CECILIA CHARLTON (and Italo Calvino)

CECILIA CHARLTON (and Italo Calvino)

December 24, 2020

American artist Cecilia Charlton selects two short stories by Italo Calvino: 'A Sign in Space' and 'The Origin of the Birds'. Both stories focus on the very inception of what comes into being and what we now take for granted - signs/signals/artworks as well as birds/the other/evolutionary rejects. All the while, 'A Sign in Space' draws extraordinary parallels with an art practice. From the anxieties of creating something new to the egotistic punchiness of asserting authenticity, we join Qfwfa who journeys throughout space and time, pontificating on what it is to create and leave a mark in the world of one's existence. Likewise, 'The Origin of the Birds' focuses on the start of beginnings. In this story, Qfwfa narrates his (his?) adventures into the void to discover and embrace the evolutionary rejects as part of his ancestry and presence, particularly their leader Queen Or with whom he is besotted. 

'A Sign in Space' appeared in 'Cosmicomics' in 1965 while 'The Origin of the Birds' was first published in ‘t zero’ 1967. Both stories feature in ‘The Complete Cosmicomics’ comprising 'Cosmicomics' and 't zero' plus other stories published 2009. 



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'A Room of One's Own' 1929, Virginia Woolf

'Against Interpretation' 1966, Susan Sontag

'Agnes Martin' 2015, Tate 

'Brave New World' 1932, Aldous Huxley

Jane Austen

'No One Belongs Here More Than You' 2007 Miranda July 

Gabriel Garcia Marquez 'Eyes of a Blue Dog' 1947, 'One Hundred Years of Solitude' 1967, 'The Handsomest Drowned Man in the World' 1968 co-author Hernan Diaz

'The World of Ornament' 2006, Auguste Racinet and M Dupont-Auberville

The concept of multiple discovery

'The Sixteen Trees of the Somme' 2014 Lars Mytting

Three Fates from Greek mythology

William Beebe, American naturalist, ornithologist, marine biologist, entomologist, explorer, and author

William Weaver, Italo Calvino's translator

'Women's Work: A Personal Reckoning with Labour, Motherhood and Privilege' 2019, Megan K Stack



Alison Jacques Gallery London, 'The Gees Bend Quiltmakers' in partnership with the Souls Grow Deep Foundation, a non-profit organisation dedicated to the preservation and promotion of the contributions of African American artists from the Southern states, 20 Dec 2020 - 6 Feb 2021

Anni Albers

Agnes Martin 'Words' 1961

Dolly Parton

Hannah Brown 'Art Fictions' Episode 17, 9 Dec 2020

Helen Frankenthaler

Hilma Af Klimt

Lee Krasner

London Art Fair, 'Platform' focus on folk art, 20-31 Jan 2021

Nicolaus Schafhausen, 'Der Speigel' 2013, resigned as Director of Kunsthalle Wein 2019

Robert Rauschenberg 'Erased de Kooning Drawing' 1963

Sheila Hicks

Turner Contemporary Margate, 'We Will Walk: Art and Resistance in the American South' curated by Hannah Collins and Paul Goodwin, 7 Feb - 6 Sep 2020 

Willem de Kooning



December 9, 2020

Hannah Brown selects the small but beautiful poem by WH Auden ‘As I Walked Out One Evening'. Written in 1937, it is preoccupied with questions of the eternal, focussing on love versus time. It travels through younger days and the excitement of new loves to a more settled life, when kisses are replaced by health, when the focus of wondering is on how things may have been different and culminates in one’s final moments.


Hannah Brown, confirmed British landscape painter, introduces us to her love of fiction, reading excerpts from her selected poem. In our discussion she relays the importance of fiction, giving up television, sudden changes brought about by lockdown, connections between a time of world wars and the global pandemic, the range of experiences for those of us untouched by illness, missing friends, the blow up of Black Lives Matter and the sense of powerlessness when it comes to the changes needed for the wellbeing of our planet. She describes her art practice, detailing the witnessing of changes in the landscape from the west country to East London, what makes a site compelling for a landscape painter, how the presence of human life is portrayed without figures, the sublime tinged with fear, staying true to one’s own temperament and passion, being genuine and authentic, attempts to domesticate nature and how she cried when Victoria Park was closed to the public.

Together we wonder is love eternal or only time? Is it sudden endings which punctuate time, leading to its reassertion as a pivotal marker in our lives? Can we rely on nature itself to continue or is this also a thing of the past? When we look about, how much do we really see that is present and how much is imposed from our childhood past? Is the end of young love depressing or is it a relief to grow up and worry about a pension? Will worry take over our conscious life as it slips away? Is having less time a better condition for decisiveness? For taking risks in the studio? Is seeing less exhibitions better for looking more thoroughly?  

