Review of The Rings of Saturn by W. G. Seabold, translated by Michael Hulse. Published in German in 1995 and English in 1998


The seemingly rather dull area of the coastal area of Suffolk is revealed to have links with the whole world. The silk and opium trades of China provide the finest web that weaves complicated interlinked cross-narratives between a local sea-battle, Joseph Conrad, Thomas Browne, Swinburne, Chateaubriand the Court of James The Second, the slave trade and sugar and mysterious abandoned government buildings used for sinister experimentations. Never far from the surface is the presence of the silk moth Bombyx mori and skulls. The whole book is an elegant synchronization of events, personalities and place. As we mentally travel with the author we see the here and now and share his discomforts and delights but even more extraordinarily we are swept away in a tide swell of true, but none the less fantastical, meditations across history.


Yes, there is sadness here but also hope. Robert McFarlane quotes Marianne Moor ‘diction galvinised against inertia.


 For me there is confirmation of my ‘everything is linked’ obsession: there is also inspiration concerning the fugue-like narratives raised by disparate ideas [and hence for me objects and tales] in tight conjunction with one another.  For me the work was tantalizing in a way that I could not fully explain. Will Self uses the expression “the author is very much present in his lines, and simultaneously absent” which exactly sums up the sensation I could not describe for myself.  When I read a little about this fascinating man I was sickened to learn that this master of word, memory and place was severed from us when he died in a car crash aged 57. 


Whilst ordering more of his books on Amazon. I was amazed to learn that you can buy silkworms on Amazon and set up your own sericulture project.  Oddly Interesting

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I am very grateful for the tutorial today as Tabatha was quite right in her view that I should start getting the modular display units ready for the end of year show before the allocation of my exact space. There is no need to fuss about not knowing exactly where I will be as a great deal can prepared in advance.  There will be no shortage of actual space. It was agreed that well-planned and meticulous display of disparate work like mine is key if the viewer is not going feel submerged and over-whelmed. I certainly want the viewer to feel welcome and comfortable.


In the past there had been talk of a mobile form of the work similar to a caravan or a mobile library, and it is an exciting idea but one I do not feel able to deliver at present.  I do not drive and I do not want to unduly disturb my partner (whose time is in short supply as he sets up an online management course) nor do wish to disturb anyone else.  This is an idea that might be developed after the MA course.


The mobile aspect of my work will be served by a soft pedlar’s pack with carefully designed pockets. So, booklets etc. can have a place, within it. but the actual items for display can be readily changed to be occasion appropriate. [This was not discussed but upon reflection I think that having this ready might be an excellent item to display at Karst]


Tabatha was a fantastic help in steadying my anxieties, which will help me determine what the criteria are choosing display methods. For example, I do not want display cabinets that are more interesting than my work nor so dull and Ikea-like so as to confuse the domestic with the exhibitive. We really focused on notions of taking a deep breath and carefully making use of the time that is available.  I explained that an inspiration for in terms of means of display are the drawings of the installations of the Kabakovs which I consider to be magical, Tabatha agreed that this was a very good point of reference, and that before sending any drawings of my staging I will revisit this aspect of their work.


After I showed Tabatha a summary of my research into epistemology (which was meant to be a slight task set by Mark that I allowed to get out of hand) we both sighed and agreed that it is time to focus on making and perfecting and playing to strengths rather than identifying further areas of research.


 Post script, I have had chance to talk to Martin and it seems perfectly possible for there be much making of modular units to display work.  We both like the sound of open stage-like boxes attached to the wall, trays with velvet lining to display little found objects in great style. Laser cut labels and a catalogue of the humble found objects.  Later, I talked to Philip Bath who has shown me an online auction house where I should be able to get display units and furniture at very reasonable prices.  It will be fun to do the research and get these things sorted out to relieve the pressure at the end of the project. 


Thank you, Tabatha, that was great and as you can see you have inspired me into immediate action!


Screen shot from Leo Kesslerer’s film Last Fisherman

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