Friday, 14 December 2018

3 Wyrd Things: Frances Castle

For '3 Wyrd Things' I asked various creative types whose work I admire to tell us about three oddly, wonderfully, weirdly British things that have been an influence on them and their work - a book or author, a film or TV show and a song, album or musician.

Frances Castle Clay Pipe Music
This month, Frances Castle.

Frances is a London based illustrator and designer who also runs the amazing Clay Pipe Music record label.  Her delightful and idiosyncratic work has adorned books and magazines for clients as diverse as The Guardian,  Imperial War Museum, British Heart Foundation, Cambridge University Press and the BBC but it was her eye-poppingly lovely sleeve art for the releases on her label that first grabbed our attention here at Wyrd Britain.  With releases from artist such as Jon Brooks (he of The Advisory Circle), D Rothon, Vic Mars and Sharron Kraus.

You can find out more about Frances' work at the label website (linked above) and at her own site and a very interesting '15 Questions' with her here.



I’m choosing two artists who use synths, but really differently. The first is Steve Hauschildt who is an American artist, he used to be in the band Emeralds. I think he has made 4 or 5 solo records they are all really good. His latest is called 'Dissolvi' and came out this year, but the one that I have listened to most is ‘Where all is Fled’ which came out in 2015. He just makes beautiful electronic music that (on this album at least) uses a lot of arpeggiation. It is very hypnotic and draws you in, I guess there is quite a lot of melody involved as well. There are a lot of people making this sort of music now, but Steve Hauschildt does it really well.

The second is Isao Tomita – Snowflakes are Dancing.

I suppose Isao Tomita was really big in his time. You can pick his records up cheaply, and they are easy to find, so he must have sold a lot. My partner was played his music at school by his music teacher.

To me its quite magical, and inventive, he is trying to make synths sound like an orchestra, and fails and makes something other worldly.


Carel Weight

I’m taking a slightly different tack on this, and choosing an artist rather than a film or TV show.

I’ve been aware of Carel Weight for a long time, I have a book of his paintings that I’ve had since my late teens, but I recently started following him on Instagram. I’m not sure who is posting the pictures – certainly not Carel as he died in 1997! but I’ve really enjoyed looking at them, he painted a lot so most of them are new to me.

Carel lived and worked in Putney, West London and this is an area I knew quite well as a child so a lot of the settings to his paintings are very familiar to me. What I like so much about them are the strange and eerie things going on in every day Victorian streets. There is usually some sort of narrative, but it is not always exactly clear what is going on.

J.L Carr - A Month in the Country (Buy it here)

I initially picked up this book in a bookshop earlier this year because it had an image by my Grandfather on the front. He designed posters for the railways in the 1940s and 50s, and the posters often show up repurposed up on book covers and cards etc. It turned out to be a good omen, because when I turned it over and read the blurb on the back I knew it was a something that I wanted to read. Its a short book – just a little over 100 pages long, that covers a few weeks of one man’s summer, directly after World War One. Tom Birkin has been employed to conserve a hidden medieval wall painting in the country village of Oxgodby. It’s a slow moving book where not a lot happens – he spends his days working alone uncovering what appears to be a rare and important wall painting, while immersing himself in village life and falling (partly) in love with the vicars wife. Without too much being implied you realise that the landscape and the work he is involved in are slowly helping him recover from the trauma of the war.


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