Sunday, 6 May 2012

Stanley Donwood


nothing will ever get better, Stanley!



One rainy day while start shopping for groceries I'm surrounded by a crowd who's under the impression that I can fly. It seems that a dredful mistake's been made, the local paper has printed an article about a person who really does has this enviable talent and they've put my photograph under the article. I'm not sure about how the newspaper came to have a picture of me, but that is the least of my worries faced as I am with this hackling crowd of strangers. I protest, but the crowd would give no quarter until I show them my incredible powers. At last, I gave into them and stand, flapping my arms and jumping as high as I can into the damp air. This goes on for some time and I become increasingly frightened, and now this enchanted crowd would atack me believing me to be a self-promoting charlatain. But in the end they struggle off. Thank to my lucky stars I rush home, too upset to continue my shopping.
That evening, alone, I once again tried to fly. It proves to be a futile excercise, but addictive- night after night I stand on my roof, flapping my arms and making small jumps on the tiles.
Try as I might.......I never managed to get airbone


I took some photographs in a dream. I took so many that i filled a 36 exposure roll of film. I took them to the developers. They could deveolp them in 24 hours, 48hours, or 3 days. I was so excited about the photographs, so I decided to go for the 24hours service. When I got the photographs back, I was disappointed, because they were all blank. Just white rectangles. I thought that perhaps, if I stared at them for a long, I might find myself back in the dream. I tried to do this for a while sitting on a wet bench on a drizzly day. It didn't work. A mother walked past with her child who said: '' the sky's not grey!''  But it was.

the television has nothing to show becomes impossible to read newspapers either

might not operate properly


I am disturbed to discover that my colleagues have invented a new game which seems to involve attempting to kill me in every juvenile way that presents itself to them. They delight in surprising me with shoves into the paths of oncoming double-decker buses, constructing ridiculous rope-and-pulley devices with the aim of dropping heavy furniture on my head, placing tripwires at the tops of escalators, and other such inanities.
They persist for some weeks, during which I become increasingly adept at avoiding sudden death by blackly humourous means. I feel that my senses are sharpened day by day, that my sight is keener, my reflexes quicker. Soon I can detect by the smell of linseed oil alone the presence of a cricket-bat wielding acquaintance in the bathroom. Everything is enhanced. Colours are richer, noises are louder. I awaken to the pattern of life, the weight of deeds.
Eventually my heightened awareness evolves into a vividly focused paranoia. I can only retreat; I move surreptitiously to a small seaside resort on the east coast and wait, slowly, for a death of my own choosing. (story by stanley donwood)

Stanley's launching his prose book
black humour words and society's illness
the labyrinth of human mind ecc
cover by: Stanley Donwood from 
''London Views''


Ben Cotton - Wednesday, November 09, 2011
1 Firstly, is Stanley Donwood your real name?
No. Is Ben Cotton your real name?

2) Who or what first inspired you to become an artist and when was this?

I ate a large number of hallucinogenic fungi at approximately the age of 21 and had a peculiar sort of epiphany. I realised, among many other things, that I really should try to use art as a tool to push forward a quite radical agenda, politically and socially.
I became convinced that this could be the only justification for being an artist, and for a long time - perhaps fifteen years - I worked in this way. However, in the last few years I have become extremely demoralised politically, and somewhat nihilistic in regard to the possibilities of positive social change. This may be simply age, or more probably a considered response to the continued decline of the civilisation in which I find myself.

3) Many people reading this will already know that you do the artwork for the Radiohead albums but can you tell us how this came about?

I've told so many lies about this that the truth, for what it was ever worth, is wreathed in the fogs of obscurity. When I think about what has befallen me in my adult life I am certain that the whole business is nothing but a series of accidents. If, when, how… so many forks in so many roads. The lies I told were for 'entertainment', as the actual sequence of events was quite banal.

I first met Radiohead, or 'On a Friday', as they were once known, when I and my friend Jim were hitch-hiking around the UK doing a fire-breathing show on the street; you know, a hat on the pavement for people to drop coins in, lots of apparent danger, very poor financial returns. We had both intended to be working as tree surgeons by this time but had failed to find employment. Anyway, we were supposed to be Radiohead's support act in an Oxford pub, but were eventually banned for health and safety reasons. Quite reasonably so. 
4) You have had large shows with galleries such as Lazarides who have been at the forefront of the street art movement but you are not a ‘street artist’ per se. Can you describe the style of your work to our readers?
I'm afraid that I don't have a style of work. Ideally I would, some time ago, have developed and maintained a recognisable and commercially popular 'style', but defects in my personality have unfortunately prevented this. I now realise that my lack of style is a serious problem in the 'art world', but unfortunately I have no way of doing anything about it.

5) How big a part does politics play in the work that you produce?

