An everyday story of leftwing folk

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Anna Bloom - first drypoint

I bought the ink, but everything else was lying around the place. The plate is a piece of caravan-roof aluminium from when I built a teardrop trailer. I used a needle in a dentist's tool holder (our previous house had been a dental surgery prior to us moving in, so I inherited a lot of grizzly stuff). I'd already made a press for bookbinding from wood and a car jack. Children's craft foam substituted for the felt blanket....

The picture shows my original drawing, the plate and the first print. I'm reasonably pleased with it. I wasn't sure about how the text would come out, but apart from the crabby letter "c", its at least readable. Wondering whether to go over it.

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Translation studies

I went on a course last week to learn about collagraph and drypoint printing. Taught by Christine Tacq an Leonie Lachlan (see here ). I had lots of fun getting covered in ink and getting to grips with far less forgiving and precise techniques than the computer-based stuff I've been doing lately. Most of what I did was inspired by a postcard of Kirchner's "Panama Girls" - this is one of my favourites:
I want to try more of this stuff now, so as I was already thinking along the lines of early 20th century german, I thought I'd try and work on some illustrations based on Kurt Schwitters' poem "Anna Blume". When I looked at the parallel german and english versions in Hans Richter's book on Dada, I realised that they were saying some different things. I can see why the translator went for "they don't know a hawk from a handsaw" for "sie wissen nicht, wie der Kirchenturm steht". They are both obviously colloquial metaphors vaguely connected with building... but I felt "they don't know how the church tower stands" was far less... cryptic. Having now translated the whole thing myself, I feel that the english translation was far more poetified (using "beast" instead of "animal") and more surrealified ( saying "icy fire" instead of "cold embers") than the original. To me, Schwitters was a practical man (witness the various Merzbaus) and lived large chunks of his life in grotty poverty (so will have seen many a fire go out). So this is my translation, for what its worth. I also decided to translate the name, for the sake of a pun.

Some edits to the poem on 22 August 2014:
  • Removed "beef" from tallow as I decided it was unnecessary
  • Added "so" - now says  "How can people talk so?" works better rhetorically I think
  • After much struggling with "ungezahltes Frauenzimmer" I decided on "undocumented" instead of uncounted - I remembered Amanda Palmer's TED talk, so undocumented it was. Frauenzimmer is either an archaism along the lines of gentlewoman or something slightly disrespectful, maybe like "her indoors" - I went for "lady" as being something old-fashioned a love-sick loon would use.


O you, beloved of my twenty-seven senses, I love you! - Thee thy thou you, I you, you me. - We?

This doesn't belong here (by the way).

Who are you undocumented lady? You are - - are you? People say, you would - - let them talk, they don't know how the church tower stands.

You wear your hat on your feet and walk on your hands, on your hands you walk.

O, your red clothes, sawn with white pleats.

I love Anna Bloom red, I love you red! - Thee thy thou you, I you, you me. - We?

This belongs in the cold embers (by the way).

Red bloom, red Anna Bloom, how can people talk so?

Prize question: 
  1. Anna Bloom has a bird. 
  2. Anna Bloom is red. 
  3. What colour is the bird?

Blue is the colour of your yellow hair.
Red is the cooing of your green bird.

You simple girl in everyday clothes, you dear green animal, I love you! - Thee thy thou you, I you, you me. - We?

This belongs in the ashcan (by the way).

Anna Bloom! Anna, a-n-n-a, I trickle your name. Your name drips like soft tallow.

Do you know, Anna, do you know yet?

One can read you from behind, and you, you fairest of them all, you are from behind as you are from the front: “a-n-n-a”.

Tallow trickles caressingly over my back.

Anna Bloom, you dripping animal, I love you!

Kurt Schwitters