Animate Me – a short story from the archive

‘Animate Me’ is a short story that was commissioned and published by the art gallery PEER and Animate Projects alongside their 2014 Out of Site commissions: animation works by the artists Savinder Bual, Kota Ezawa, Karolina Glusiec, and Margaret Salmon. An unusual aspect of the project was that the resulting moving-image works were projected onto the inside of the gallery windows, to be viewed from the street. ‘Animate Me’ was given away free as a 2-sided A4 flyer by PEER during the show. The flyer was designed by Joe Ewart.

Luckily for me we had animation students for lodgers in those days, and one of them had shown me how to do eyes, sideways-on and with different expressions. Little things like that. It doesn’t take much to start you off. It was a small town with a big art school, and I could draw, so it wasn’t long before it was my turn to escape.

A bit of background. Over the years I’ve written many short stories that have been commissioned and published by arts organisations, or by galleries and museums as part of exhibitions, in this way. Sometimes these works are published in exhibition catalogues, sometimes in standalone publications, or online. Other artists whose work I’ve written about using the medium of fiction include: Chris Dorley-Brown, Jane and Louise Wilson, Alison Turnbull, Bob and Roberta Smith, Alan Phelan, Liliane Lijn, Stuart Brisley and Maya Balcioglu, Ben Rubin and Mark Hansen, and others. These works of fiction have been published by the Wellcome Collection, Forma Arts and Media, Bookworks, Russian Club Gallery, PEER, Transmission Gallery, Irish Museum of Modern Art, The Arts Catalyst, the Science Museum and others.

These kinds of commissions are an important part of my work as an author. Working in this way allows me to experiment, to learn from and to reflect critically upon the work or the practice of exceptional artists in an accessible way, and to take my fiction to new audiences.

I’ve also contributed stories to collaborative and interdisciplinary projects and group shows with London Fieldworks, Las Cienegas Projects (Los Angeles), the artist Steven Hull, Barbara Campbell’s 1001 nights cast, SCAN, Blast Theory, Situations, Resonance FM, and more. Including most recently the Inventive Podcast, which brings together authors and ‘superstar engineers’ to tell innovative stories about engineering.

My own story for InventiveThe Hotwells Cold Water Swimming Club – was inspired by a brilliant aeronautical engineer named Sophie Robinson. As I was talking to Sophie and then writing a short story inspired by her life and work, I realised that at the heart of the story I was wanting to tell was an issue that had come up in our conversations and was of great importance to both of us, in different ways. And it was a question to do with class and access to education in the UK. In my case being working class and getting access to an arts education.

In 2020 when I was teaching a group of postgraduate creative writing students at Brunel University, the question of class came up in a Q&A.

‘How,’ one student asked, ‘did being working class manifest itself in my fiction?’

That’s a really good question, I said. Because it was.

My first thought was to talk about the jobs I’ve done and how I’d written around full-time working, how almost all of the characters in my fiction are working class, and how I often gravitated towards – and learned from – other marginalised voices. (I’d been talking to the students about voice, and discussing the work of James Kelman, and of Linton Kwesi Johnson, among others.)

But then – put on the spot as I was – I realised something that I maybe hadn’t quite noticed before. (Students are good at making you do that.) This, for me, biographical fact, to do with the challenges of getting access to education and to a life in the arts, was not something that I’d left in my past. It was part of my motivation in teaching, after all, and in the work I’d done over many years at the Arts Council and for Resonance FM, but it had also been a recurring theme in my fiction, in many of my short stories. Questions of class and access to education are actually right at the heart of the narratives – the very thing that is at stake – in, say, my 2012 novella ‘Dicky Star and the Garden Rule’ (published alongside a touring exhibition by Jane and Louise Wilson), the 2011 short story ‘A Porky Prime Cut’ (commissioned by the former digital arts agency SCAN out of research undertaken with communities in Bournemouth and Poole), my story this year for the Inventive Podcast, as discussed. And also I think this story, ‘Animate Me’ written for PEER and Animate Projects in 2014.

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Vanishing History Dub

‘Vanishing History Dub’ 2021

‘Vanishing History Dub’ is the latest edition from Piece of Paper Press, the lo-fi sustainable artists’ book project I founded in 1994. Given away free, as usual. In that time I’ve published new works by Liliane Lijn, Joanna Walsh, Sheena Rose, Susana Medina, Michael Moorcock, Alison Turnbull, Elizabeth Magill, Courttia Newland, Suzanne Treister, James Pyman, Tim Etchells, and many more.

Find out more about Piece of Paper Press.

This new edition ‘Vanishing History Dub’ goes back to avant-garde roots and comes out of the recent PROVISIONAL live art event put together by Simon Poulter and Rony Fraser-Munro. Piece of Paper Press titles are distributed free to a gradually evolving mailing list, and/or sometimes given away at an event. ‘Vanishing History Dub’ was produced in a numbered edition of 100, plus 9x signed proofs, instead of the usual 150, so they’re pretty much all spoken for.

