Thundering through the desert being chased by a pack of wild dogs. We had been riding along the edge of the desert where it meets the lush growth from the Nile. When a pack of about twenty dogs broke out of the vegetation, wild or feral, who knows, the horses were walking, our guide shouted, and started his horse into a gallop, mine leaped forward from walking to a gallop and I looked behind at my friend Pete, luckily his horse followed suit as he had never ridden before, I saw him grip the saddle with his hands. The dogs were running towards us at a tangent, the nearest were almost on top of us and leaped at our legs saliva dripping from their jaws, trying to pull us from the horses. We headed out into the rolling dunes of the Sahara thundering on, with the pack chasing, Pete swearing and my laughter mixing with the thundering of the horses and the snarling of the dogs, laughing with the exhilaration, joy and pure pleasure of existence…
A photograph from that ride, desert crossing, I am on the middle shadow of horse and rider taking the photograph, our guides horse in front and my friends behind. Taken after we had been chased by a pack of wild dogs through the desert. A photograph with text, both the text and photograph is by myself, it is a photograph, a lightbox, and an art installation; with the image projected onto a wall, the text, sand on the floor of the space it is shown in and the sound of the desert wind. This was the first art installation I made, why maybe it is the on the page first.
‘There is a particular kind of beauty travelling in a sand desert for, grain by grain, the wind and sand obliterate all signs of your passing.’
Russell Hand © ®
The art piece is about crossing the desert, the piece is about photography, the piece is photographic theory, the piece is about life.
This is a part from a series of stories I am writing, or attempting too, a book of my travels, when after being at art school for a year, the Chelsea school of Art. I left and flew to meet a friend, Pete I had known from school who was already travelling around the Mediterranean, I left London with £100 and a one-way flight ticket, and the best part of a year later we were in Egypt. Well and other stories from my life… for I apparently have lead a life less ordinary. I have known, artists, actors, film stars, writers, poets, pop stars, fashion designers, cultural theorists, fashion models, musicians, contemporary dancers, I suppose for want of a better word, the aristocracy at times etc… The list goes on… And maybe I should add, and most importantly, people with beautiful hearts and minds. Looking back I was very lucky to be able to travel round the Mediterranean with a friend and the places and people we met, luck, personality, good intentions towards others, which meant it was reciprocated by those we met. We met a lot of good people, with good minds.
Even when I was at school I wondered what made so many people unhappy or even miserable. How to make the world a better place. I thought art could help, I still do. As thought, education and knowledge can. Then… “Most people would sooner die than think; in fact, they do so.” ― Bertrand Russell
Since I can remember, since at least 5 years old I have always been curious and interested in ideas, thought, knowledge, art, history, truth, ecology, science, not gossip lies opinion ego, unfortunately many people are not like this.
A link to my book on iBooks, more books to follow; My poetry iBook
My photography book on iBooks; My photography iBook
Link to my artists book in The Tate special archive of artists books. The Tate is the national museum for historic and contemporary art in the UK. My artist book as in made by the artist me, and is so I have been told a work of art in itself. Artists that I have exhibited with Damien Hirst, Banksy etc, do not have their artists books in The Tate special archive:
My photography ibook includes a number of shots from when I was travelling/backpacking that first time with a friend around the Mediterranean, plus lots of my other photographs.
My other websites;
Photography & Thought http://photographer.russellhand.com
Thundering 2 http://artist.russellhand.com
My original blog in 2015, though edited down to minimum and rhen did the others;
More iBooks to come
This is my FaceBook, though I do not add people, in fact I deleted most of the people on there. Also as some people seem to doubt I am the same person on there as the artist that has their artist book in The Tate special archive of artists books, as I do and am.
The stories will hopefully be written and convey the incredible poetry of travelling, as well as the other things I will write, the poetry, that beauty of existence and being in the world. Though the stories of mine and Pete my friends, travels, as well as the other stories are all true. I want to write in some other way than a purely documentary style, if the skills I posses can convey my wonder, whether it be of thundering through the desert being chased by a pack of wild dogs, feeling the pounding of the horses heart, the breath sounding like a bellows at a smiths forge, the sand flying up, the dogs snarling and snapping, my laughter, or whether it be about the desert stars, the motion of the ships on the sea with salt spray lashing our faces, the light reflected through a pane of glass, or dust motes swirling like constellations in sunlight, conversations by sun or starlight, the laughter; that laughter of the pure joy, the merriment of the moment, the laughter of existence and being, the laughter as the desert wind kisses ones skin as it brushes past… The poetry of some of the most beautiful islands in the world, ancient cities, and seas of sand, the welcomes we received from people as we travelled packs on our backs, exploring and seeing the world we travelled through and live in. A world that can break your heart with the beauty and tragedy of life and then remake it whole once more, beating strong and true…
The text of ‘The Angel Of History’, as again I am not sure how easy it will be to read from the image;
The Angel Of History
The angel of history flies backwards…
from the future to the past,
always facing the future,
and has seen all the devastation of the world,
but is silent mute unable to speak.
