Sunday, 29 December 2013

End of year round-up

Pointless annual lists are ten-a-penny at the moment and unfortunately I'm about to add to them with a round up of my 2013.  This won't be any less tedious than the next persons but I like doing them to look back at for my own narcissistic pleasure.

From an illustration and printmaking perspective it's been a pretty special one for a number of reasons;

1. Puck Collective; okay so technically I was invited in to the Puck fold at the end of 2012 but this year was immense in Puck terms and I'm very happy [and honoured] to have been involved in lots of Puck events and projects perhaps most significantly Puckleduster at Pick Me Up.  Art, tattoos and an amazing collective getting shit done.  Beautiful.

















2. 'Pan's Labyrinth' lincut print or more specifically getting more and more into using lino for printmaking.  The Pan's Labyrinth piece for Gallery 1988 (available here) took fucking ages to design, draw and cut but I loved almost all of the laborious process and I've found it invigorating to challenge myself in a medium I'm relatively new to. A couple of group lino-cutting sessions have been great fun too so I'm looking forward to rolling out more of them in the New Year.  Watch this space.

























3. 'Angel Heart' for FrightFest Originals; being asked to redesign a poster for a horror movie of my choice was (and remains) a dream commission and I'm really happy with how this print turned out.  Redesigning movie posters is a bit of a tired concept [by now] but to be able to do it in an a official capacity for a fully licensed and endorsed print was ace.  Can't wait to work with FrightFest again; their most recent run of prints by the likes of Luke Insect and Peter Strain are some of the best to come out this year.

























4. Little White Lie's 50th edition; alongside a few other Puck Collective members I got to contribute to the 50th landmark edition.  I was stoked to be asked and the piece I did inspired by 'Goodbye, Dragon Inn' was challenging but I couldn't be happier with the final piece and indeed the magazine; I don't think I've ever seen such a beautiful well crafted-magazine.

























Another amazing thing to happen was being given the opportunity to teach Illustration and Printmaking at the BRIT School for the Saturday morning BRIT Kids classes; it's been quite stressful but so enjoyable and rewarding.

There's also been lots of exhibitions including 'Puck in the Box' at Box Park, Asa Wikman's 'A Study of Sports and Leisure', the Print Club 'Group Show''Drawn' at Print Space, 'ArtCrank', 'The London Illustration Fair', 'Secret 7', 'Not for Rental' and a bunch of group shows in the States with Gallery 1988.

Favourite films.  I saw so few new films at the cinema this year it's almost embarrassing but I did get bought tickets to 'A Field in England' featuring additional q and a with director Ben Wheatley.  Given his previous form and talk of it being a folk horror (my favourite flavour of horror) I'd built it up quite a lot in my head by the time I got to see it and I wondered if it would live up to my expectations.  It did.  And some.  Just don't try and recommend it to anyone else because it defies description; every time I've tried to explain it to someone I make it sound like a god-awful trippy drug movie.



















I also really liked Wadjda, Frances Ha and Stoker.  Not to mention a bunch of old films I saw for the first time including Haxan, Repulsion, Take Shelter, The Godfather, The Godfather II, Bones Brigade, The Long Goodbye, Berberian Sound Studio, The American Friend and Holy Mountain.  God bless Letterboxd for enabling my anal retentiveness.

My favourite record of 2013 was Fuck Buttons 'Slow Focus' mostly because it sounded like the brooding synth-heavy soundtrack to a deranged eighties slasher flick.  One half of Fuck Buttons also features on the 'A Field in England' soundtrack as Blanck Mass for one of the most disturbing scenes in the movie.  The soundtrack would be in my favourite records of 2013 if it hadn't been released in such limited quantities as to sell out before I could even see the movie.  Bah.

























Other records I liked a very lot included Boards of Canada's 'Tomorrow's Harvest', Darkside's 'Psychic' and the soundtrack to Room 237 released on Death Waltz Records.  In terms of reissues I really liked Rodion GA's 'Lost Tapes' and William Onyeabor's 'Who is William Onyeabor' which is worth buying just for 'Good Name' which is already nestled in my top three wobbly synth-heavy disco-funk wig-outs to emerge from Nigeria in the early eighties.

Similarly to films I stumbled on a bunch of old records throughout the year that I listened to a lot - probably none more than 'Loose Salutes' and 'Magnetic South' by Michael Nesmith - but also Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band's 'Doc at the Radar Station', Tangerine Dream's soundtrack to 'Sorcerer' and Shugo Tokumaru's 'In Focus'.

Worryingly I can't think of that many stand-out gigs this year but that probably says more about my not going to them rather than a down-turn in decent live music.  The stand out was Fabio Frizzi at the Union  Chapel.  And Demdike Stare scoring Haxan at the BFI (although it wasn't strictly speaking a gig) was suitably malevolent and devilish too.

Books and comics;  I didn't read nearly as many as I would've liked and only two that I did read came out this year but I was blown away by 'The Nao of Brown' by Glyn Dillon.  It's stunning.  READ IT.  I also really liked Stephen Collins 'The Gigantic Beard that was Evil', Richard Brautigan's collection of short stories 'Revenge of the Lawn', 'The Sisters Brothers' by Patrick deWitt, 'The Daylight Gate' by Jeanette Winterson, 'Nothing is Forgotten' by Ryan Andrews and 'Blood Meridian' by Cormac McCarthy.

























Other things; moving into a shared studio with Babycrow and Samuel Esquire, Stewart Lee, Berlin, horror movies, The Reader's Digest 'Folklore, Myths and Legends of Britain', 'The Sopranos' (again), Miles to Go clothing, Off the Barrow collaborations, Margate, Rich Kelly, LandLand, 'Sightseers' by Olly Moss, Om (a given), Crystal Palace being promoted and 'Retrograde' by James Blake.

Erm yeah so that's pretty much it.  2014 is hopefully the year I finish off some long-term larger projects that have been lingering far too long and draw the shit out of everything.  Have a fantastic New Year! x

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