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  • seandodson 9:43 pm on February 8, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: culture, elmore leonard, fiction, ,   

    Elmore Leonard’s 10 rules of writing 

    I like point 10 (via).

    • Ceemac 12:54 am on July 4, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      Simply brilliant. Brilliantly simple. Same as his books.

  • seandodson 4:05 pm on August 4, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , culture, , , Sami Haapavara, Sergey Larenkov, William Egglestone   

    Russian photographer Sergey Larenkov reveals the Reichstag’s violent past 

    Thanks to my old friend Sami Haapavaara (himself Porvoo’s answer to William Eggleston) for directing me towards the work of Russian photographer Sergey Larenkov. I like his work a lot. His basic premise is simple enough: artist travels to various European cities – Berlin, Vienna, Leningrad – and revisits the precise locations of old war photographs and then reshoots the image from the same spot. The results, once merged, are as beautiful as they are haunting.

  • seandodson 6:03 pm on April 14, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , culture, , salt's mill, saltaire, shipley, titus salt, ,   

    Salt’s Mill, Saltaire 

    New blog post: Just back from a weekend in Yorkshire where we took Darling Anna and baby button to see Salt’s Mill in Saltaire, near Bradford. Famous for its David Hockney gallery, I had feared that, like rain on sandstone, the years since my last visit might have eroded the mill’s artistic vision. Not a bit of it. Salt’s Mill remains just as good as any gallery in the country.

    • houdini 10:12 am on April 17, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      What a BEAUTIFUL picture! Yeah, Salt’s Mlil is great isn’t it!

  • seandodson 2:41 pm on March 16, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , birmingham museum and art gallery, bridget riley, culture, Glasgow School of Art', Glasgow School of Art's Archives and Library flickr feed, op-art   

    While rummaging around for a print of Bridget Riley 

    My latest best find: Glasgow School of Art’s Archives and Library flickr feed. Including this very handsome poster of the great Bridget Riley (right). But also posters for David Hockney; Patrick Heron and George Melly (as the King of Spades). I found this while rummaging around for a print of Riley’s Late Morning (1968/7) currently on show at the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery which I stared at for some considerable time at the weekend. I can’t find the print online, which is probably a good thing.  A lot of nonsense is talked about art, so I will be careful and I’ll keep it short, but there is little else on canvas that can quite move me quite like the straight, simply painted, lines of a Bridget Riley painting.

  • seandodson 6:32 pm on January 25, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: broken social scene, canadian music, cardigans, culture, , Reverie Sound Revue,   

    The very overdue return of Reverie Sound Revue 

    Have been listening a lot to Reverie Sound Review, the Calgary-based offshoot of Broken Social Scene. They remind me of the Cardigans, around the release of Life, for all their bittersweet melodies and delightful wistfulness. The five-piece have left it nearly seven years since the release of their début EP and the recorded the entire album without once being in the studio together. You can’t tell.

    Thanks to Chromewaves for the following links:

    MP3: Reverie Sound Revue – “An Anniversary Away”
    MP3: Reverie Sound Revue – “Rip The Universe”
    MP3: Reverie Sound Revue – “Arrows”
    Video: Reverie Sound Revue – “An Anniversary Away”
    MySpace: Reverie Sound Revue

  • seandodson 8:26 pm on December 1, 2009 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , barbara walker, , culture, longbridge, snobs, west midlands   

    Exhibition: Birmingham Seen 

    Just returned from a fascinating exhibition at the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery (BMAG). Apart from a few nights out to Snobs (when it was a house club in the early 90s) and one visit when I was at University, for which I can no longer recall the reason, I’ve never really known what to make of Birmingham. I’ve recently moved to the West Midlands, however, and been dragged, like some unsuspecting meteorite, into its gravitational orbit. Birmingham Seen is a really excellent exhibition, a perfect primer to the city for an outsider like me. It’s full of urban landscape paintings, some very detailed old photographs, Balladian photos of the abandoned Longbridge car plant and (above) Barbara Walker’s lovely paintings. I saw the city as a native might, at least for an afternoon

    * Birmingham Seen: Birmingham City Museum and Gallery Until 3rd January 2010. Admission Free.

