Friday, 13 December 2013

Saturday, 2 November 2013

Small Publishers Fair 2013 - 15th & 16th November

My dear readers/viewers/blog trawlers -

Just a brief heads-up that the next chance to catch me exhibiting my Ensixteen Editions work - past and present - will be at the Small Publishers Fair, at the Conway Hall, Red Lion Square in Holborn in a couple of weeks.
All past issues will be available and Mette Ambeck's lovely work will also be alongside me.
Click on the image here and read the when and the what and the who. . .

See you there?

Friday, 11 October 2013

The Cosmic Hobo Comes In From The Heat

And, in the news. . . 
Very happy that, in time for the show's 50th Anniversary celebrations next month (23rd), the BBC have unveiled a couple of gifts from up their corporate sleeve - well, nine actually; episodes from the tenure of my 'own' Doctor (and the 2nd in the line since 1963), the mercurial, mop top, marvellous Patrick Troughton.

Rumoured for a week or two, then the subject of typically overblown headlines at the weekend ("100 lost episodes found!"), the truth was revealed - episodes that complete fragments held of classic stories "The Enemy of the World" (written by David Whittaker and broadcast December 1967 to January 1968) and - a tale that shaped my notion of London, and especially its underground system (where hulking robotic servants of the malevolent "Great Intelligence" prowled in the shape of monstrous Yeti) - "The Web of Fear" (written by Mervyn Haisman and Henry Lincoln, broadcast February to March 1968).
The episodes were found in a TV relay store room in Nigeria by Phillip Morris of the Television International Enterprises Archives.
Of course it was the Beeb who junked these and scores of other episodes back in the 1970s when the oncoming reality of a market – and ready audience – for domestic copies was a misty future dream. Simpler times and simpler income streams.

Obviously that mysterious blue box, amongst its endless dimensions, holds a few childhoods, not least my own. In the second image here we see a typical scene of the period - my fresh grey matter already in thrall to the cathode ray tube - never to be free of it. The Great Intelligence, indeed.

Here's to Troughton and those who walk (or, rather, run down corridors) in the dream of my 60s TV childhood alongside him: Anneke Wills (Polly, 1966 - 67), Michael Craze (Ben Jackson, 1966 - 7),  Frazer Hines (Jamie McCrimmon, 1966 - 69), Victoria Waterfield (Deborah Watling, 1967 - 68) and Wendy Padbury (Zoe Heriot, 1968 - 69).

Here's to warm memories, never lost.

And, as The Doctor would say: "When I say "Run!", RUN!"

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Older, younger?

Birthday Boy.
On a lost afternoon in Soho (here upstairs at Maison Bertaux on Greek Street, with green tea, delicious cake and sweetest company in a pocket of timelessness) before a lost-er evening in Stoke Newington with finest Turkish cuisine.

Thank you to she that deserves it.
An unforgettable day.

Whitechapel Gallery London Art Book Fair 2013 Pt.2

Hurrah hurrah hurrah.

My beloved MSDA has gone and won the Birgit Skiƶld Memorial Trust Award of Excellence for her beautiful latest book "Al-Mutanabbi Street: A Vicious Circle".

The best thing that happened all weekend, of course, and richly-deserved.

The book will now be added to the National Art Collection at the word & Image Department of the Victoria & Albert Museum. Her previous edition, the breath-taking "Steam, Salt, Milk" won this award a couple of years ago.

Here's a screensnap from the Whitechapel twittery page to mark the occasion.

Whitechapel Gallery London Art Book Fair 2013 Pt.1

After a hair-raising dash through the visualized streets of London Town, my new title "Londonaut!" saw the light of day across the weekend of the latest event in the UK book arts calendar.
This year's LAB proved a more sprightly affair, with good friends, familiar faces, kind strangers and other things that make it all worthwhile.
Thanks to Nancy Campbell (she of the words), Rob Hillier (he of the fonts), Linda Newington & Catherine Polley from Winchester School of Art, Maria White  (a great ally, and recently late of Tate Collections), Elizabeth James (of the V&A no less), Ally Waller & Sophie Beard (valued colleagues), Magnus Irvin (King Twit Himself), Nick Roberston (key Londonaut inspiration) and many, many more. . .

