THE BRUCE PENNINGTON ARCHIVE
THE BRUCE PENNINGTON ARCHIVE
“Conjure if you can, the following scene- a small
group of people in an historic old house not far
from Westerham are waiting for the arrival of
someone else to make the gathering completeactually
they’ve been waiting patiently for quite a
long time. There are as follows- a young American
editor, two directors of a publishing company, and
the hostess herself.”
Meanwhile, not far away, in the cold night air of that evening in late autumn 1976, the man they are all hoping to greet is having trouble finding them - in fact he’s totally lost. Crashing wearily through the dark undergrowth of a nearby patch of woodland, his predicament could at best be described as “so near yet so far away”.
Somehow though, miraculously one might say, he at last realises he is in the very garden of the house he’s looking for. With a look of relief, the hostess welcomes him in, whilst helping to remove not just his coat, but seemingly half the forest he’s also brought with him. “Come in Bruce,” she smiles,”you look exhausted.” And so begins the final chapter of 'The Eschatus Story'.
But let’s start at the very beginning, in the mid-sixties. For several years I’d got used to the regular appearances of magazine cuttings and calendars that decorated the walls of my aunt’s outdoor loo. They were bizarre yet compelling, whilst their basic message had invariably been the same - “The end is nigh - so repent before it’s too late!” They usually consisted of garish apocalyptic paintings or drawings showing horrific scenes of nuclear war and carnage, augmented by appropriate quotations from the Bible. Placed strategically opposite the toilet bowl, it’s hard to imagine how even the most intransigent constipation could hope to resist such lurid laxatives as those “biblical bowel-breakers!” They were terrifying to behold.
Several years later, the same theme of impending global doom began to coalesce with my newly found interest in Roman Catholic eschatology and ancient prophesies. Both came together in the writings of the French physician Nostradamus, a catholic of Jewish ancestry in the 16th century. Even in his own lifetime his predictions in the form of quatrains won him considerable admiration when some of them appeared to come true. I was determined to seek out further such prophecies by similar gifted people throughout history.
This all began in 1973, the year after I’d been showing a kind of mystical awareness concerning various religious themes, particularly in western art. The one place that seemed to provide an abundance of literature on the very subject I was so intrigued by, was the bookshop of “The Catholic Truth Society” in London Victoria. My first visit there was a revelation in itself.
Without exaggeration, it was at that precise location where the two polarities of “sin and salvation” waged a perpetual battle against each other every time I went there. To reach the papally-approved bookstore, I had to invariably run the gauntlet of a real “tunnel of temptation” from the tube station between two long plate glass windows leading out to the pavement and busy thoroughfare above. It was behind those windows, on either side, where the “emissaries of Satan” had ensconced themselves in a strobe-pulsing, music- throbbing, extravaganza of hard-core pornography displaying every conceivable aspect of human depravity- all under the innocuous title of “adult films and magazines.”
In one particular scene, two pre-Raphaelite water nymphs were doing unspeakable things to a bearded youth who had inadvertently stumbled into their clutches. I moved on rapidly, lest I too fell into temptation like him and became distracted from my mission. A mission that was to gather as much material as possible concerning biblical and ex-biblical prophecies, plus all things eschatological in general.
Once inside the peaceful alam of my destination, I seemed to lose all sense of time whilst browsing and collecting far more literature than I’d initially intended. I even bought a series of kitsch portraits featuring various popular saints. Then it was back out into the noisy profanity of the outside world and through the infernal tunnel of temptation again to the underground station below, clutching my hoard of “hard-core hagiography” intact, safely secreted within several layers of religious wrapping.
During that period, it was the prophecies of Nostradamus that took precedence over other predictive works I’d begun to collect from not only the Catholic bookstore, but other sources as well, such as retailers in philosophical and occult literature. My spectrum was broadening in every direction, and interestingly most of it confirmed the predictions given in the Bible and those of Nostradamus himself!
Throughout the entirety of 1973 I worked feverishly in simple ruled exercise books writing and scribbling quite rough sketches whenever I felt inspired by the prophecies I’d become addicted to. The tragedy of those early efforts is that they were no longer motivated by a wish to create beautiful works. Instead they were no more than crude, narrative table-napkin drafts, nothing like my usual works - even my book cover art declined in quality around that time as well.
