Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Inky Leaves' Desert Island Discs

Roughly a month ago I sat down in front of a roaring fire and watched Arena on BBC iplayer. This week's documentary covered the history of the legendary Radio 4 programme - Desert Island Discs. It is well worth watching if you have access to iplayer.

Record Player by Paul Senna
What do botanical artists listen to all day?

After the 46 minutes had passed I sat thinking it would be an excellent idea to do our own version. I am always fascinated to know what other botanical artists listen to when working, or taking time out away from the easel. I am equally interested to know what my readers listen to (feel free to comment at the bottom). With this in mind, I have decided to start the chain by being the our first 'castaway' listing my top eight records, starting with my most wanted. At one point, I almost decided to go down an artistic route and rank my most desirable according to the artwork on the album covers. Maybe I'll do that another time. In an age where the album cover is fast disappearing, I think such a process would be apt.

1. Etude 12 (Phillip Glass) 

2. Rival dealer (Burial) - but within this I'd like 'Come down to us' and 'Hider' which are part of the ensemble.

3. Harvest Moon (Neil Young) 

4. Suzanne (Leonard Cohen)

5. Sentinel (Mike Oldfield) 

6. Climber (The Progedy) 

7. Dance of the Bad Angels (Booth and the Bad Angel) 

8. Don' t Fear the Reaper (Blue Oyster Cult) - although it is toss up between this and 'Stairway to Heaven' by Led Zeppelin.

This is so difficult, I would have liked to have had some David Bowie in there, some Nick Cave, Pink Floyd, REM, Tchaikovsky, Johnny Cash, Joan Osbourne, Enya, Muse and I am always listening to 'Lucky Man' by The Verve, 'Les Fluer' by 4Hero, 'The Sound of Silence' by Simon and Garfunkel, Christmas Day by Jim White and of course 'Great Balls of Fire', which always seems to lift my spirits.

I might also ask if I could have a floral gramophone like this as I feel it is appropriate.
My book of choice, which doesn't include Shakespeare or the Bible as they are already on the island, is Masquearade by Kit Williams. I can look at that book for hours upon hours and not grow tired of it. The book is both transporting and grounding - it does everything. Filled with vistas of what I'd call 'home' made up of British plants and animals, this book would certainly take a hold over me on a desert island as the nostalgia starts to set in and would bring me comfort. Also, of course, there is the riddle itself - the treasure hunt to the infamous golden hare, so it would keep my mind busy too. For my international readers, I recommend that you look up the entire meaning of this book which was published in 1979. 

From Masquerade by Kit Williams.
Recently I uncovered this fantastic article by Jess Zimmerman about the power this book had over its readers. Well worth putting the kettle on and reading the entire piece, as it says a lot about our needs and our sense of longing as an audience whilst also addressing our ability to find patterns, even when there are none to be found - fascinating. If it wasn't Masquerade, it would have probably been a book of poetry, most likely my massive book of the complete works of Ted Hughes.

From Masquerade by Kit Williams

Ok then, so now onto the luxury item. Although I'd love to have a piano (interestingly, a piano is one of the most requested items on Desert Island Discs) I think I will be boring and go with a toothbrush. I cannot stand having furry teeth and I will never forget watching that scene where Tom Hanks has to knock his tooth out in Castaway with a rock. If a toothbrush is deemed too practical and boring, then it would have to be my sewing kit with all my embroidery things inside.

So there you have it. What are your discs? You have all of Christmas to mull over it...


  1. Well this is difficult Jess - picking just 1- from the 'days of future past album' it has to be the Moody Blues - 'Nights in White Satin' but the art work of the next few albums was far superior. A list of 8 needs much more thought - so many serious contenders.
    Have a Happy Christmas

  2. I am a big fan of Knights in White Satin - its a song that features in my dreams a lot, as does Penny Lane. I think it is a childhood thing, as they used to play it a lot in dad's local (The Waterloo). I also am rather fond of Golden Brown. How's the list developing so far?!