Saturday, 17 May 2008

The Euston Arch - new artist's book - some page images and complete text (poetic photobook) by Peter Chasseaud

The front cover of the Brighton Festival special edition of my new Euston Arch poetic photobook, which I will be showing, along with my other artist's books, at the Press and Release artist's book fair at Phoenix Brighton on Saturday 24th May 2008. This image does not show the red title, and I'll replace it with a better one soon.

Other pages below (also to be replaced), and complete text below those:

Stop Press Thursday 22nd May 2008: I've just collected the 50 copies from the printer (One Digital, Brighton, who do an excellent and speedy service), so they're now available, and will be on sale at the Press & Release artists' book fair at Phoenix Brighton on Saturday 24th May. Next thing is to get started on the heavyweight edition, which will be completely different!

My notebooks, camera (SLR only, as I took this photo with the digital camera I use), mug of tea and printout of the text of the Euston Book. Other stuff I use during fieldwork are a shoulder bag for lugging the stuff around in, a video camera, and jacket, cap, scarf and umbrella (depending on the weather). I write the text in my notebook along with all sorts of other notes and drawings, and work it up in the pub, on the train and at home. I then type it all into the computer so that I have a file that I can keep modifying, and I print it out every so often so that I can see what it looks like on the page (the shape of text on a page is very important) and make changes in manuscript. I then modify the text accordingly on the computer, and go though the process again. I therefore have several printed states of the text, and in between those there are even more unrecorded states on the computer. I have to decide when the text is 'finished', and sign it off, as it were, so that I can then lay out the book design with the images. Even then I can tweak the text and overall appearance up to the last moment until I'm ready to print.

With this Euston Arch book, I did all the design layout in one day and put it on a CD, got a digital printout as a proof, made some changes, made a new CD, and took it to the printer. The book was then printed within 24 hours. This whole process took only a few working days, although I have been working on the concept, text and photographs for years, intensifying this year. Some of the photos I took in 1960, and others in 2008.

Here's the complete text of the new Brighton Festival special edition (but no doubt this will be a mutatory text, as I continue to work on it):

The Euston Arch
Peter Chasseaud
Altazimuth Press 2008

The Euston Arch - A fieldwalking, streetwalking, photographing, writing, pub-visiting project carried out between 1956 and 2008 (mostly in 2007-8), inspired by my memory of, and the possibility of the reconstruction of, Hardwick’s great Euston Doric Arch or Propylaeum.

This special 2008 Brighton Festival limited edition is a provisional edition of a larger and more solid work which I hope to produce over the next year.

It is dedicated to the Lock Tavern (formerly the Wellington Arms and the Railway Tavern) in Chalk Farm Road, to the Hawley Arms (may it soon be rebuilt and reopened after the fire), to Dan Cruickshank and the Euston Arch Trust, and the Camden Railway Heritage Trust (not forgetting the Kings Cross Railway Land Group). Also to the memory of Alison and Peter Smithson, who were so outraged by the destruction of the Euston Arch that they produced a great book about it, published by Thames & Hudson in 1968.

May Camden Council learn, sooner rather than later, to respect London’s great industrial and domestic buildings, and preserve what is left of the fabric and texture of this historic and wonderful city.

Peter Chasseaud, May 2008

The Euston Arch

To Rainer Maria Rilke

Our Dinge - things -
The stuff of life – our reference points.
Expressing human life through our human construction –
landscape – the human in terms of the non-human.

Age of Gold
Age of Silver
Age of Iron
Pasture to brickfields,
ashes and dust?

Euston Grove, Euston Square.
The Euston Arch – the Doric Propylaeum – the temple entrance
(but which way are you coming from?)
at the end of the Sacred Way,
soaring from heavy roots in London clay,
to the London and Birmingham Railway’s amazing labour
of earth, water, air, fire.

Read the augurs, decode the signs in the things,
roam the labyrinth,
bring the map of Camden alive,
its Eros and Thanatos.

Hardwick’s shining Academy image
hovers in the sky, shimmers sublime in the sun,
floating out of joint stock’s genie, pounds sterling,
into Platonic ether.

Enter, go straight ahead, ascend or descend
to love and death,
then and now,
classical Arch,
new gothic Camden.

Some thing was but is not
but is dreams and desires.
wished to be again.

