beth Morosa, and the chance to get involved with making and creating on the night. The Take Takeover evening will be taking place on the bridge in Turbine Hall and will start at 7pm and run until 10:00. Entry is free for all.
The brief: Deconstruction/Reconstruction Raw Canvas and DIY-WOMP are taking over the Tate Modern for one night, Halloween. We are looking for artists to create a piece of work by interpreting the ideas of deconstruction and reconstruction. From Mary Shelley’s ‘Frankenstein’ to the current trend of recycling anything and everything we want to see how you can create something new from something old. This could be in the form of a hybrid, or something created in the imagination. Take something apart, put it back together to create an unexpected form, look at the work of David Altmejd and Francis Upritchard to see how this had already been achieved. There are many possibilities that can be explored within the concept of deconstruction/ reconstruction.
Image within text: Luisa Crosbie
The collaboration between DIY WOMP and Raw Canvas came after DIY WOMP were invited by our good friend Rose Cronin to give a presentation and give everyone at the Tate an idea of what we do. Since then we’ve been meeting, discussing and working on an event that will allow both groups to showcase their very best work.
Credits: Staff: Peter Bloxham – Editor Jamie Fewery – Editor Shiv Maguire – Design Editor Sonny Malhotra – Photography Editor Contributors: Rob Walker Liz Cummings Darren Luchmun India Harvey Daniel Jordan Simon Cook Contact: For writers: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com For photographers: firstname.lastname@example.org For designers and illustrators: email@example.com If you are an artist, musician, writer, whathaveyou, and you’d like to be in Art and Things, please contact any of the editors with a couple of examples of your work and we’ll have a look. Thanks: Art and Things would not exist in magazine form without the help of the following: Rosemary Cronin, Don’t Panic, Anne Boyd, Simon Henry and Cantate, Grassroots Grants, Melanie Stidolph, Helen Davison all at Raw Canvas and the Tate Modern, pens, paper, computers and the internet. Stockists: We are eternally grateful to anyone who has a small stack of Art and Things in their café, bar, venue, bookshop or gallery. If you want to be a stockist please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
To you readers, we hope you bought something from the establishment you’ve taken this from. Thanks for reading. Please continue to check out www.aatmagazine.co.uk for online contact.
Dear Art and Things.
Dear Art and Things.
I’ve never read your magazine, but I know that it’s free and so I have
I’ve had it with jugglers. Isn’t there anything we can do about them?
arbitrarily formed the opinion that I am paying for it somewhere down
They’re everywhere! I read somewhere that by 2030 the majority of
England will be jugglers. They’ll just set up thousands of those bloody
I think it’s disgusting that HONEST, HARDWORKING, DECENT, HONEST,
circuses everywhere and us conventional artists will be forced to
TAXWORKING, HARDPAYING, HONESTTAX, taxpayer’s money goes into
become clowns or something in order to fit in. All they do is claim
such a frivolous project.
benefits, take Ecstasy and listen to dated house music.
You lot are worse than the MPs with their expenses, which from what I’ve read come directly from my salary (though it’s not detailed on my
How did we end up with so many jugglers on the streets of London,
payslip of course because of another cover-up to defraud me).
anyway? This is supposed to be a city of literary greatness, a
I’m off to call a radio show and spew out some ill-advised and hastily
hotbed of artistic talent! First it’s the human statues and hyperactive
formed knee jerk reactions to genuine political issues live on air.
undergraduates in costume setting up endless ‘flashmobs’ at Liverpool St station in rush hour, next we’re being forced into becoming a country
of face-painted, facially pierced, swampy jugglers.
-Dear Mr. Cockhammer. Thank you for taking the time out of your no
Okay, big deal, you can throw and catch a flaming truncheon! Oh,
doubt busy schedule to write to us. Art and Things exists through monies
you mastered fire poi while you frittered away the remains of your
from a variety of sources, including local council grants that benefit the
student loan in Thailand for nine months when you should’ve been
arts in order to ensure we have a well-rounded, informed and cultural
getting a sensible haircut and writing your CV? Well done! There are
populous. We are exceptionally grateful for any financial assistance that
women giving birth in trees- you don’t see anybody queuing up to give
allows us to print this magazine.
them degrees in Performance Art and letting them loose ,do you? It’s
Art and Things
disgusting. We should send them all back to Glastonbury were they belong. Let them deal with them.
Yours truly, Dear Art and Things.
The other day I saw a bus on the motorway. Surely that’s not allowed!?
Mrs E Cocks
-Madam, you are clearly a massive racist. Jugglers are an entire race of people and it achieves nothing to boil them down to such vulgar
stereotypes. Your ignorant generalizations are both inaccurate and offensive. Please do not contact us further.
-Calvin. You’re quite right, buses are not supposed to be on the motorway. Thanks for letting us know. Art and Things
Dear Art and Things.
Right. I’m an artist. I’m also a musician and a writer. I want to be in this magazine. I’ve got no reputation to speak of, no outstanding work and an unwarranted chip on my shoulder.
