vendredi 31 juillet 2015

MADE IN ADVERSITY - Gareth Jackson

Gareth Jackson is a conceptual artist operating in the North West of England.  His work has been described as 'cold and post human' which pleased him greatly.  He has previously produced both commercial art and high art, but now prefers to occupy an indeterminate post modern zone.

PML: You wanted to call this interview Made in Adversity.  Why was that?

GJ: It's the name of my faux media company and the circumstances in which my work is made.

PML:  Can you give us some examples of this adversity?

GJ:  Willfully producing no budget works / refusing to permit colour in most of my work / working outside of the industry-establishment / not seeking approval or often even an audience / not relocating from the rural North to London.  And although I am not now impoverished, I have been for long periods. 

PML:  Yes?

GJ:  Most of this ADVERSITY is from self imposed prohibitions.

PML:  You do keep a low profile.  I googled you and didn't find much.

GJ:  It amuses that while people seem to litter the internet with 'selfies' and whatnot I take a contrary position of attempting to minimize my personal self.  Almost everything is an act of art, so is given due consideration.

PML:  You’re a filmmaker, an editor and a writer...

GJ:  I attempt to produce works in all media.  I have little interest in constructing a formal career as I am interested in what can be discovered if you turn around and travel in the opposite direction.  This means that my work can be restlessly divergent.  I think of these various strategies as hats and I am very fond of hat-stacking.

PML:  Is this an attempt to avoid artistic unity?

GJ:  No.  All of these strategies / hats could be thought of as subsets of my conceptual art practice.  It is never entirely clear if I am making a film or writing a text or producing a conceptual artwork in that form.  I strive to leave no gap between art and life - therefore almost everything becomes potential material for / or act of art.  I would perhaps regard myself ('misen' in Northern slang) as a philosophical test pilot questioning if theory holds in application.

PML:  Is there any particular hat you prefer wearing nowadays?

GJ:  I have drifted away from filmmaking a little in recent years, and now mostly produce textworks.

PML:  Why do you think that is?

GJ: I had a very prolific period making no budget experimental films which culminated, but did not conclude, with making LORD HORROR - THE DARK AND SILVER AGE (2010) after which I was unsure if there was any new territory which these films could explore.

PML:  So writing is fresher?

GJ:  I am now very interested in words and their arrangement in considered order. I find there is something very direct / immediate in the act of writing although I prefer authoring SPECULATIVE FICTIONS pages as that is a concurrent marriage of writing, graphic design and illustration.

PML:  What are you trying to do in your writing?

GJ:  I strive to remain experimental although this becomes trickier the more textworks I produce.

PML:  Is that because of the danger of repeating yourself?

GJ:  Yes, with familiarity it becomes a rote process which does not particularly interest me.

PML:  But is it still possible to be an experimental writer in our hyper modern era?

GJ:  After the sixties it is very difficult, perhaps impossible, to produce anything truly experimental in any media; but this does not absolve us from the attempt to do so.

PML:  What are your general aims as an artist?

GJ:  My aim is mostly to please and amuse myself and with regards to others to 'wreck everything and ruin their lives'.

PML: And beyond that?

GJ:  The provocation of thought.  I find much of contemporary art disappointing as most artists operate within the strictures of the art industry / establishment, and permit their work to be commodified.  Coming from an abandoned career in the commercial arts as a graphic designer and (uncommercial) illustrator, I reject this and struggle to keep my work 'pure' - FREE and distributed electronically to ALL.

PML:  It’s not necessarily wrong to make a living from your art…

GJ:  No, but I prefer to adopt a contrary approach by applying personal prohibitions.  This position is willfully quixotic.  I thoroughly enjoy being quixotic and I do this because someone has to.

PML:  Tell us about one of these free projects - your online magazine SPECULATIVE FICTIONS.

GJ:  SPECULATIVE FICTIONS (SF) could be read self contained pages as an e-magazine or as works exhibited in an imaginary exhibition.  I write my own page contributions and respond to author submissions as an editor / graphic designer / illustrator.

PML: And SF is, I understand, published annually?