However, I do understand that thanks to a number of people giving their collections to larger institutions, some copies of past titles are available in public and/or accessible collections at UCL Small Press Collections, Chelsea School of Art Library, Arnolfini Archive, and the Live Art Development Agency Reading Room. I should say that until I am able to research this further, I can’t say exactly which titles are where, nor precisely how they have been catalogued.

Piece of Paper Press titles published pre-2000 also feature, with some illustrations, in the revised edition of Stephen Bury’s Artists’ Books: the book as a work of art 1963-2000, which is a definitive work and very highly recommended for anyone interested in the field of artists’ books generally!

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Press release:

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Irish Literary Society

I am really thrilled that my new short story ‘Plain Speaking’, which was written to mark the 110th anniversary on 5 October 2021 of the great Brian O’Nolan a.k.a. Myles na gCopaleen a.k.a. Flann O’Brien’s birth, has now also been published by the Irish Literary Society.

The story was first performed at David Collard’s online salon Carthorse Orchestra on 2 October, and first published by 3am Magazine.

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Read ‘Plain Speaking’ by Tony White on the Irish Literary Society website here

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New short story to mark 110th anniversary of Flann O’Brien’s birth

Today, Tuesday 5 October 2021, is the 110th anniversary of the birth in 1911 of Brian O’Nolan, a.k.a. Myles na Gopaleen, best known as novelist Flann O’Brien. My new short story ‘Plain Speaking’ was written to commemorate the fact, and is now published by 3am Magazine. You can read it online here…

‘Plain Speaking’ was premiered as a live reading at the final Carthorse Orchestra, David Collard’s wonderful online salon, on 2 October 2021.

I’d love to perform ‘Plain Speaking’ again now, so if anyone is planning Flann-based festivities, or has any other ideas let me know.

With thanks to Shirley MacWilliam, John Carson, Anna Aslanyan, and Andrew Gallix of 3am.

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Read ‘Plain Speaking’ by Tony White on 3am Magazine here

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Welcome

Hi, and welcome to my website.

I’ve been posting regularly here about all aspects of the writing life, sharing information about live events, books and other publications, archival materials, etc. for a decade or more, so feel free to browse.

ICYMI, my latest novel The Fountain in the Forest is available in these two lovely paperback formats from publisher Faber & Faber, both featuring designer Luke Bird’s wonderful cover design:

The first edition Royale-format trade paperback with flourescent green typography (2018, ISBN 9780571336180, RRP £14.99)

The B-format mass-market paperback with neon blue typography (2019, ISBN 9780571336197, RRP £8.99)

You can use these links to buy direct from Faber, or order from your favourite local bookshop, or preferred ebook retailer!

I hope you enjoy The Fountain in the Forest, and would love to hear what you think, either here, on social media, or via reviews on Amazon or Goodreads. It may not seem it, but your reviews and posts really do make a difference, and help me spread the word about my books.

Thank you for dropping by.

Tony

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#OTD — Road Rage! launch

Twenty-four years ago today, 28 August 1997, we had the launch party for my first novel Road Rage!, which was published by the legendary George Marshall on his Low Life Books imprint. The launch was at a great bookshop-come-bar called Tactical on D’Arblay Street in Soho, London W1. It was pretty rammed. At one point the police came, because there were so many people spilling out into D’Arblay Street. This was the invite – printed 3 per sheet of A4 and guillotined (to fit a DL-size envelope without folding, in theory anyway). These invites were sent by post in those mostly pre-email days, although I see that we used the ‘@’ symbol on the invite. Underground rave act The Knights of the Occasional Table played, and the novel was Book of the Month in i-D Magazine.

At time of writing there is a copy of Road Rage! for sale on Abebooks, which the book-dealer notes has, ‘Invitation to the book launch loosely inserted’.

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Read press and reviews of Road Rage!

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Stormbringer — for Jack Bruce (14 May 1943 – 25 October 2014)

Reblogging this post from October 2014 for your enjoyment, with a couple of updates: a) the MixCloud link now repaired to archive audio of ‘Stormbringer’ performed live at Roshven, Scotland with musical accompaniment from Peter Lanceley, and b) to include a link to a subsequent republication of ‘Stormbringer’, in Jean-Marc Lofficier’s 2017 anthology Michael Moorcock’s Legends of the Multiverse (Black Coat Press).

Piece of Paper Press

Image © 2014, Jo Joelson, London Fieldworks Image © 2014, Jo Joelson, London Fieldworks

My short story ‘Stormbringer’ will be broadcast on Resonance 104.4fm at 4pm today, 28 October 2014. Here’s what it says in the Resonance 104.4fm schedule:

By way of tribute to the late Jack Bruce, a special broadcast of Tony White’s short story first broadcast as part of Remote Performances in August 2014. ‘Stormbringer’ was inspired by talk of a period in Jack Bruce’s life when it seems he was entitled to be formally addressed as The Much Honoured Laird of Sanda. Voice: Tony White. Guitar: Peter Lanceley.

Tony White, explains:

© Anthony Oliver, 1999 © Anthony Oliver, 1999

In 1999 I had been invited to be part of an art project that was to take place on the remote Scottish island of Sanda, off the southern tip of the Mull of Kintyre. Bruce Gilchrist and Jo Joelson of London Fieldworks had invited a group of artists…

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