Bramley Fall stone
Yorkshire millstone grit
via the Leeds and Liverpool Canal
solid, vanished.
Build a monument to permanence
with human flesh and bone, blood and sinew, hair.
No longer knowing how to pray,
forget it is the temple’s entrance,
sweep it away.
Between Hardwick’s Lodges,
under his Arch
transmuted by a century’s damp soot
from a pale gold glow in the evening sun,
a white goddess glowering in moonlight,
to the colour of coal.

What if there are no mysteries?
Take it for granted there are mysteries, poetry, religion.
Work through the details,
prepare to encounter things as they are,
play on the blue guitar.

Pay attention, be aware,
reveal the mystery, history,
wonder in the face of the world (and of reason?),
will to seize its meaning as it comes into being.

Under long, close scrutiny, gaze,
the physical becomes the metaphysical;
stone’s grey grains gain the hypnotic intensity
of Kapoor’s piles of pure pigment.
Time becomes timeless.

Mother came down from Liverpool’s war –
Blitz, muddy Mersey,
Western Approaches, Johnie Walker’s corvettes –
to Euston in 1945 to marry Dad
who’d just flown back from Oflag in Bavaria: St James’s, Spanish Place.
My visit to family in Crosby in the mid-1950s –
the Euston departure platform, the simmering engine,
sliding wooden corridor doors, the shaking corridor connections.
Pierhead, Liver building, ferry to Birkenhead,
the Overhead Railway crossing the docks, Herculaneum.

Meccano, tin-plate trains,
centre-page spreads in the Eagle –
cut-away locomotives:
Coronation, Royal Scot.
My first electric train set in 1958 – the green Princess Elizabeth.

Sputnik to Cuba Crisis, London on the cusp.
68 bus from Upper Norwood to Euston and Chalk Farm,
or the 109 from Thornton Heath Pond to the Oval,
the musty, frightening Northern Line tube,
the green suburban train to Victoria,
the red, slow Circle Line to a still, empty, sun-baked Euston Square
where the Metropolitan and District
condensing steam engines,
steam and smoke sifting through fog, rain, particled sunlight,
beat through the cut-and cover’s light chasm, dark tunnel –
a piano keyboard –
through London’s gravel and clay
under the Euston Road.

An uncertain walk to grey pavilions, offices, hotel
(time’s photos show that foreign land -
growlers, hansoms, horse-buses, taxis)
before passing under the dark-grained Arch,
through the Great Hall.
George Stephenson in death’s cold marble,
below the boardroom’s double staircase sweep,
models in glass cases – engines, carriages, ships;
steel and glass arches of the arrival side,
the departure side,
electric trains, parcels, mailbags, milk churns.
Coronations and Princesses,
Patriots, Royal Scots on expresses,
tank engines shunt vans and empty stock,
the disaster of demolition.

The old station’s chaos of platforms and structures,
main lines and local, arrival and departure.
At the curving steel-and-glass-arched,
glass-screened, arrival platforms
an engine sizzles by the buffers.

On the departure side
all is more urgent.
Fireman sands the rail as his engine backs down,
riddles the fire, turns on the blower to roar it white;
boilers and injectors hum, safety valves sing, erupt.
The driver leaves his cab, goes back to confer with the man on the bank engine.

The guard flags green;
steel tyres grip and grind the sand
on the steel rails.
Shuddering from zero
the two locomotives lift the train
under Wriothesley Road, the Hampstead Road,
up Camden Bank’s 1 in 70, 1 in 100,
banker pounding behind,
pressing up the incline
watched by Sickert, peering over the blue-grey wall of engineering brick
into that sooty chasm by Mornington Crescent,
from whose house Gore paints the black saddle-tank ,
the station pilot down below on empty stock,
where the down and up main cross the backing-out road
along which empty trains are backed out
to the carriage sidings and sheds.

Bourne’s quite perfect drawings.
George Scharf, artist and lithographer from Bavaria,
draws on the stone with greasy ink,
alchemises an image of topography and sweat,
with Wellington’s army from Flanders to Paris;
sits and draws the excavations, the clay-hewers,
the wheels, gins, barrows, retaining walls, bridges, the Primrose Hill tunnel,
from Euston to Chalk Farm.
The cable ascent of Camden Bank.
The four tracks rise,
to grow the grime-coral accretion of north London’s water and soot,
along the mile-and-a-quarter,
sheer-gouged and grey-bricked, iron-arched.

