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ART PHOTOGRAPHY UNIVERSITY OF BRISTOL C R E AT I V E A R T S M AG A Z I N E SUMMER 2011

POETRY PROSE F E AT U R E S

NONSENSE


Cover photographs by Tristan Martin

Editor in Chief Tom Brooks

Editor Emma Davies

Promotions Officer Leah Eades

EDITORIAL Nonsense never made much sense as a theme. We hope this issue doesn’t either. Don’t forget to keep up-to-date with the new editors by checking our blog regularly. It’s been an absolute pleasure. Tom and Emma

Art Editors Isaac Harland Kate Hollowood

Photography Editors Tristan Martin Jack Mitchell

Poetry Editors Abby Worth Patrick Burley

Prose Editors Michaela Mare Rachel Stewart

Features Editors Dimitra Taslim

heliconbristol. blogspot.com facebook.com/ heliconmagazine twitter.com/ heliconmagazine


Meghan Spurlock


Kate Hollowood (right); what happened when we left an unmanned typewriter in your hands at last issue’s launch party (below).




Cheesy Chips Spat onto the grey, wet street, With the aftershock of House beats, Are Caffeine-hyped creatures craving more; Shrieks thicken the air like spores Labouring the tired, dusky night, Broken by the white strip light Of the open-for-business Donner Van, Groaning, spluttering oily fat and Stiff polystyrene boxes. Like sharp eyed urban foxes The clubbers, ecstatic and detached, Stagger wildly towards the hatch: Maize-yellow cheese on fresh fried chips Rammed through drunken, gloss-smudged lips; Shoulders on show, shivering and bare But for raindrop jewels from the rank air Polluted by people like us, Gorged on carbon-fuelled-fun with just Enough cash left for a burger and fries. Dawn drowns the moon; the nightlife dies, Dropped meat-strips recoil from the morning And shrivel into cockroach skins. Birds call a last daybreak warning; The decomposition begins. Marietta Kirkbride







M E E T: BJORN R U N E L I E One of the largest art collectives outside London, Jamaica Street Artists has been calling Stokes Croft home for fifteen years. In the last of a series of features on the studio, Dimitra Taslim meets resident Bjorn Rune Lie for a quick chat.




Bjorn, why are you an artist? I’ve always been relatively good at drawing, so it was the natural thing to pursue. I guess I was pretty mediocre at everything else! It’s a labour of love, a lifestyle more than just a job really, for better and for worse. I love making something out of nothing. Chipping away, building up a body of work, creating little stories, orchestrating scenarios – the results are instant. You can see how you’re getting better at something. It’s very satisfying!

How are you involved with JSA? I’ve had a space here for over 5 years, and I’m currently studio manager for the 2nd floor. I’m involved in most of the projects and exhibitions, but I’m not someone who makes things happen here, unlike certain others!

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Tell me about yourself and your work. I’m a Norwegian illustrator who’s lived in Bristol for the past 7 years. My work tends to feature an array of characters with varying degrees of oddity, often in a setting out of the ordinary. I used to love bright colours, but I’m craving the monochrome palette right now. I’ve recently developed a technique I’m really excited about, involving scalpels and sponge rollers. It’s a bit darker than my usual stuff, highly detailed, but with a degree of wonkyness and spontaneity I would never achieve if I had an “undo” button, or an eraser. It’s a bit like film photography. A mistake is a decision made, you move on. I like it when I can take two or more different elements and put them together. Lately I’ve been fascinated by old botanical illustrations, photos from the Russian revolution, Victorian hothouses, modernist architectural plan drawings, Hydro electric power stations, the exploits of eccentric explorers…

What are you working on at the moment? I’m working on a tote bag design for Nobrow and designing cards for Yee Haw Industries, while setting up a new personal website and an online shop. And lots of ideas for personal artwork on the boil!

‘Helicopter’

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‘Cactus Landscape’

What has been your biggest challenge as an artist? The biggest challenge is trying to maintain a healthy work/life balance, and to achieve a good mix of commercial work and artistically stimulating projects, which pays really badly! The days just fly by, and it’s frustratingly easy to fall behind schedule! Financially it’s pretty hand-tomouth, and it does get stressful. No paid leave, no pension plan, long hours, and living with deadlines always hanging over you!

What do you consider your greatest achievement? Probably the three picture books I’ve written and illustrated. All of them have been extremely challenging. It’s a real test of endurance to see a picture book through from start to finish. Writing, planning, editing, producing – they have to be consistently good all the way through. And you have to take risks and keep it fresh, despite the deadlines. Illustration doesn’t get tougher than that!

How have you handled the business side of being an artist? Like a Japanese Kamikaze pilot. I need to be a bit more business savvy, and stop doing unpaid jobs.

Which famous artists have influenced you, and how? I used to be a graffiti writer in my teenage years back in Norway. But I knew nothing about art, barely heard of Picasso! A girlfriend from a more cultured background spoke of Van Gogh and Gauguin! Then I discovered Dave McKean and the Norwegian designer/artist Kim Hiorthøy, and I knew I wanted to be an illustrator. Since then I’ve gone through various phases… from Barry McGee to Margaret Kilgallen. But I don’t really look at art magazines anymore. There’s too much in-breeding going on, especially within illustration. I like loads of famous artists, but I’m not sure if they inspire my work. I’m into early 20th century design at the moment, like Rodchenko, Bauhaus and Le Corbusier. Have I mentioned the amazing prints of the German biologist Ernst Haeckel?

What advice would you give to a young artist just starting out? That depends on the artist and what he or she wants to do. It takes time to get really good at something. I’m still trying to work out what I’m doing. Give yourself space to develop, try not to jump on bandwagons or be too inspired by your contemporaries.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years? Norway, with a couple of kids. I just feel like I’ll be back there at some point. I miss my mom’s cooking!

