Examining the Odd: Calling All Artists!

Examining the Odd is looking to feature work by strange or unusual visual artists, writers, musicians and filmmakers. I enjoy sharing my own doodles and poems alongside those of mostly dead people, but I’d love to be surrounded by living artists too.

Send an email to examiningtheodd@gmail.com if you’re interested in seeing your work on the blog.

Jay.x

Collaborative Something-or-Other Anyone?

Would anyone like to get involved in a collaborative project of some kind? I’m thinking of something that would involve visual artists, writers, poets…, possibly musicians and filmmakers? Let me know if you’d be interested in the comments below, along with any ideas you may have, pros/cons etc.

Some ideas…

*A physical journal that gets posted around for participants to add to.

*An online zine.

*A ‘real’ zine.

*A record-over-the-top-of-the-last-version film or audio piece.

If people want to use the opportunity to promote their work/website/book etc, that’s fine (just as long as it’s in addition to an actual piece of work). There would be no cost involved to anyone (unless the item requires posting on to a new place) and you won’t get anything in return, but each stage and the finished (if it can be finished!) piece can be featured on Examining the Odd with all names and links of each person involved (if they so wish).

Clara Engel – Folk Noir

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When the sun’s tentacles reach down from heaven and thaw my frozen tongue

I’ll have a voice that’s all my own…

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Photo taken by Fiaz Farrelly

out of waste bodies rise
out of flesh nectars bloom

-from What Should We Leave for the Monster Tonight? by Toronto-based Clara Engel

Today I’m listening to indie musician Clara Engel. Clara is a guitarist, singer, songwriter and visual artist (all of the fantastic images in this post are hers). The original plan was to write a review just for her album Visitors Are Allowed One Kiss, but I couldn’t not include the various fantastic images and songs that I found elsewhere, so this has become more of a post on the work of Clara Engel.

Listening to Clara Engel’s music is a tad like listening to anxiety… not her anxiety, but a stand-alone anxiety that doesn’t necessarily belong to any one person. The songs are haunting with a slight threat of violence, like a toned-down and more melodic IX Tab… but IX Tab disturbs me and Engel doesn’t. This is a good thing.

I think my favourite song so far has to be What Should We Leave for the Monster Tonight? (a bowl of mushrooms and milk apparently). The song has a gorgeous droning quality to it and wonderfully poetic lyrics (above). It’s brand new (last month) and you can listen to and buy the full digital album here.

Ghostly voices echo and prolong strings of lyricism. Theremins and marimbas billow into the head and cloud the power of reason, like a fog that obscures the path of recovery. ATTN

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The Moon is Covered in Snakes. An older song from Clara, filmed “In the glowing cove”…

This one reminds me of The Handsome Family a little.

I hope you’ve enjoyed discovering the work of Clara Engel as much as I have!

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Follow Clara on Twitter and on Facebook.

Lord Dunsany (Edward Plunkett)

A Dreamer's Tales

Irish fantasy author Lord Dunsany (1878-1957) is one of my all time favourite writers. His work is so different to anything else that I have read, and the exciting point for me is that I haven’t read them all yet (it’s a pretty big body of work)!

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The King of Elfland’s Daughter is my favourite so far, and it’s probably the most famous of his books too. It’s well known that Dunsany was a keen hunter and it’s not so well known that I’m a keen vegetarian and animal lover, so I’m sure I receive The King of Elfland’s Daughter (which contains a fair amount of hunting) quite differently to how he perhaps intended. Having said that, Dunsany was also an animal rights campaigner and was president of his local RSPCA branch, so he confuses me greatly! I guess it had something to do with the difference between animal and pet.