Photo courtesy and © 2013 Mette-Sofie D. Ambeck

Saturday, 7 September 2013

bio auto graphic - what I did this summer (and early autumn)

This the 23rd in my series of 'zine' publications called 'bio auto graphic'.

"Londonaut!" maps the outside onto the inside, the public to the private - and vice versa - while celebrating the delirious enormity of the capital city. In June and July I twice walked the same circuitous route across it, and saw what there was to see.
Finishing the book has been as satisfying as completing those journeys.
Just in a different way.

Published since 2004, the series has since been exhibited internationally, and collected privately and publically, including Tate and V & A Collections in London. 

Please do come along to the London Art Book Fair at the Whitechapel Gallery between Friday September 13th and Sunday 15th to catch-up, dig deep (this is a mere £4) and
visit Mette Ambeck and I.
See her stuff at

You'd be most welcome.

Thanks are due to Charlie Higson – who in some ways is responsible for the series, after a suggestion all those years ago – for Tweeting a link to this today. Good man.

NB - If you look to the right-hand bar of this blog, below my BBC reminiscences I have also added a sequence of the photographs from the 2nd of the London walks to give a flavour of things I saw. Do take a spin through them.

N16 - bio auto graphic Number 23 - fourth and fifth fragments

Usually all I need's a pencil, sketchbook and ink to finish.
This time the creative toolbox needed some extras (two of each).

N16 - bio auto graphic Number 23 - third peek

The value of a sketchbook traditionally - at least for me, and it's how I've worked whether as a professional illustrator or storyboard artist - lies in the record it holds of the journey forward towards a final idea.
The evidence is there. No delete button. It stands. 
You can look back at what didn't work - after the pain subsides - and this helps you understand the necessity for failure on the way to a hopefully more satisfying final version of something.
Successive iterations are vital.

The myth of the 'creative spark', the revelatory 'Eureka!' moment is largely that.
Hard graft sounds less sexy, but is a familiar companion to anybody who makes a genuine living from being creative.

Sometimes there are plenty of notions (and in this case I'm talking about ideas that are a conflation of words and image) that just don't quite make it, even if I quite like their look or message.
Along the evolutionary road of creative work it's quite easy - indeed desirable - to be open to a sudden change of direction, so things get left behind.

My latest considers notions of the diminishment of self - achieved by walking and diet, in my case.
Added to my usual agenda of gently pointing out to the reader how everything links up. . .

Here is a thumbnail that didn't quite go anywhere.

N16 - bio auto graphic Number 23 - second bite

My sketchbook for this edition so far stands at over 50 pages of plotting, writing, drawing (it is a sketchbook after all) - and over 130 photos that I took as I returned along the same route a second time.
Here I am breaking down the beginning of my journey in Stoke Newington, London N16 into a thumbnail for the inside cover and first page proper.
My process was thus:
Take the 1st walk on Saturday June 8th - think about what happened - chart it on Google Map and take screensnaps for a visual record - write and draw - nail exactly the page-count (it fell nicely into 14 pages covering the journey, within front and back covers to give a full 16 pages) - write and draw more - finally take the same walk again on Saturday July 20th - this time with camera at the ready.
Then - repeat the thinking, writing, drawing process.

Click on any of these images and they'll get bigger, if you're a detail freak (I know I am).

Ensixteen Editions - bio auto graphic Number 23 - taster 1

It's been some time in the making, over what's been a Summer full of the unexpected - and not all in a good way - but finally the next of my series is about to be finished, ready for launching at the 2013 London Art Book Fair next weekend, at the Whitechapel Gallery (more of which in other nearby posts and also on their own website

This is the first of a small selection of glimpses into my sketchbook.
They'll obviously be in reverse order as I blog them here.

Thursday, 29 August 2013

Stenbjerg beach, National Park of Thy, Jutland - August 2013

Our second break of the Summer, and back to walk the wonderful welcoming beaches and woodlands of this underrated part of the world. Natural inspiration under our feet with every step.

Thursday, 8 August 2013

St.Ives - July 2013

Some fond memories stacked up from the wonderful Cornish West, in company of my beautiful Dane, Mette Ambeck. Rest and Recuperation, the very essence of. . .

