|The Scrimstone Circus Gospel illustration 1 - by Rima Staines|
LISTEN TO ME.
I wasn't born for birthday parties and scented candles in the twilight bath or string quartets on the lawn. I wasn't made for clean handkerchiefs and your mother's approval at the dinner table. Oh no. I was born for rock’n’roll, sea shanties and the smell of diesel on the harbour walls at dawn. I was made for bear claws on bark, for fires in the wasteland where desperate men in greasy overcoats swig vodka in the sparse snow and cold so tight and empty you can barely see a flame in it or the shape of hope in the dark. I was born for broken glass and imperfect love and riding the rusty trains home when the last-ditch grail-quest has failed and all the knights have spent their blood and wine on wrong questions asked of nobody in the three-penny hours of darkness. I was born to live wild under the hill, in the belly of the alembic, in the sperm of the whale and the heart of the gold...
Tom Hirons - The Scrimstone Circus Gospel
And so begins a strange and wonderful story written by Tom, and illustrated by me for a newly released collaborative book project published and curated by the Lazy Gramophone Press.
The book is called Time; it is a vast undertaking: three years in the making, and comprising the work of 55 different artists and writers.
The original idea, dreamed by Sam Rawlings, was to create an anthology of stories in which the passing of time was explored by intertwining narratives in an unusual and unique way. Tom was asked to write the central story which would span the life of a single protagonist - through childhood, adulthood and old age.
In each of the three life stages there was to be a crossing point, an event in the narrative which would become a common point in the anthology's "history". So, for example, if he'd written in a storm, this "crossing point" would get passed to all the other writers creating stories for that section of the book's timeline, and a storm would occur somehow at some stage in their tales too. The result was to be a weave of narratives which all gained a sense of truth and a "historical" pinpointing due to the shared event in all the stories. The same thing was done with each of the three life stages, with Tom's story serving as the central anchor to which all these other stories were tied.
The devilish-vagabond-world Tom has created in his wonderful tale - The Scrimstone Circus Gospel - is dark and funny and profound and colourful and lyrical and strange, and it was delicious to illustrate. These are my drawings for the story here - I'll not explain them further, but leave you to go and read the book. Suffice to say, that drawings of things like dice games with devils, opium-fueled reveries, drunken shootings, bearded ladies playing accordions, pickpocket-ballerinas, hideous corrupt priests, shipwrecks in the rain and celestial eagles and bulls should give you a certain aroma of the spice that awaits you in the tale! In fact I suspect the whole thing has a lilting gravelly sea shanty as a soundtrack.
|The Scrimstone Circus Gospel illustration 2 - by Rima Staines|
(NB ~ the title on the creature's cage - a word-hybrid
between the Russian words for circus - цирк, and church - церковь )
|The Scrimstone Circus Gospel illustration 3 - by Rima Staines|
I'm particularly excited by this publication, because it is the first time Tom and I have had work published in a book together - my art illustrating his words. We share such a wonderful and surreal imaginary landscape in our daily conversations and foolings, that it is an honour to be asked to put pencil to paper and make visual representation of Tom's story-world for others to see. This one is certainly replete with the dark oddness we like.
The book is full to brimming with other fantastic works, poems, art and stories by many other people, there's even a fold-out timeline-map. This little video gives you a further taste of the whole collection, which you can buy here, should you be tempted...
Вся время губит и вся покрывает
Вся тлит время и в конец превращает
Едину истину аки свое племя
Хранит блюдет и открывает время.
Time destroys and covers up all;
All is decomposed and brought to end by time.
Only truth and its offspring
Are conserved, protected and revealed by time.
[from Иѳіка ієрополітіка (1712)]
All photos of Time anthology © Lazy Gramophone Press