As I mentioned earlier, politics once played a pivotal role in almost everything I produced. I used the exposure offered by Radiohead's position in public awareness to push forward an agenda that I considered to be worthwhile. I really couldn't see the point in producing work that was disconnected from the important issues facing human culture. I was also concerned about demonic infiltration from the world of dreams/nightmares and used the artwork for 'OK Computer' to counter what I saw as a malign influence from a demonic dimension. I am less concerned about that at the moment, and more concerned that our culture is heedlessly eating its own children.

6) Who are your inspirations in terms of other artists?

It's quite hard to say. In my mind the term 'inspiration' means something like 'ideas I would like to steal', so other artists who I am inspired by (have stolen ideas from) are Robert Rauschenberg, Peter Blake, Anna Maria Pacheco, Giovanni Piranesi, Jasper Johns and many, many more. I avoid going to galleries that show new work by emerging artists as I do not want to steal from people who can't afford it.

7) Same question again but musically?

An even harder question; perhaps even impossible. Whilst working in my studio near where I live I listen to anything from Radio 4 to old electro records, anything really. Often whilst I'm working on Radiohead projects over in Oxford I listen to the record as it is being put together. So different stages in the recording process have different effects on my own work. This is important, I think; a close awareness of what's happening musically can prevent artistic disconnects. Sometimes it's quite hard to find the visual equivalent for their music, but over time it slowly emerges.

8) Do you see a strong connection between music and art?

I think there is a strong connection between music and life. Visual art is a poor second to music, with written art coming third, I think. You can't dance to art.

9) The most recent Radiohead album ‘ The King Of Limbs’ was released as a Newspaper version. For those of us who have not seen it, can you tell us what that means exactly and why that came about?

I'm a bit bored with writing about this, so if you don't mind, I'll just copy and paste in something I wrote for an obscure Chinese magazine called, appropriately enough, 'Obscura':
"Well, I thought I'd better try painting with oils. I can't remember exactly why, but I used to like the smell of oil paint and turps whilst I was at art college, and I had a vague and rather old-fashioned notion that oil was what proper artists used.  This has probably more to do with romantic novels of the mid-twentieth century than anything else. Never mind, never mind.

Anyway, as usual I was hugely over-ambitious and tried to copy the work of Gerhard Richter, a fantastic painter. Of course, I failed terribly and miserably and I deserved to do nothing less for my appalling presumption. It was a very depressing period, as for weeks and months my work got steadily worse, until I wanted to burn my studio to the fucking ground, leave my stupid job and do something less totally pointless.
Perhaps luckily, I eventually worked through this dark valley and started to paint the woods and forests, and the odd creatures who dwelt inside. These scenes were starting to emerge from the music that Radiohead were making. Just at the right time. Maybe.

The Newspaper album was an idea that I developed concurrently with the oil painting. I was reading a newspaper one sunny summer morning, and after a while I left it on the bench where I was sitting. A few hours later I came back to the bench, and the newspaper had started to curl, get brittle, and go slightly yellow in the sunlight. This, to me, was very appealing; here was a medium that was like a speeded-up version of our own bodies, something that was mirroring the inevitable decay that comes with being alive.
At the same time, someone had donated a big stack of old 1960s counterculture newspapers to Radiohead's studio.  These were mostly copies of 'it' (International Times), a few copies of Oz and other strange publications. Because of their age, these newspapers had acquired a sort of value, an archivable quality that was surely far from the minds of the radicals who had produced them with the aim of documenting and advertising the day by day activities of revolutionaries."
10) We are big fans of the 'London Views' series that shows London landmarks being destroyed invarious natural disasters. Is this something that you foresee or what was the inspiration behind this body of work?
You don't have to be a prophet to see that the combination of rising sea levels and the planned 'Thames Gateway' development is fraught with terrible possibilities. Nor is any future forecasting needed to understand that the Thames Barrier is needed more frequently with each year that passes. I love London and I will be heartbroken to see it swamped by the floods. I'm horribly afraid that this future is now inevitable. I cannot understand why the problems of global warming are not addressed with the seriousness that they require by the smug, self-satisfied servants of capitalism that we use as politicians. Can they really be as stupid as they appear?
The inspiration, funnily enough, was none of this. I was in Cornwall in 2004 when there was a freak weather event, a flash flood that destroyed the village of Boscastle. I don't think this had anything whatsoever to do with global warming; it was just the latest in a series of disastrous floods that have afflicted Cornwall for all time. Anyway, I was there, watching, horrified, as the flood swept down the valley, pulling out trees by their roots, sweeping cars along like corks, smashing houses. And then I started to draw it. After some time had passed I ended up using lino-cutting, in a quasi-medieval style, to depict the floods of London.