Thing is, if you want me in this publication, I want it understood that I’m doing you a favour and I’ll want paying. Understood?
Cheers n’that Lenny Hardmember
Dear Lenny. We know your sort. Art and Things
Art and Things
Rosemary Cronin is our mate. She recently took over as co-ordinator at Raw Canvas. It was through her that Diy Womp got together with Raw Canvas to do a Halloween party in the Turbine Hall at the Tate Modern on the 31st of October. Since we then decided to put together a Raw Canvas issue of Art and Things, it seemed downright absurd not to get Womp founder Rob to have a chat with her for us. Art and Things: Hi Rose! So where are you from originally Chipperfield, but I used to live in Rickmansworth and now I live in Clapham! What did you study through school and university? I studied lots of things at school but mainly enjoyed Art, Drama and English. Now I’m at Chelsea doing Fine Art but that involves psychoanalytical theory and lord knows what else....! What medium are you most happy with? Collage, sculpture and Print making at the moment, but that changes weekly! The thing that has stuck through my work though is gender studies and feminism. How long have you been working with that medium? I’ve been working with collage since foundation and am returning to print-making only recently after a few years. Sculpture’s stuck with me for
a long time, but the gender studies and feminism has evolved since Foundation, I founded a collective at Chelsea called Chelsea Girls for fellow feminists, you can check us out on www.chelseagirlsarts.com
You’re an artist who is part of Raw Canvas, can youtell me a little about what Raw Canvas is and how you got involved with it. Raw Canvas is the peer lead group at Tate Modern. We’re employed by Tate Modern (after completing a training course) to help make the gallery more accessible for 15-23 year olds, i.e. help young people get more out of the collection and the building. This mainly focuses around events, we’ve done anything and everything from fruit carving, digital graffiti projected on the turbine hall, painting and sculpture courses to open discussions in the gallery. It’s great because we’re all so diverse that we can use our different interests and creativity to make great events! I got involved just through trying to find anything arts related that was a bit different, came across Raw Canvas, and totally didn’t realise I was getting a job at the end of the course, just thought it was fun workshops! Four years later and I’ve done all sorts there....! Recently you’ve taken the role as chief and commander
of Raw Canvas, how’s that shaping up? I haven’t taken the role of the whole of Raw Canvas, oh my that would be daunting! But when a Raw Canvas member has an event that they would like to put on, naturally they take charge of the project and are supported by the team. I wanted to bring in DIY WOMP to Tate Modern and do an event because when I was young and living near Watford if I wasn’t at the Harlequin I would be spend the whole of a Saturday in the Tate Modern, so I’m kind of doing something I would’ve loved then (but still love now) hence why I’m heading this one! The TateTakeover Halloween event is a big deal, what’s the best thing you’ve done at The Tate? Last year I put on a Tate Takeover London Calling! event, showcasing a great live illustrator, some great music and poetry, and a divine origami workshop with some gorgeously illustrated stuff from an amazing artist. Oh! And we made a giant structure from a London Free Paper and got involved with BBC London. That was fun! So are you excited about the Raw Canvas & DIY WOMP Halloween Tate Modern show? Mega, mega excited. It’s at the stage where everything’s coming together, and I just can’t wait for people to come and enjoy the live music, the burlesque, the mask making, the films, the live illustration, the exhibition, and the surprisesand it’s all bloody free! What advice would you give to other artists out there that are starting out or who may be of less experience than yourself? To be honest, I’m still finding my feet, and it’s all so exciting.
go for your ke chances, be brave, Follow your instincts, ta its. Weâ€™re all so lucky to have ed! dreams, there are no lim AAT about, so get involv d an MP WO e lik le op pe
Interview -Rob Walker
We spent the weekend secluded in an old house surrounded by small roads and tall trees, where signals for mobile phones and wireless internet could not get through the walls. We were cut off from the tools that are necessary to live a life connected to anyone else who might have something important or relevant to say. The only media distractions were two old videos – both with fraying on the edges of the tape, which made them all but unwatchable – and talk radio stations on AM frequencies. The articles on the radio stations were mostly boring, save for a mid-morning interview with a girl who had been caught trying to smuggle marijuana into Thailand. If we weren’t watching or listening, we would have to talk to one and other. My twin-sister, her husband and I. When we arrived we went for a walk in the fields that surround the small village we were staying in. There were families out walking dogs and children playing. The children ran and fell in the long grass, and pushed their faces into the wildflowers like busy bumblebees. As we walked we were entirely silent and so carried with us a strong feeling of relief because we knew that we didn’t want to talk anyway. There were certainly things to say, and the weight of the silence we were under would not lift until a sentence could be uttered. But trivialities would not break any deadlocks and every word said between us on the six-hour journey had been an offer of drink or food, or the suggestion for a change of CD. At home they would be talking about how we were running away. How