GJ: Yes. ISSUE ZERO of SF (2013) was entirely my work being a test experiment to define what SF should be.  With ISSUE ONE (2014) I opened the project to submissions as I am interested in the act of collaboration which can be engaging and can temporarily permit the relaxation of certain personal prohibitions.

PML: What other collaborative work have you been doing?

GJ:  My most recent collaborative work is participating in the exhibition (AND MODEL Gallery /Leeds / 11/06/15) which accompanies the book launch of the Robert Meadley novel GOING TO OST.  Robert is the greatest 'philosophical comedian' working in the English language.
 I usually avoid the act of exhibition as I prefer to circumnavigate the art ind/est and engage with the viewer directly.

PML:  If your work is in a gallery, it still engages with the viewer.

GJ: The act of exhibition confers the status of 'art' onto any object which appears inside a gallery and I feel it is preferable to allow the viewer to make their own readings and value assessment of the work.
As I reject the commodification of art entirely I feel that everyone should be able to own an exact copy of a work of art which enables them to engage with it in their domestic environment.  The internet has now enabled artists with the potential to distribute their work freely and directly.

PML:  Is SF a long-term project?

GJ:  I am driven by whimsy so I usually conceive and conclude most projects very quickly, although I have committed to produce annual issues of SF for as long as it remains interesting - unusually, for me, distribution is an integral part of this project.

PML:  Why is that?

GJ:  The act of distribution can be very time consuming.  More often than not when I conclude a project I immediately move on to new projects as the work being seen does not greatly concern me but always disregarding the act of distribution had become very much an omission.
With SF I only need to distribute issues on the 01/01 annually and then give it no further consideration.

PML:  You also have some ongoing film projects.

GJ:  I do have to get round to finishing the nearly completed but long bypassed short films TERMINAL and THE LAST MAN ON THE MOON - - - which may or may not occur in 2015.
In the interim the written texts for these films also became pages in SF.

PML:  What else does the future hold?

GJ:  The past is a hole which I am constantly climbing out of as I fall into the future - - - I imagine I will be carrion food for our cockroach inheritors.

The Renaissance is nigh :Torquato Tasso by Dario Rivarossa:

Dario Rivarossa was born in Cuneo, North-West Italy, in 1969. He studied philosophy, theology, and comic art with a view to working first as a journalist and then as a translator from English and German.  His translations include science fiction, essays on history or economy and interfaith studies.  His first-and-a-half job is as an artist, with works published and collected in the USA.  A member of International Authors since 2010, he recently created the “Magic Trio” team of illustrators together with Tiziana Grassi aka Selkis and Eva Nieri aka Nivalis. He now lives in Perugia, near Assisi (the homeland of St Francis), where he married Paola in 2006. He also sings in a “mountain choir” as a first tenor. His most notable publication to date is Dante Was a Fantasy Writer (International Authors, 2013).
Dario is currently working on an English translation of Il Mondo Creato by the 16th century Italian poet, Torquato Tasso.  It should be published by next Spring

PML: Dario, can you begin by telling us a little about Tasso?  Who was he exactly?

DR:  “A madman,” according to commonplace opinion in Italy. But he was jailed in order to make him go insane, not because he was: a way to make a dangerous citizen be quiet, like it would happen in the 20th century in the USSR.

PML: Why has he had such a bad press?

DR:  He threatened to reveal dark secrets about the Este family, the rulers of Ferrara, in central Italy, where he lived.  But this overshadows the fact that he was one of the greatest Italian poets ever.

PML: Whose idea was it to translate Tasso?

DR:  It came from a dear friend who is now the co-translator in the project, Prof. Salwa Khoddam. Since I have a blog,, wholly devoted to Tasso and the translation of his works into English, especially Gerusalemme Conquistata, she asked me if I meant to make a book of it. I replied, “Naa, nobody would care about this stuff.” And she, “Are you joking?! It would be of great interest, etc. etc.!” We then chose Tasso's poem Il Mondo Creato (The Seven Days of the World's Creation) because it was shorter and less difficult than the Conquistata, 10,000 lines instead of 20,000, and because it may have been a source for Milton's Paradise Lost.