In a way, looking back, I’m more ashamed of those hastily produced travesties than the erotic blue bironics I’d done in my adolescence which did at least have some form of style and artistry to them. Almost without noticing it, I was gradually becoming more of a ragged-looking recluse as the whole genre of apocalyptica began to obsess me at the expense of my health and appearance. My hair had grown prodigiously long, to the extent that one Italian waitress in the Olive Garden near Charring Cross railway station frequently used to flick it with her fingers when she went past my table, urging me to “get it cut!” When I eventually asked her why, she whispered in a kind of Marx brother’s accent, “Because-a you look-a like Jesus!” (Hadn’t she seen a hippy before?) It would seem that my whole new immersion into all that was mystical and sacred was having unintentional “spin-offs” that I hadn’t noticed.
I also paid regular visits to an ecclesiastical store that ran parallel to Oxford Street near Upper Regent Street, where I frequently bought not only various bibles, but also boxes of incense granules, charcoal-discs and candles. In fact, it was all becoming a kind of a “deep” towards the end of 1973, to such a degree that my bedroom began to resemble a tiny chapel, complete with religious statues, the heady whiff of incense, and records of Gregorian chanting. It was around that time that NEL arranged for Pat Hornsey to conduct an interview with me for the first issue of their new magazine, Science Fiction Monthly.
The accompanying photograph of yours truly in his studio was taken by the late, great Michael Busselle, and shows quite clearly how much Catholic iconography was beginning to usurp my existing interest in UFO-ology and Forteana. Contrary to Mike’s efforts to get even a modest smile from me, my countenance remained grim and expressionless throughout the photo-shoot. Possibly because I felt at the time, that the angelic figures and aliens in the painting behind me deserved a certain amount of solemnity and respect.
The year 1974 was the ?? for all my previous book cover work in the science fiction and fantasy genre. It had begun in the autumn of 1967, and over the following six years I’d built up a gradual fan-base in the form of letters from those who appreciated my work, as well as a growing market in the sale of my original artworks with regular buyers. The interview with Pat Hornsey in Science Fiction Monthly, along with Mike Busselle’s photo of me in my little studio helped not only launch the magazine but also catapulted me into a greater public awareness of who I was and the very nature of my work.
The lamentable part about my work at that time was that hardly any of it was being produced. Instead, my obsession with all things apocalyptic was taking over my entire work schedule, whereby quality sometimes suffered as a consequence. Throughout 1974 I’d also acquired an appetite for more exotic forms of incense which I would often intermingle with the standard granules of frankincense I’d got used to. These were generally of an oriental kind- usually in the form of Joss-sticks or sometimes in the shape of small cones like tiny glimmering volcanoes.
And all the while, against this sweetlysmouldering atmosphere, I was producing numerous A4 gouache paintings of strange events that were loosely based on the prophecies that I’d become so immersed in over the past two years or so. To augment the religious ambience I frequently played not only Gregorian chant through my radio but also a lot of mood enhancing classical works as well. Then suddenly towards Autumn I became convinced that I’d developed a malignant tumour in my back.
So convinced was I that I gradually became totally withdrawn without even seeing a doctor to confirm or deny its malignancy. In such a crazy state of limbo, not being certain of what my future was or even if I had any at all, I descended into melancholy states of real sadness. I can vividly remember walking down the Strand towards Trafalgar Square on occasion and being poignantly moved by the sheer beauty of the setting sun, then wondering how many more such glorious moments I would be able to enjoy in the future.
It was a really emotional time for me around then - strangely enough though, it never affected my religio-mystical state of mind, or my capacity to create pictures - in an odd sort of way it enhanced my creative impulse with interesting results. Mercifully, as the days progressed I felt more and more optimistic as the swelling seemed to be diminishing until I felt I was “on the way out”. (At last I could plan ahead.) Around then I received a pleasant dedication from a friend of mine, Laurence James, in the introduction to his second SF hero novel Starcross, featuring his space-age troubleshooter, Simon Rack. Things were looking good again by Christmas, with the distinct prospect of actually bringing all of my prophetic visions into some form of cohesion.
The year 1975 will remain for me a period difficult to come to terms with, even after this far away from its original influence. If I had to paint a picture of it, I would show its first part, up until late summer, as a beautiful succulent meadow full of flora of every kind, with the melodic warbling of countless birds to add a sweet vitality to the whole scene. Then suddenly, the entire picture would change abruptly to a dreadful charred crater, the colour of ash, with out even a hint of life - that’s how dramatic the transformation was.