FEMALE BRITISH WRITERS around the time of THE AUDEN GROUP and The Great War!

Alice Meynell 1847-1922

Cicily Isabel Fairfield 1892-1983

Jessie Pope 1868-1941

Millicent Garrett Fawcett 1847-1929

Margaret Sackville 1881-1963

Margaret Postaget Cole 1893-1980

May Wedderburn Cannan 1893-1973

Rose MaCaulay 1881-1958

Vera Brittain 1893-1970



‘A God in Ruins’ 2015 by Kate Atkinson

‘After the End’ 2019 by Clare MacIntosh

‘Girl, Woman, Other’ 2019 by Bernardine Evaristo

‘My Dark Vanessa’ by Kate Elizabeth Russell 2020

‘Nobody Told Me: poetry and Parenthood’ 2016 by Hollie McNish

 ‘Patrick Melrose’ 2016 by Edward St Aubyn

‘Take Nothing with You’ 2018 and ‘Notes From an Exhibition’ 2007 by Patrick Gale

‘Queenie’ 2019 by Candice Carty-Williams

Robert Goddard



‘Ambit’ magazine

Ansel Adams

Ellen Altfest

‘Forest, Rocks, Torrents: Norwegian and Swiss Landscapes from the Lunde Collection’, 2011, The National Gallery

George Shaw

Graeme Sutherland

Guy Oliver

Jerwood FVU Awards

John Constable

John Everett Millais, Ophelia’ 1852

John William Waterhouse, ‘The Lady of Shalott’ 1888


Paul Nash

Reman Sadani, ‘Walkout 1’ 2020

Samuel Palmer

The John Moores Painting Prize, Walker Art Gallery Liverpool, 12 Feb – 27 June 2021

Union Gallery

White Cube, ‘In the Studio’

William Morris

DANIEL STURGIS (and Nicholson Baker)

DANIEL STURGIS (and Nicholson Baker)

November 26, 2020

Daniel Sturgis selects two books by American author Nicholson Baker - his first novel 'The Mezzanine' published in 1988 and 'Room Temperature' in 1990. Both portray the mindful meanderings of the protagonist, from tender moments to an astonishing level of detail, often with a good dollop of amusement. In 'The Mezzanine', we spend a lunch hour with Howie as he fixates on the micro-details of staplers, Scotch tape, escalators and an assortment of other office paraphernalia, as well as his family, returning continually to his astonishment that both his shoelaces have broken within days of one another. 'Room Temperature' takes place across a mere 20 minutes as Howie recalls a series of domestic specifics, largely around his wife Patty, as he nurses their baby Bug.





'A Mark on the Wall' 1917 Virginia Woolf

'Fly' 2010 Season 3, Episode 10 from 'Breaking Bad'

'City Poet: The Life and Times of Frank O'Hara' 1993 by Brad Gooch

'The Diary of a Nobody' 1892 George and Weedon Grossmith 

'Great Expectations' 1860 by Charles Dickens

John Updike

'Mr Bean' series 1990 starring Rowan Atkinson

'No Lab: A Novel' 2019 by Richard Roth 

'The Journal of a Disappointed Man' 1919 by W. N. P. Barbellion

Paul Auster



Barney Bubbles

Benjamin Buchloh

Dan Walsh

Emma Hart

Francesco Borromini

Gerhard Richter

Ian Hamilton Finlay

Frances Richardson

Jeremy Moon

Le Corbusier

Leonardo da Vinci

Michael Bracewell

Patrick Caulfield

Peter Kinley


Prunella Clough

Shila Khatami

Sonia Delaunay



Chelsea Space, London

Luca Tommasi, Milan

Martina Geccelli

PS Project Space, Amsterdam

Raumx, London

Rocket Gallery, London

FRANCES RICHARDSON (and Virginia Woolf)

FRANCES RICHARDSON (and Virginia Woolf)

November 12, 2020

Frances Richardson selects two short texts by Virginia Woolf - 'The Mark on the Wall' published in 1917 and 'Solid Objects' in 1918. Both begin with a black dot which becomes a jumping off point for musing about the structures and systems which govern our livelihoods. The first text has the narrator enjoying their own wondering about the identity of the mark on the wall, pulling away from the dreariness of logical thinking, championing instead, the inventiveness and possibilities in imaginative thinking. While the second text revolves around two politicians, one of whom finds a piece of smoothed glass at the seaside. He becomes obsessed with observation and collecting, giving up his political aspirations for a more materially intimate life - what an excellent idea for many of that lot ! 