As a coda, I should add that I've just finished an eighteen foot long version of Los Angeles being destroyed by fire, flood and meteor storm. Very much in the 'style' of 'London Views', but a lot more detailed, and bigger. It's called 'Lost Angeles'.

11) You're very concerned with the quality of the print making, can you tell us a bit about the different processes you use for your limited edition prints?

Principally I use screen printing, or seriography. You can do almost everything with screen printing, and it's a very good method to use if you're after bright colours. Although I often use relief printing for linocuts, woodcuts and letterpress; it's much more difficult to register different colours with this though, especially using Victorian presses. I've also done a series of prints entitled 'If You Lived Here You'd Be Home By Now' using photographic copperplate etching; this is an incredibly lengthy and complicated process. Nice though. And lately, for work that I'm reproducing from oil paintings, I've had to use both lithography and giclée printing, as the images I've been trying to print have been too complex with too many subtle textures for seriography.

12) Do you collect art yourself, if so what’s in your personal collection and what is your favourite piece in your collection?

No, I don't.

13)  What have you got coming up. Any exhibitions/projects planned for the rest of the year or 2012?
I'm going to stare out of the window at the rain until the spring. Then I'm going to do an exhibition in Los Angeles, I hope.  But I may have pissed off the gallery so much with my constant vacillation that they'll tell me to fuck off. I don't know. But if it works out, that will be the first showing of 'Lost Angeles'.
Available limited edition screen prints from Stanley Donwood

The children play along the canal where the warehouses used to be. They have elaborate games and run across planks over the water. They don't mind when the helicopters come over because they have got used to them. Look, I say. That's where Homebase used to be. They are not interested. It's not their fault. Maybe it's mine.
(story by Mr. Donwood)

                                                         TWENTY FOUR CARAT
Here, depicted in pixels is the result of a vastly expensive and unpredictable foray into luxury printing. The Slowly Downward Manufactory purchased an significant quantity of gold leaf, with the aim of applying it to huge sheets of paper which we would then silkscreen print. To say that it was a gamble would be an understatement, but after a couple of fraught weeks it looks as if it may have worked. At the time of writing the prints (which number only four) still require hand-finishing, but my hopes are, unusually enough, reasonably high. The print itself will be on show at the forthcoming exhibition in Los Angeles. I can say no more at the present. 

- 29th March 2012 

                                                                               Los DOOM

Far, far away, beyond the western rim of the known universe is a magical kingdom, accessible only by a frequently delayed train and a slightly tedious walk along a ring road. 
Out there, such things as the screen print above are made. As yet trimmed to size, this photograph shows a print called Hollywood Dooom. It's one of several which are currently 'in production', as they say in Tinseltown. 
Or do they? I have no fucking idea whatsoever. It's late. I'm a bit tired and emotional, as they say. Or do they? Et cetera. 

                                                                                              Los kozo

 Above, you see four of the intended twelve prints of the entirety of Lost Angeles suspended above the studio, a full twelve feet in the air. This project has illuminated in many ways my inability to think things through but never so severely and painfully as when it came to hand-burnish the print on to twenty-foot lengths of highly expensive handmade Japanese paper. There is no way to print this work mechanically; ithas to be done by hand, in the most archaic and genuinely manufactured ('made by hand') method possible. The process is almost unbelievably slow, painstaking and delicate. Japanese kozo paper is handmade from the fibres of the bark of the mulberry tree, and is both very strong and very thin. The process of printing an eighteen foot-long linocut onto a twenty-foot roll of it involves pulleys, strings, weights, cardboard tubes, and myself and Mr Grimmer (the printer) wondering when exactly it's all going to go terribly wrong.
It has taken a lot of time and an incalculable amount of effort and expertise (not mine!) to reach this point. My indefatigable printer, Mr Grimmer, has made me promise not to make another incredibly long linocut. And will I listen to him? Will I take heed of his sage advice? Who can tell? 

                                                                                             Los jigsaw
    This carefully crafted Photoshopped simulation of an theoretical jigsaw puzzle gives the viewer a suggestion of how the Lost Angeles jigsaw will look in real life and actual fact. Uncanny, isn't it, the level of manipulation that can be acheived with only a rough sketch on a napkin and a sample of the artist's DNA?
The idea is that the article will be composed of 192 wooden pieces, encased within a sturdy cardboard box. Something very similar was produced for an exhibition and a series of work I made in 2006. This is a companion piece really; the same number of pieces, the same size, the same jaded cynics behind its conception. All that has changed, essentially, is the image cut into 192 pieces and the number of years left to exist for us all.
It is my intention to have several of these whimsical articles produced in time for the upcoming show at Subliminal Projects Gallery. We will see how things go.