This last image captures our reward after arduous miles along the Western Coastal from the town on our first full day - truly a good Friday. Crab sandwiches at the Tinner's Arms, in the village of Zennor, with a pint each of Zennor Mermaid. 

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Mister Higson's 'The Enemy Map' - latest update

There may be visitors who are straying this way having glimpsed an enticing miniature of my illustrated map to accompany Charlie Higson's 'The Enemy' series of young adult horror novels - on the revamped site by Puffin Books - and wondering what's that all about?

CH commissioned me last year to chart the adventures of the various groups in the initial four books in the series, and there is indeed a map of this description.
In due course the Powers That Be at Puffin hope to expand the glimpse of the Map at their site into something more substantial and interactive - and Charlie hopes to make the item available to fans, too.

I'd recommend you check out the earlier posts I put up on this blog (go back to the later part of last year starting in October) to see some intriguing details – as well as what I've added here – and also keep checking Charlie's own blog - and the Puffin site - for any developments.

Sunday, 5 May 2013

A noble Endeavour

Just a tip of the hat to what has been an mostly excellent first full run of the Inspector Morse prequel series, 'Endeavour'.
What seemed an idea too far (a misguided attempt to cash in on what ITV no doubt considers a franchise, as the sequel series 'Lewis' seems likely to have reached its end) has evolved over the recent four stories into something strangely fresh and atmospheric and oddly modern – beginning with its bold, one-word episode titles – despite its setting in the early days of the character's police career in mid-1960s Oxford. It has stylish direction, memorable characters – both presenting young versions of a select band of the established ones from the later series and splendid new additions like Morse's pipe-smoking mentor Inspector Fred Thursday, played with relish by Roger Allam. Creator Russell Lewis – no relation, shurely? – has crafted a strong format with wit and weight in the writing.
And the most crucial element of all: what lead actor Shaun Evans does is very interesting – it's not an impression of John Thaw in any way – a curiously effective suggestion of what a person could be like if you strip away the years. It could all have fallen at the first hurdle without him, and luckily he's damn good.
Here's a raised glass of a suitably dark, cask-drawn ale to more.

Monday, 29 April 2013

Two men, walking. . .

Spent a lot of Sunday 28th April 2013 in the good company of my science fiction twin, Andy Altmann.
Highbury Corner to Camden – passing something called CSM on  the way along a canal towpath (we were fortunate to attend St. Martins School of Art in our youths) – following the long, straight road out of the braying Italian teenager hell-pit that is the Market up Haverstock Hill and stopping in Hampstead for a cup of tea (and to spot a passing Spice Girl – Sporty, if you must know), then on through trees and improbably-named children and dogs and joggers to the fine view you see here in the first photo (courtesy AA) - London from Parliament Hill.
A favourite spot and one from which you not only get to see the shifting skyline of the adopted town but also consider your place in it.

Later, descending through Tufnell Park to meet other pals - dear Vick and Charlie - we end up dropping by a street party near Holloway Prison (see 2nd photo, courtesy Vick), before returning to London, N1.

Friendship of rare vintage.
What a pair of lucky old codgers.


A marvellous piece produced by my old friend David Ellis – founding partner of the influential  
Why Not Associates – while at the Royal College of Art, circa 1987.
Lovely man, grisly decade.

Even the mighty return to the dust beneath our feet in the end.
Enough said.

Saturday, 27 April 2013

The strength of Glas?

I have long admired the work of the Swedish actor Krister Henrikksen.
For me his is the definitive Kurt Wallander – in the Scandinavian dramas televised from author Henning Mankell's detective novels.
His inscrutable, wearied face suggested a world of unspoken emotion within a man amidst the darkest of events, and he has been rightly praised for this marvellous performance.
As well as the exciting prospect of his recently-filmed new episodes to come, I was intrigued to read of his West End debut and duly booked tickets for a performance last Monday at the Wyndham's Theatre.
In due course my own Scandinavian thriller and I headed into town on a busy, tourist-thronged Monday evening and were not disappointed.
As 'Doktor Glas' – the tortured, obsessive focus of Hjalmar Soderberg's original 1905 novel and now this powerful solo adaptation – Henrikksen proved captivating, unsettling company.
The curiousity of English 'surtitles' (translating the expressive mystery of the spoken Swedish) projected above the action was soon forgotten and the enjoyment of what was rather a tour de force remained, for the intense 90-minute duration.
It is a strange, bleakly funny, occasionally nightmarish, piece - laced with creeping loneliness and a growing murderous intent on the part of the good – or not so good – Doktor.
As well as the pleasures and subtleties of the actor's craft that so captivated the audience there was also a quietly brilliant set design by director Peder Bjurman, lit to extraordinary, beautiful effect by Linus Fellbom.

