11 December 2011

Artist, Shaman, Witch Doctor

I was in The Dover Bookshop in Covent Garden again this weekend. It sells copyright-free images. Nobody owns these images anymore so now people like me can buy them. There are images of every conceivable thing, as well as collections of beautiful illustrations by the likes of Arthur Rackham and Aubrey Beardsley. While I was pawing the cover of a Gustave Dore illustrated edition of The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, a white-haired man also stroked the title page. He asked me if I knew it, referring to the poem. O Coleridge! I wittered that I had studied it and loved it. He told me that it was the first book he ever bought when young, though the copy was not half as beautiful as the one before us. He was a very smiley man. The agonised soul with the albatross around his neck between the Dore-embellished pages may be rightly placed in this shop, as Dover Publications (who produce most of the items at the bookshop) is owned by a printing company which, among other things, prints Gideon Bibles. Trivia.

I have been in Covent Garden quite a bit of late, enjoying a very well-attended and cosy anthology launch at the Poetry Cafe and having a late dinner out at The Ballerina with my mother. I love that little Italian, with its hanging ballet shoes and hot ricotta pancakes and tiny tables so perfect for a gossip. We had also been to the Grayson Perry exhibition at the British Museum that day. The Tomb of the Unknown Craftsman. I wanted to touch everything, all of it so tactile, colourful, ugly and beautiful. A man-sized visual feast of a ship was strewn and studded with casts of many objects from the museum, collected from many countries and eras, created by many unknown hands. It made mum cry. I was very struck by the little love tokens too. They are small silver discs, about the size of a coin, and bear engraved words and pictures of arrow-struck hearts. 'No heart so thru as mine to you'. 'By hammer and hand all arts doth stand'.

My notes from the day
This past week I happened to watch a TV show in which a delight of a stoned young woman headily remarks that 'there's this pollen in the air that smells like kissing'. This made me giggle then swoon a little. I also discovered a saying: 'kissing is in season when gorse is in bloom'. Well, one can always find some flowering gorse. It is getting colder and there is not a whole lot of pollen about, so we may have to make do with snatched mistletoe smooches and Eskimo kisses.

1 comment:

Ma said...

And the Review programme rated the Grayson Perry exhibition too...so that's a relief, we aren't Philistines up t'north!