PML : Tasso's Il Mondo Creato was a source for Paradise Lost

DR:  Oh, yes, this is a very intriguing side of the problem. In Naples, during his Grand Tour in Italy as a young man, Milton met Count Giovanni Battista Manso, who had been one of Tasso's best friends. Milton would even title a poem after him: Mansus. Well, Tasso had decided to write Il Mondo Creato precisely after exchanging theological conversations with the Count's learned mother. So, it would be strange if Milton knew nothing about that poem which reworked the first chapters of Genesis. Was Paradise Lost meant as a sequel?

PML: How did you come across Tasso?

DR:  Following the rings in a literary chain. I have been a fan of Dante since I was 10 or so. Some twenty years ago, my Dante studies led me to William Blake, and in turn Blake to Milton. Some five years ago, Milton made me curious about the great Italian poets of the Renaissance, whose works he knew well: Ludovico Ariosto, and Tasso, precisely.

PML: What attracted you to his writings?

DR:  On first reading his best-known poem, Gerusalemme Conquistata (“Jerusalem Delivered”), I thought: “See, there are many cool episodes and lines, who could have believed that?” The second time, it sounded rather like: “Wow, all this is really great!” And the third, “Oh my God, this guy is greater than Dante!” He became an uncontrollable passion. A whole new universe was opened by the opportunity to retrieve his so-called minor works: Il Re Torrismondo (the only Shakespearean tragedy written in Italy during Shakespeare's lifetime, and later), Il Mondo Creato, and Gerusalemme Conquistata (1593), the remake of the Liberata (1581). It is unbelievable the number of silly statements about the Conquistata that have been spread by scholars who haven't even taken the trouble to flip through its pages.

PML:  Do you think Tasso still has relevance today?

DR:  For tomorrow, I daresay. In my opinion, the Modern Era, i.e. the epoch in the Western history that started in the 17th - 18th centuries, is approaching its end; see the Charlie Hébdo affair as a symptom . . .

PML:  Are you a decadent, Dario?

DR:  Even further back than that: a pre-decadent! Yeah, I think we'll probably have to re-adopt a Renaissance attitude towards . . .  everything.

PML:  What does it mean to adopt a Renaissance attitude?

DR:  Tasso's message is not specifically different from the message of the other great Renaissance writers and/or poets and/or artists. To make it as brief as possible, it would mean to pass from unilateral thinking (see the Enlightenment: “We are the light. Everything before us, or different from us, is darkness”) to a multilateral view. Since the universe, or even society, surpasses our faculties infinitely, we always need at least two opposite keys in order to approach it, and assume that both / all of them are significant.

PML: So concretely that means...

DR:  . . .  that there are no pre-conceived solutions, but we should learn each time from events. Again, think about the hot issue of Islam. In Ariosto's and Tasso's poems, we don't find the one attitude to be held. It depends on which Christian meets which Muslim. They might be fierce enemies, but respect each other at the same time. Vice versa, the current “liberal” society tolerates Muslims but, at the same time, despises them.  Saladin was a hero and a model of courtesy even in the eyes of the Crusaders. But today, what common elements remain between the West and ISIS? Oil, weapons, TV.

PML: What sort of technical difficulties did you encounter in the translation?

DR:  A huge number of difficulties! Tasso has not – not yet? – many fans, not even in Italy, for a number of reasons: Dante – not Tasso which could have been the case – was chosen as the Standard Bearer of Italian Literature after our National Unification (1861). And, according to the 18th-19th century mainstream culture in Italy, influenced by France, he was “too” religious. And, he was dismissed as a madman. But honestly, a part of the problem is also that he loved to make his verses long, and thorny, and full of Latinizing words. This new English version of ours follows the text line by line, word by word, but puts it into plainer language. We hope it'll promote a rediscovery of this brilliant, “gigantic” poet.

PML:  Did you learn anything about yourself during the translation work?

DR:  Yes, I learned that I understand much less than I boast to.  Incidentally, a billion thanks are due to Dr. Carter Kaplan, who immediately accepted to publish the book for International Authors. He even collaborates as the final editor – and a very careful and clever one, at that: I've nicknamed him “American Sniper.”

