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A Writer’s Shed on the Edge

We visited the village of Laugharne near Carmarthen, and the modest shelter used by playwright and poet Dylan Thomas. The timber shed was constructed in 1920 to house Laugharne’s first car; perched on a spindly metal post peering out from the bushes, trees and hedges that flank the estuary, and set above the house that he lived in for the last four years of his life.

Poem on his Birthday

In the mustardseed sun,
By full tilt river and switchback sea
Where the cormorants scud,
In his house on stilts high among beaks And palavers of birds
This sand grain in the bent bay's grave
He celebrates and spurns
His driftwood thirty fifth wind turned age;
Herons spire and spear.

Under and round him go
Flounders, gulls, on their cold, dying trails,
Doing what they are told,
Curlews aloud in the congered waves
Work at their ways to death,
And the rhymer in the long tongued room, Who tolls his birthday bell,
Toils towards the ambush of his wounds;
Herons, steeple stemmed, bless.

In the thistledown fall,
He sings towards anguish; finches fly In the claw tracks of hawks
On a seizing sky; small fishes glide 
Through wynds and shells of drowned 
Ship towns to pastures of otters...

.....my shining men no more alone
As I sail out to die.


Dylan Thomas

Taken from ‘Poems’ published by J.M.Dent

Inigo Jones: The Welsh Clothmaker's Son

Little is known about the early life of Inigo Jones. It’s thought that he was born in 1573 in London’s Smithfield area to a Welsh-speaking family, the son of a cloth-maker.

Similar to many esteemed architects, his journey began as an apprentice to a cabinetmaker at the onset of the 17th century. Subsequently, with the backing of a wealthy benefactor, he ventured to Italy to hone his skills in drawing and painting, catching the eye of Kristian IV of Denmark during his time there. Upon returning to England after a few years, Jones secured a position at the court of King James I, where he crafted extravagant costumes and stage sets for the grand court spectacles called masques. He collaborated closely with the renowned English playwright Ben Jonson on more than 500 productions, although their partnership was marked by incessant disagreements, as often seen with brilliant minds. Though it is his design for the Queen’s House in Greenwich, commenced in 1616, that we find most beguiling. Here is a description by architectural historian John Summerson:

“The house was designed to meet very peculiar circumstances. At Greenwich the gardens of the palace were divided from the park by a public road, running from Deptford on the west to Woolwich on the east. This meant that a royal party proceeding into the park had to cross the road; it also prohibited any effective architectural link, short of a bridge, between the palace and park. In conceiving the Queen’s House, Jones converted this difficulty into an opportunity and designed a double house, half in the garden, half in the park, the two halves connected by a covered bridge. He didn’t not attempt anything spectacular out of the bridge and packed the whole design into an approximate square figure, so that when, in 1661, two further bridges were built, on the perimeter of the square, and almost flush with the outer walls, the division in the design ceased to be apparent without any violence to the conception as a whole. Today, with the road diverted, it is hard to believe in the duality which was such an essential and curious feature of the original conception.” 

– John Summerson, Architecture in Britain 1530 - 1830

30th Street Studio

A converted church on Manhattan Island came to play host to the most influential recordings of the 20th Century.

The studios space, operated by Columbia Record from 1948 to 1981 was located at 207 East Street, between 2nd and 3rd Avenues, New York City. Having been a church for many years, it had been abandoned and empty for some time, before its transformation in 1948 into a recording studio by Columbia Records.

The site was originally the Adams-Parkhurst Memorial Presbyterian Church, a mission of the Madison Square Presbyterian Church, designed by the architect J. Cleaveland Cady, dedicated in 1875. Several groups shared the building over the years, including a German Lutheran congregation, an Armenian Evangelical Church, and a local radio station.

The first photo in this entry was taken by Don Hunstein in April 1955, before a session at by pianist Glenn Could who recorded his interpretation of Johann Sebastian Bach's Goldberg Variations (BWV 988). Prior to the session, Gould toured the nearby Steinway factory in Astoria, Queens. He played every piano in the showroom and selected four, which he took to Columbia's 30th Street Studio. In subsequent years, the studio was used to record 'Kind of Blue', Miles Davis' modal masterpiece. The second image in this post documents Miles in that session, also shot Hunstein.

On May 29, 1981, a second version of the Goldberg Variations by Glenn Gould was recorded in this studio, a year before Gould's death. It was also the very last recording session ever in ‘The Church’.