Alicja Kwade

Alison Wilding


Charlotte Posenenski

Jane Hayes Greenwood

Peter Dreher

Robert Morris



'Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead' 2009 and 'Flights' 2007 by Olga Tokarczuk




JANE HAYES GREENWOOD (and Maggie Nelson)

JANE HAYES GREENWOOD (and Maggie Nelson)

October 30, 2020

Jane Hayes Greenwood selects 'The Argonauts' by Maggie Nelson. Published in 2015, it is a whirlwind fusion of contemporary queer theory, autobiography, philosophy, art, motherhood and, perhaps best of all, a beautiful love story.





Ambit Magazine

Dana Schutz

D W Winnicott

Edward Burra

Emma Cousin

Esther Leslie

Harry Dodge

Jane Gallop

Kristian Day

Lindsey Mendick

Ludwig Wittgenstein

Melanie Jackson

Olivia Bax

Roland Barthes 'A Lovers Discourse' 1977

Rosalind Krauss

Stanley Spence



Block 336

City and Guilds of London Art School

Goldsmiths CCA

Grand Union

Peter von Kant Gallery

Saatchi Gallery

Tate Modern

GRACE WOODCOCK (and Octavia Butler)

GRACE WOODCOCK (and Octavia Butler)

October 14, 2020

Grace Woodcock selects 'Mind of my Mind' by Octavia Butler. Published in 1977, it details the development of a new species of telepaths led by Mary, a mixed-race young woman raised in poverty. In our conversation, we discuss what distinguishes Octavia Butler as a unique sci-fi voice as we focus on Grace's debut London solo exhibition GUT-BRAIN at Castor, exploring the ideas behind her research-led practice around the body, mind, tech, science and alternative medicine.


0:00-0:20 Summary of the book 'Mind of my Mind', wondering how to make the book into a movie, afro-futurism, what it might be like to be in someone else's mind, hybridity, blue-blackness, meaning through action, transcending racial delineation, transracial, breeding programme elitism, shapeshifting gender and race, jealousy of the next generation.

20:00-45:00 Grace's art practice, retro futurism, the current dystopian edge, pills for sex, pushing the limits of what it is to be human, NASA spaceship design, how sliding doors came about, shaping of sculptures around the body, memories in objects wrt Japanese Shinto, hidden materials, potential medicinal elements, gut as the original brain, the fate of the sea urchin brain, multiples, subconscious, conversation pits, the gut as a surveillance system for the body

45:00-55:00 other stuff about Grace, from her influences to the books she's reading now!





Aldous Huxley 'Brave New World' by 1932

Jonathan Crary '24/7: Late Capitalism and the Ends of Sleep' 2013

Mark Fisher 'Capitalist Realism' 2009

Octavia E Butler 'The Patternist Series' 1976-1980, 'The Parable Series' 1993-1998, 'Bloodchild & Other Stories' 1995

Phillip K Dick 'The Man in the High Castle' 1962

Svetlanda Boym 'The Future of Nostalgia' 2001

Tibor Fischer 'The Collector Collector' 1997



'Barbarella' 1968

'Forbidden Planet' 1956

'Gattaca' 1997

'Star Treck' 1966-1969

'The Devil Girl from Mars' 1954

'The Jetsons' 1962-63

'The Man in the High Castle' 2015-2019

'The Truman Show' 1998



Alison Wilding

Anicka Yi

Diane Simpson

Ernesto Neto

Glenn Ligon

Hannah Levy 

Ittah Yoda

Keith Piper - BLK Art Group

Pakui Hardware

Paloma Proudfoot

Rafal Zajko

Saelia Aparicio

Wilhelm Reich - Orgone Theory


EMMA COUSIN (and Jean-Paul Sartre)

EMMA COUSIN (and Jean-Paul Sartre)

October 1, 2020

Emma Cousin selects the seminal novel 'Nausea' by Jean-Paul Sartre. Published in 1938, it describes Antoine Roquentin's existential crisis which plays out in the library, streets and cafes of Bouville, which literally means 'mud town'. In a world devoid of God, lacking in meaning, Antoine shrinks further and further inside himself as he struggles in his search for purpose, finally deciding the best use of his life is to write a really critical book. Like 'Nausea' I guess ! In our conversation, we focus on Emma's post-lockdown solo show at Goldsmith's CCA, though her ideas - from biology to geometry - and her approach to working across drawing, painting, curating and podcasting, encompass her whole studio practice. 


