. The abandoned Wiltshire village of Imber isn't as closed and remote as it once was. The public are allowed access about 50 days a year, making the journey - a pilgrimage
, almost - up from the barracks town of Warminster, down a lonely road past the red rusted hulks of blasted tanks until they reach the village. Little remains. The thatched cottages of a sepia past have long crumbled away, their traditional construction unable to stand the rigours of simulated street fighting. The buildings that replaced them
are functional, windows gaping open
without glass, tiles usurped by hard-wearing metal. Few original structures survive. Most remarkable of all is the Church of St Giles
, a 700 year old parish church that is still a working place of worship.
event, curated by Jeremy Herbert
, celebrated those who sought, unsuccessfully, to return the village to the villagers. Back in 1943, they were rudely evicted by the army 1943, yet stoically moved out to assist the country in her time of need. Such an attitude wouldn't wash today, but then everyone's used to standing their ground (and the army's needs have changed as well: the makeshift 'town' presumably doesn't fit the criteria for today's street battles, looking a little bit like a suburb of Swindon rather than downtown Baghdad).
Herbert turned the whole village into an installation, illuminating
the house shells from within, strange music seeping out. A driverless Morris Minor
(actually there was someone there, but he was crouching down under a tarpaulin) glided silently around a roundabout, and a house walked. Well, a canvas-covered house shaped object (which reminded me of both Terry Gilliam's
animation and, unfortunately, Chris Morris's infamous Brass Eye
where a paedophile disguises himself as a school....) slowly led the procession of guests down the old main road to the church.
The final half hour was devoted to a concert in St Giles by composer Giya Kancheli, performed by the Matrix Ensemble, the Rustavi Choir
from Georgia and the ghostly voices of Salisbury's Cathedral School choir
. In truth, the music didn't really take off - the church was stifling, people were shuffling on their feet and the music ebbed and flowed, promising climaxes that it didn't deliver, and tip-toeing around solemnity. The choir were amazing, though, polyphonic signing of unbelievable richness (samples here
). See also Giles Turnbull's images of Imber
by day (and we like his Swindon
We had our very own mini-blackout
yesterday: six weeks of sun, a small shower of rain and the National Grid buckles and fails in a shower of sparks. Happily, we were above, rather than below ground when the power went down. The streets of South London were unusually dark as our bus crawled through a rainy Clapham and Brixton. The more conspiratorial will probably think that a certain Prime Minister had flicked the switch to distract from his long-awaited appearance
at the Hutton Enquiry
. Vaguely related: broken
The UNH! Project
, a 'collection of gutteral moans from comics'. This is a gem of a site: Oof
. You get the idea. UNH! came via Flambingo
, which also links to Brighton's Embassy Court
, one of the country's best inter-war buildings. Regardless of quality, it has suffered decades of neglect
(although a Conran-led refurbishment is being touted). More
on the building at this Streamlined Moderne
site (which has lots of other good things: vintage electrical equipment
and the glorious CitroŽn GS
. File under 'slightly obsessive'. Which is fine by us).
Exclamation Mark's link
to Strange Science
got us looking for the original dinosaur hunters
and the history
of paleontology, how the pioneers of the science were first received when they presented these strange and incredible skeletons to a God-fearing society. Naturally, forgeries and frauds
were not uncommon, and early artist's impressions
relied a little bit too much on the cultural memories of dragons. These sea monsters
are particularly fine.
Random snippets. Building the Washington Metro
, including a look at the architectural genesis of the stations / diagram of suburban chaos
, via coudal
/ Hot Rod
gallery / invisible broad system
, a weblog / the Stout Scarab
- rarely has a car been so appropriately named.