PML:  Once Il Mondo Creato, is finished, what'll your next project be?

DR: To trust in God.
PML:  No, seriously!

DR: Is there anything more serious than that?! Ask Tasso. But to go flatly professional, I have a dream, rather than a project: To switch full-time to illustration and design. Se son rose, fioriranno. “If these sticks happen to be roses, it will be shown in their blooming.”

Juan de Nubes Belleville Artist

“J'essaye de faire vibrer les choses que je dessine afin de reproduire leur réalité sensible”
" I try to make the things I draw vibrate with a view to reproducing their sensitive reality "
in “murs,murs” 2012, éditions forceps, juan de nubes

“ juan de nubes ne reproduit pas le visible, il rend visible”
" Juan de Nubes does not reproduce the visible, he renders visible "
in “jardin des cimes, le dessin pas nature” 2014, éditions forceps, juan de nubes/marianne guyader

“la douceur à l'état brut” "Gentleness in the rough"
Camille larquet,

PML: How did become an artist?  

JDN:  I began my arts education by reading everything I could find about the theory and practice of perspective and drawing.  Of course, I rejected everything I'd read after my first few days in a proper art school...

PML:  Why was that?

JDN:  Because when you work on a project, you have to forget the received wisdom and find a way of doing things for yourself.  Experience should be more based on what you feel at the moment rather than in what you've learnt. Your work builds itself empirically.

PML: Where was this first proper art school?

JDN:  In Nice. It was a small place called the “Villa Thiole”.  After that, I put together a pretty good portfolio and was accepted by a State art school, the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Avignon and obtained the DNSEP (Diplôme National Supérieur d'Expression Plastique) a national Visual Arts diploma, in Montpellier. 

PML:  I thought you'd attended a design school?

JDN:   That was a few years later. I chose the ENSCI (École Nationale Supérieure de Création Industrielle) which is considered one of the mythical Parisian design schools. I got my diploma, but never stopped drawing and etching - which were my first loves.  As an artist, as a designer, and as a human being, all those facets converse and feed the same creative process.

PML:   So you haven’t always worked purely as an artist?

JDN:  I consider my real work to be my art. Visual arts are what encompass my entire art experience, but all the jobs I did before such as graphics, corporate, various incursions into the industrial process are connected with my methods and have enriched my working process.  It is strange how, despite having learned complex computer-made 3D technologies, I now use the simplest tools: charcoal, paper, ink and etching; the old-fashioned and basic techniques.

PML:  Why do you think that is?

JDN:  In my opinion, the pure process of expression and creation can count more than the material result.  There's no artifice in such simple tools.

PML:  So how would you define your art today?

JDN: I think my art is a fusion of my way of seeing life.  It’s at once a landscape of real life and a personal interior view which includes my past, my feelings, my experience and my knowledge.

PML:  How has your art evolved over the years?

JDN:  My work is becoming freer and freer.  It includes references to contemporary and conceptual art, but without the need to look different or be original or new. I just try to be as clear and honest as possible with myself.

PML: Are there any contemporary artists that influence you?

JDN:  Well, all kinds of art and a lot of artists really interest me…  But, you know, in my opinion, Bach is an extremely contemporary artist!  Traditional music too: Chanson française, tango…. In literature: the French Nouveau Roman of the 50’s, but also plain old thrillers.  If I could have lived in another era, it would have been the Quattrocento.  But I am also attracted to Avant Garde movements like Supports/Surfaces and the work of a lot of conceptual artists.  The only form of art that doesn’t really influence me is cinema. Or perhaps, it’s because I can’t help thinking that documentary films are the only real cinema.

PML:  So you wouldn’t consider yourself as part of a movement?

JDN:  Not in the traditional 20th century sense of the word.  I don’t really believe there are “movements” in art.  There are only people connected by a common interest.  These so-called movements can be connected to others in the past and in the present - out of movements, out of time - which retain a strong connection to reality.  Such links mean more to me than a group of people using the same colours or the same techniques over a period of years.  Movements are a way for people to somehow feel exceptional or different.  I don't care for differences; on the contrary, I like similarities.