0:00-0:30 Summary of 'Nausea', fluid consciousness, isolation, observation, madness, body, dangling arms, a mouth as thin of a dead snake, spreading cheeks, vomit, nausea, seat as a dead donkey, natural states, the shortcomings of the autodidact, humanism, experiences, projectile vomiting, experimentation in colour, shift, change, the future, elitism, Rembrandt

0:30-1:10 Emma's art practice - contemporary dance, verbing reaching, showing an idea, actively working something out, bodily boundaries, breasts, skin, grounding of figures, 'New Dirt', colour, background as a surround,  'Wash your Hands' for Ambit magazine, wall drawing, social classes, 2D & 3D composition, drawing, drawing, drawing, 'Trigonometry', 'Flower Moon' animation for exhibition, failing meditation, the physical highs and memories thru gardening

1:10-1:20 other Emma stuff - Morandi, folk music, 'Bread and Jam', 'Chats in Lockdown' podcast, activism, what Emma's reading now!




BOOKS & WRITERS & THINKERS (get ready for a long list!)

Albert Camus 'The Myth of Sisyphus' 1942

Anne Carson

Derek Jarman 'Modern Nature : Journals 1989-1990' 2018

Eula Biss 'On Immunity : An Inoculation' 2014 

Elias Canetti 'Earwitness : Fifty Characters' 1974 & 'Crowds and Power' 1960

Edwin A Abbott 'Flatland : A Romance of Many Dimensions' 1884

Friedrich Nietzsche

Gregory Bateson 'Steps to an Ecology of Mind' 1972

Honoré de Balzac

JG Ballard 'High Rise' 1975

Joanna Pocock 'Surrender : The Call of the American West' 2019

John Berger 'A Painter of our Time' 1958

Maurice Merleau-Ponty 'The Phenomenology of Perception' 1945

René Descartes

Richard Power 'The Overstory' 2018

Samuel Beckett

Sergei Eisenstein 'On Disney' 1986

Simone de Beauvoir

Thomas Mann 'Death in Venice' 1912

William Petter Blatty 'The Exorcist' 1971



Amy Sillman

Andrea V Wright

Appau Jnr Boakye-Yiadom

Georgio Morandi

Hardeep Pandhal

John Cage, composer, artist, music theorist

Lindsey Mendick

Mark Morris, dancer and choreographer

Michael Tippett, composer

Paul Carey-Kent, art critic, curator

Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn

William Blake



'Chats in Lockdown' hosted by Emma Cousin

CHARLEY PETERS (and Charlotte Perkins)

CHARLEY PETERS (and Charlotte Perkins)

September 15, 2020

Dr Charley Peters selects ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’ by Charlotte Perkins Gilman. Published in 1892, it was inspired by the author’s own experience of post natal depression and the resulting inappropriate treatment she battled against. The short story describes one woman’s descent into madness as she is overtaken by the yellow wallpaper she loathes. Her supposedly devoted husband keeps her isolated in a room, based on the authority of a nasty little cluster of so called expert mental health physicians including his learned self. This only worsens her condition. Charley identifies with the main character’s need for stimulation, for creativity and for a way of being that doesn’t fall subject to a cold logic. She describes the the book as a testament to creativity as a type of freedom, of intellectual freedom, of social freedom. It's also a timely selection as we emerge from lockdown which has been, amongst other things, a challenging time of coping with isolation.

0:00 - 0:22 the book, post natal depression, social repression, marriage, isolation, feminism, inspiration, pattern, gothic horror, human rights, social reform, independence

0:22 - 0:28 project for Hospital Rooms at Bluebird House, a mental health unit in Southampton

0:28 - 0:30 the decorative, design, contrasting unplanned

0:30 - 0:37 Charley's process, creating a ground, building up a painting, blending, tone, 'sb|2m2h (smiling back, too much to handle)' 2020, 'eod/\qtpi (end of discussion, cutie pie)' 2020

0:37 - 0:43 collaboration with Tobias Revell and Wesley Goatley at 'Emergence', London College of Communication as part of London Design Festival 2019, 'charismatic megapigment' 2019, webcam, abstraction, symbol, machine intelligence

0:43 - 0:55 Charley's wider practice, colour, intuition, shape, abstract painting, finishing the painting, physical reaction, phd, drawing, unlearning, boredom

0:55 - 1:03 Charley's writing and influences, Agnes Martin, sensitivity, emptying out, minimalism, Instantloveland, Lee Krasner, female trailblazers, resilience, creative spirit, energy, robots, Judas Priest, cartoons, growing up in Birmingham, staying indoors, painting leather jackets

1:03 - 1:08 Upcoming exhibitions, virtual exhibitions, skateboard auction and what Charley's reading RIGHT NOW!





