Tuesday, 30 March 2010

ENSIXTEEN EDITIONS - THE BOOKS - 'bio auto graphic': Lettering From America Part 2 - 2006

This last volume – of the set I later dubbed the 'You, Nighted States' issues – sees us starting in Boston before heading to Mette's old stomping grounds in Nashua, New Hampshire and then on to Northampton, Massachusetts.
We enjoyed the unstinting hospitality and good spirits of friends old and new, stood on mountain tops, sampled indigenous art and food and beers.
As passengers we enjoyed the open freeways of New England, with the hint of a cooler season in the air as our time dwindled.
At Smith College we visited for the closure of an exhibition of artist's books, one Monday lunchtime, and met a man who would become a dear friend (as detailed in another set of books to come in 2008).

As we spent a final night in Boston, before a return to NYC for our flight home, the weather closed in and the edge of distant Hurricane Katrina brushed the North East.

The trilogy ends with a quote from Sgt. Phil Esterhaus, stalwart of the Hill Street precinct, as played by Michael Conrad (1925 - 1983) in 'Hill Street Blues':

'You have declared your faith in society. Keep that faith and it will keep you.'

ENSIXTEEN EDITIONS - THE BOOKS - 'bio auto graphic': Lettering From America Part 1 - 2005/6

This 2nd part tells of our unforgettable stay in Manhattan.

Despite all our time together we had never had the finances to really travel anywhere so significantly distant and for any length of time. Things had changed for the better and we revelled in the chance.
A classic rooftop water tower, framed in the window of our hotel room as I raised the blinds for the first time, supplied a signature icon for what lay ahead.

We pounded the baking pavements, North to South, East to West, walking through the language of popular culture, with cricked necks and enjoyably sore feet.

The definitive 21st century urban experience.
The Human Experiment.
An American dream?

In 1987 I had stood at the top of a tall, tall tower and looked across the world.
We walked to where that tower fell, feeling numbed by the enormity of events, alive and uneasy at the hawkers selling their Disaster Porn memorabilia.
After the London Bombings the place was on a heightened level of security. Men in full combat uniform, heavily armed, patrolled the streets down between the towers that remained.

We finally headed North on the train, the glittering sea to our right as we headed through Connecticut to Boston.

ENSIXTEEN EDITIONS - THE BOOKS - 'bio auto graphic': 'I, in the sky' Issue 2005

This 1st volume - of what turned out to be three - put down thoughts about an outbound trip made to the United States by myself and Danish designer and book artist Mette-Sofie D. Ambeck.
I had long been fascinated with this extraordinary country - since as a small child watching 1950's horror movies like 'Them', to the avalanche of US sci-fi and cop shows like 'The Invaders' and ' The Streets of San Francisco' and my eventual immersion in the pages of Stan Lee's Marvel Comics.
I had visited before (Washington and New York), but not for 17 years. Mette had contacts in New Hampshire and I had an old friend in Massachusetts, but we planned to begin in New York.
The experience of the flight out there proved sufficiently thought-provoking to occupy the 1st volume all on its own.
It was produced to be read backwards - that is to say the spine is on your right as you access the pages and you read right page to left. Was I turning Japanese? Well, this was actually to mirror the travel across Atlantic from East to West - a detail that tickled my mild OCD. In the end, a slight dislocation in the reading suited the sentiment throughout that we were stepping through a cultural looking glass of sorts.

Drawn months after the bombings on the London Underground, the book references those events, their connection to World Policing of the period (post Twin Towers) and also the fragile, fractured state of the English national identity in the face of US 'cultural bleed' in lifestyle since my last visit in 1987.

The book ends as Mette and I arrive in NYC - Big Apple Numero Uno.

Saturday, 27 March 2010

ROCHESTER CASTLE - The Round Is World: 2008


RELATIVE DIMENSIONS IN SPACE: organic Toe - may - toes in the Big Apple, August 2005

ENSIXTEEN EDITIONS - THE BOOKS - 'bio auto graphic' Scar Issue 2005

After the 'Issue Zero' prototype, I felt sure enough about the format to create a new issue tied to a specific theme. I had already mused on the matter of self-image and what our appearance tells the world, and now I brought together tales of bodily scars and physical peculiarities, of which I have a few myself.
The 'bio auto graphic' tag is here confirmed as a permanent fixture, hinting at a broad agenda; personal storytelling in black line and white paper.
This issue has triggered many interesting discussions, reminiscences and personal stories from readers who all seem to agree with my line here that "anything that marks you out from the crowd is to be cherished, scars included".

Scars lend character, like weather to a landscape.

I also let off steam about aspects of modern life that bemuse or confuse me: cosmetic surgery, body tattooing and piercing included.
It's my book, so I'll rant if I want to.

This is one of the more sombre editions in the series to date, and none the worse for it.

Thursday, 25 March 2010

ENSIXTEEN EDITIONS - THE BOOKS - 'bio auto graphic': Issue Zero 2004

This initial attempt (Autumn 2004) to create a narrative out of personal experience and opinion and reaction went rather well, if I do say so myself.
With the gauntlet thrown down by a friend - 'Why don't you tell your own stories?' - I felt my way through stabs at a playful, freewheeling mix of words and pictures, surprising myself here and there. It set the stall out for what was to come; instinctive layout, hand-generated text not typesetting, a version of myself - of initially questionable accuracy - that knows he's a drawing and revels in it.

Moments of the private played off against the public events on the world stage.

It felt, after 18 years of dancing to the tune of others - in publishing and moving image - the most comfortable thing in the world.

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

My Next Artists's Book Fair Event:

You will find riches and suchlike at the 2nd Glasgow International Artist's Book event (April 16th and 17th).
I shall be exhibiting with Mette Sofie D. Ambeck, as is our wont, so please feel free to visit for: books, skilled cuttings, ink ideas and other marvels that are better for you than a battered chocolate cliché.
See more at


You can find people who look like this at events like this, by the way.

Things you don't see every day - Number 1:

A Derek Jacobi mask on a radiator.


So - within a day of unleashing this very blog onto T'internet I had a 'follower' (to use the weird parlance of these here parts). Mere hours later I had two.
This seems to suggest that with followers I need to retro-fit a belief-system to underpin all this.
While my numbers are modest (it's not so much that I could invade a small Middle-European country and destabilize the regime overnight, as comfortably occupy a bistro table for three in the central square of their capital city for an hour) I feel the pressure to consider possibilities.
I have currently two options:
1) - A system based on religious faith (AKA the 'Blind Reaction To The Inevitable Void That Awaits Us All After Death' System)
2) - A system based on political ideology (a concept so corrupted by the venal fools at the Westminster trough that it's hard to see a new angle on the thing).

More on this in due course, but I think I've found a suitable puppet figurehead for the system when it goes global (allowing me to remain a string-puller in the shadows).
Here he is:

Sunday, 21 March 2010

The Truth Lies In The Detail: 1

Blog Post Number One

I blog therefore I am?
A brisk Sunday afternoon in Spring 2010. Parallel version of my life number 37: setting up a blog under the Ensixteen banner at last. And all with the invaluable help of The Dane.
To expand the range of possibilities - take a baby step towards catching up with the rest of the virtual species - add my heartfelt lines and words to the bloggosphere.

To ascend or descend, depending on how you look at it. The smoke and mirrors web awaits me like a book smelling of ink and ideas.

These are words, next there will be images.