Church spire dwindles into fog.
Why am I walking, or sitting on the top of the bus,
along Hampstead Road, up Camden High Street,
waiting on the tube station,
watching the rat on platform 4,
in the lift, on the escalator;
looking at the punk-goth debris
the shops and stalls under the arches
by the Hawley Arms and Camden Lock?

Arguing against the trend, the evidence of continual renewal,
looking for Dinge - things, reference points,
corners of stability, cultural co-ordinates,
before greed’s flood sweeps them all away –
shop and pub names, street lamps and signs,
black brick walls, stone copings, granite blocks, horse troughs, drinking fountains,
rough stone sleepers chiselled to seat the rails’ iron chairs,
holes bore to take wooden plug
for iron spikes to grip;
iron bridges, bollards, posts, public conveniences.
Costermongers’ barrows in the Inverness Street market,
(with their makers’ and owners’ names
so beautifully (except for the most recent) carved and painted
with skill, pride and love
into their solid timber).

1809: Tom Paine’s death and Talavera,
Pitt grinds our radicals and revolutionaries,
our combinations, corresponding societies,
our Blake, Byron and Shelley,
Nosey (Sir Arthur) grinds Boney’s men in the Peninsula.

Iron wrist- and hammer-wrought,
blast furnace white-molten poured, pig-cast,
rolled, lathe- and mill-machined.
Cylinders cast and bored, connecting rods forged,
crank pins, eccentrics, journals turned.

Fire forces water to steam
in the wrought-iron boiler of Richard Trevithick’s locomotive,
piston, connecting rod, crank,
trundles people
on a circus ring of track
at Euston Grove.

A decade after Waterloo.
The Stockton and Darlington,
the Liverpool and Manchester:
Rainhill; Sir William Huskisson
loses his leg to a locomotive,
and is whisked to hospital at railway speed.
Wellington fears democracy, turbulent crowds,
the terrifying lower classes, using the trains to get to London,
to destroy property, foment revolution
in a Reform Bill fervour,
they smashed his windows at Apsley House.

After the Great Reform Act,
the London and Birmingham Railway,
capital’s great triumph.

Walking the terrain, eye and brain seeking, worrying out the trace,
fixing the sight-line
with level, theodolite, chain:
Francis Giles, George and Robert Stephenson, engineer the railway,
follow the canals,
through the new-enclosed and turnpiked landscape,
guide the formation, embankment and cutting,
skew bridge and tunnel,
earth, brick, iron and stone.

The London and Birmingham
the Chester and Holyhead
the Manchester and Huddersfield
Joseph Locke, engineer to the Grand Junction,
the Lancaster and Carlisle.

Committees, Acts of Parliament,
compulsory purchase: lawyers deal parcels of land;
navvies switch
from canal navigations to the iron road,
bivouac, rant and roar, roast beef and swill beer,
occupy the route:

In eighteen hundred and forty one
My corduroy breeches I put on
My corduroy breeches I put on
To work upon the railway, the railway
I’m weary of the railway
Poor Paddy worked on the railway . . .

Poor Paddy, potato famine, absentee landlord and free trade victim.
Irish and English riot by the Round House.
Great Exhibition excursions steam to Euston from the North
to view the Crystal Palace in Hyde Park,
a heliograph flashing in the sun,
prime beacon of the empire.

Iron road, steel rails, copper firebox,
coal, fire, water, steam, sand, oil,
clay, brick, stone, timber.

The clay of London’s farms and fields – dug for brick-earth, fired on site:
Brill Farm, Somers Town, Agar Town, Kentish Town.
North of the New Road, houses batter back the hedges and fields.
Brill Farm and Brick Field,
Upper Brick Field and Lower Brick Field,
Tile Kiln Field,
St James’s Burying Ground.

Trams and trains batter across
Old Twelve Acres, Old Barn Field,
Britannia Field, Shoulder of Mutton Field,
Upper Pitt Field, Lower Pitt Field,
Further Field,
The Kiln Field,
Chalk Field.

Sadlers Wells, St Pancras Wells, cattle ponds, pastures and liers;
on either side of the slow Fleet river,
Pond Field, Brewers Field; water for the breweries:
the watering holes of the Southampton Arms,
Adam and Eve, the Oxford Arms, Parr’s Head,
Devonshire Arms (now the Hobgoblin),
the Queen’s, the Princess of Wales, the Albert, the Victoria,
Pembroke Castle, The Engineer, the Delancey,
Elephant and Castle, Old Mother Red Cap, Mother Black Cap,
The World’s End, The Lock Tavern.