‘Women and Economics’ 1898 by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

‘The Home, it’s Work and Influence’ 1903 by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

‘What Diantha Did’ 1909 by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

‘Herland’ 1915 by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

‘Uncle Tom’s Cabin’ 1852 by Harriet Beecher Stowe

‘A Room of One’s Own’ 1929 by Virginia Wolf

‘Do You Compute’ 2019 by Ryan Mungia and Steven Heller



Bluebird House for Hospital Rooms

Centrepoint for House of Vans



Eva Hesse 1936-1970

Agnes Martin 1912-2004

Lee Krasner ‘Living Colour’ exhibition

Clare Price, Alison Goodyear, EC as collaborators for Instantloveland article



The Barbican

405 Gallery

Hauser & Wirth


Frog tape !!!

JORDAN BASEMAN (and Patricia Highsmith)

JORDAN BASEMAN (and Patricia Highsmith)

September 2, 2020

Welcome back to Art Fictions ! Jordan Baseman selects ‘Strangers on a Train’ by Patricia Highsmith. Published in 1950, the book tells of Bruno and Guy who happen meet on a train and, between whiskies and cigarettes, Bruno suggests they swap murders. I’ll kill your pesky wife if you kill my horrid father. Seems fair though somewhat macabre, not at all the sort of thing a nice young woman from Texas ought to be writing about and very much against the law. What starts badly ends even worse as the double murders lead to Bruno drowning in the sea and Guy drowning in guilt. Jordan is very much taken by the book’s single focussed account of the two men as we contrast the multitude of aspects found in any one person, which he depicts as simply as possible in his short films. Alfred Hitchcock’s adaption of the book into film makes for further pondering about social status and the American post war context.

0:00 - 0:28 the book, the film, post war America, context, no happy endings, celebrity, image, good and evil, Trump, complexity of the self, psychoanalysis, expectations of wealth and material goods

0:28 - 0:55 Jordan's films, portraiture, self portraiture, construction, artifice, film production techniques, interplay of visuals and audio

0:55 - 1:06 influences, artists, books, where to see Jordan's work  






‘The Sun Always Shines on the Righteous’

‘The Dandy Doctrine’

‘The Last Walk’



‘Difficult Women’ 2017 by Roxane Gay

‘Critical Path’ 1981 by Buckminster Fuller

Czenzi Ormonde, author and screenwriter

Phyllis Nagy, screenwriter

Raymond Chandler, author and screenwriter

Roxane Gay, author, professor, editor, social commentator

Stephen King

Jonathan Franzen



‘Strangers on a Train’ 1951 directed by Alfred Hitchcock

‘The Wizard of Oz’ 1939 directed by Victor Fleming

‘The Hitch Hiker’ 1953 directed by Ida Lupino

‘Match Point’ 2005 directed by Woody Allen

‘The Midnight Gospel’ 2020 animation series on Netflix



Robert Mapplethorpe 1946-1989

Jennifer West – film, installation, performance, zines

‘Christ’s Entry into Journalism’ by Kara Walker at MoMA



‘Extreme Love’ by Holly Hendron

‘Horses’ by Patti Smith

Michael Stipe

Mixed Tapes - ALICE BROWNE (and Luciana Chetwynd)

Mixed Tapes - ALICE BROWNE (and Luciana Chetwynd)

July 20, 2020

In this final episode of Series 1, Alice Browne selects 'Seawater and the Dragon' by Luciana Chetwynd and the Chetwynd Children. Published in 1973, the children's book tells of a feared dragon and his monster buddies who find an ally in naughty boy Seawater, and together, they all go on to become darlings of the village. As a painter of measured inaccuracies, Alice identifies with the book's wobbly illustrations, their over the top colours and contradictory perspectives. Along with the narrative, she too brings fantasy and reality onto the same surface, as well as a range of devices which explore how a painting might be put together. Together, we make some unexpected connections such as the way human presence brings about colour changes on cave walls, like a peculiar form of cave painting. And how Socrates might align with Seawater and the practice of an artist. Alice's use of symbols present a rich dossier of playfulness, for our eyes and our imaginations to wander around the canvas and compose our own personal stories. (Mixed Tapes is an introductory series recorded in lockdown with variations in audio quality, however, this episode is the only exception, being recorded before lockdown.)



@alicerbrowne (instagram)

'DPM' 2019

'Mighty-Connect-Discovery (Spaghetti Factory)' 2018

'After The Last Word/ Vindolanda' 2018




'Earthsea' by Ursula K Le Guin

'New Dark Age : Technology and the End of the Future' by James Bridle

'One Hundred Years of Solitude' by Gabriel Garcia Marquez


GALLERIES / EXHIBITIONS (solo exhibition 'Camouflage') (solo exhibition 'Found')


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