Update on Cards

Just to say that all the Comicollage Christmas cards can now be viewed at

http://www.chrisgeorgecards.com/categories/comicollage

Chris George offers a wide range of cards on her website and is perhaps best known for her political, feminist and green series of cards, as well as photo cards of Shropshire. Chris also does stalls at conferences. Click on the link above or just put ‘Chris George cards’ into your search engine.

My non-Christmas Comicollages will also be available via Chris George’s website in Duke ‘orse.

Orders can be placed via me (in person at poetry events or wherever, by email, phone, Facebook or comment on the blog) £2.50 each or 10 for £20 plus £2 p/p if applicable, or via the Chris George website.

The cards will also be in the Visual Arts Network Gallery (VAN) in Shrewsbury, amongst other outlets.

Ted x

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Order Your Comicollage Christmas Cards Here!

Yes, this is the hour that the Comicollage cards go universal, viral, and all over the shop.

I have had 30 different designs of these unique creations printed up as Christmas cards. They are irreligious, irreverent and irresponsible. Order from me now, via a comment on this blog site, or via email (tedeames@btinternet.com) or via Facebook.

TEF 01 Immaculate Deception

Immaculate Deception

My Comicollages are made exclusively from found images and text.

Each card comes with an envelope, kept pristine in a cellophane bag.

The cards are £2.50 each, 10 for £20. Please add £2 p/p if needing packs posted to you. They will be available from various outlets but ordering directly from me helps fund a print run of non-Christmas Comicollages.

Ted Eames has coined the term ‘Comicollages’ for his smaller, humorous pieces. Appropriate adjectives might include: surreal, original, inventive, very funny, subversive, thought-provoking.” (Mary Delany).

TEF 30 Peace On Earth

Peace On Earth

If you are reading this post on Facebook or Twitter and have difficulty seeing the images, just click on the actual blog site: http://www.maintenantman.wordpress.com

Some cards contain the occasional sweary word, but those were made by my evil twin, who then ran away.

I understand that Ted’s friends and family have been subjected to these cards for a number of years now. I can only say that this confirms my view that human beings are essentially a tolerant and forgiving species.” (Raymond Glendenning).

Order now to avoid disarrangement…

TEF 06 The Casting Crib

The Casting Crib

Ted x

Weapons of Mass Delusion

Poetry in the form of song lyrics can sometimes hit the spot when it comes to seeing things as they really are.

A few years ago, whilst in Vancouver, I went to a gig by a band called Destroyer. The name makes them sound like some hardcore death metal outfit, but they are not like that at all. The band is basically a musician called Dan Bejar and his output over the years has covered a variety of styles, often with interesting lyrical content.

So I was pleased to hear a new track by him on 6Music about a month ago. It’s called Tinseltown Swimming in Blood. It’s a track that suddenly seems horribly prescient in the light of the mass murder in Las Vegas. The expression ‘Tinseltown’ was originally coined to describe Hollywood, but it has shaded out beyond that over the years and it captures the nature of a place like Las Vegas.

The title of the song is a nod to an earlier piece by the Scottish band The Blue Nile, who did a beautiful song called Tinseltown in the Rain in 1984 (it’s about Glasgow).

The two songs soundtracked some feelings and thoughts about the unspeakable crime in Las Vegas, which is simply the latest event in the slaughter of the innocents that is condoned by American culture and law. The gun control issue in the USA is not some bizarre phenomenon in a tiny nation, it is a form of terror embedded within the most powerful state in the world. The cultural influence and spread of all things American has been a global fact-of-life for over a century.

Writing and making art are two ways in which I have fun, and they are also two ways in which I try to preserve sanity in the midst of bad stuff.

The title of my hybrid poem references another song lyric, Dylan’s A Hard Rain Is Gonna Fall.