the difficult circumstances called for togetherness and discussion; the glue that holds the family together, my mother would say. She and her sister would sip the cheap granule coffee they both like, not because it tastes like good coffee, but because it tastes like something else altogether that they like when drunk with their rolled up cigarettes. I imagined her trying to paint, thinking perhaps that the best art is created in the most desperate situations. But she’d be unable to get past the first few brushstrokes before getting distracted and going downstairs to check on how Andrew was getting on in front of the television. Our mother could never understand why when things went badly my sister and I would disappear. Our collective demons have never been addressed or exorcised, but we have both discovered over the years that simply swallowing them down and eroding them with stomach acids works well enough. Not everything warrants a discussion and the setting out of long-term objectives. For my sister and I, a collection of short-term solutions has always been preferred. We know that one day the things we swallowed will re-appear. Our stomachs will get too full of butterflies and something will have to rise up and get spewed into the ears of a psychiatrist. We’ll cough, splutter and tears will stream down our faces. It will be just like when you throw up – you feel immediately better afterwards. I have sometimes wondered if our mother has a fund for our inevitable appointments with therapists. A portion of whatever alimony payments my father gave her set aside for when things get a
little more vocal. She once asked me why Angela and I never talk about things. “Why do you bottle it up? I’m you’re mother!” she said, frustrated. I shrugged my shoulders and said: “It’s better that way. I have to go out.” She told me that we weren’t done and we’d continue our talk when I got back in. While I was out I decided to tell her that it was no wonder we didn’t talk. When we were kids we were always told not to tell our friends that there were a lot of arguments in our household, that our father was gay, had a partner, and that’s why he left. But by the time I had returned home, my mother had gone out on one of the many dates she arranged when Angela and I were in our late teens. That was the first and only time she got close to carving one of us open. She didn’t try again, and whenever her own mother would push her to make us talk, she would refer to our unusual upbringing and the ongoing need for patience (our mother staunchly believed that we would get to talking in our own time). The two of them would go on to blame my father for all the ills in our family, convincing themselves that we’d all be far more normal had my father continued to repress his sexuality. When our teens gave way to our early twenties the dating in my mother’s life gave way to an interest in fostering. Maybe it was an experiment in how she would have got on bringing up children alone, without my father’s influence. After a couple of short-term successes, she took on a longterm project in Andrew. He was eight when he arrived and almost obese. Through a selection of rigorous diet
programmes he managed to get down from extremely overweight to just fat, before he developed the first of several eating problems, aged eleven. Since then his life has been series of disorders so extensive that any story of it would top the ‘real lives’ bestseller charts. The lowlights from the past few years have been bulimia, paranoid personality disorder and two incorrect diagnoses of bi-polar disorder (from two separate doctors). Combine these afflictions with asthma, excema and hayfever, and it became almost impossible for my mother to get Andrew to leave the house. We all tried with him and for the most part, as a family we were commended for the supposedly excellent job we were doing in caring for ‘such a difficult adolescent’. Recently things looked to be getting better, if not quite coming good. Through a cocktail of medicines and my mother’s undeniable hard work, Andrew had seen it through to his eighteenth birthday and been given his first car as a reward. The idea was to encourage the boy to get out and live more, but instead he locked himself in the garage and used to the car to try and kill himself. Angela found him when she was going to go into our garage to find a bottle of wine to chill before dinner. At the time I was in the house, reading and heard her call. As often happens when I am busy and someone calls, I ignored Angela, but when she repeated herself I heard more panic in her voice and went to see what was going on. The first thing I noticed was that Andrew had made a really poor job of his attempt. One end of length of ordinary garden hose was stuck inside the exhaust pipe and the other in the car window, which had been closed to hold it in place. By the time I got to the garage Angela had pulled the hose out of the window and opened the car door to shout at Andrew. “What the fuck do you think you’re doing?” she yelled. “What does it look like? Go away,” he replied, in an aggravated tone.
“Oh shit. Christopher, help me drag him out.” There was more frustration than fear in Angela’s voice. As if she knew he would pull a stunt like this some day. The two of us pulled him out of the car and out of the garage. I went back in to turn the ignition off and noticed that he had installed the removable tape deck before starting the car. Maybe there was a taped message, or a significant piece of music he intended to have playing when we were meant to find him dead. Or maybe it was just force of habit.
him for a seventeenth birthday present. On the screen was a social networking site, open on Andrew’s own profile. “Are you OK?” I asked. “No.” “I mean do you feel sick? It’s obvious that you’re not OK.” “I feel fine.” “Thank God you made such a shitty job of that hose,” I said, and left his room, closing the door behind me.
“We have to tell mum,” I said.
Downstairs Angela was on her laptop, looking at an internet forum where the users discussed the logistics and science of ‘suicide via car exhaust’. I peered over her neck and saw that the forum was under the ‘Health’ heading. Most of the posters had written something like “it’s not worth it” or “you are special”. One or two gave advice on how to go about it, then post-scripted their easy four-step programme, complete with the phone number for Lifeline.
“Why? It’s not as if it’s any of your business.”
“Is he on there?” I asked. Angela shook her head, still crying.