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  • seandodson 6:09 pm on November 13, 2009 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , culture, , the middle east   

    Why I love the recordings of the Middle East 

    albumArtThere was a time in my life when I could blog more frequently and thoroughly than this. So I need to be brief. The Middle East, from Queensland Australia are the best new band I’ve heard all year. They’ve just released their debut EP. The Recordings of the Middle East. You can download it from their offical site. What do they sound like? Like shoegazers with better melodies. Like the Arcade Fire’s over-sensitive younger sibling. Like Surjan Stevens without the religion or naivite. Take my word for it or listen for yourself.

    The Middle East: The Darkest Side
    The Middle East: Blood

  • seandodson 12:10 pm on June 3, 2009 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: 1984, culture, , , , , ,   

    Nineteen Eighty-Four: sixty years on 

    orwellGeorge Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four may or may not be the most important novel of the 20th, as claimed on the front page of the Times earlier this week, although it is a very important one. The novel celebrates the 60th anniversary of its first publication on June 08. Naturally all the papers have been full of it. Here’s a rundown of the best bits:

    The Torygraph offers a handy A-Z of Orwell, which includes the delightful vignette about the Queen Mother sending a Royal Messenger to Secker & Warburg to buy a copy of Animal Farm. They’d sold out. So off he goes in his bowler hat to the Freedom Bookshop, the anarchist bookshop in Whitechapel.

    It also backs up this coverage with this splendid collection of Orwell quotations and points towards clips from this excellent BBC documentary on his life and words, now available on YouTube.

    Over at the New Statesman, which once spiked Orwell’s eyewitness account of the Spanish Civil War, Keith Gesson praises Orwell’s “eternal vigilance”, while DJ Taylor claims that his novels of the 1930s were even more frightening.

    Robert Harris in the Times offers this more general piece which suggests, erroneously in my opinion, that 1984 would have lost some of its “unassailable posthumous integrity” if Orwell hadn’t have suffered an early death. Really?

    The LA Times takes the tourist route: you too can go on a Orwell holiday.

    While I might go and see Orwell: A Celebration at the Trafalgar Studios in Whitehall.

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    • Andrew Darling 1:28 pm on June 3, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      Liked your collection of pieces on Orwell Sean. Thanks.

      One thing I was thinking about is that if Orwell were alive today, he’d probably be rather annoyed that we seem to have treated 1984 as an instruction book rather than a warning to avoid the Big Brother state, no?

    • marcys 1:52 pm on June 3, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      My mother had only two books in her possession (after a lifetime of books, books, books) when she died four years ago: One was a Dorothy Parker collection. The other was a first edition of 1984. Now mine.

  • seandodson 4:58 pm on May 11, 2009 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: beautiful bookstores, , , culture, dirty projectors, dirty projectors and bjork, housing works bookstore cafe, , ,   

    Bjork’s new songs sound a bookish note 

    10bjork.4802Two of my favourite things: beautiful bookshops and Bjork. Shame I couldn’t catch them both together on Friday when the Icelandic chanteuse previewed her latest work at the Housing Works Bookstore Cafe in New York. Thankfully the New York Times has a review, while YouTube is showing the inevitable handheld video. Bjork was accompanying the Dirty Projectors, a Brooklyn-based ensemble led by Dave Longstreth. Naturally I wish I was there.

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  • seandodson 11:03 am on April 21, 2009 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , culture, dystopia, , , , jg ballard future, jg ballard oscars, jg ballard quotes, ,   

    JG Ballard: his life in quotes 

    JG Ballard, who died on Sunday, will be remembered mostly for his fiction As noted in today’s Guardian he left a legacy right across the spectum of the arts, but he also left behind some of the most apt aphorisms and witty one-liners of the last century. Here is a sample of the most memorable:

    On the legacy of science fiction:

    “Everything is becoming science fiction. From the margins of an almost invisible literature has sprung the intact reality of the 20th century.”

    On fear of the future:

    “I would sum up my fear about the future in one word: boring. And that’s my one fear: that everything has happened; nothing exciting or new or interesting is ever going to happen again… the future is just going to be a vast, conforming suburb of the soul.”

    On the internet:

    “Twenty years ago no one could have imagined the effects the Internet would have: entire relationships flourish, friendships prosper…there’s a vast new intimacy and accidental poetry, not to mention the weirdest porn. The entire human experience seems to unveil itself like the surface of a new planet.”

    On rockets:

    “Rockets “belong to the age of the 19th century, along with the huge steam engines. It’s brute-force ballistic technology that has nothing to do with what people recognise as the characteristic technology of this century: microprocessors, microwave data links – everything that goes in the world at the speed of an electron.”