PML:  Does your art carry a message?

JDN:  Every work of art carries a message.  Not in the sense of “what does it mean socially", but what does it disturb, what does it assemble, what does it remove, what does it do in the spectator’s mind?  I’m not interested in consciously linking my art with daily life, social problems, or trends. I prefer to take the risk of being considered an old-fashioned coherent artist rather than the leader of the new whatever.

PML:  But I suppose your art is subconsciously linked with daily life?

JDN:  The only way I communicate real life is through thoughts that are like out of space and out of time. For instance, you see a stone wall and you feel the same emotion that someone probably felt a hundred years ago, or maybe thousands of years ago.  That emotion is one of appreciation: that the wall is great, or well made, or simple, or mysterious...

PML: Can you talk us through your process?

JDN:  I really love drawing.  I let my hand decide for me, the paper decides for my hand, and the weather decides for the paper...

PML: The weather?

JDN: Yes!  Whether it's dry or wet means that the paper may shrink or enlarge.  It also changes the way the tools interact with the surface.. 

PML:  How did the mysterious pseudonym Juan de Nubes come about?

JDN:  There was a book that was important to me during my studies : A Theory of Cloud, Toward A History of Painting by Hubert Damish.  Since I read it - and I think even before - I felt a natural sympathy for clouds, those strange things we can see, but can’t hold, that don’t really exist as material objects but of which we talk
, about which we create theories and systems - shapes and art history. 

PML: So Hubert Damish’s book gave you your name and your artistic approach?

JDN:  Well, many years later, I read another Theory of Clouds by Stéphane Audeguy, though this one was a novel. The gap between those two books is exactly how I see my approach: from theory to narrative, from the intellect to the emotions. When you draw, you are on the first rung of meaning.  Everyone can understand at least one level of what you are trying to say whether it is just a first impression, or the technical process, or metaphoric... Everyone knows what a cloud is, but it's not that important that the majority of the public doesn't know about my theory of clouds, anymore than they would about “Le nuvolaire “ by Fosco Maraini, or real climatology theories. 

PML:   What about Juan?

JDN:  It’s my first name, the same as my father and my grandfather.  Maybe, now that our king is no longer in power, I could use my full name which is Juan-Carlos.  As for associating Juan and de Nubes, that’s another story...  More to do with a few glasses of wine in a Bistro in Montmartre.

PML:  What are your aims when you exhibit your work?

JDN:  Coherence in quality is what I look for when preparing exhibitions.  I try to present my work in places accessible to the general public as well as art galleries as long as there are no concessions to the quality of the work: Elitaire pour tous as Antoine Vitez said when referring to Jean Villard's theatre.  I should mention that I’m also involved in various artists associations such as the Ateliers d'Artistes de Belleville and the Atelier aux Lilas for typography and print. 

PML:  Where can we see your work?

JDN:  I had a recent exhibition in a cultural centre in St Germain En Laye.  It was called “Gardiens des Cimes, Dessin par Nature”.  It was interesting because it created a dialogue between drawings and etchings.  In November I exhibited at the Autumn Salon, along the “Champs Elysées”.  I've got some pieces in the Aab Gallerie, in Belleville.  I'm currently involved in projects for Berlin and Barcelona.
But everyone's welcome to visit my studio.  It's the best place to see the works as they grow.  And, last but not least, there's my website “”

My next exhibition will be with three other artists, at the ”Biennale de Lmay”, from 5 to 29 march 2015, Galerie des Réservoirs, 2 rue des Réservoirs, 78520 Limay.

Michael Butterworth Part 2 Publishing, Contemporary Art and Corridor8

PML:  What sort of visual art do you personally like?

MB:  I am attracted to conceptual art, I suppose, because of my writing – the more poetic ‘New Worlds’ pieces tend to use ironic metaphor to express my concerns about the planet and I try to describe phenomenon like space-time.  But I like a broad range of styles, periods and types of visual art.  I must say straight away that I am not an expert in the field.  Innovation is the impetus behind my publishing, and I have entered art publishing with the aim of personal discovery.