But to describe it in more detail is essential that I go back to the optimistic start of the year itself. Throughout the spring and early summer I was creating much larger gouache paintings on the same prophetic themes as the A4 ones. All the time I was getting inspiration from so many different sources. One in particular was memorable. It was a huge papermache serpent about fifteen feet in length, to advertise various items in a Regent Street shop window; the overall effect was stunning to put it mildly. I frequently used to take the same route to my publishers in order to get another look at it.
The very image was later used in Eschatus to symbolise The Rise of the Ant-Christ and its advance on Rome. The same picture was also used on a greeting card along with others from the pages of Eschatus... hardly the most auspicious message to receive by post, whatever the occasion I would have thought. In mid-Summer I was hardly able to devote any real attention to my book cover work as the hectic pace of my embryonic Eschatus phase was taking over everything.
It was around then that Star Books commissioned me to produce a series of book cover illustrations for a group of semi-occult novels by Dion fortune, the founder of The Society of the Inner Light. These included The Demon Lover, The Sea Priestess, Moon Magic and The Goat-Foot God. In retrospect I wish I had more time to devote to each one, but due to my obsession with my personal project the standard of illustration slipped somewhat lower than usual, I’m sorry to say.
However, during that long enjoyable summer I was feeling pretty chuffed with just about everything else - especially the near completion of Eschatus itself, despite the fact that the Aussie fast-bowlers were pounding our batsmen into rubble at the test match. Never mind, it was time for another beer - then perhaps an afternoon nap in the garden after reading the latest fan-mail... yawn, could life be any sweeter? It’s at this precise point that I now wish someone had flown overhead in a plane with a giant banner proclaiming “Contentment is the gateway to devastation!” As it was, I went to bed that night with a real sense of well-being and absolute self-assurance, oblivious to what I would wake up to the next day. All words are inadequate. Instead, only a terrible silence would come anywhere near top describing how I felt. It was as if accidentally I’d opened a door within my own mind without even suspecting what lay behind it. The actual figurative contents of the dream that followed me out into my waking sense of everyday reality are unimportant compared to the worst sensation that I’ve ever experienced in my life - which lay at the core of what went with them.
I simply couldn’t believe what I was experiencing and the more I tried to rationalise it, the more it tighetned its grip. To describe it as clinical depression fails to come even close too how bad it was. All the adjacent details of that terrible moment will possibly be written down one day, but there was no way I was able to counter it, despite wandering around the house from room to room with a sense of total disbelief for seemingly hours. By lunchtime I was no better and my nerves were such that I couldn’t eat a thing. My entire life had collapsed from within and I was unable to combat what seemed so terrible yet also utterly indescribable. It was nonsensical, but all-powerful. Such was its paradoxical oddness.
For most of the afternoon I sat in a chair with a kind of bombed-out expression, unable to make conversation with anyone beyond a few monosyllabic words. That night I couldn’t sleep a wink as I was so restless and disturbed whilst my life was becoming a living horror-story. The following day brought no relief, only the visit by our doctor who prescribed a course of tryptophan pills for me. To get them, I had to walk out into glorious sunny weather with holiday brochure skies up to the chemists through idyllic leafy lanes peopled by cheerful looking residents enjoying themselves in their gardens. Instead I felt like hell - all the way there and all the way back.
By evening the first of the pills had begun to take effect as my restless anxiety gave way to a kind of drowsy sense of well-being for the first time since my torment had begun the previous day. From then on, I took them regularly every day as a kind of a crutch, but my sufferings weren’t over yet by a long way. The bad feeling had a nasty habit of suddenly flooding over me without warning like a cold, dark tidal wave. I hasten to add, it was nothing like depression, though that sometimes resulted as a consequence of the “bad feeling” itself.
In an effort to combat the hold it was having on me, I decided to act big and continue with the Eschatus project by making an appointment to see Cecil Smith to discuss the possibility of NEL publishing it as a full colour volume. He liked the idea and was eager to get the entire concept going with a draught indication of what it would eventually look like, as well as NEL and I getting a contract drawn up. During our lunch I was going through hidden traumas as my nasty “enemy within” was trying to give me a hard time. Cecil had no idea of what I was going through – that in itself was an achievement, to my credit I thought the conversation
had gone well.