Water for the winding engines,
for the locomotive boilers, tanks, cranes and troughs,
for the horses and houses, for the barges
whose tow-ropes groove the parapet,
the Regent’s Canal for the Docks and the River,
for the sodden curs in Dead Dog Hole,
for the people’s typhoid pumps, the cholera.

Constable’s Hampstead skies, flashing blue, grey, white,
above the fog and coal smoke stink;
wind turning the mills’ sails, heaving at the sprits of barges on the cut,
forced air feeding the furnaces’ burning coal.

Clay ground rises reeking, burning,
Cruickshank’s apocalyptic battleground of a million bricks,
volcanoes of flame, smoke and ash:
the locomotives’ fires, seething spark serpents, spent cinders, roaring skyward,
winding-engine furnaces blazing
beyond the canal at Camden Bank’s brow,
burning the goods depot, the Collards’ pianos,
Gilbey’s warehouse, spirits,
burning, burning, burning;
the Camden Lock fire, the Hawley Arms.
Up from the stinking tideway, where sweet swan sprit sails glide
above the Thames valley gravel
(bronze swords and axes, mammoth bones, Roman leather).
Elemental Euston, Camden, Chalk Farm.

North of the Regent’s Park the land swells green,
to the yielding flesh horizontales of Park Village, St John’s Wood, Maida Vale,
yellow brick and stucco shine,
streets thin to villas, market gardens,
lone houses straggle up the road,
to the Wellington Arms and the Chalk Farm Tavern.

Navvies carving the cutting’s clay,
under roads, bridging the canal with brick, stone and iron,
boring through Primrose Hill to the north of Shakespeare’s Oak,
swerving to the west around Haverstock Hill and Hampstead.
Topping the bank, over the canal,
by Camden’s railway goods depot, Pickford’s,
the canal interchange for Limehouse, Brentford, the docks.

Hay, water and steaming dung,
shovelled by the ton for market gardens,
mingling with tea-leaves for Camden’s roses:
a heavy brigade of horses,
more than charged at Quatre Bras, Waterloo, Balaclava,
shunt the high sidings above Vauban-brick-buttressed walls,
built to drop down the goods to horsed road wagons,
horse-stables, stock-brick arches, vaults and tunnels, coal drops,
catacombs, canal basin grotto.
Iron shoes ring, skid, slip and spark on steel,
on rail lines sunk in granite setts, tramlines;
the horse hospital.
Horse-drivers and shunters,
some veterans of the Peninsula, of Inkerman, the Redan,
wet their whistles across the road (the wet canteen)
under the smoke-yellow lincrusta ceilings.
The Wellington Arms (the Good Old Duke) becomes the Railway Tavern,
becomes the Lock Tavern.

The one-inch map engraved, fine hachure lines caress the hills;
capital letters stride the shires; burins now plough the new railway lines
into the copper plates.
At Chalk Farm and Camden,
Colonel Bayley, Royal Engineers,
supervises the survey for the large-scale plans,
triangulating, chaining, levelling;
every line, siding, wall,
the Round House, the Goods Station, the Interchange, the Coaling Shed,
fixing every signal post and horse trough . . .
every detail
(but what has he missed in the gaps in between?).

Air photos into map,
field-walk on the ground, prop up the bar,
decode the things, the stuff, to find the culture;
Where do we come from? What are we? Where are we going?

North west of the canal, under the tracks,
twin winding engines lie buried in vaults.
On the prevailing sou-westerlies,
sky-scraping chimneys lift their smoke over tree’d, poetic, democratic Hampstead –
Keats Grove and Flask Walk,
the glowing grate of the Holly Bush,
the Heath,
the clapboards of Jack Straw’s Castle,
the Spaniards,
‘Appy ‘Ampstead’s green turf.


Camden High Street:
Halfway Houses: Red Cap, Black Cap.
The Crescent pub, the Camden Theatre,
Mornington House, the Cobden Arms.

Dark side of Camden:
the Euston Murder; Camden Road (Crippen’s wife),
his telegraphic ocean arrest.
The Hampstead Road: Camden High Street, Chalk Farm Road.
Mornington Crescent south end.
Sickert (the ripper?) paints ennui,
north London contre-jour, demi-monde;
his scumbled and impasto models, clothed and unclothed,
renamed The Camden Town Murder.
A dining car attendant on the Midland
out of St Pancras is falsely accused, acquitted.