Tinseltown In the Hard Rain

 Bullets gush from a window-on-high

stair-rods of death-metal firestorm

bolting into bone

into concrete

into flesh

into wood

into iron

into denim

never-ending cataracts of anger

alienation and brute intention

 

here we are, caught up in this big rhythm

tinseltown in the rain

oh men and women

here we are caught up in this big rhythm

 

this constant fountain-jet

of lead and tempered steel

of coppered nickel spray drops

is valid

is approved

is enjoyed

is sacrosanctified

is immutable

though perhaps not that last word

for it will be worse tomorrow

 

what comes round is going round again

now let me tell you about the dream:

I had no feeling, I had no past

I was the arctic, I was the vast

spaces without reprieve

tinseltown swimming in blood 

 

The first set of italics are ©Bell & Buchanan, 1984 and the second set are ©Bejar, 2017.

Ted x

 

Passport Not Required

Border Economics is an attempt at prose-poetry.

The phrase “Last Chance Saloon” was originally coined to advertise the last chance to have a drink before crossing the border into a country or state with different drinking laws. It is a phrase that has shaded off into somewhat deeper meanings.

Last Chance Saloon

In some subliminal way “Last Chance Saloon” reminds me of a hand-painted roadside sign I saw outside an isolated café in the Yukon: “EAT HERE OR WE’LL BOTH STARVE!”

Anyway, here is the prose-poem.

Border Economics

I keep thinking this is my last chance

staying up late like there really is no tomorrow…reading prose like poetry…tearing the wrapping from meaning like a christmas-spoilt child…scrabbling for that beautiful terror of synthesis, that connective tissue of truth.

I keep feeling that this is my last chance

to close lips to lips…to kootch the warmth of body curve…to celebrate recognition of love…to fritter away desire like a tabloid-target lottery millionaire…to find new joy when expecting mere comfort of repetition.

I keep acting like this is my last chance

pacing mountain tops head-to-head with spinning constellations…tracking tides on desolate island-feel beaches…a gannet for adrenalin, for gut-ecstasies of fear and solitude and wild spirit-soaring grace.

I keep thinking this is my last chance

to hear that perfect tune, inhabit that late quartet…to engulf every atom of that wondrous painting, that thrilling sculpture…to bathe in every nuance-current of that film…to grow with each unique creation…to collect, file, fold, surround them all.

I keep feeling this is my last chance

touching the footsteps of my child in the world…intent on his grown-up breathing, as much as his newborn small hours cot-snuffling…upper-casing Friendship with the ones who are awake and alive, to themselves, and to faltered me.

I keep acting like this is my last chance

to make something that will survive a nano-second beyond me…to sum up a living assembly of dust…to play with all five senses one more time…to tell you stories in words, in pictures, until one final narrative forms then dissolves.

Tell me, what time does the bell ring in The Last Chance Saloon?

 

Ted x

 

 

 

 

Home Thoughts From Abroad

Wildfires have made this summer a hazardous and harrowing time for everyone in central and southern British Columbia. The small town of Ashcroft is very close to my heart and my thoughts are with good friends and acquaintances there.

bc-fire0710nw001

Hillsides ablaze between Ashcroft and Cache Creek

It’s hard to write about fire without thinking of the sudden, brutal tragedy of Grenfell Tower. That is urban fire danger at its worst, with all the implications for a political system that dumps human beings in high-rise ghettos.

Ashcroft and whole swathes of BC have had two months of rural wildfires: unpredictable outbreaks that move erratically around terrain that is difficult for firefighters to work in. Wildfires in hot, desert areas like central southern BC create an attritional backdrop of all-enveloping smoke, widespread ash deposits and 24:7 foul air.

Some fifty thousand people have had to be evacuated so far, and nearly one thousand separate fires have been identified.

Ashcroft-via-@TedTednewhouse

The First Nations community near Ashcroft has been badly affected

The vast Cariboo country to the north of Ashcroft is less of a desert landscape but has more forests. Many of the fires have taken hold in the Cariboo and there is no immediate prospect of a change in the weather. Lightning strikes account for most of the blazes and the loss of animal life, both farmed and wild, will be enormous.

I feel a ‘connection of the soul’ to Ashcroft. If you read back to some of the early posts on this blog you’ll get a glimpse of some of the reasons. Mostly it is revealed in Pick Up the Pieces, which you’ll read soon, I hope.

Elemental events leave us feeling powerless. However, I stand with my second home.