About a couple of days later, the phone rang in the evening. It was someone I’d discussed my ambition to produce a book of my own with two years ago, the celebrated album cover-artist, Roger Dean! By amazing coincidence he was offering me the chance to bring that very ambition to fruition through his own newly-formed publishing company, Dragons Dream. I was immediately given a chance to make a choice between Cecil’s offer with NEL a couple of days ago, or this seemingly fateful proposition that Roger was offering. It sounded good. But I first it had to be thoroughly checked out. I invited both Roger and his Dutch co-director, Hubert Schaafsma to discuss every detail of their offer later in the week. For a man suffering from acute bouts of trauma/anxiety/and intense depression this was a big step to make. Despite my dreadful state of mind, the meeting went well, without either of my guests being remotely aware of my condition. Both men were as alike as chalk and cheese.
But for sheer unpleasantness, all of that was minimal compared to my “nasty friend” who I’d by then dubbed “the enemy within” who seemed still hell-bent on keeping me in a state of extreme anxiety and emotional paralysis- without a hint of respect for anti-depressants which it gobbled up like “smarties” by then, with no ill-effect to itself whatsoever, having become immune to their initial potency. Perhaps the nadir of my suffering would have been around Boxing Day when I visited my sister in Sussex for a festive fun-time for all! Except me. I was an emotional wreck.
Instead of joining in the quiz games, charades and pulling of crackers, I had to make a lame excuse to lie down in my nephew’s bedroom due to an “awful toothache” (a fate I’d have preferred any day), which also let me off having to eat anything (mercifully). Even the pop records of the time failed to lift me out of my neurosis. Laurel and Hardy’s Trail of the Lonesome Pine only added to my misery, whilst Andy Fairweather - Low’s Wide Eyed and Legless brought me to the very verge of despair. When I got back home, all I wanted was to lie down all day with the gentle whirring of a fan heater to soothe my frazzled nerves - along with the repetitive blip blip sounds of a computerised TV table tennis game, my psychosis had at last found a kind of solution, sonic repetition. In the end it almost became an addiction.
With the New Year’s arrival I’d finally signed the long-awaited contract with Dragon’s Dream and was preparing to begin the first of the paintings in Eschatus at the start of February. If I recall correctly, it was the one featuring a vast classical looking city with a maritime skyline to it.
Despite being in the throes of “the enemy within” I was at least able to produce something faintly resembling a picture, undeterred by the fact that I found it physically difficult to even hold a brush, a symptom I also experienced during severe migraines, by the way. The figure of Nike or Victory in white marble, was intended to induce a sense of triumph above tribulation for me at that pivotal stage of my career - when I hadn’t the slightest idea if I would be able to actually complete Eschatus at all- let alone on time.
Hubert, the quick and decisive one, fell somewhere between Errol Flynn and Baron Von Richtofen, but with an invaluable experience in printing and publishing. Roger, by contrast, was wonderfully vague and imprecise, with a kind of sixties flower-child wish to simply make good things happen within the realm of books and posters. This he’d already achieved in the form of his very own book in a mockedup version titled Views, featuring most of his famous album cover designs, plus numerous other less well-known projects. It looked very impressive, even at that formative stage, eventually selling about half a million copies when it went into print the following year. (I wasn’t surprised.) Being given that as an example of what kind of quality my own work Eschatus could similarly achieve plus Roger’s insistence that I should challenge NEL to relinquish the copyright to every book cover in my back catalogue , tilted the balance in Roger’s, rather than Cecil’s favour. I was convinced that by teaming up with his new company that I’d made the right decision.
From then on there was a great flurry of activity through autumn towards Christmas, mainly in the way of finding a good solicitor to agree on a suitable contract in my favour.
From then on seemingly endless letters and counter letters shuttled to and fro between our respective solicitors to hammer out a deal acceptable to both parties. My already frayed nerves weren’t having a good time in those difficult weeks around the season of joy and goodwill to all mankind- in fact I felt like pulling out of the whole project completely.
From then on my attitude was to simply wash my hands of the project that had become such as torment in the final stages. I literally hated it! Some of the final paintings were barely recognisable as my own - simply because they were so crude, whilst I found an almost cynical solution to the accompanying text problem. Whilst looking through various other prophetic works in the British Museum reading room earlier in the year, I’d encountered a series of predictions, a hundred in all, written in the form of single one line sentences stacked above each other in columns. Written by an obscure German monk named Frater Hermanni, the publication was dated 1785 and provided me with the simplest and quickest way out of my literary dilemma. When finished, its sheer telephone directory monotony of line upon line of veiled prophecies earned it from me the secret other title of “the first punk apocalypse!”