PML:  Are you, perhaps, an artist yourself?

MB:  As a pre-teen and young teenager I practised both painting and drawing as well as writing. I made the decision to be a writer for practical reasons – thinking that a pen and notebook, or a portable typewriter, made life easier than carting around easels or photographic equipment.

PML:  Does art still retain a potential for innovation?

MB:  In the digital media world, when all aesthetic art has exhausted itself, conceptual art is the only form that seems to retain potential for innovation.  And in many ways, conceptual and contemporary art are synonymous.  It is like poetry, a completely free agent, which does not require an aesthetic, although it sometimes does; it is timeless, and it plays with ideas, often it is quite literally playful and, like the best poetry it can also be profound.  By exhibiting a ‘ready made’, a urinal, in a public gallery in 1917, Duchamp notoriously questioned the idea of what art is, and, equally, what an artist does, in the age of photography and mass production.

PML:  How did conceptualism come into being?

MB:  Very simply, and very much as my knowledge of it currently goes, conceptualism (and therefore much of current contemporary visual art) started with Duchamp. In the late 60s and early 70s it had a ‘second wave’ (New Worlds, the mouthpiece of the ‘New Wave’ of Science Fiction, was its unalloyed contemporary) when it underwent a period of development by younger artists in New York and elsewhere.  After that, and I can only say what has happened in the UK – I must be missing out a lot – there was a third ‘wave’ in the 90s, when conceptualism gained public understanding. So there were three waves – Duchamp, then in the 60s and 70s there was a great period of exploration and, finally in the 90s another set of artists brought it to public acceptance.

PML:  But what about the future? Where can art ‘go’ now?

MB:  Like many other cultural expressions – music, writing, film, and theatre – it has reached a watershed.  Although there is still much to say – an ever increasing amount, in fact, as society grows technologically and more of the world can be apprehended simultaneously – contemporary visual art has become a form of entertainment, like folk art, sometimes  meaningful, but no longer radical.

PML:  So the artist can no longer be radical?

MB:  The potential to be radical still exists – and indeed an artist can still be radical in terms of technique, with the use technology.  But he or she can only be radical for fifteen minutes, until the next technological development!  It is difficult to say anything new, in order to make an impact.  It’s a quandary facing every new artist who wants to make a career impact.  How to find something new when everything is instantly superseded or has already been done?  Artists like Richard Kostelantetz argue that it is still possible, using formal experimentation, but this seems to me to be splitting hairs.  Any original expression of this kind instantly becomes obsolete, and really it is very artificial.  It is hardly a response to some major advent of technology like photography or mass production, or social change or political upheaval. Formal experimentation of this kind does seem, nevertheless, to be a last bastion of the avant garde!

PML:  So tell us about Corridor8. You first produced a magazine called Corridor in 1971. Is there a link?

MB:  When I first came to do an art journal in 2009 I did not set out to re-launch the small press publication I began doing in my twenties. That early ’zine featured mainly literary writing and illustration, and contained little in the way of contemporary art, despite the influence on me of New Worlds. However, Corridor8 has become a kind of unplanned continuation of those early editions.

PML:  Why the ‘8’ in the title?  Were there Corridor5's, 6's and 7's?

MB: I produced a total of seven ‘zines under different mastheads, most of them ‘Corridor’, the last one appearing in 1976. When the first edition of Corridor8 appeared it was therefore the eighth Corridor, produced after a gap of thirty-three years. We liked the title Corridor8, so it became a generic title. That was supposed to be the only similarity – the name!

PML: It has another similarity, as a magazine. Why did you return to that format?

MB: That’s true. It is a continuation of that early magazine-based publishing.  It spans Savoy Books, and it has enabled me to return to a first love, if you like, after years of book publishing. Savoy grew directly out of those ’zines, David Britton’s small press publications – he did a series of them also – as well as mine. The content of Savoy’s early book publications came from them.

PML: So where did the contemporary visual art come from, then?