    On space travel:

    “The suspicion dawned that Outer Space might be – dare one say it – boring. Having expended all these billions of dollars on getting to the Moon, we found on our arrival that there wasn’t very much to do there.”

    On the American dream:

    “The American Dream has run out of gas. The car has stopped. It no longer supplies the world with its images, its dreams, its fantasies. No more. It’s over. It supplies the world with its nightmares now: the Kennedy assassination, Watergate, Vietnam.”

    On the American people:

    “Americans are highly moralistic, and any kind of moral ambiguity irritates them. As a result they completely fail to understand themselves, which is one of their strengths.”

    On American politics:

    “The president of the United States bears about as much relationship to the real business of running America as does Colonel Sanders to the business of frying chicken.”

    On his night at the Oscars:

    “A wonderful night for any novelist, and a reminder of the limits of the printed word. Sitting with the sober British contingent, surrounded by everyone from Dolly Parton to Sean Connery, I thought Spielberg’s film would be drowned by the shimmer of mink and the diamond glitter. But once the curtains parted the audience was gripped. Chevy Chase, sitting next to me, seemed to think he was watching a newsreel, crying: `Oh, oh . . . !’ and leaping out of his seat as if ready to rush the screen in defense of young [Christian] Bale.”

    On the 20th century:

    “The marriage of reason and nightmare which has dominated the 20th century has given birth to an ever more ambiguous world. Across the communications landscape move the specters of sinister technologies and the dreams that money can buy.”

    On novel writing:

    “Any fool can write a novel but it takes real genius to sell it. “

    On life:

    “If you can smell garlic, everything is all right.”

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    • lee 7:30 pm on April 21, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      I saw Empire of the sun years ago,but never read the book.now i will,is dystopia painful? i hope he didnt suffer.

  • seandodson 12:42 am on April 20, 2009 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , culture, , , , obituary JG Ballard, , writers   

    In remembrance of the great JG Ballard 

    jgballardJust want to pay my tributes to the great JG Ballard, who has died of prostate cancer. For me he was one of the most truly original thinkers around and one of our most gifted writers.

    Some of the early coverage: The Times got hold of Iain Sinclair last night, which was the most appropriate thing to do, as well as pointing out that, if nothing else, he added at least one word to the English language.

    Salon.com has put up a guide to his greatest work. The Guardian has put up an extract from Empire of the Sun, which seems a safe choice. Maybe they’ll put up the Atrocity Exhibition later. They’ll be much more up tomorrow morning, I’ll add to this list then.

    AP have put out a story headlined “Empire of the Sun author dies” which is not on quite the same freeway as the Sun’s similarly reductive response to the death of Orson Wells (headline: Sherry Man Dies). Ballard was so much more than that. So much more of him to miss. His contribution to literature was just so immense, but I can’t yet fathom it.

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    • krv 8:15 am on April 20, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      Here here. It’s been coming for a while I suppose, but I’ve been dreading it.

      There’s something about the way he wrote, though, that makes this unlike other public deaths. The surrender to time in Crystal World, or the endless sun segues of Myths of The Near Future, or the neo-primitivism of High Rise… it’s almost like the Ballard you got to know from his books will arrive at death and find it just another set of chaotic conditions to adjust to.

      R.I.P., then. Looking forward to the retrospectives.

    • Tim Chapman 3:03 pm on April 21, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      A credit for the photo there would be nice, Sean. It is copyright protected, and flagged as such on Flickr.

  • seandodson 12:49 pm on April 16, 2009 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , culture, , , , , , , vacant shops   

    How Berlin will help you beat the recession blues 

    berlinThere’s an inspired post over at Berlin’s Click Opera about the “Berlinification” of cities around the world. The post cites the UK government’s emergency measures to distribute thousands of grants to people who find creative uses for vacant shops as evidence of this emerging trend. Such a move – if successful – they argue should create a creative flourishing or the arts and culture, as happened to Berlin after the fall of the wall:

    “Since it’s a global recession, I also like to think Berlin has now become a sort of template for cities all over the world. Whereas we might once have looked like a museum of crusty subcultures past their sell-by date, this city now looks like the future of Tokyo, the future of London, and the future of New York. We’re your best-case scenario, guys, your optimal recessionary outcome. Everything else is dystopia, Escape-From-New-York stuff.”

