Molten Metal Flow

Molten Metal Flow

Monday, 26 March 2012

Hwyl Nofio - Dark - Anti-Clock

I have always admired people who think outside the box; mavericks who take risks as a matter of necessity, not journeymen purely playing by the rules.

I recall with great joy discovering the philosophy and music of John Cage, the photography of Man Ray, the painting of Salvador Dali who embraced the science of painting as a way to study the psyche through subconscious images.  I appreciate the disturbing twisted images of the soul created by Francis Bacon.  I find the same zest for the unknown in the Yorkshire born improvisational guitarist Derek Bailey who creates an abstract language all of its own making.  

I am an admirer of Surrealism and other forms of abstract art. The cinema, Luis Buñuel, especially his early films made with Salvador Dali: Un chien andalou (1928), with a perpetually shocking opening shot of the eye being sliced by a razor, and L'Âge d'or (1929), a sacrilegious mix of quasi-scientific documentary, psychoanalytic symbolism and eye-catching visual imagery. In 1929 Man Ray created Le Mystère du château de dés with Duchamp and L'Étoile de mer, centred on a poem by Desnos, relying on improvisation to produce a kind of ‘automatic cinema’.

Some people have even suggested that the basic rhetoric of cinema is Surrealist in essence. I stumbled upon the work of Jane Arden by accident really. Intrigued by the abstract/experimental nature of her films and the fact we both originate from the same town – I wanted to learn more. Jane Arden (née Norah Patricia Morris) was born at 47 Twmpath Road, Pontypool in 1927. Jane Arden was an actress, author, filmmaker and poet whose screenwriting and directorial work of the late 60s and 70s explored themes of social isolation and ‘madness’, sexual politics and radical feminism. The films Arden wrote and directed with director-producer Jack Bond (Dali in New York, It Couldn’t Happen Here) are  a unique and unclassifiable body of work, ranging from Separation’s counter-cultural splendour of swinging 60s London to Anti-Clock’s boundary-pushing psycho-exploration. The 1966 documentary Dalí in New York chiefly consists of the renowned surrealist artist Salvador Dalí and Arden walking the streets of New York discussing Dali’s work. This film was resurrected and shown at the 2007 Tate Gallery Dalí exhibition.

For her last film, ‘Anti-Clock’ (1979) Arden also wrote and performed the soundtrack. Anti-Clock is a complex and fascinating experimental exploration of time and identity. ‘Anti-Clock remains a film of genuine, startling originality utilising both cinema and video techniques, Arden and Bond create a movie that captures the anxiety and sense of danger that has subverted the consciousness of so many people throughout western society. ‘Anti-Clock ‘engages its audience by being mysterious, disturbing, fascinating and exhilarating.

Throughout her life Arden remained interested in other cultures and faiths which in turn took the form of a personal spiritual quest. Jane Arden was clearly an adventurous, complex artist who frequently tackled very challenging subject matter in variable forms of media.

The extraordinary career of British film-director, screenwriter, playwright and actor Jane Arden came to an abrupt end when she committed suicide on Dec. 20, 1982 in North Yorkshire. She was buried in Darlington West Cemetery.  In 2011 her remains were exhumed and moved by her family to Highgate Cemetery in London. Jane Arden remains a unique figure in British post-war culture.

The Hwyl Nofio composition ‘Anti Clock’ as featured on the forthcoming album ‘Dark’ is my tribute to her.

Friday, 23 March 2012

Away with the Fairies

In the summer of 2011 I returned to Pontypool with my wife to visit locations and research various themes in relation to the project Dark. Staying in an old barn conversion on Coity Mountain I was able to explore the surrounding landscape and investigate the legends that have remained a constant source of fuel to the imagination. Looking into the genealogy of my family has revealed many interesting stories and characters. This research has shown we had lived amidst these hills and valleys for hundreds of years.
My Mother Annie had been a church organist and several of her family are interred in the family tomb at Ebenezer Chapel. Cwmffrwrdoer.  Ebenezer Chapel is associated with the rather eccentric Rev Edmund Jones aka the Prophet of the Tranch. The Rev Edmund Jones is fascinating not only for being a man of God but also for believing in fairies. His only education was gained from the curate of Aberystruth, Howel Prosser – a man who actually took part in a fairy funeral.  Edmund Jones had a deep interest in astrology and seemingly possessed a genuine gift of prophecy.
In 1740, Edmund Jones came to live near Pontypool, residing in an old cottage called Lower Pen-tranch. On a personal note I discovered that Lower Pen Tranch had since been owned by the family of my Great Great Grandmother Mary Jane Curtis. My Mother recalls visiting the cottage as a little girl and being enchanted by the old place. The house remains to this day and appears in the same condition as when the Prophet lived there.  The ground floor contains a small room called the Prophet’s Study in which he wrote his books.  These books contain a collection of stories about extraordinary apparitions, or spirits, to all of which are assigned a divine or diabolical origin.  He was noted in the district for foretelling things, for having the ability to predict the future.
Edmund Jones books provide a remarkable insight into life in the valley before the Industrial Revolution. He discovered a predominantly Welsh speaking community immersed in a way of life, possessing diverse customs and folk-lore; Religion being an eclectic mix of Pagan Mythology and Celtic Christianity.
Edmund Jones succeeded in raising sufficient money to build Ebenezer Chapel.  To complete the building he had to sell his beloved books for £15.  For the tiny income of £3 a year, he served his congregation until his death in 1791 at the age of 91. Fairies are said to have been seen playing in the Churchyard, perhaps hiding among gravestones.
I like the sound of the old Rev Edmund Jones; the term ‘away with the fairies’ has been attributed to him by some people.

Hwyl Nofio - Fairy folk funeral - Dark

Saturday, 3 March 2012

Hwyl Nofio - Dark

Hwyl Nofio – Dark - (Ltd Edition: Music CD/Hardback Photobook Project 2012)


is essentially about a South Wales Valley; Pontypool and the eastern valley to be more precise, an area that lies straggled beside the river that runs through it. The Afon Lwyd (English: The Grey River).

A personal heritage runs deep throughout the landscape. Like the lost tunnels mined by the hand of human slavery the music and poetry of the place runs in the blood. Pontypool was not that long ago an industrial landscape scarred by a succession of iron, coal, steel and glass - this was the landscape and playground of childhood.

I have lived in many places; I have settled in Yorkshire; however the heart and soul remain routed firmly in the valley. I return as often as possible to bask in this magical place. As a boy I would sit on the Black mountain listening to the sounds emanating from the valley; the sounds of coal trucks scraping along steel rails, the solitary chime of a church bell,  dogs’ barking in the distant streets. This had been the soundtrack of youth. A strange mystical land informed by stories of people, spirits and legends – the sights of white light heat spitting from the furnace and the constant drone of the church organ.

(All images and text are copyright © Steve Parry 2012 – I don’t take kindly to people stealing my work - Thankyou)