Silent forgotten speeding through time,
with the tears of Eros running down its cheeks,
Thrashing in its and the worlds pain,
trying to blind itself but unable,
and has neither the solace of love or sleep,
for sweet love and sweet sleep cannot touch it,
As time cannot… the only sustenance it receives,
are those few moments of mankind’s creations,
of art, love, beauty, thought and dreams,
for even dreams it is not allowed,
just an eternity of seeing.
Forever sailing through the winds and storms of time…
11th March 2011 © ® Russell Hand Artist
The poetic text or poetry, references, a painting by Paul Klee, writing by Walter Benjamin, a book by Georges Bataille, references no more, well plus a few other things.
I will not be putting too much of my poetic text on here and might be removing some as my poetry book is now out on iBooks
Earth beautiful to see from space and also beautiful to wander and wonder in.
Earth is a very small planet on the outer edge of a galaxy, the milky way on a spiral arm. Hurtling through space. At the moment relatively lush and green and blue with oceans, all this can change with a few things happening and tun Earth into a barren rock hurtling through space or a best one virtually depopulated of indigenous species including homo sapiens.
Though this might seem like unusual start and is many years later than the true stories of mine and Pete’s travels, though a different Pete to my other friend that killed himself. It is one of the tragedies of life, a tempering of existence, then maybe something of beauty, though this was years after I travelled round the Mediterranean with my friend backpacking.
In my second year at art school I was sitting in a bar in Camden with a friend, Pete, the same one I backpacked with, sharing a table with a woman and man we didn’t know, I ended up in a long conversation with the woman. How long I am not sure, she was a musician, we were talking about art, music and many other things. Eventually I said to her, should I know who you are, I never know who I am talking to most of the time, she replied you might know of me and said her name, Neneh Cherry, at the time she was one of the most famous pop stars in Britain and maybe the world I don’t know, but it made me laugh at the time, her too, and still does now, because she was extremely nice, rather easy on the eye, and wonderful to talk to, me and my friend left the bar and I never saw her again, though I already knew her music and had some ‘Rip Rig and Panic’ ‘The Slits’ and ‘The New Age Steppers’. She probably forgot the conversation in a bar in Camden with me soon after she left, though I remembered, because she was so unassuming and charming. I have had many conversations like that before and many more since in life. Why who knows. I rarely speak of them, though it was one of those beautiful moments in life; talking to a lovely sophisticated talented women whose music I also liked. Peter H I went travelling with was the person I was in the bar in Camden with when this happened.
I am an artist, I make art installations, I am a sculptor, I am a painter, I work with video, film, sound, image, text, I write, I write theory, I write what I call poetic text and some call poetry, though even my poetic text or poetry is also theory or one might prefer philosophy or has a philosophical content, then does not all good art in whatever medium. I can also throw pots, and build and model in clay, plaster, make glaze, which helped with some early ceramic sculptures I made. I can etch, lino-cut, block print, and also can silkscreen all printing techniques, though have not done any of these for sometime. My art, I have been told is visual philosophy. I am also a photographer. I am or have been and might again be a fashion photographer, I have worked with some of the biggest and best fashion modelling agencies in the the world, as, so they said they liked me and loved my fashion photography. Strangely enough even as a fashion photographer some seemed to think I might be potentially one of the great fashion photographers. An old friend of Helmut Newton’s, who was also the fashion stylist for some of his books, after seeing my 5th fashion shoot asked me to contribute, shoot for his magazine, which he owned at the time though sold and I think it changed quite a lot. Which at the time he asked me to shoot for it, had Ellen Von Unwerth, Karl Lagerfeld among others contributing and shooting for it. All the others who shot for the magazine when I searched, were shooting campaigns for Prada, Gucci, all the major French and Italian fashion houses. The fashion magazine was called Above Magazine a large independent biannual magazine, more like a book. Though he sold it before I was able to shot for it. My first proper job when I left school which I did at 16, was as a trainee graphic designer and illustrator in a large commercial design studio in London. Though I left on the advice of designers at the design company to return to education as they thought with my talents I should go to art school and study art painting etc.