- 21st March 2012                                                                                         
stanley donwood's official site

the only worry for a person
should be the reason for one's worry
A blow in life should be taken as a medicine
(medicine is bitter)





A lot of the houses out here are bright red, straight of the paint tube. The fences around their gardens aren't right. But over there, to the east, everything is realistic and local as it should be, except on fire.

story Mr Donwood; pic nataliandwarnings

So one day I began collecting: I urinated into a large jar. I masturbated and scooped my ejaculate into a second jar. I took a knife from the drawer and made an incision on the end of my finger and squeezed the blood in thin trickles and fat drops into a third jar. I sat down with a fourth jar on my lap, and thought of sad things. Then I wept into the jar. I repeated these actions every evening, each fluid into its appointed jar. After a month, I emptied the contents of the jars into small saucepans, which I heated carefully until I had evaporated the liquid. When the pans had cooled, I scraped the residue, with the aid of a funnel, into separate salt cellars. I then tasted each of my personal salts, judging which would go best with what food.
My experiment was a resounding success. The salts seemed to impart a subtle intensity to spicy dishes, and a freshness and zest to even the most homely soup. And so my restaurant began to attract many more patrons as increasing numbers of adulatory reviews appeared in some of the Sunday supplements.
Obviously, I had to continue to produce the salts that had made my culinary creations such overnight successes. My establishment was now being patronised by celebrities as well as politicians and the merely rich.
My difficulty lay chiefly with eliciting sadness on demand. On some nights I would sit in my chair, the fourth jar on my lap, and start laughing with joy at the success of my restaurant. I would have to force myself to envisage a starving child or departing lover. I knew that there was boundless, ceaseless suffering on this Earth, but I found it more and more difficult to identify with it myself, while the prestige of my restaurant grew higher, and with it my bank balance. I found that the most efficacious manner of forcing tears from my eyes was to think of love; loves lost, love's tragedies, and love's hopelessness.
And so it was that I began to have trouble with the second jar. Latterly, my attempts at masturbation were rather more difficult, as my erotic thoughts staggered and tumbled into the despair I needed for the fourth jar. Not infrequently, I found it impossible to distinguish between sorrow and love.
After five months, I caught myself ejaculating into my lap, upon which rested the jar meant for tears. I began to find sorrow arousing, and could not cry without getting an erection. Conversely, I could not find a woman attractive without starting to weep. I worried about my salts, for my supplies were running low. Moreover, the quality of the salt from the first jar was beginning to decline, as I attempted to find solace in alcoholic abandon. I would drink deeply; and laugh, and cry. But my urine suffered. It became thin and pale, copius but worthless. The salt I extracted was tasteless.
The reputation of my restaurant would keep its fortunes bouyant for a while, but I knew that sooner, rather than later, the decline in the quality of the seasonings would be noted. I sank lower into despair. I could not run the terrible risk of sharing my secret with anyone else. I had only one reliable source of salt - that which filled the third jar. The third jar never ran out. The menu had to reflect this, and there was a preponderance of rich, red, meaty dishes, lavishly enhanced with the salt of my blood, trickled - or sometimes drunkenly spurted, gushed - from my fingers, thumbs, wrists or arms every evening.
But I was weakening. My drinking was becoming uncontrollable, I would involuntarily orgasm during the news, and burst into tears at the most inopportune moments. The constant bloodletting was making me anaemic. I resolved to return to the formula that had won my eaterie so many plaudits. Determinedly, I researched the most emotionally draining novels, the most haunting poems. I ejaculated again and again into the second jar. I drank pure fruit juice and mineral water and produced once again the golden, viscous urine that filled the first jar. I wept uncontrollably, for three-quarters of a hour, with a pornographic magazine propped in front of me. And I took the sharpest knife and drew one widening red line across my wrist.
The banquet was a success.

S.Donwood; nataliandwarnings

There's just the muffled crunchy sound of teeth grinding and scraping of boots on tarmac or something and a noise far away that maybe is someone crying or a cat and everything moves a bit in the wind but there isn't any noise of that sort of thing. There's a tape on of people talking about probably nothing important at a restaurant and a marching sound that's a bit like a lot of soldiers and a bit like a wheel rubbing against metal but it might not be a tape it's hard to tell. And everyone's run out of jokes because no-ones laughing at anything although they probably would if they had a sense of humour. Probably nothing important. Just a noise in the dark when youre half asleep something behind the curtains don't look its nothing don't look honestly its nothing. Maybe it's the town you live in making these noises or maybe it's you. Just a million mobiles and modems squawking and spluttering and hissing like piss on a fire like a million gallons of piss on an inferno just think of that eh?
Just think of that. Vertebrae being sawn apart sounds like this.

And when I opened the curtains they were taking the set away and packing up for the day, the cameras and lights turned off. The darkness replaced with striplights and and the grey skies the blind whirring of machinery.
I'd like to write a beautiful story about love:

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