20046709_10155603275428092_4251857492960828966_n

Ashcroft huddles into the valley under columns of billowing smoke

Ted x

Hugging the Elements

Sheila Fell.

Another late-twentieth century woman artist who more than merits greater acclaim (see recent posts entitled Passionate Rendering and A Knocking in the Cupboard for Joan Eardley and Wilhelmina Barns-Graham respectively).

Sheila Fell

I first came across Sheila Fell’s paintings in the excellent Abbot Hall Gallery in Kendal. Her work is to landscape painting what Beethoven’s Late Quartets are to classical music, or prime period Dylan is to the song lyric, or Becket is to drama. Her Cumbrian landscapes are intense, profound and full of elemental energy.

There is also a swirling, breathing beauty that makes them accessible and aesthetically glorious in their voluptuous deployment of natural colours and shapes.

The screen and the printed page are poor substitutes for the real thing, so please do seek out the originals where possible.

Fell, Sheila Mary, 1931-1979; Village beneath Lake District Fells

Village Beneath the Lake District Fells

Sheila Fell was born into a poverty-ridden mining community in Cumbria in 1931 and she died at the age of 48, from alcoholic poisoning. Her artistic talent took her to St. Martin’s College in London and a degree of minor fame. She was championed by L.S. Lowry (see my post of 4th June 2014 Lowry Cowrie Dowry).

Recognition of her work has steadily grown over the last 10 years, partly via the efforts of Cumbrians like Melvyn Bragg, Margaret Forster and Hunter Davies. She mainly lived and worked in London but returned to her family in Aspatria regularly.

The land and sea between the northern hills of the Lake District and the Solway Firth are her constant subject matter, an obsessive quest to communicate an essence of place that, counter-intuitively, makes her work universal.

fell_sheila-large_wave_allonby~300~10001_20070626_14815_124

Large Wave at Allonby

Fell’s paintings deal in nuances of light, and the resulting transformation of land and sea. Turbulence and tranquillity often co-exist within the same canvas. Nothing is picturesque; instead there is an emotional, passionate understanding of the precarious relationship between humanity and all four elements. She made her own supreme atheistic poetry of vision.

The texture of the paint is rich and sensuously tough.

She paints a natural world that is not inhospitable, just indifferent…a complexity of forces that simply get on with their motion and their being. People and their works are a temporary, patient feature: a relationship that will not always be there is presented and honoured.

Sheila-Fell-Woman-in-Snow

Woman in Snow

At St. Martins, and afterwards, Fell had links with Leon Kossoff and Frank Auerbach. There are similarities in the use of thick, impasto oils applied sumptuously with fingers and spatulas as well as brushes. What Auerbach was to Camden, Fell was to Cumbria. Perhaps there is London-bias as well as gender-bias in their relative fame? The excellence of another Cumbrian artist, Percy Kelly, has also taken a long time to percolate through the world of curators and critics.

Sheila Fell was teaching at Chelsea Art College at the time of her tragically early death. She is described as “a vivid, charismatic presence…a dramatic vision in black…long hair, huge dark eyes, a flash of bright red lipstick” (Cate Haste). She was a single parent with one daughter, who was aged 21 when Fell died.

Fell rarely agreed to be interviewed, but shortly before her death she gave an interview to The Times. Her parting words were: “I want to live to be 104, it’s the only way I can possibly complete all the paintings I have in my head”.

There are Sheila Fell paintings in many UK galleries from the Tate collection onwards. The ones most displayed are in the Abbot Hall, Kendal, in the Catlegate Gallery in Cockermouth, and in Tullie House, Carlisle. A full retrospective exhibition is planned for Tate Britain in 2019.

Sheila Fell.

Ted x

Big Headland of the Great Seas

Ardnamurchan is a peninsula on the west coast of Scotland. The modern English translation of the name is the title of this post. I have recently spent some time at the western tip of Ardnamurchan, where there is a lighthouse and a couple of very tiny communities.

Ardnamurchan has the remote feel of an island. It has nothing by way of tourist attractions, and the ferry-accessed road into its best parts is long and narrow. The interior is hilly and partially covered in ancient oak forests, lovely and lonely woodlands that peter out into peaty moorlands. However, it is the coast line that is most strikingly to-die-for beautiful.