Inside dark music halls, gaslight and limes’ smoky glare;
the flickering monochrome western on the screen,
Minnie Cunningham, all in red, sings at the Old Bedford;
the Gods sway and jeer,
lust after the elegantly straining caryatids’
underlit breasts and thighs.

George Robey, Vesta Tilley, Marie Lloyd.
Westerns flicker, time jumps, frame by frame,
Moy’s cinematograph cameras film the Western Front.
Life’s slow gravity salami-sliced into spasm, shudder, twitch;
the smile for the camera, immortality,
the brief moment of banal, futile fame.

Shining tramlines score the black street;
at No. 257, Tom Sayers, Pugilist, died.
The butcher’s cleaned up, shut up shop,
the fried fish shop’s open,
damp newspaper, salt and vinegar, gets the saliva going.
Wet, dim-lit pavements -
London and Irish, blood and drunk in the gutter
under the crash of smoke and noise,
the public bar’s roaring, beery, sawdust floor,
brass, cut-glass, bright gaslight in the polite saloon.

Mornington Crescent station, shining dark red-brown,
white glazed tiles and paint.
Egyptian cats and art deco: Carreras building occupies the Gardens.
Mornington Terrace: the Victoria pub , facing the railway.
Outside the Camden Theatre, Cobden, free-market spokesman
(subscription-list headed by Napoleon III),
turns his back on the High Street wrecked by his free market;
the pigeons shit on him.

Dylan Thomas writes in his caravan off Delancey Road.
Alan Bennett writes. They like the beer.

Factories and shops go one by one, piano factory, timberyard, foundry,
the butcher, baker, candlestick maker, fishmonger, ironmonger, hairdresser, toy shop,
stationer, furniture shop, chemist, electrical goods,
newsagent, sweet shop, comics,
Mars Bars, Sherbert Fountains, Tizer,
as globalisation and supermarkets wash them away;
in move the charity shops.

Capital’s hot lava powers on,
suborning politicians:
Thatcher, Major,
Blair, Brown,
Ken, Boris . . .
spinning, privatising,
PFI cons,
power to the centre,
crushing community -
market-fodder -
pushed by tacit conspiracies
of rentiers, developers,
councils and government,
destroying post offices, pubs,
schools, hospitals.
In Highgate Cemetery, Marx,
who lived in Camden,
spins in his grave
(has he seen what they’ve done to his Reading Room?).
Property is theft! Freedom is a good horse, but to ride somewhere! I am a citizen of the world! Keep your head down! You can’t fool all of the people all of the time! Who said that?

Road traffic and motorways destroy railway freight,
Camden goods depot closes.
Dereliction becomes tribal chaos:
burlesque, corsets, tops, skirts.
A strange fantasy stalks the streets -
Gothic, Lolita and Punk -
occupies the wasteland
vaults, stables, girders, arches, shops.

Not a golem or vampire. So what?
A mythical figure – some nocturnal transformation?
Nosferatu? Bela Lugosi?
The purple and black sex-death associations.
The Velvet Underground, Jim Morrison and The Doors,
Bauhaus, Ian Curtis, The Cure,
Siouxsie and the Banshees,
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds . . .

Chalk Farm

Roaring up from Euston, bearing left-handed;
London and North Western Railway’s nervous system:
signal boxes and signals,
levers, points, rods and cables;
pine poles chop the passing view, copper wires swoop and loop,
telegraph and telephone.
Warning rings and beats: Train entering section . . .
Thunder over the dark and echoing canal, drop the banker,
pass the goods depot’s brick pile, stables and capstans,
breast the summit by the tunnel for the local lines,
past Camden Loco Shed, rattling coal, raking clinker;
smouldering engine on the turntable, more over the ash pits,
smoke eclipsing sun, darkening houses,
under the coaling plant, on the inspection roads;
fitters and cleaners drink in the Lansdowne by the shed entrance,
drivers and firemen, come off duty, sink pints, wash down the dust.

Cornwall and Columbine, Bloomers, Jumbos, Problems, Precedents and Precursors,
Hardwicke, elegant single-wheeler Lady of the Lake, DX Goods, Cauliflowers,
Webb compounds, George the Fifths,
giant six-coupled Claughtons galloping fifteen heavy corridors,
taking Shap in their stride;
glossy blackberry, shining names sunk in brass:
Champion, Niagara, Daphne, Tamerlane, Vampire,
Jeannie Deans, Thunderer, Titan, Dreadnought,
Charles Dickens, Greater Britain, Thunderbolt,
Sirocco, Vesuvius, Sir Richard Moon.