This is the title image from the book on my art, writing and photography. It shows the head component from my multi-component art installation, 6 sculpture components in all, ‘Smiths Empire’. It is called Smiths Empire, because Smith is an everyman name, alias Smith and Jones, Smiths Empire is about all men, but fragments; parts from everyman . The books second part of the title is; As we struggle to language; fragments. For we are all incomplete whatever to the contrary we might think, believe or assert, we all have fault lines running through our being, to varying degrees. Jones Empire is the female version. The book that is in The Tate special archive of artists books along with Barbara Hepworth and many other of the most famous artists in history. My Artist book
After living in Amsterdam, which I did because I needed a break from London and because I love contemporary dance. On my return one of the first things I decided to do was drop into the ICA (Institute of Contemporary Art) and see if anyone was around I knew. It was 1998 I put on my Goldie bronze silk and linen suit drove into to the centre. London it seemed a nice way to return and I was looking for a distraction from thinking about Amsterdam and Paula’s visit and how many times over a few years we had broken up and got back together. So the ICA I arrived and headed straight for the bar up the stairs to the mezzanine. Got to the bar not having looked around and as was normal waited my turn to be served. ‘Bump’ someone bumped quite heavily into my shoulder, I turned and said sorry, I was standing still when it happened. As I turned and said sorry I was looking into the most amazing huge blue luminous eyes and a blinding white smile. I was quite stunned, my sorry was met with a dazzling reply from those blue eyes and smile. The barman has just placed my drink and I turned to pay picked my drink up and found a free table to sit at by the windows, though the seats faced into the bar. All I could think was ‘fuck another beautiful woman’. I had not wanted to think about Paula, though I had been tempted to call her and let her know I was back in London, I was hoping to see some arts friends with good conversation and laughter. Then the shock of another beautiful woman literally bumping into me. So I was looking around the bar to see if there was anyone I knew. The blonde who I had bumped with at the the bar was smiling over at me, then waved. I just kept thinking ‘fuck’. Well I never or hardly ever go from one relationship to another, I usually want some me time to recover. I looked around again and yes the gorgeous blonde was still chilling and waving she had also started bouncy up and down in her sit. She was across the bar seated by the stairs facing towards me, now those seats as I recently discovered have been replaced with a stand with draws and crisps. I looked either side to see if I was mistaken that she was smiling and waving at someone else other than me. There was a woman seated to my right on the next table. She saw me look around and said you know that beautiful blonde who bumped into you at the bar, and yes she is smiling and waving at you, do you know who she is. I said, ‘No’ she started laughing and said how can you not know who she is. I said why should I. She said it is Emma Bunton. Me who ?. Baby Spice. I am looking confused. She laughs again and says The Spice Girls. Finally the penny drops. I am thinking fucking hell, one of the most famous women on the planet shit. I realise most would not understand my reaction, or not how I was thinking it. I had run across rock and pop stars before it was not because she was famous or rather it was but I was not thinking of it as positive thing. I had or was coming out of a relationship with a beautiful woman that was a tv producer. Now another woman that is not only beautiful but world famous. Sometimes my life seems cursed nothing is ordinary or goes the way most peoples lives seem to. Don’t get me wrong I never grew up wanting an ordinary life, but a relationship with a woman I find attractive, is intelligent with hopefully a great personality and a beautiful heart. Most would say I expect a lot; but then at least 70% of women I meet are that. But no I now have a woman smiling and waving at me that probably fits that but she is a world famous pop star to boot. O shit. I ask the woman on the next table what is Baby Spice doing here, she tells me there is a private party upstairs for EMI records but a lot came down to the bar as it seemed more fun. I said yes I have been to a few private parties up in the rooms myself, another story. Baby Spice is talking to the people she is with and still looking over smiling bouncy and waving. My insanity I am trying to ignore her, it was not I did not find her attractive of course I did, she was arts and media my kind of thing, she was so much my kind of woman it scares me. I hardly ever get scared but she was and is world famous, which I knew from a few people I had met in the past who were, no peace, going out anywhere press photographers. She had got up with a male friend and was still looking over and smiling. Gradually though not to obviously moving in my direction. The woman on the table next to me said something about what she was seeing happening. Baby Spice was about 2 meters away by now. I dropped my head in my hands and said to myself ‘fuck’ not the most flattering reaction she might have expected but it was a serious head fuck for me. I looked up into those eyes and that smile, downed my drink looked at her and shrugged and started walking away. I looked back over my shoulder as I walked away and I saw she had her head against the mans shoulder she had come towards me with. A friend I presume. I am not sure but she, Baby Spice might have been crying as I left. I was feeling like shit as I might have made this wonderful woman cry. I left the ICA, found a phone