This is not a piece of travelogue writing and I am not going to paste in any of the photos I took (have no fear). Instead of a conventional map of the area I just want to include a geological map.

Ardnamurchan geological

Even without knowing any of the technicalities, there are few images as gorgeous as a geological map…and Ardnamurchan makes for an especially fine example.

This was one of the planet’s most powerful volcanos.

The Volcanic Explosivity Index (VEI) consists of eight categories, with 1 the lowest and 8 the highest in terms of the volume and spread of pyroclastic material. The most powerful eruption in modern history was Mount Tambora in Indonesia in 1815, which is rated at 6.5 on the VEI. The most recent example of an 8 was the Yellowstone eruption 600,000 years ago. Every so often a supervolcano is formed and its power has a huge impact on life on the planet for centuries afterwards.

Six million years ago, Ardnamurchan was a supervolcano, and the evidence suggests that today it would be rated at 8 on the VEI. Its last eruption, a mere 6, was around one million years ago.

To arrive at the wonderfully isolated and stunning western fringe that runs from Fascadale on the northern rim, round through Sanna Bay and on to Corrachadh Mor (the most westerly tip of the UK mainland) the traveller has to cross the vast plug of rock, earth and sediment that now fills the extinct caldera of the supervolcano.

You traverse this fascinating landscape for some 4 hours on foot, describing a diameter line across the tussocky skin of this fossilised cauldron, surrounded by a low 360° sill of volcanic rock, a gap-toothed rim of cold magma and lava.

The rock is gabbro. Gabbro makes up much of the ocean floor across the Earth and is formed when volcanic magma meets water. The Big Headland of the Great Seas is one of the few places in the UK where it intrudes above the surface. Nearby Skye is another place.

Gabbro is great to clamber and scramble around on. Its coarse-grain and its generously curved formations make it sheer pleasure to hold, hug and heave around on.

Gabbro also has a neat trick up its bouldery sleeves: its magnetic attractions completely mess up the workings of a compass. Compasses are over-rated anyway.

I spent a ‘day in the life’ following the crest of the gabbro cliff sill that overlooks both the volcanic caldera and the turquoise sea above Sanna. On the one side I could see as far as Ben Nevis and the Mamores. On the other side I could see the Outer Hebrides, the coast of Labrador and right across the Plains to the Rockies (ok, scrub out the words after ‘Outer Hebrides’ but that’s what it felt like…).

The highest point on Ardnamurchan is Ben Hiant. It is not a Munro (3000ft+) or even a Corbett (2500ft+) and all the better for it in that many list-inclined walkers don’t bother with it. It is, however, thought that ‘Hiant’ is a corruption of ‘Giant’. All things are relative. The Gaelic name is Beinn Sheunta, which means the Enchanted Mountain.

I spent a waking night on the top of the Enchanted Mountain, moonbathing in the dark silence with the only sign of humanity the pinprick lights of Tobermory on Mull, some fifteen miles away at sea level.

Of course there is also human history in every hidden corner. A deserted, mouldered croft in a trackless cleft between gabbro outcrops prompted the poem below.

Rules For Exploring an Abandoned Croft

Bow down, just enough, as you cross the doorless threshold.

Do not remove your shoes.

If there is anything yet unbroken, do not break it.

Allow your eyes to adjust to the thick-wall small-window light.

You may touch the rich layer of powdery dirt on the mantelpiece.

Picture the ghost-images in pale ovals and rectangles on the walls.

Trust the base of the fireplace, but not the floorboards.

Do not tousle the moss in the leaked-on kitchen sink.

Tack carefully around the Haversham cobwebs.

Test each stair-tread as you ascend: go by the feel not the creaking.

Do not look for symmetry in the daylight patches in the roof.

Do marvel at the presence of what remains of a single bed.

Gaze for a lengthy moment at the survival of a dank pillow.

Sense the weight of the head that left such heft-shape.

Hurry away. Seek company.

For at least one hour, leave your life unexamined.

 

Ted x