Apart from a tense moment of having to rearrange some of the pages into their correct order, things went well. The supper was perfect, except for the inclusion of lamb in the meal- which even then before my conversion to vegetaranism in 1985 had a kind of stigma attached to its inclusion in my diet- which I excluded from then on. The soiree itself was held at Hubert’s house where his wife acted as hostess. It was a complete success, giving me a real feeling that at last the book itself was nearing completion. Then suddenly, a few nights later, I received a phone call from Hubert that dashed my hopes completely. He had shown the manuscript to someone of literary merit, with many years of experience, who dismissed it completely. Another call from Roger soon afterwards was less extreme, but he declared that those he had shown it found it to be somewhat “how can we put it Bruce.. er, dull.” for an alternative form of narrative acceptable to all those concerned. This is when a kind of rivalry began to build up between my “enemy within” and all my external commitments connected with the book. The emphasis was gradually shifting in favour of the so-called real world outside where the book was not going well at all. Some of my paintings were beginning to look rushed or only half-finished due to my efforts to abide by the time agreement in the initial contract.
When the first picture was eventually completed, I felt a real sense of achievement in the face of adversity - after that, the victorious image of Nike in the painting became a potent symbol of hope above despair for me personally. As the project progressed, I gained confidence as each successive painting left my easel.
Occasional visits by Hubert or Roger went well I’m pleased to say. During one particular meeting - this time in London - my train had been delayed to such a degree that I was convinced Hubert would have given up and gone home. Instead, he was stoically standing at the top of Denmark Street for my arrival when I got there some half-an-hour late.
To add a kind of gothic twist to the liaison, he insisted on viewing my latest pictures in a nearby churchyard, probably the quietest place nearby in retrospect. However, when he casually slouched on a large stone scarsophagous and beckoned me to do the same to display my newest paintings I backed off, leaving him to face the wrath of the dead on his own, taking my works with him.
A few weeks later not far from there in Bloomsbury I went through all the procedures in the British Museum to be given access to their famous Library and Reading Room. It was here that I made numerous copies of ancient prophecies by augurs and sages other than Nostradamus, to go into Eschatus itself.
The regular visits to the British Museum Library provided me with invaluable details about prophecies in general, as the summer gradually arrived, I accepted the publisher’s suggestion that I work in close concert with a literary editor to produce a suitable narrative that could accompany the pictures I was continually painting for the book. That’s when I first met their own personal writer and biographer Uma, in what used to be the Lancaster Grill at the top of Charing Cross Road. Our meeting was partly disappointing and delightful.
Firstly, I was so sad to find that the original cosy atmosphere of the Old Lancaster had gone along with its name, only to be replaced by a clinically Spartan interior rather like a minimalist fish and chip bar. However, this was offset by the pleasant discovery that Uma was a very attractive 24 year old American girl (in a summer dress) with very long black hair like a stallion’s tail which she occasionally flicked over her bare shoulders to keep cool. Best of all, she had a sense of humour which made that first get together so memorable and encouraging.
Mercifully my neurosis, for some strange reason, wasn’t as troublesome on that particular day I’m pleased to say. Though it was still a problem to be reckoned with throughout my entire Eschatus venture. As the hottest summer on record began to require drastic measures - including a Minster for Drought - I too had to find new ways of combating its effects. One of these was to work at my easel with both feet in a succession of washing up bowls filled with cold water - bizarre, yes, but very effective during those stiflingly hot months.
By August, my dark moods were gradually receding in their regularity along with their intensity I’m happy to recall - at the first anniversary of their beginning. However, that’s not to say that I was completely “out of the woods” yet by any means. One such ghastly setback occurred on the very day I was due to visit Uma at her flat in Chiswick in early September to finalise what hitherto been an enjoyable and creative series of visits woven around the text-writing of Eschatus.
The dawn of that fateful day will remain one of the worst in terms of sheer bleak depression for me personally that I care to remember and again, all the accompanying physiological symptoms went with it, such as paralysis, respiratory problems and a sense of fatigue. Because I hadn’t told anyone linked with the production of the book (including Uma) about such traumatic incidents and my problems in general, I simply had to use terms like “unexpected events” or “a sudden occurrence” when I rang her early that morning. She responded furiously when I suggested that I postpone my visit to another day of mutual convenience. Then after a certain amount of letting off steam she agreed reluctantly to see me on the following day before slamming the phone down on what had previously been a very warm and friendly relationship.