We visited the site where the studio once stood on 30th back in 2019, as part of our own jazz pilgrimage.

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Manfred Eicher & ECM Records

“The cover is a metaphoric translation,” said Mr. Eicher, who refuses to be a mule to the literal. “Whatever it might mean, it’s a sign. It’s an envelope, the envelope of the given.” He added that he’s after “silence, poses, thoughtfulness, contemplativeness”

The process couldn’t be more human. Mr. Eicher marinates in the music, then (most often) shuttles between the album and his archive of images until he lights on the right one. It’s intuitive and improvisational (like much of what he has recorded), he says of his search for images that have the intonation and playfulness of the music, that aren’t obvious, but contrapuntal.

“It’s a very personal decision,” he said of settling on an album’s visual score. “I’m going for aesthetic connotation. And it doesn’t take more than a week. It’s like a recording mix. I want to get it done.”

– Excerpt from CDs Know That Ears Have Eyes by By Dana Jennings from the New York Times

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Jazz 625

BBC's flagship jazz programme, featuring performances by the great British and American modern jazz musicians, was broadcast between 1964 and August 1966 with beautiful typography and stylish cinematography.

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Tubby Hayes
Bill Evans Trio
West Montgomery
Thelonious Monk
Thelonious Monk

Jon Pountney and The Allure of Ruins

Jon Pountney's captivating photography first came to us when we saw a net curtain captured billowing out of an open window in Treforest, South Wales. In the most everyday of settings, it felt like Pountney had captured the sense of time escaping the frame. But it was his ongoing project, ‘The Allure of Ruins’, examining the post-industrial relics and landscapes of Wales that really excited us.

'Time is what gives these landscapes their potency, the sheer weight and stretch of time. From the forming of minerals and elements, to their eventual unnatural re-emergence, to the closure and decay of works and even whole vistas, time crushes everything.'
–Jon Pountney

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John Cage: Notation and Silence

“When you start working, everybody is in your studio- the past, your friends, enemies, the art world, and above all, your own ideas- all are there. But as you continue painting, they start leaving, one by one, and you are left completely alone. Then, if you are lucky, even you leave.” – John Cage

Giorgio Amirante's Neapolitan Visions

Depictions of a Neapolitan Vision, Giorgio Amirante (2023)

Block Salt and Candles

"Although I had little to do with the colliery, I lived close to it for eighteen years, taking for granted its sights and sound. Miners, completely black but for the whites of their eyes and their pink lips, held no terrors for me as a child and I was never frightened by tales of bogeymen, although an evacuee friends from Finchley in London, Olive Hughes, ran and hid in the flood overflow pipe the first time she saw a blackened miner, and when the hooter blast was heard at the end of the afternoon shift, she would run home, saying it was time for tea although it was only there o'clock." – Mary Davies Parnell

Salomé Jashi: Taming the Garden

“Like a sad, greedy king in some fairytale or parable, the Georgian billionaire and former prime minister Bidzina Ivanishvili set out, six years ago, to buy and uproot hundreds of magnificent mature trees and transport them at colossal expense and difficulty across Georgia to be transplanted in his own huge private garden. It sometimes involves taking a tree by water, along the Black Sea coast – a truly surreal image.”

“Salomé Jashi’s fascinating and deadpan film shows, in a series of tableau-type shots, the effect that these purchases are having up and down the land. Local workers squabble among themselves at the dangerous, strenuous, but nonetheless lucrative job of digging them up. The landowners and communities brood on the sizeable sums of money they are getting paid and Ivanishvili’s promises that roads will also be built. But at the moment of truth, they are desolate when the Faustian bargain must be settled and the huge, ugly haulage trucks come to take their trees away in giant “pots” of earth, as if part of their natural soul is being confiscated. (Surely at least some of these trees will have died en route, although this is not revealed.)

"Whole villages are clearly in the throes of emotions they cannot understand: angry, upset, yet also weirdly elated at the undoubtedly extraordinary spectacle that they have facilitated – a Birnam Wood coming to Ivanishvili’s exclusive Dunsinane. Transporting these trees is a Fitzcarraldo-type operation: a folie de grandeur of staggering proportions. And finally, far from the remote villages from which the trees have been abducted, sometimes in darkness (perhaps to avoid mass protests from those suffering seller’s remorse) we see the strange private garden that the oligarch has built, with its trees and manicured lawns. The whole country is the real garden which he has attempted to subdue, reducing it to the tamed sterility of private property.”

Review by Peter Bradshaw from the Guardian

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