“Oh come on Andrew! We find you trying to kill yourself and it’s none of our business?”
“You want to get away?”
Angela had taken Andrew into the garden, where I found him lying on his back, pale faced, and surrounded by various inhalers and pills that she had dumped by him. “Don’t tell Sarah,” he said. Angela and I looked at one and other, staring each other out to see who would have to speak to him about it.
“You could’ve left me.” “Oh fuck you! You little shit!” Angela screamed at him whilst kicking him in the side of the stomach. She was crying and coughing violently by the time she finished kicking. Andrew got up, picked up his inhaler and ran back inside. Angela then ran to me, threw her arms around me and sobbed into my shoulder. I patted her back and moved away to go and follow Andrew, but she tugged my arm and pulled me back to hold her. She had one hand on my neck and I could feel her cold silver wedding ring press against my skin. When she eventually let me go I went back inside and up the stairs to Andrew’s room. All of his curtains were drawn and he was playing a Nick Drake LP that he had found in a record store during his brief phase as a vinyl collector. He was sat at the computer my mother bought
She turned to me, nodded and threw her arms around my stomach. That evening, when my mother arrived home from work, Angela and I explained what had happened, told her where Andrew was and said that we didn’t want to talk about it any further. At that point she was so panicked and preoccupied that talking to the two of us was not at all on her agenda anyway, so she bustled through the house and up the stairs, calling Andrew’s name as she went. As soon as she was out of earshot my sister called her husband, Lawrence, and told him that when he gets home he should pack a bag right away. I heard him complain on the other end of the phone, but my sister hit back with a venomous remark about how it wouldn’t really matter if he went away, what with him being unemployed anyway, and that if he really wants to stay in the house with only a suicidal eighteen year-old boy and his foster mother, then he’s
welcome to do so. Lawrence caved in immediately – as he tends to do when arguing with my sister. Angela has never been the bossy or domineering type, but since the day I first met Lawrence it has been apparent that she runs their relationship. He says he’s too much at peace with the world to argue, but it’s apparent that he’s just a man with two divorces behind him, trying to avoid a third. So things like living at our family home and becoming a vegetarian are the necessary compromises that are keeping Lawrence regularly sexed and in conflictfree wedlock. As we waited Angela and I went out into the garden and stood amongst Andrew’s medicines that still littered the grass. I reached into my pocket for my cigarette packet, opened it and pulled out a joint that I had rolled that morning. I lit it
and began smoking, stopping after three or four drags to offer it to Angela. The two of us stood together in silence for fifteen minutes, listening to the yells and sobs that were coming from Andrew’s open bedroom window that looked out over the garden. Angela had stopped crying, but her eyes were red and her make-up smudged. When we heard the front door slam we knew Lawrence was home and we both went to pack a few days worth of clothes. Angela and Lawrence were stood at the foot of the stairs waiting for me when I finished packing. Both of them had small hold alls. I drew on my palm with my index finger and mouthed the word ‘note’ to my sister, who shook her head, made a phone sign with her little finger and thumb, and mouthed ‘no, text’ in reply. The
three of us left the house, got into Lawrence’s car and drove away to his parent’s summer house. During our time away together there was never so much as a threat of deep and meaningful conversation. Angela and I didn’t want to talk about anything serious with one and other and Lawrence knew by now not to try and force it. It would either come in its own good time, or it wouldn’t. After the silent strolls we took during the day, we spent the evenings in front of a blank television, drinking wine from Lawrence’s parent’s large collection. Some bottles we knew to be very good, but none of us could say why. We each had our own glass and left them on three coasters, unwashed for the entire weekend. Each glass was a different colour so
Illustration - India Harvey www.aninfinitenumberofcuriousthings.wordpress.com
we could tell which was whose. At night I stayed up and read old sensationalist magazine articles about apparently real lives and listened to Lawrence trying to coerce my sister into talking, or having sex. He would push her to tell him how she was feeling, and then when she told him to go to sleep he asked her if sex would take her mind off of it. It happened both nights we stayed in the house, and on neither occasion did Lawrence get anything he asked for. On our third morning together Lawrence cooked scrambled eggs. Angela made him cook some bacon as well, for me, and told him it didn’t matter that he was cooking meat, as he didn’t really care about vegetarianism anyway.
I thought she was being harsh on him, but she was probably right – he has never cared. Over breakfast we discussed staying for a third night because by then everything should have been swept under rugs at home, and our mother would understand that neither of us wanted to talk about Andrew or his attempted suicide. When we agreed to stay the three of us took a walk around the same fields that we had explored shortly after we arrived. Lawrence and Angela held hands as we strolled and I pocketed my own. Conversation was easier that morning. We talked about the weather, the countryside and the collected value of the wine we had drunk that weekend. After about a half an hour’s walking we stopped and lay down in the long grass and wildflowers with our eyes to the sky. The children ran around us, shrieking and chasing their pet dogs. Angela told me to turn on my mobile phone, for the first time in days, to check if there were any messages from home.