The rest of my day was spent resting due to the exhausting nature of my malady. What had shocked me was its ability to strike so intensely without warning after so many weeks of optimistic progress as well as real improvement. Thankfully by the next day I was much better after my rest and recuperation, but the prospect of having to cope with Uma’s angry side had a daunting effect during my journey to my flat. The reception was cold, and hostile, without a smile all day. Whatever unpardonable crime I was guilty of somehow related to her plans for her day being thrown into disarray thanks to me.
Amazingly though, almost miraculously, the entire text was finalised despite the arctic atmosphere and ready to be presented to the publishers. A date was arranged for it to be read through at one of their houses in the near future. That would have been in early September when it was combined with a kind of finale celebration in the form of an evening meal. It’s at this point that you may recall, “hey this is where we came in” so to speak, after I had at last found the house I was looking for during that cold misty Autumn of 1976.
That’s when I was barely aware of the depression that had so plagued my initial efforts with the book earlier in the tear. Instead it was Eschatus itself that had become a living form of purgatory. Only the music at the time gave me any kind of solace. I constantly played If you leave me now by Chicago and Love and Affection by Joan Armatrading, both being the emotional healing balm I so desperately needed during that pressure cooker atmosphere of frayed nerves and angry exchanges over the phone, when the book itself seemed almost ready to auto-combust, having gone well over the agreed date of completion by that time. Then, in the midst of all this turmoil and frustration that built up like bubbling hot lava inside a volcano, punk suddenly arrived to effectively blast the lid off all of my encrusted inhibitions like some almighty eruption in the form of a colossal early advent fire work. Exactly who lit the blue touch-paper to that blasphemous banger in the evening of December 1st has rarely been disputed save only to say that despite them losing their job for goading a bunch of youngsters into swearing on live TV, to me at least, the man concerned (Bill Grundy) is the real Godfather of Punk.
But as in 1960, when I’d at last left school for good, I began to experience migraines again, after a remission of some seventeen years. Whether or not they were some form of release from all my previous tensions I can’t really say, all I do know was, that each time I was recovering from them I felt extremely creative - producing numerous versions of what I dubbed “the migraine monochromes.” These were usually down against a background of psycho-sonic music by bands like Tangerine Dream and electrowizards such as Vangelis, Jean Michel-Jarre and others which helped to fuel my creativity to an even higher pitch of intensity. This was all happening in a truly momentous year of creative events - as well as being the Queen’s Silver Jubilee made even more memorable by God Save the Queen, punk’s own tribute to her majesty by the Sex Pistols.
Whilst aliens abounded in the two top SF films of the year Star Wars and Close Encounters of Third Kind - people in the Broadhaven area of Wales were reporting actual sightings of them every day almost, to make such events headline news. It was around then that I too returned to the same subject by resuming my role as an “SF / Fantasy Artist” after a lapse of nearly two years - it was just like old times again.
Earlier in the year I phoned Uma with a view to giving her a painting in gratitude for all her efforts towards my book, but she politely declined, indicating any further contact would be ultimately pointless. Then in the summer, around the anniversary of when we first met, I saw her near Great Russell Street walking slowly into the distance like a maharani with her distinctive long black hair adding to her elegance. I quickly leafed through my wallet to discover I’d just enough cash to cover a three-course for two. Then I paused, thoughtfully recalled another lady I’d faintly been aware of during various states of “exalted consciousness” in the past. Robed in the deepest blue velvet, she was the epitome of wisdom itself, and seemed to be beckoning me towards the occult bookshop nearby. I responded and following her inside, where I spent the rest of my funds on a beautiful pack of tarot cards which I have since treasured even to this day.
The publishers immediately accepted its novelty and intrigue as the last of my paintings accompanied it off to the printers during what has subsequently been regarded as “Britain’s First Punk Christmas.” And simultaneously, without realising it at the time, my old enemy within, the neurosis of nearly seventeen months duration, went as well. It was only with the dawning of the following year that I was able to form some kind of perspective about its character and qualities that had ruled over me with such inexplicable tyranny for so long.
Convinced by then that it was well and truly finished, obsolete and over - my analysis was more like an autopsy on some invisible foe in the final stages of its disintegration and ultimate end. 1977 by contrast to the previous year and a half was when I felt free again. Free from real and unreal anxieties, leaving me at liberty to return to create pictures without schedules, commitments and contracts (in a way it was like leaving school again.) These were usually in the form of monochromatic drawings rather like detailed etchings of gothic-looking landscapes. They provided an almost therapeutic alternative to the works I’d committed to doing in Eschatus, and again I revelled in my childhood love of exotic and fantastic landscapes.