Glimpse Chalk Farm Station and the Round House
as the line swings west.

Roundhouse, mathom-house of memory, by the coal yard:
goods engine shed, gin store,
Centre 42 - Wesker’s Kultur-Haus;
where the goods yard’s buffers’ eternal percussion
and clanging diminuendo,
engines coughing, whistles shrieking,
scored the smoky landscape’s staves,
music throbs into the Chalk Farm Road:
Pink Floyd, The Who, Country Joe, the RSC.

Engines for north-bound trains, coupled together,
slip off the shed,
wait for the down express to pass,
cross the down fast into the neck, the locomotive spur,
at Camden Junction below Adelaide Road,
wait for the board to go off, clear down the bank to Euston,
by the twisted, tangled skein of tracks at the tunnel mouths;
fly over, dive under,
beneath the steel plates and girders
of the Regents Park Road bridge,
through the worm-like bores of Primrose Hill.

Drumming past Kilburn High Road, Kensal Green Cemetery,
each station’s platform with its chocolate-block pavers,
steaming hard through Willesden Junction – dark under the Low Level awnings,
dim glass-cased staircases from the screened High Level,
Willesden Junction Hotel looms over the coal offices;
under Old Oak Lane - a railway terrain:
tall iron and glass street lamps, cast-iron name plates:
Stephenson Street, Crewe Place, Webb Place, Stoke Place, Railway Cottages.
past Willesden shed yard crammed with goods engines, the freight yard.

Bushey troughs, Watford Junction, and Tunnel, Berkhamstead,
Tring Cutting, Cheddington, Leighton Buzzard,
Bletchley (Station X), junction for the Oxford and Cambridge line,
Wolverton station and works, Roade Cutting,
Blisworth, Weedon, Welton, Kilsby Tunnel,
Rugby (the Great Central passes over) and its massive signal gantry,
Brinklow, Shilton, Nuneaton,
Tamworth, Lichfield, Stafford . . .

Rattle down Madeley Bank
(three miles of 1 in 177 out of Crewe,
difficult for heavy up expresses with engines starting cold from Crewe),
Crewe South Shed, Station, the North Shed, the Spider Bridge,
Crewe Works,
steelworks, goods line underpasses.

The Chester and Holyhead line swinging west,
taking the Irish Mail to the Dee crossing,
Chester, Conway Bridge,
Abergele’s dreadful smash,
Penmaenmawr’s tunnel, viaduct, avalanche shelter,
pushing across the Menai Straits in Telford’s tubes,
racing over druids’ Anglesea,
for the Admiralty Pier at Holyhead, the Dublin packets.

Pounding northward out of Crewe,
on the west coast line,
clatter over the Manchester Ship Canal,
the Liverpool and Manchester Railway,
across the Lancashire of commerce, king cotton, king coal:
Warrington, Wigan, Farington,
Preston’s double-headed smash, taking the curve too quickly,

Mail bags and TPOs, The West Coast Postal, The Night Mail;
GPO Film Unit, gritty, gutsy Grierson of Granton Trawler and Drifters, Auden and Britten,
filmed from the air, breathlessly bound for the border.

Running fast on the level, slicing water from the long trough,
the fireman sets the injectors to keep the water over the firebox crown,
turns, slides his shovel under the coal,
swings, lunges, shoots it under the brick arch
to the white furnace, piles it on, again and again and again.

Coal detonates; heat passes to water through firebox walls;
dragged by the blastpipe,
fiery gases rush through boiler tubes,
carry char up the chimney and away,
to clatter on carriage roofs and singe grey wethers on the moor.

Garstang, Lancaster, Carnforth, Oxenholme,
water fizzes to steam, superheats,
builds pressure to ram the pistons,
drive connecting rods, wrench cranks, swing driving wheels round,
fighting gravity and friction, on and up slowing Grayrigg,
dip and speed again,
Low Gill, Wild Boar Fell growling to the east,
to meet, climb, breast Shap Fell’s blasted grind;
Tebay (poor steaming, side wind, slippery rail? pick up the banker?),
the driver lengthens his cut-off
to get every slogging bit of work out of his expanding steam
on Shap bank, four heaving miles at 1 in 75.
Gradually quickening exhaust-beat as the lessening gradient’s calculus
works incrementally in his favour,
he tops the bank, Shap Summit Box,
coasting fast down to Penrith, Carlisle.