When the phone had come alive, and found the weak signal that had managed to beat its way through the trees, it vibrated three times for three messages. Two were text messages from friends asking where I had gone, and one was a voicemail from my mother’s best friend, Nancy saying: “Christopher, your mother gave me your number. You kids have really got to come home. Your foster brother has tried again, this time with his wrists. OK then, Bye”. Angela overheard a woman’s voice on the other end, but couldn’t make out what was being said because Nancy spoke at a whisper. “Who was it?” “Nancy. Andrew slashed his wrists.” “Is he dead?”
“Didn’t say.” “Fuck.” “We’d better go.” “OK,” she said. The three of us all stood up and Angela and I started running. We ran through the fields and jumped over a low fence that led to the road. We ran in the middle of the road, up and down hills and around blind corners, not thinking about the traffic that might have been coming the other way. Eventually we arrived panting at Lawrence’s car and Angela threw up by the front wheel on the driver’s side. Lawrence caught us up soon after, with Angela’s shoes in his hands. I hadn’t noticed that she was running barefoot. “It smells of vomit.” “Uh huh.” I said, too breathless to speak properly. “I’ll just get the bags and…” “Lawrence we have to go!” Angela cut in. “But…” “FUCK!” she screamed, and threw up again. “I’ll be quick,” he said, and he ran indoors. Our drive home was as silent as our drive to the house. Save for Angela’s occasional sobs and Lawrence’s occasional offers of breath mints to try and mask the smell of vomit that hit us every time Angela exhaled heavily. I tried to sleep but I wasn’t at all tired. So instead I closed my eyes and leant my head against the rear, driver’s side window that had been warmed by the sun. When we got home Angela and I left Lawrence to unpack the car. We hurried inside and found her sitting alone at our kitchen table, looking out over the garden with a large glass of white wine. She turned to face the two of us and her stoney expression broke as her lips wobbled and her eyes welled up. She ran over and embraced my sister and I.
‘...even if it was a matter of the past, it was a past that changed gradually as he advanced on his journey, because the traveler’s past changes according to the route he has followed’ - Italo Calvino ‘Scheisse!’ Niklas shuffled through the fresh snow, making his way to the tap that stood halfway between two vacant holiday cottages. This was not peak season. Naked apart from his boots, he cleared a space around the tap. He brushed of the snow and gripping the cold metal with already blue fingers he twisted. At first nothing came out, but then a splutter of slush, and then a stream of icecold water. With a preparatory deep breath he cupped his hands and plunged his face into the water, scrubbing with a utilitarian ferocity. He would start shivering shortly, but in the few seconds before, he enjoyed the clarity the shock of the cold water gave to his system. He wiped his eyes, and observed the scene around him. Where was he? Was it Biesdorf? Landhof? He couldn’t remember; he had been traveling for that long. It was East Germany though. He knew that much. It was impossible to forget, from the roads, from the buildings. From the look of the people. His cottage was one of a number of basic cottages staggered around a lake, which in summer would be an area of great beauty, but now of course, under snowfall, was simply an expanse of white. He made no movements and listened intently. The snow deadened all sound and an intense quietness was
present all around, except for birdsong every so often that fell rather than emanated and was instantly absorbed into the snow unanswered. He shuffled back inside again, to attempt to get some semblance of feeling back into his body, before he headed further East. Had Niklas not served his national service, he would not have perhaps had the courage to stand and wash at a freezing standpipe, but military life entails a certain distancing of emotions from actions and this was something that could never quite be forgotten. He was unsure whether to be glad of this skill he had accumulated, if skill were a word he could call it. He wondered whether to be human required emotion and action to be one, no matter how irrational. But he satisfied himself with the fact that in reality he had been a poor soldier, and spent more of his time attempting to escape the service than getting down to the hard graft. He did have some fond memories of the service though, and, ultimately, he had served his time with Fynn, a boyhood friend from the small suburb of Munich where they had grown up. Due to Fynn’s ill health, he had served the majority of his service in the archiving department, filing the vast amounts of
paperwork that had to be filed, containing, no doubt, top secret information that would be left to gather dust on shelves over decades to come. Niklas, on the other hand, was a foot soldier, which required countless laps of the drill square and sentry duty into the early hours of the morning. It was their downtime he recalled most frequently however. He had, before his service, underestimated the attraction a man in uniform posed to women and so the discovery of this had almost made up for the frustration of being cut off from life at an age when it felt most inconvenient. He could recall the image of both himself and Fynn at a bar local to the barracks, each flanked by a girl on both sides. ‘Long live the Eastern Bloc!’ Fynn had merrily leant over and said to Niklas. Yet it was always Niklas who was the instigator of these jaunts, and Fynn, in his characteristic manner, would tag along, simply, it had seemed, for the ride. Fynn’s work in the archives proved to be the undoing of Niklas’ enjoyment of his national service, for amongst the shelves and filing cabinets could be found Frau Mathilde Hartmann, wife of Sergeant Major Hartmann. She was a beautiful woman with blonde hair tied tightly in a bun