MB: Strangely enough, from a print-on-demand imprint that I launched in 2006 as an experiment, as an outlet for ‘occasional’ books that don’t fit the Savoy list.  The imprint is very occasional, in fact, with only three titles so far.  But one of these, Jackson Pollock the Musical, published in 2007, got me interested in conceptual art.  The debut literary work of Roger McKinley, a practicing conceptual artist, it is a libretto for an imaginary musical – so it is a joke, in the best conceptual way. As a clever and detailed account of Pollock’s life, with tinges of fantasy and absurdity, it is also serious, as the best conceptual art also is, so it sits comfortably astride both art and literature.

PML:  How did you discover Roger McKinley?

MB:  As is often the way with all these things I happened to know Roger as a friend.  He submitted a manuscript to me anonymously, so I had to guess who the author was – not too difficult as it happened, as he has a very distinctive sense of humour!  I also knew his partner, Jo McGonigal, another practicing artist. So when I came to think of a new journal, I could see that these two well-informed and well-connected artists could make the beginnings of a professional team.

PML:  Where did the initial funding come from?

MB:  Well, not long after I published Roger’s book, my father died, leaving me a small inheritance.  This provided me with start-up capital.  At the same time, my wife Sara and I became interested in the architect Will Alsop. Will’s concept of a linear city forming along the Transpennine Motorway, the M62, a roadway that runs raggedly across the neck of England from Liverpool to Hull, seemed highly prescient to us, and it became the theme of our first issue.  One day, after learning of the inheritance, Sara suddenly said, “I know you want to do a magazine, so why don’t you use some of the money?”  

PML:  And Corridor was to be something very different from what you were doing with Savoy?

MB:  Absolutely.  And that brings me to another very important factor in the journal’s origin, the design team, Dust, who I first came across when looking for a jacket designer for my print on demand imprint.  The design of Corridor8 had to be as different in style as possible to that of Savoy, yet just as distinctive, which theirs is.

PML:  What was the first issue of the journal like?

MB:  It had a tall oversized format, about which our distributors were wary.  It reflected the motorway ‘corridor’, and looked at contemporary art practice within this region.  Jo selected the artists. She curated a special ‘Flash Art’ section, while Roger acted as journal editor, assisted by Laura Mansfield, a young curator and writer who I’d met at an art event. We did a double feature on Will Alsop, one on his architecture, another on his canvas art.  For literary content I commissioned Iain Sinclair to travel the motorway, which he did, in both directions, first by car with Chris Petit, and then (having just reached seniority) by bus pass with his wife Anna.  This, as well as a further commission I asked Iain to do for our second issue, formed the content of the ‘North’ section of his 2011 book, Ghost Milk, which relates accounts of his travels outside his usual comfort zone of London.

PML:  Who supported the journal?

MB: Until now we have been supported by Arts Council England North West.  I have provided match funding for their grants.  Dust have also been important funders.   Corridor8’s staff, all of whom work as low-paid hands or interns, are also tremendously significant factors.

PML:  Where do you want Corridor8 to go?

MB: Simply to continue being a good journal on art and writing, relevant wherever there is a readership for it. The current issue (Issue #3) is North-of-England-centric, to raise our profile in our home region. It appeared as four quarterly parts, each launched in a different Northern city. But subsequent issues will see a return to having a much wider remit. It will still be a platform for the North, but it will be interacting with international cities in an exciting and novel way, which we are planning at the moment.

PML:  Do you consider the influence of London in the world of contemporary art too dominant?

MB:  It is a challenge to site a journal elsewhere, to regions where new work can be easily eclipsed. The North of England contains more than a quarter of the UK’s population, and may eventually devolve politically – it has its own axial road and rail route to the Continent and Ireland, and of course it borders on Scotland – so it is potentially a very interesting region, where contemporary art is produced.

PML:  By focusing on the North, isn’t there a danger of provinciality?

MB:  No, because there is a great deal of significant art being produced here by artists who are not at all provincial. There are also a growing number of galleries drawing international visitors, and educational art departments that attract students from a diverse range of geographical areas.

PML: Are there so many artists in the North of England?

