Sunday, 4 May 2014
Liver & Lights No 52. Page Three
John as Geno...Camberwell College of Art
April 2014 Thanks to Chiara Ambrosio for the brilliant pic
...Lord Biscuit is drumming in the background,
seemingly embedded into the Penge backdrop, his Mythical home
The events that this book covers are a true story. They took place in late 2013 and my reasons for making them into a book are as follows:
Things get nicked - its a fact of life. Burglars are rife, their trade glamourised in literature and the populist media; are they not the last of the true outlaws, living on the edge of society, stealing from the rich to feed their poor families and their insurmountable drug habits?
In England, we glorify our thieves and demonise our men and women of genius. William Blake is a madman but Dick Turpin is a working class hero. Michael Foot is a donkey jacketed buffoon but Ronnie Biggs is the true champion of the underdog etc. etc.
The Metro recently reported that Herne Hill, where the events of my book begin, is currently the most burgled area of London. There is a commonly held romantic view that Burglars commit a victimless crime, their swag quickly replaced by compliant insurance companies with never an eyebrow raised, the Police cursorily notified, too busy with more important matters to even pretend to investigate. Cars too, and if you are stupid enough to leave anything in a car overnight its your own bloody fault if its nicked.
I had been thinking for some time that I needed a story that could somehow say what I really thought about stealing. That it is a depressing practice at any time or place. When you steal you are taking stuff that isn't yours in so doing you are invariably making someone else unhappy. Even in the most desperate hour of need, when stealing is the only way of surviving, the act still a desperate act, and one that needs no glamourising. These days, most thieves are not the desperate poor of Les Mis or the starveling children of Victorian London. Nor are they the behoodled, crack ravaged young ferals of urban myth. Most professional thieves are not glamorous, they are common bullies. They are greedy and lazy and lack the ability to feel commonality with other humans. This is the story of some people who stood up to the bullies:
Admiral Lord Biscuit, our hero, bravely aided by Candy Tomlinson and her noble Jason; the brave Mob.
A further note on the text and how it has been made:
Each page has been carved out of rubberised foam (available from toyshops as a children's craft thing) and glued onto a piece of wood, inked up and printed by hand in the book. That’s twenty pages, each page hand printed 70 odd times to make the book.
This painstaking act of carving out the text bit by bit from a solid square, with the comprehensibility only slowly emerging, echoes Stephen Pinker’s explanation (found in his groundbreaking book ‘The Language Instinct’), of the way children learn to speak, in huge chunks, individual words slowly emerging from blocks of abstract sound as they grow.
The act of making something slowly by hand is an act of Love. This to echo Lord Biscuit’s painstaking restoration of his beloved Volvo 245. He had made it with his own hands. No thief would ever know the deep satisfaction that brings, nor could ever steal it.
I have made 52 books in 30 years and this is my favourite so far!!
I have made about sixty copies and its been such a painstaking task that there will never be any more…..(of this edition!)