and eyes which seemed sad and strangely more beautiful because of this. Niklas suspected her marriage was not a happy one; her husband was small, sharp and ruthless, his harsh voice frequently reverberating around the barracks. He therefore made it his duty to flirt with her outrageously every time he visited Fynn. Towards the end of his service however, it seemed that the Sergeant Major had become suspicious of his wife’s fidelity and particularly suspicious of Niklas’ over-friendly attitude towards her. Quite how the Sergeant Major came to know of their friendship he never found out, but he was made to suffer for it regularly and he came to loathe the shrill howl of Hartmann as he commanded him to run yet another 10 laps of the drill square. In time it emerged that the Hartmann’s suspicions weren’t wrong at all, but merely misplaced; his wife, Mathilde Hartmann was getting it somewhere else, but certainly not with Niklas. It was the quiet and bookish Fynn, with his tall, dark features and gentle manner that proved to her irresistible. Niklas had observed his friend with a new regard since he learnt of this revelation. He realised what he had taken for shyness was in fact a patient and reserved confidence. What a conquest! Mathilde Hartmann indeed! Smiling at the recollection Niklas gathered up his things and took them outside to his old but reliable Volkswagen Passat. Pulling away he rolled slowly forward, the ice slipping under his tires. It took him a full hour and a half to arrive at the next village, which was only twenty miles away. Driving painfully slowly, frightened sick of slipping off the edge
of the unfinished roads and into the fields that lay either side, he made his way shivering and swearing. Parking on a deserted main street, he bundled into a nearby cafe, a bell at the door ringing to the left of his head. Snowy footprints lead up to the counter where he placed his order with the attractive waitress. He sat down with a paper, which lay in front of him unread through most of his breakfast, the spectacled face of Helmut Kohl gazing up at him. Niklas stared at the white outside frosted through the condensation on the glass windows. The girl at the counter had reminded him of his days studying at the University of Freiburg. He had enrolled to study economics at Freiburg with Fynn. That they should attend the same university together he looked on philosophically; perhaps it would seem that one was following the other, but in reality it was more to do with the similarity of their interests on which was formed the foundation of their friendship. This was not to say however that they never spent time apart; they had separate friendships too and this worked very comfortably. However they were often to be found at some point over the course of the weekend at the tavern below their student flat. The warmth and intimate atmosphere of the tavern was irresistible and compared to their dark, damp and cold student flat, it was always the most preferable option on a quiet evening. More to the point, they were both falling for the barmaid there, Lena, and the optimism and quiet confidence that she eschewed. Indeed it was in this tavern that formed the idea that was to lead Niklas into East Germany in the first place.
It was their business mentor, Professor Schrodt, who encouraged their entrepreneurial spirit. A tall bald man, gaining weight with age, his outlook on life wash harsh but pragmatic. Though they felt they could not always agree with him in certain respects, ultimately they would both be inclined to agree that the time they spent with him had taught them some valuable lessons in life. ‘Go out, boys, and burn your fingers on some small enterprise. Make mistakes, come home and get stuck into real business,’ he had said. So, they had felt it almost a sign that no sooner had they finished and handed in their theses, the opportunity to do just this arose. It was the autumn of 1989 and civil unrest in the soviet provinces of East Germany were coming to a head. Fynn and Niklas watched on their tiny television as bemused and ashen-faced border guards allowed through hordes of East Germans into West Berlin. They knew from the looks on everyone’s faces that the point of no return had passed; that reunification of Germany had become a real possibility. To the eyes of Niklas and Fynn, brains sharpened after their degrees and with the words of Professor Schrodt ringing in their ears, the gaping whole in the Berlin wall was more than just a historic event but a small, but nonetheless tantalising, window of opportunity. It was within a mere matter of months that they had formulated a plan and the time arrived to leave. They had prepared for the trip fastidiously - feverishly even. Shortly after Christmas they would bring to the East Germans lines of distribution for feminine sanitary equipment and condoms,
the likes of which the smaller country villages would not have had access too. All that would be required would be to collect as many small stores as they could in person, traveling around the country. The idea was foolproof, the money they stood to make substantial. The mood of their last night, downstairs in the familiar tavern, had slipped into quiet reflection as the enormity of the task in front of them truly sunk in. They sat staring into the bottom of their wine glasses. As the last of the regulars trailed out, Niklas and Fynn were left in their sombre mood. Lena flitted past their table picking up empties. ‘Oh, now cheer up you two. Your last night!’ she said. ‘OK. Look, I’ve bought you two a present - I know how you both like Scotch. Something to keep you warm on the road.’ Lena presented them with a large bottle from behind the bar, then sat down beside them. The surprise of a present snapped them out of their introspection and they lightened up a little. Niklas smiled. ‘On the road?’ he said. ‘I think a toast is in order now, don’t you?’ ‘Wait,’ said Fynn, standing up. ‘Nature calls.’ Lena and Niklas were left in silence. They caught each other’s eyes and held them from a long time. Silence seemed to swell up around them, a silence which gives all actions added importance. The time where something needed to be said arrived and then slowly disappeared. Lena stood up. ‘We need some glasses,’ she said and went to the bar to take them down. Niklas could not tell if the look on her face was one of disappointment, resignation or both. He let out a sigh, the end of which was drowned out by the opening chords of a popular American song, played through the hi-fi at the back of the bar. Fynn appeared, grinning. ‘Let’s dance,’ he said. Niklas poured three glasses, while Lena locked the doors and closed the cash register. Letting out a whoop