On by Caledonian to Glasgow,
past Gretna munitions works,
Quintinshill, where a signalman’s error caused the Royal Scots,
bound for the furnace of Loos,
to roast in the train’s wreckage.

Races to the North – the ’88 and ’95,
wartime Jellicoe Specials for the Fleet at Scapa,
royal trains setting north for Balmoral, to stalk the stag.
The iron road is a hard road . . .

Special Brighton Festival Edition 2008

Limited to 50 signed and numbered copies.
Text and most images © Peter Chasseaud 2008
Designed and made by Peter Chasseaud

Altazimuth Press, Lewes, May 2008

Wednesday, 7 May 2008

Camden Council Vandalism by the Canal

This was the view yesterday from Oval Road on the canal bank at Camden. The building was a fine warehouse built by the London, Midland and Scottish Railway (LMSR). I've been visiting this Camden-Chalk Farm area regularly while working on my forthcoming Euston artist's book, but I wasn't prepared for this. I naiively thought that the surviving railway warehouses and other historic industrial buildings along the canl were safe. How wrong I was! What is Camden Council thinking of to give permission for such vandalism? It doesn't seem to have any respect for the historic built environment at all. And I have just heard that it has allowed Stanley Buildings north block, between Kings Cross and St Pancras stations (see my Kings Cross artist's book 2004 elsewhere in this blog) to be demolished. Again, I had thought it was safe. There are good people fighting to save the best of our industrial and architectural heritage, and no end of good uses to which they could be put with thoughtful conversion, but against stupidity even the gods fight in vain.

Sunday, 4 May 2008

Peter Chasseaud at Press and Release, Phoenix Brighton

Here was fire: behind the Hawley Arms, Camden, 1 May 2008; phenomenological phenomenon (fieldwork for Euston Arch artist's book). Meanwhile, visit the brilliant Lock Tavern in Chalk Farm Road.

I'm taking part in the'PRESS & RELEASE' artists' book exhibition at Phoenix Brighton, and also in the one-day artists' book fair there on Sat 24th May, so you will be able to see my Kings Cross, Afghanistan - A Journey, and Thames - The London River books there.

If you want to see my other work-in-progress - e.g. Rosenberg or Erotic Cabinet - or talk about my current Euston Arch artist's book project, you should email me via this blog to make an appointment, or contact me at Studio 3S3, Phoenix Arts Association, 10-14 Waterloo Place, Brighton, BN2 9NB.

Exhibition: 26 Apr – 7 Jun, 2008
Artists' Book Fair: Sat 24 May

'PRESS & RELEASE' is celebration of artists' books and independent publishing, showcasing an intriguing selection of UK and international artists, with work ranging from the profane to sublime. The exhibition provides an opportunity to encounter a range of visions arising out of the world of artists’ books within an imaginative, improvised space dedicated to revealing the artist’s book in a new light. Sculptor Ben Thomson has completely transformed the gallery space into an environment housing the work of individual artists and publishers, presenting books and related ephemera outside the conventional glass case. The show includes over 30 individual artists and groups, with an emphasis on limited edition, hand-made work that stretches the parameters of printmaking, mixed media and other approaches, to arrive at highly original and inventive permutations of the book format. Ranging from underground comics to journals, pop-ups, posters, web-based pieces, installations and gate crashers, the work provides a glimpse into the dense and multifaceted world of self-publishing.
And a brief political rant:
I'm reminded (after the clobbering the government and Ken got in last week's local government elections) of what I wrote about the Lewes Arms / Harveys beer / Greene King business last year: 'Greene King's attempt to ignore the locals has gone very flat; a faceless corporation has beaten an ignominious retreat.' Perhaps New Labour will now become less arrogant, and treat its locals with more respect. And as for local government in Lewes - we have three councils (county, district and town), and the really important one (town) only has the power of a parish council - i.e. none! All the important decisions over planning, parking, and so on, are made by the other two councils. So the town population is essentially disenfranchised. It's time we had relevant decisions made at the local level - i.e. at town level. Let's shift power from the centre and the big councils, and have some real devolution and local democracy. This means a big reform of the local government structure. And while we're at it, let's keep our post offices, our pubs, our small shops, our village schools, our local hospitals, all so important for community. I hope you're listening, Gordon Brown.