Fairy Tales

Bad Retail: A Romantic Fiction (excerpt)

[…] these quilted snatches are viewed as past moments – of clarity, beauty, civilization, and spiritual elation – that must somehow be retained and restitched in a sense, spliced onto the present, […] as if they were alive, as if they were types of intelligent, deathless energy, and this so as to allow the past, with a nourishing insistence, to feed the present.

(Oppenheimer 1998: 84, ‘Goethe and modernism’) Read more →

Objet d’Art


Steven Grainger, ‘Displacement Activities’, 2016, exhibition installation view (various media and dimensions)


I come to myself
in a ditch,
glass raining down
through a hole in the lid
of the see-through box
they put me in
years ago. Read more →

American Gothic

Chaos, Anachronism and Modernity in Eyvind Earle’s Sleeping Beauty 

The philosopher of anachronism, Jeremy Tambling, has argued that what is ‘postponed’ appears as anachronistic.  Drawing a metaphor from the world of modern travel, he writes that jet-lag (décalage horaire or ‘time-gap’ in French) ‘places one time (that of the body) inside another [time], literally postpones it’ (Tambling, 2010: 16).  The Beauty in Charles Perrault’s famous story for children, published in 1697 – the first of its kind to be called La Belle au Bois Dormant (‘The Sleeping Beauty in the Wood’), is herself an anachronism, a body ‘postponed’ – a figure from the ancient past recalled to life. And the Prince, who helps her to rise, is struck with embarrassment.  For, though she is fully dressed (and quite magnificently), she is dressed just like his great-grandmother – in the fashion of a century before – and wears a ‘point-band’ peeping over her collar (Perrault, 1992: 89).    Read more →

(In)Edible Beauty

We do not begin with a siren singing (that comes later) but with a human passenger in want of his sea-legs.  In the opening scene of Walt Disney’s cartoon version of The Little Mermaid (1989) (amidst a range of nautical-themed pratfalls), the Prince’s comic old retainer balks over the side of a galleon, his face coloured a septic shade of green. Read more →

Pearlescence and Patience

Zoe Williams, Flight of O (detail), 2010, inlayed, lacquered panels, ebonies wood frame

Zoe Williams, Flight of O (detail), 2010, inlayed, lacquered panels, ebonised wood frame

There were once two friends called Pearlescence and Patience, who loved each other very dearly, as much as if they were sisters.

A young man, who had courted both the friends, eventually settled for Pearlescence on account of her large fortune.

Scarcely were the marriage vows uttered however, than he began to regret his decision, and he thought every day of how he could be rid of his wife.  Eventually in his desperation and cunning he sought the advice of a Witch who lived nearby. Read more →