she took to the back of the tavern and started dancing, beckoning to the other two. They drank and danced for an hour or two, and between a cassette change, Niklas removed himself to the bar on pretense of getting some water. He found himself looking at Lena and Fynn. They certainly had a connection between them, but he couldn’t quite find words to describe it. Was it that of siblings perhaps? He thought about his being lost for words earlier. He had been such a charmer years earlier, but with Lena he could barely form words. He closed his eyes for a moment. As the three walked home, holding each other for support, Niklas had the strange feeling one of the three was a third wheel, but he felt he couldn’t decisively say which of them it might have been. Suddenly, at this moment, he had had second thoughts about the whole plan. Why go? Why bother with the money? Why not stay here, where life was, if not simple, simpler. Traveling further away would not cease any problems, but isolate them, prolong them, amplify them perhaps. His sense of foreboding had stayed at the back of mind ever since that day. Thumbing through a paper in the cafe, he thought he was probably right to have been concerned. Niklas trudged from the cafe to his car and then equipped with his bag, made his way to the local store. Over the months he had refined his sales pat into an art. He would always ask for a glass of water first, which would aid demonstration later. The important thing he had found was to get to talk to the male owner, while a wife - apron, rolled up sleeves - stood blushing and intrigued in a doorway behind. And though initially awkward, the men stroking a moustache, thumbing a threadbare cardigan - would begin to see the business potential. New money, bleeding in from the West. Things were changing, he would say. Think of the opportunity! The sales became easy
enough after the first few and this small village, quiet and covered in snow, proved to be little different. Fynn on the other hand had proved himself useless at sales. It was his gentleness, his deference and his kindness that proved to be his downfall. He would blush profusely when trying to sell their goods, his obvious embarrassment deterring the owners. The first village he had tried was an outright disaster; they had been literally chased out of town. Throwing their wares into the boot as quickly as they could, they raced through the streets. ‘Perverts!’ the shopkeeper had shouted after them. Considering this, as he often did, he could not remember which of them suggested that one of them should turn back. He remembered the argument sure enough though. The Passat pulled over by the side of the road, they stood by a wire fence; containing what, he couldn’t begin to fathom. They were surrounded by miles and miles of open fields. ‘What else can we do?’ Fynn had put it. ‘If I stay we won’t make any money, if you leave, we won’t make any money. There is only one option, I’ll just have to go home.’ And he was right. What else could they do? Return home together broke and miserable? ‘I see. You’re leaving me out here,’ had been his only response. ‘Look. We need someone back in Freiburg to collect the money and start shipping the damn things out.’ As he went through the sales rigmarole in this, yet another in a long line of stores, Niklas found his thoughts returning to this conversation. Looking back, he couldn’t help wonder if Fynn had wanted this situation to arise. Why was he so keen to return so soon? He certainly got the better deal, while he was left lonely and freezing his arse off in the snow. With every innocent explanation came the shadow of a darker motive and the further he traveled, the harder it became to draw a line between the two.
illustration by Simon Peter Frank Cook stoneandspear.com email@example.com
*** Niklas gasped in the air as the cold water cascaded over his head and with an involuntary hunch of the shoulders he splashed his face and
body. After a minute or so the water seemed warmer, his mind was clearer. But the cold water brought back, within an instant, all that had gone on before, the last few years or so of his life and the thought of this, though not all bad memories, made him sigh at the recollection. Now wiping himself down with a small towel before wrapping it tightly around his waist, he told himself again it was good to be away from all of that now. The world was a home to him; he thrived on being alone, with no attachments and money in his pocket. This was who he really was. He stepped out of the bathroom and walked past the unmade bed. A mound inside the covers was still sleeping. Best not to wake her up, he thought. He went to the window, where a small balcony allowed him to peer out over rooftops and the street below; already at this early hour the hive of activity that accompanied life in this part of the world had already begun. He had traveled East, further East than before, but still not far enough. And yet always the thought troubled him; that the further East he traveled, the closer he came to arriving at the place he had departed from.
‘Everything’s fine here. Niklas?’ ‘Yes?’ ‘I...no, nothing. Keep going out there. I’ll try and get on top of things here.’ Out of the corner of his eye Niklas spotted a rat crawl between the rafters of the outhouse and the corrugated iron roof. ‘Sure. Sure. Any news from Lena?’ ‘Well, I... same as usual I guess. Listen, I have to get going. Thanks for checking in.’ ‘Ok, no problem. Bye Fynn. Bye.’ He put down the phone. Outside the boy with the ball had disappeared. He sat staring at the phone. Damn. I had to ask about Lena, he thought. He wondered why he felt foolish now, asking these things of his best friend. Outside the shop he clapped his hands together, stamped his feet and thought, as he thought at least once a day, if he should not just turn back West. Too late now, he thought. Unbeknownst to me the world I once knew may have changed irreparably, he told himself. Must keep going.