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  • seandodson 12:17 am on April 10, 2009 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: adaptations, Alan Ginsberg, beat generation, , beat writing, Ben Whishaw, culture, , , kill your darlings, , ,   

    Kill Your Darlings: biopic to revisit the birth of the beat generation 

    1980177272_168a288a721I’m intrigued to learn that the life of Lucien Carr is to be made into a film. Carr was the man who introduced writers Jack Kerouac, William Burroughs and Allen Ginsberg (to be played by British actor Ben Whishaw).

    Kill Your Darlings revisits an infamous night in 1944 when Carr stabbed his friend David Kammerer to death. He was later convicted of the manslaughter. Kerouac spent a night in the clink for helping Carr dispose of the knife.

    It’s difficult to gauge how good it will be; films about the Beat Movement have been so uniformly dire, which is strange because you’d have thought that the movement would be made on the silver screen. All that great music; those wide open roads; the scenes of bohemian hedonism have somehow never been successfully translated to the cinema.

    + Incidentally there is a decent-looking Kerouac documentary is doing the festivals circuit.

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  • seandodson 3:32 pm on April 8, 2009 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Airside, , art auction, auction, blank canvass, culture, David Carson, , Jonathan Barnbrook, , , NMo Design, Paula Scher, ravensbourne college   

    All the best projects start with a blank canvas 

    blank_canvas_01Taking a cue from the Royal College of Art’s annual Secret Postcard exhibition, students at Ravensbourne College of Art and Design have come up with an equally  inspired way of funding their degree show. Short of funds, but rich in ideas, the students have clubbed together and bought a number of second-hand pieces of bric-a-brac (above) from various charity shops and then sent them to a number of their favourite illustrators and designers to be re-designed.

    The list of designers is impressive in itself, including the likes of Jonathan Barnbrook, Michael Beirut, Paula Scher, Airside, NMo Design, David Carson and Kozyndan and many more. What’s more, most of the designers seem to have acquiesced with the request and the resulting re-designed items will be auctioned at the Vibe Bar in Brick Lane in London on April 30.

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  • seandodson 3:58 am on March 11, 2009 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , camoflage, culture, dazzle camoflage, Edward Wadsworth, graphic art, , , , vorticism   

    The dazzling graphic art of Edward Wadsworth 

    drydockedforscalingandpaintingliverpool_resized1Just love this print of Edward Wadsworth’s Drydocked for Scaling and Painting (Liverpool). It’s a picture of one of his “dazzle ships” from World War I, so called because they deployed a “dazzle camouflage” in an attempt to mess with the minds of the German navy. The technique could disrupt the visual rangefinders used for naval artillery; so making it more difficult for the enemy to detect a be-dazzled ship’s precise distance and speed. Amazingly, the design exploited Wadworth’s experience as a vorticist painter, a British brand of cubo-futurism, that used bold, abstracted lines that similarly tricked the eye.

    * A painting of his dazzle ships hangs in National Gallery in Ottawa and it celebrates the dazzling ships with equal boldness.

    ** Incidentally, the dazzle ships also served as an inspiration for the Factory Record’s Peter Saville, who used the technique to design a sleeve for an OMD album of 1983.
    (via ffffound).

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  • seandodson 10:24 pm on March 10, 2009 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , culture, dave rountree, Featured Artists Coalition, , , music distribution,   

    Billy Bragg: musicians need to sing from the same setlist 

    Billy Bragg
    Originally uploaded by

    Billy Bragg and Dave Rowntree (from Blur) will help launch the Featured Artists Coalition in London tomorrow (March 11).

    Responding to Google’s decision to remove music videos from YouTube after an argument over fees with the Performance Rights Society (which represents the rights of artists), the pair wrote a joint call-to-arms over at the Guardian’s Comment is Free blog. They wrote:

    “Whether we like it or not, the old business model is broken and the decline in sales … has not been helped by the determination of the big labels to protect themselves at the expense of both artists and fans. Record shops have disappeared from our high streets and the big labels may go the same way, passing into the hands of asset strippers whose only interest is the bottom line. Yet, there is still clearly an audience out there for good music, and plenty of young musicians hoping to find them.”

    This is why we need to find our voice now – to ensure that the next generation of artists are able to earn a living in the new digital music industry that is busy being born.”

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