A marvellous evening, a rare journey into theatre (and a lovely building it is, too) for us, and – particularly – memorable work from Henrikksen that lingers in the imagination.

At the close the actor received a standing ovation and cast the blood red roses – a key part of the story – into the audience.

Photo © 2013 Mette Ambeck

Thursday, 11 April 2013

2013 BABE is in Bristol

My partner in crime, Mette Ambeck and I will be exhibiting once again at the Arnolfini in Bristol, as part of their third bi-annual Bristol Artist's Book Event - Saturday 20th and Sunday 21st April.
This is always a fun event, part-organized by our old friends at the University of West England's Centre for Fine Print Research - see their exhaustive site dedicated to book arts at:
and see the Arnolfini's coverage of the upcoming weekend here:

Do drop by if there's a chance you're in the vicinity.

Sunday, 24 March 2013

BBC and Me

Do take a look at some new material I've added in the right hand column under the heading
'BBC my BBC' – gathering some scraps, thoughts and reminiscences covering my own appreciation and experiences of that venerable institution, the British Broadcasting Corporation since student days.
All spurred by the regrettable closure of the West London 'TV Centre' - marked last wet and blustery Friday night by a ragbag of programming, including a performance by another national institution, the band Madness.

Monday, 11 March 2013

A moment.

Bringing the last two posts together, unexpectedly –
a pleasing interlude on a wet night in Yorkshire.

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Leeds 2013

Off to the International Artist Book Fair in that fine chill Northern town.
Please do drop by - details herein:
and find me at:

"It laughs and it cries and it sighs."


Wonderful wonderful wonderful.
Riches from the BBC vaults on the invaluable iPlayer.

Monday, 11 February 2013

At the mercy of technology? Pt. 2

There's a second new virtual edition that makes play with the pixels for your reading pleasure.
I go deep down inside the detailed preparatory thumbnail sketching that takes place before every edition in my series.
Once again manifested through the startlingly easy ISSUU website, it is called –

Rule of Thumb - Virtual Ensixteen 2

and can be found through this link:

As with the first foray posted about earlier, click on the front page and tinker around with the easy - to - use tools; if you click on the page it zooms up close to the detail , click again and it pulls back out again. It's a goddamn marvel of the age!

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Pixel or Pen – Best of Both Worlds?

A modest toe into the bottomless pool of virtual publication can be found here:

Using the sketchbook material behind several of the existing Ensixteen range – and new pages to frame it – in a unique non-papery format for your enjoyment.
Have a tinker with the tools provided by the nice ISSUU site in the upper tool bar; zoom in, turn a page, go back a few pages.
What larks.

How I draw and How I write: Virtual Ensixteen 1

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

The Past. . .

. . . is just over there.
Behind that building, over that small hillock, across that body of strange black-green water. . .

Always with us, in short.

To warm us, jog our memory or our conscience, make us smile or sigh.
Here are several images from last year - fulfilling the latter role; a smiling at happy memories, a sighing contentedly.

The first = Handmade and Bound event (St. Bride Library) with Mette Ambeck and John Bently beyond.
The second = Small Publishers Fair (Conway Hall) with M.A and her flock of books.
The third = Whitechapel Gallery London Art Book Fair 2012 again with my partner in books – and indeed all else.

Numbers 1 and 2 images kindly provided by (and ©2012) Yitong Liu

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Charlie Higson web article link

Through the auspices of David Reilly in Marketing at University for the Creative Arts (my day job) an article appeared on their main website about my illustrated map for the 'Enemy' series of novels by C. Higson Esq. just before the New Year.
It includes new commentary from both myself and Charlie and is still available to read at the location below - just follow the link. . .

Wednesday, 9 January 2013