Epiphany

‘minor axioms of major importance’

In October 2019 I travelled to the Lake District in the North West of England, my first visit for some years. Accommodation was a rented cottage overlooking lake Coniston whose waters reflected the tones and activity of the overarching skies; one moment aggravated by the falling rain, in another glinting back transient sunlight from whence it came. On the far shore stood a grand country house, at dusk the golden lights from its windows calling out invitingly when not obscured by autumn mist. This is Brantwood, former home of John Ruskin and the catalyst for the visit, for a few weeks home to Russell Mills’ installation, Happenstance.

The experience lives up to all expectations. Vast canvasses have been submitted to diverse chemical processes, layers of accident creating abstract landscapes that inexplicably capture the essence of the surrounding natural environment, both elemental and beautiful. Some of the works have been partially cut up into tiny squares and reassembled as mosaics. Man seeking to impose order on that which chance created. Other pieces incorporate tape measures, referencing our irresistible drive to codify everything we encounter. The atmospheric soundtrack created by Mills and Mike Fearon envelops the viewer as each piece is contemplated.

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Preparations for a Journey

‘exploring a different side of yourself’

‘Travelling clears your mind, inspires you with new ideas, or at least helps you pinpoint ideas you’ve had for a long time,’ David Sylvian told the NME in August 1984. ‘If you simply isolate yourself in a room in London, for example, you become too insular, you can no longer centre on the point you are trying to make. You can only struggle for so long in an isolated room before it becomes impossible for you to be objective about it. Travelling helps clear that, you begin to see things more clearly.’

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The Banality of Evil

‘a more unpredictable approach’

Robert Fripp’s online diary, 20th October 2004:
‘Today’s work in London is a recording session for David Sylvian’s new solo album. Eden Studios is conveniently just around the corner from the bijou Chateau de Petite Chevalle [an affectionate reference to the Willcox/Fripp residence in Chiswick, just north of the Thames in London].

Today’s session: for me, a treat. David & his brother Steve were both waiting when I arrived…’

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Science Fiction

‘comprehending our scale within the universe’

Early in the 2000s, Charles Lindsay hit upon an innovative approach to the creation of photographic images that would transform his artistic work, and, without exaggeration, alter the course of his life. The techniques he used were grounded equally in his scientific education and aesthetic sensibilities as an artist. He created pictures that captured the imagination both of academics and fellow artists, leading him into collaborations with individuals from both disciplines – including David Sylvian and Steve Jansen.

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Taking the Veil

‘capturing moments in time’

The collection of songs that came together to form disc one of Gone to Earth was created in two distinct phases. David Sylvian first spent time developing a trio of tracks that he anticipated would form part of a release alongside ‘Steel Cathedrals’ or ‘Words with the Shaman’. These were ‘Laughter and Forgetting’, ‘Before the Bullfight’ and the track first known as ‘Saints and Sheep’ which ultimately found life as ‘Wave’.

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