By Daniel Jordan –
The store was, in fact, the only place in the town to have a telephone. Niklas found this unsurprising. He asked the owner if he could use it. He was taken out to a small back room where shelves of coal, candles, brooms and other assorted essentials were kept. By a window stood a chair and table, a telephone upon it. He sat down and thanked the owner, who shuffled away. Niklas sighed, and pulled aside a grubby net curtain with his fingers. A small yard stretched out ringed by a fence, and in one corner a goat stood motionless. The floor was speckled with snow. A small boy in a one-piece snowsuit picked up a red ball and turned to look at him. A breeze blew his hair back exposing a chubby face with red ruddy cheeks. Niklas turned away and shook his head, to clear his mind and to wake himself up. He picked up the receiver and dialed the number of Fynn’s flat. He dreaded these phone calls now. Why? The phone rang for sometime, until a thick sounding voice answered the phone. ‘Hello?’ ‘Fynn, it’s me. Are you busy?’ Silence. ‘I’m...no, I’m not busy.’ ‘Good, it’s just phones are getting more scarce, and there are a few things I need to know before I move on.’ ‘Ok, Niklas...go on.’ ‘Right. Have you received the invoices I sent, about two weeks back?’ ‘Oh,’ Fynn said, with what seemed like the trace of a laugh. Niklas could hear the shuffling of papers over the line. ‘Yes, large parcel, yes this is them.’ ‘Good. They need to get started on soon, because everything takes so long out here...well you know how it is...I’m sure you’re on top of things.’ ‘Yes Nik, I’ve got it, OK.’ ‘Everything else fine?’ Silence again. Was there a time delay on this phone?
Things to avoid when trying to be creative
The world is full of things to drag your mind from work. Unfortunately it seems creative types are more prone to distraction than, say, doctors, lawyers or bankers (yeah, but we didn’t cause a credit crunch did we?) Art and Things publish this list as both a nice humour piece to tag on the end of the magazine, and a cautionary tale:
-The Internet Just turn it off! Unplug your modem. A quick go on Facebook, a little while flicking through ffffound and yayeveryday for inspiration.
Read a music review or two, watch some videos... Yeah then check all the blogs you like, the articles are snappy, short and funny but reading thirty of them is still going to take another hour of your time.
Illustration - ‘Birds stuck inside a jar of Branston’ -Unknown
Has anyone replied to those tweets we sent out? Let’s check.
-Making an Awesome Sandwich It’s 11:56. That’s lunchtime, right? Soft bread, mayonnaise, salad, tomato, cheese, pickles… Pesto? Maybe make one with pesto one without ... where’s the pesto?
Okay, pop to the shop to get pesto... Ohh, sunblush tomatoes, carrot cake.
You can’t have lunch without a nice strong
cup of tea… and you can’t have tea without some biscuits.
Mmmm… okay lunch is ready. Let’s just watch one episode of The Wire while we eat this. Oh… oh shit, it’s 03:20.
-Ultra Organisation. Okay, today’s the day you write that novel – Kerouac style, pumping out prose, sweating non-stop. Or paint and paint until your masterpiece is complete, or lock the doors and record the E.P. track after track.
But first- pour a glass of water, brew some coffee, file those papers littering your desk, shelve that stack of books that’s been sitting there for days, tidy your workspace. Hoover the bedroom, do the washing up. Err, the desk doesn’t look right… move some stuff around.
Okay. We’re ready. What time is it? 12:30? Mmm, time for a quick sandwich.
Gilmore Girls/The Wire
These shows are a disease spreading through the Art and Things staff.
One is a show that is set in an idyllic, liberal, usually autumnal town called Stars Hollow; the other is set in Baltimore.
Once you start watching either it’s apparently impossible to stop, or to answer any e-mail, let alone be creative.
-Video Games Okay so Charlie Brooker likes them and they’re becoming ever more versatile and impressive.
Sure. You can get stuck into blockbuster action sequences, drive realistic cars around tracks, take part in immersive storytelling experiences or scare yourself witless with tense horror titles. OK. You can play with people all over the world, download content, collect points, compete online for prizes.
Fine. You can spend hours and hours escaping into stunning fantasy worlds and… wait.. what were we saying? Oh crap it’s 3:20 am! I was going to get up early and do some drawing!
-A social life So you spent all day on Facebook eating sandwiches and watching American TV shows and now your mates are texting you because they want to meet you in the pub? Well tough. Now you’ve got to stay inside all night and finish what you started. Or you’ve got to at least stay in for an extra hour. So just quickly check Facebook and get down to it… maybe you should have dinner first.