MB:  Oh, yes!  Because of the comparative cheapness of studio space, the North is fantastically rich in artists, some of whom are home grown but many others stay on here after leaving university.  There are more artist-run spaces in Sheffield, for instance, than anywhere else in the country.  The work that is produced can be high quality, but the problem for these artists is that they have few local outlets. Although rich in product, at present the North has few commercial galleries, so they exhibit in London or Paris or New York, or Los Angeles or wherever.

PML:  So you’re trying to shift the focus away from these places?

MB:   Our aim is to help ‘join the dots’ in the North, to help make the region become its own centre of gravity. We are partners with the Contemporary Art Society who encourage collectors, and we also support The Manchester Contemporary, the largest and longest running contemporary visual art fair outside London, which happens at the end of every September. This fair continues to grow each year. It is both an outlet for Northern galleries and their artists, as well as an opportunity for national and international galleries to dip a toe in the region.

PML:  Can all this be accomplished only through a journal?

MB:   Well, look what Frieze did. That was a journal when it started out! Corridor8 is becoming an organisation with different facets. Our website has become more pro-active (it has a different set of editors to the print publication). Events are also becoming increasingly important as a means of expression. We try to make our launches interesting occasions, hiring guest speakers and putting on installations. We also lead and take part in symposiums and appear at art, print and ’zine fairs up and down the country.

PML:  How do you decide on the content of each magazine?

MB:   Very basically we find a theme, then make a list of the articles we’d like to see, and the writers we’d like to write them. This acts as the skeleton, if you like. Other things can get added along the way. 

PML:  Can you speak a little about the writing published in Corridor 8? 

MB:  There is a lot of it!  On our website we provide reviews of art exhibitions, while in the print journal we write about artists and their work and run interviews with artists, gallerists, collectors, curators and so on.  But we also publish fiction/faction, art writing, eg concrete poetry and other art-word texts, and art journalism.

PML:  Who is on the team?

MB:  At any one time there is a hard core of about ten. This can increase when an issue is underway, when marketing, PR and extra designers become involved. We have been extremely lucky in attracting a high calibre of young people at just the right career moment for them; we have grown with them, and they have grown with us.

PML: A final question about your publishing.  Did it grow out of your writing?

MB:  Yes, because when I started doing magazines I was attempting to provide a vehicle for literary work and experimentation The practice was essentially a means of extending my own urge to write, of compensating for a lack of prolificacy as a writer, which is something I have always struggled with. In a sense, publishing was a continuation of my writing. Perhaps it was the abandoned artist in me but I was excited simply by putting black marks on white paper. It didn’t, and still doesn’t, really matter to me who the author is.
Michael Butterworth would like to express his thanks and appreciation of all who have contributed to Corridor8.

Role at Corridor8
Michael Barnes-Wynter
Freelance broadcaster
Roving promoter, DJ and Events Co-manager
Bryony Bond
Exhibitions Curator at Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester
Journal Editor
Michael Butterworth
Co-founder/publisher Savoy Books, author & editor
Clara Casian
Artist and Freelance Research and Admin at FACT, Liverpool
Audio-visual technician and Events Co-manager
Sheffield-based design studio
Design (print on online) and web management
Carol Huston (Issues #2 & #3)
PhD graduate in Art History, Manchester University and freelance art journalist
Staff Writer, Circulation Manager and Web Editor
Stephen Iles
Freelance portrait and installation photographer
Staff Photographer
Jo McGonigal
Artist and Associate Lecturer at Leeds Metropolitan University and Manchester MMU
Associate Director, Co-editor Issue #1
Roger McKinley
Author/artist and Production Controller at FACT, Liverpool
Executive Producer, Editor of Issues #1 & #2
Laura Mansfield (Issues #1 & #2)
Curator and writer
Events Manager, Assistant Editor, Staff Writer
Steve Pantazis
PhD graduate in Art History, Manchester University and freelance writer
Web Editor
Alex Taber (Issue #3)
Studying for MA in Contemporary Curating at RCA
Web Editor
Lauren Velvick
Art writer, curator and blogger
Web Editor