The Charwoman's Shadow

Dunsany made his first literary tour to the USA in 1919, and made further such visits right up to the 1950s, notably to California. Dunsany’s own work, and contribution to the Irish literary heritage, was recognised through an honorary degree from Trinity College, Dublin… In 1957, Lord Dunsany became ill while eating with the Earl and Countess of Fingall, in what proved to be an attack of appendicitis, and died in hospital in Dublin at the age of 79. He had directed that he be buried in the churchyard of the ancient church of St. Peter and St. Paul, Shoreham, Kent, in memory of shared war times… The catalogue of Edward Plunkett, 18th Baron of Dunsany (Lord Dunsany)’s work during his 52-year active writing career is quite extensive, and is fraught with pitfalls for two reasons: first, many of Dunsany’s original books of collected short stories were later followed by reprint collections, some of which were unauthorised and included only previously published stories; and second, some later collections bore titles very similar to different original books. In 1993, S. T. Joshi and Darrell Schweitzer released a bibliographic volume which, while emphasising that it makes no claim to be the final word, gives considerable information on Dunsany’s work. Wikipedia

Many of Lord Dunsany’s stories were illustrated by Sidney H. Sime, who I created a blog post about earlier this year.

If you haven’t read any of Dunsany’s work before, I highly recommend you try a couple of his short stories. Most of them can be found for free online, or through your Kindle! The Public Domain is a wonderful thing. Please comment if you find any particularly good stories that you wish to share.

I hope for this book that it may come into the hands of those that were kind to my others and that it may not disappoint them. —Lord Dunsany (the preface for A Dreamer’s Tales)

The Stunningly Surreal World of Jan Svankmajer

Prolific across the arts, he is best known for the dark, surreal visions and macabre comedy of his films. Combining live action, puppetry and a rich range of animation techniques, he is widely recognised as one of the most original and influential film-makers in world cinema. Cine City

Svankmajer is a Czech visual artist as well as a director, although he’s most well known for his films. These include Lunacy, Surviving Life and Alice, amongst others, with sex and death nearly always present. Lunacy, starring Anna Geislerova, is a poetic and disturbing piece which draws upon the work of Sade and Poe, using Svankmajer’s trademark of live action mixed with stop-animation.

Lunacy

Loosely based on two short stories by Edgar Allen Poe, with a leading character inspired by the Marquis de Sade, Lunacy is an allegory for the crazy world we live in. Young Jean, plagued by maddening nightmares after his mother’s funeral, is invited by a Marquis to spend the night in his castle. MIFF

Jan Svankmajer’s LUNACY – trailer. Warning: it’s always safe to assume that anything to do with Svankmajer is not safe for work. Although, I always think this depends on where you work.

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“Animation is, so far, the only way of breathing life into inanimate things” – Jan Svankmajer

Sidney H. Sime

I’ve stumbled upon a wonder!

Sidney H. Sime (sometimes referred to as the Master of the Mysterious) was a gifted English painter, cartoonist and illustrator, often compared to Aubrey Beardsley and Arthur Rackham.

I’ve put together some images for this post, as well as a YouTube video at the end which showcases a Tarot deck featuring Sime’s work.

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Many of Sidney H. Sime’s illustrations were for the beautifully odd stories of Lord Dunsany (Edward J.M.D. Plunkett, 1878-1957). You can read a collection of his shorts, The Last Book of Wonder (1916) for free over on archive.org. Titles include Why the Milkman Shudders when he Perceives the DawnThe Bird of the Difficult EyeThe Long Porter’s TaleThe Loot of LomaThe Secret of the SeaA Story of Land and Sea and The Exiles Club. archive.org also has Dunsany’s The Gods of Pegana, featuring Sime’s illustrations, Time and the Gods and The Sword of Welleran, and other stories, originally published by G. Allen & Sons, it’s 290 pages of wonder.

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“The partnership of illustrator Sidney H. Sime and fantasy writer Lord Dunsany (also poet, dramatist, and grand chess master and pistol champion of Ireland) is without peer in the annals of fantasy illustration. It is almost inconceivable to imagine a Dunsany story – with its exquisite fusion of elements from Greek and Celtic myths (Dunsany was friendly with Yeats and the writers of the Celtic Twilight), Arabian Nights adventure, and the solemn harmonies of the Old Testament – without the drawings of Sidney H. Sime. Sime has been called the “greatest imaginative artist since William Blake,” and aside from their fin-de-siecle elegance, and delicacy of line recalling Persian miniatures, Sime’s drawings manifest that rare faculty of being able to give definitive, and often uncanny, form to the poet’s merest suggestions.” – from ArtRenewal.com

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Sime’s work was largely unrecognised during his lifetime. There have however been recent exhibitions of his drawings and paintings and there is a Sidney Sime Gallery in Worplesdon, Surrey.

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