box, called Paula and went round to see her, the last time we ever made love. The following day I checked and unless Baby Spice has a doppleganger it was her a stunningly beautiful 22 year old at the time, me not much older really. Though stressed after our brief encounter and feeling shit and like I should have probably talked to her… She would not have a clue who I am but might remember that evening in the ICA at a n EMI record party as I can not imagine she has hit that hard on many men. Me I might not believe it if it had not happened to me but then my life it was maybe slightly more extreme but not that unusual. By that I do not mean world famous beautiful popstars, but beautiful women… I often think as many men have told me that time is over but I still talk to beautiful intelligent women, and did recently to one who was much more my kind of woman than a world famous popstar or a fashion model just below super model status tat I once got invited to the supermarket with to go shopping. And this is now 2017, though she was older than 22, over 28 and one of my favourite ages for a woman and of course arts and media. Maybe if anyone ever reads this they might wonder why arts and media, well if you ever meet me you will realise how much I love talking, listening and conversations in general, so commonality some same interests to talk about, though most pretty women or women that think they are beautiful do not seem to think much of me, stunningly beautiful women or some do, even if we have not spoken. Then if they speak to me everything gets crazier and more intense…
Middlesex University, old Hornsey school of art;
A woman who isn’t at art school often, she is in the year above me, though we usually talk when she is, every time we talk she lights up like a Christmas tree, or maybe she glows from inside, I might light up myself, though I can’t see myself. We talk of many different things. I know she sings on peoples tracks on their releases she has told me. She is seeing someone though, someone I like. A really nice guy that many of the women think looks like an archetypal Heathcliff from Wuthering Heights. Then one day he sits down in the canteen with me and starts telling me they have broken up, and he doesn’t know why, he thought they were going well. The next time I see her and talk she is going out with someone else I know, really like, and I think is cool. Though still whenever we talk the lights go on. Though she did make somethings plain to me on at least one occasion. The last time I saw and spoke to her was our years final show. Someone had bought me a CD, and she was singing on one of the tracks. I talk to her and usual thing, I tell her I heard her singing on the CD and that she has a beautiful voice and sings like an angel. We talk some more and she goes off. My friends overhear us and lets say abuse me. I turn round and say, because as far as I know that is the situation. That she is still seeing the guy, the guy I know and breaking up someones relationship, I think, is not a good way to start one. Though later I am not sure if they were still in a relationship, even when she made somethings very clear, they might have been friends by then, but she didn’t say. And then I didn’t know how to contact her. Then years on she became one of the biggest pop stars in the world, I say pop, I am not sure of the genre. And I believe I did see her headline somewhere saying, that she was one of the sexiest women on the planet, or asking if she was the sexiest woman on the planet. Alison Goldfrapp. I tried to contact her a few times, difficult. Then on a fashion shoot, the hairstylist and I are chatting, not unusual when you are the photographer, and we find out we both know her. She is her hairstylist. So I ask her to say hello. I tell one of my friends from art school and he pulls a face. I get a reply. He asks what it is. I tell him, “Yes I know him, what does he want.” My friend turns round and ask me what I did. I shrug and say nothing. He pulls another face and says I am surprised she replied, even if she does remember you, what did you expect her to be jumping up and down and asking to see you. I shrug and say sort of, I thought her reply sounded more like a what does he want now, disinterest. He just looked at me, and asked what did you want. I said something like, a drink, a conversation, to have a connection like that with someone, even in the past, I thought if nothing else we could be friends. I always did miss talking to her. And might have messed up by not asking her out in the past…
Alison when I knew her singing ‘Pumpkin’ a track on Tricky’s first CD Maxinquaye
Pete H my friend I backpacked with the first time I travelled round the Mediterranean sea; in the Sahara desert with a pyramid at Saqqara, Egypt in the background after we had be chased by a pack of wild dogs in the desert. Many more of my travel photographs from the first time I backpacked round the Mediterranean and many since through time of travelling and other kinds of photographs can be found in my photography book.
Another shot Mykonos the first time I backpacked round the Mediterranean with my friend Pete. Pete, the Swedish couple, 2 English women and myself, who was taking the photo I could not say, but taken with Pete’s camera why we have the image.
A different world back then, no mobile phones, no internet, when you travelled you had to book an international phone call at a telephone exchange. Postcards arrived months later or maybe not at all. No bucket lists, people just wandering around enjoying life and each others company. Long before the invasion of the arseholes in some of the most beautiful places on earth, and the selfie… No I am not looking back with rose tinted glasses, just went places that had good people with good minds, and arseholes were not welcome… Lot less of those places these days, the news got out…
Russell Hand © ®