Artists Books

Artists Book Exchange #2

I left you with this image as my starting point. The image is centred upon the left hand of the standing man upon the shoulder of his seated companion; not an unusual pose or uncommon gesture, but the direct stare of both men invite you to – no, dare you – to question their relationship and the reason to preserve the memory photographically. This intensifies when further unconnected materials are added…

I was then struck by the similarities in this book plate and a picture of this dead crow I had collected for inspiration for other projects. For a while, this became a prime visual motif and lead me towards an unsettling voodoo/hoodoo theme, complete with rituals and paraphernalia…

For some reason, I had also collected a fair amount of bicycle related imagery. I can’t say why I had ever focussed upon bicycles; I certainly had not collected them for a specific purpose, but they seem to have assembled themselves whilst I wasn’t looking. There were some interesting Victorian portraits, as well as advertising for bikes and spares etc from the 1940’s and 50’s.

This intense portrait remained with me throughout all these explorations, and gave fuel to the idea of a journey from childhood to old age with a being of natural melancholy and wilful self destruction. I had my subject:

Ladies and Gentlemen of the Internet, may I introduce you to Victor Spillage. Or to be more precise, Victor Augustus Hereward Spillage (1830-1904) The second child of Lord and Lady Spillage of Decanter.

The original Victor Spillage was created by my brother in the late 1970’s when we were about 6 or 7 years old. In his imagination (and mine of course) Victor was the inventor of the best thing ever: Funky Pop! Funky Pop was a fictitious fizzy drink that we made by pouring a little of every kind there was at family parties; Barrs lemonade, orangeade, Tizer, Ben Shaws dandelion and burdock, Strike cola and if we were lucky, cherryade! The finished drink was always the colour of dirty dishwater and had a flavour that could only be described as  “S W E E T”  but packed a real punch – remember that these were the days when it was implicitly understood that there was nothing but artificial colours,  flavours and sweeteners in fizzy drinks, just e-numbers, volatile chemicals and whole bucketfuls of sugar. Like I say, it packed a punch. Victor has lived on, occasionally remembered at various family gatherings and late night inebriations over the years. My brother and I are now closer to fifty than were are to forty years old, but Victor has always been there.  I feel a little strange about giving Victor a new life, and indeed, putting him into the public domain like this, but what is done is done. I made a copy for my brother in addition to the ten I made for the original book exchange. This was his Christmas present this year. I put it in a diabolical bag.


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