Bjorn will be exhibiting at the Print Cooperative, Studio and Shop SNAP on Lower Park Row in September. In the meantime, his picture book The Wolf’s Whistle is available at nobrow.net and you can browse his portfolio online at bjornlie.com

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Kate Hollowood (above); Tamara-Jade Kaz (opposite page).

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Eleanor White

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Boulangerie

I saw God early this morning doing his shopping, searching- for he had it in his head for the perfect loaf of bread.

‘If only my Son were about’ he said, ‘then without doubt, as on the mount, I’d be able to bite, with my Almighty might, full of relish and salivatory lust, into that most palatable and delectable crust’.

‘Must I do this every day? Rising early, hoping the Master Baker and his apprentice oaf, can stumble their way to the perfect loaf?’

Pierrot La Fou

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Max Geoffe (and opposite page)

Josh Hurley

Tristan Martin

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‘Twas leetig, and the haxsome noobs Kate Hollowood Did floxx and fail in the wabe: All buggy were the googletubes, And the twitterats outgrabe. “Beware the interwebocky, my son! The webs that site, the codes that cache! Beware the yahoo bird, and shun The viral lolcat stash!” He took his berrypad in palm: Long time the foxing fire foe he sought -So rested he by \(backslash)-e bay And stood awhile in thought. And, as in laggy thought he stood, The interwebocky, with unused username, Came registering with a strong password, And tweeted as it came! 1,2,!,” And through and through The berry pad went ‘ping!’ He liked it dead, and digg’d its head And genius’d what to sing. “And, has thou slain the Interwebocky? Come to my arms my bloggy boy Oh tagging day! rofl! lol!” He chortled in his joy. ‘Twas leetig, and the haxsome noobs Did floxx and fail in the wabe: All buggy were the googletubes, And everybody read a book.

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INTERWEBOCKY

‘Twas leetig, and the haxsome noobs Did floxx and fail in the wabe: All buggy were the googletubes, And the twitterats outgrabe. “Beware the Interwebocky, my son! The webs that site, the codes that cache! Beware the yahoo bird, and shun The viral lolcat stash!” He took his berrypad in palm: Long time the foxing fire foe he sought — So rested he by \(backslash)e bay And stood awhile in thought. And, as in laggy thought he stood, The Interwebocky, with unused username, Came registering with a strong password, And tweeted as it came! 1,2,!,” And through and through The berry pad went ‘ping!’ He liked it dead, and digg’d its head And genius’d what to sing.

Tristan Martin

“And, has thou slain the Interwebocky? Come to my arms my bloggy boy Oh tagging day! rofl! lol!” He chortled in his joy. ‘Twas leetig, and the haxsome noobs Did floxx and fail in the wabe: All buggy were the googletubes, And everybody read a book. Kyle Major

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Freddie Varnals (above); Kate Hollowood (right).

Tamara-Jade Kaz (above, right and below).

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Making Sense of Nonsense Sense, perception, sentience – the senses. This is what was originally understood by ‘sense’; the process of the mind receiving information. Gradually, ‘sense’ was applied to the way in which we interpret the information received, and the way we react to it – sensible, sensitive, with common sense. Other understandings follow: ‘senseless’, without thought; the ‘sense’ of a word, its meaning; or in French, for example, the ‘sens’, direction, of say, traffic. In order to define nonsense, sense must first be understood – not just the actual meaning of the word but also its significance. The five senses are our input; without receiving even a little information from at least one of them we would not think, imagine, believe, rationalise, form ideas; we would not be able to act at all, remaining unaware of the world and ourselves. An everlasting coma from birth. Just as with a computer: without input, there is no processing of information – but more importantly, there is no output. The heart would beat, but without purpose, merely beating against the doors of its cage. In a sense (for want of another word), the mind’s existence, life as we understand it, is given meaning by those five senses.

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Today, nonsense has connotations of triviality or ridiculousness; it encompasses anything foreign to the lands of the rational and the expected, which is why we can find it funny. ‘Nonsense verses’ are a clear, albeit dated, example, and a great deal of comedy today is also based on the effect of the unexpected. Unfortunately, the essential meaning of nonsense is less trivial and more frightening. If taken as the true nihilistic nemesis of the original meaning of sense, nonsense can effectively be defined as having no sensory perception, none of the senses – a starved and empty mind. It is a sad idea, but one that pervades the word: rearrange its letters to form ‘noneness’. As for the modern interpretation of ‘nonsense’ as ‘ridiculousness’, I think that sense, the logical, the ‘rational’, is what should be deemed ridiculous, while the nonsensical makes life and the world interesting. Dreams, as random as they may seem to us, are more interesting than reality, to which we have applied so many rules in order to make sense of it to the extent that more is expected than not. Plots with twists are so much more captivating; the unpredictable is much more exciting than the stale predictable. The usual, the routine, can of course be comforting, but in the long term this is not what makes the world fascinating or life worth living. Now you could argue that sense, as in the usual, rational, expected, is necessary to allow other things to stand out as nonsensical – and you would of course be right. However, on a broader level, sense is essentially an illusion, our brain’s way of organising and perceiving random things in an attempt to control and understand it all. The world makes sense to us because we make sense of it. We make the sense. Nonsense, randomness, is what the world really is; it is so beautifully complex that our mind cannot comprehend it and must resort to applying patterns to it (patterns as basic as colour, cause and effect or time, and the very existence of separate objects – as opposed to seeing a sea of mass), patterns that are just simplifying the magnificent nonsense. Max Geoffe

Robin Cowie

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Nonsense (Summer 2011)