Apr 16 2012: Eight Kitsch Dream Images by Salvador Dali (Coronet Magazine, 1950)

Coronet magazine seems to have been, in format and approach, an attempt to imitate the success of Reader’s Digest. In among its pages of amusing anecdotes, abridged stories and other human interest material fairly typical of its time, however, are some intriguing advertisements and a definite curveball, given the journal’s otherwise rather conservative idiom, in … Continue reading

An Interview With Yelena Popova (Primary, 2013)

Yelena Popova is a Russian-born painter based in Nottingham, and the following interview took place at her studio at Primary in the winter of 2013. An abridged version appeared in LeftLion magazine in November 2013. This full transcript of the conversation is published here in advance of the opening of her exhibition After Image at … Continue reading

Feb 17 2012: Sixteen Plates from a Stalinist Cookbook [‘Jak se Vaří v SSSR’] (Prague, 1954)

These images are taken from Jak se vaří v SSSR (Cooking in the USSR), a cookbook published in Prague, but with self-declared origins in the Soviet Union, during 1954. With an epigraph from Joseph Stalin and plates that imply luxurious plenty, it’s clearly as much an exercise in propaganda as an actual cookery manual, though … Continue reading

Photocanopy: Three Photographers in the National Forest (2014)

You might expect the boundary of a forest to be clearly visible, marked by the point where trees thin out into grass and open ground, but in the case of the National Forest, which occupies an area of around 200 square miles and spans the counties of Derbyshire, Leicestershire and Staffordshire, you’d be mistaken. Of … Continue reading

Jan 11 2012: Twenty-One Cover Illustrations from Romeo Teen Weekly (1970 – 1971)

I don’t know much about Romeo, a comic format weekly magazine published by D.C. Thompson that features a variety of love stories (basically, think Mills & Boon, but aimed very much at teenage girls), letters and problem pages, adverts, comic strips and a few bits of pop music news (these include some unlikely inclusions from … Continue reading

Dec 28 2011: Romance Book Cover Illustration by Laurence Houghton (Game, Set & Match, 1982)

I’ve had this acrylic on board painting for a good few years now, and according to some handwritten notes on the reverse it was painted by L. Houghton as a book cover illustration for Elspeth Rae’s Game, Set & Match in 1982. The artist is probably Laurence Houghton, who was a regular feature on Mills … Continue reading

Oct 30 2011: Reader’s Diary (Brittle Star Magazine, May 2010)

Of the three addictions that have shaped my life, I can only remember with certainty where the least desirable of them began: with an Embassy filter-tip, one summer afternoon outside a corrugated iron shed in New Quay, mid-Wales, at the antique restoration workshop where I spent my teenage Saturdays working. With music, I can clearly … Continue reading

Magic Show at QUAD Gallery (NVA, 2009)

The conjuror and the conceptual artist, the con-trick and the act of construction: each shares something deeper than its ‘con’ prefix, a connection that goes beyond linguistic roots to evoke focus and misdirection, suggestion and the act of ‘making visible’, the arts of provocation and end-of-pier entertainment. It’s a range made explicit in Jonathan Allen’s … Continue reading

An Interview with Adel Abdessemed: Happiness in Mitte (Metro, 2005)

Multiple and shifting meanings are the essence of Adel Abdessemed’s work, which ranges across mediums and styles in a way that echoes the migrations of the artist himself after leaving his native Algeria in 1994. Since that time, he has lived and worked in Lyon, Paris, New York and Berlin, crossing national borders almost as … Continue reading

Art Made By All, or Art in the Public Realm? (NVA, 2013)

“The enrichment of life calls inexorably for the analysis of the new forms taken by poverty and the perfection of the old weapons of refusal…” Raoul Vaneigem: The Revolution of Everyday Life (1967) “I tried to map a space where the everyday was the focus. An everyday that is at one level a source of … Continue reading