For August and September 2014 The Exhibition Centre for the Life and Use of Books
have undergone a temporary rebranding, inviting Manchester-based writer and publisher Michael Butterworth to curate our Reading Room, and will be exploring publications from his personal archives, including those of Savoy Books
, the publishing house that Butterworth co-founded with David Britton in 1976.
Michael Butterworth is a writer and publisher based in Manchester whose most recent project, Corridor8
, takes the form of a Contemporary Art and Writing Journal that was launched in 2009 and is now in the planning stages for its fourth instalment. Corridor began as a series of 7 'zines edited and published by Butterworth between 1971 and 1976 featuring innovative and experimental art and writing prior to the launch of Savoy Books. As one part of our programme with Butterworth we have invited seven artists and collectives to each respond to one of these seven publications through the medium of film.
The second part of the Use and Abuse of Books takes the form of an exhibition displaying and discussing some of the material from Savoy’s vast and often controversial archive, focussing on graphic novels and comics, including the infamous Lord Horror
(1989) accredited to David Britton and co-authored by Michael Butterworth. The novel is based on a historical personage Lord Haw-Haw, aka William Joyce, British fascist and radio announcer hanged in 1946 for his infamous 'Germany Calling' broadcasts. Warping him from Haw-Haw to Horror, the novel, with its exaggerated depiction of British collusion, views the rabble-rouser DJ through a glass darkly, catapulting the narrative into exuberance, extravagance and excess.
Throughout their existence Savoy have been targeted by censors, frequently raided by the police and have been taken to court for publishing ‘obscene’ material, notably in their fight-back by having the bigoted speech of a Manchester ex-chief of police reiterated by a similarly named character in one Lord Horror story, events that in April 1993 led to Britton's imprisonment. The criticisms of and objections to publications such as Lord Horror congeal around the question of whether depicting and describing horrific acts is justified in satire, with Judge Gerrard Humphries arguing in 1992 that Lord Horror is “a glorification of racism and violence. It contains pictures that will be repulsive to right-thinking people, and could be read—and possibly gloated over—by people who enjoy viciousness and violence” and Michael Moorcock countering that the book “is in a tradition of lampoon, of exaggeration. Its purpose is to show up social evils, and the evils within ourselves. The book tries to identify the ways of thinking that led to the Holocaust, and could yet lead to another one”.
The interplay between text, storytelling and image is a vital point of interest in the oeuvre of Michael Butterworth and Savoy in general. How the artwork by John Coulthart
, Kris Guidio
and James Cawthorn
, amongst others, philosophically supplements the written narrative in these works will be a main point of enquiry for the exhibition, examining the use of architecture and references to cultural figures or specific artworks in Savoy's graphic novels.
The Exhibition Centre for the Use and Abuse of Books will be on show at The International Anthony Burgess Foundation
from Friday August 15th until Friday 19th September, with a Preview event on Thursday 14th August.
Corridor, Episodes 1 - 7 will be published on www.lifeanduseofbooks.org during August and screened at a special event at The International Anthony Burgess Foundation.
To accompany The Exhibition for the Use and Abuse of Books at The International Anthony Burgess Foundation, we invite you to attend an evening of talks and discussion on the 26th of August, along with a long-awaited public screening of Gareth Jackson's Lord Horror - The Dark and Silver Age, an experimental film based on the Lord Horror oeuvre, described by Savoy as "a solid hour of monochrome menace, Hitlerian hubris and rock’n’roll".
There will be three short presentations from broadcaster and art critic Bob Dickinson, art historian and journalist Michael Paraskos and academic Jonathan Barlow discussing Lord Horror, and the culture surrounding Savoy and their tumultous history, with time for questions and discussion followed by a screening of Lord Horror: The Dark and Silver Age.
Bob Dickinson is a Manchester based broadcaster and art critic who has produced a number of documentaries for BBC Radio 4 and 1 on subjects relating to music, art and local history. He has been published widely in the local and national press including Corridor8, Michael Butterworth's current publishing project. For this event he will situate Savoy within the context of Manchester's counterculture and alternative cultural scenes during the 1970s and 80s.
Michael Paraskos was born in Leeds, and he studied at the School of Fine Art at the University of Leeds. Later he gained his doctorate, researching the aesthetic theories of Herbert Read, from the University of Nottingham. He is now lecturer in Art History at the City and Guilds School of Art in London, and is the founder and lead organiser of the annual conference Othello’s Island. Michael will be giving a talk based on his review of Reverbstorm that was published in The Spectator in 2013, whereby he approaches the graphic novel from an art historical perspective.
Jonathan Barlow is currently working on his Masters in English Literature at Manchester Metropolitan University. His research interests relate to the interaction between visual art and prose put forth in his paper New Worlds and Reverbstorm, delivered at the University of East Anglia for the Science Fiction 'New Wave' At Fifty conference. He has also kindly co-ordinated a playlist of music relating to Savoy and their publications for the exhibition preview on 14th August.
Operating in the North West of England Gareth Jackson who will be present at the screening is a conceptual artist, experimental filmmaker and occasional author. He is also the producer of Speculative Fictions, an e-annual that aims to marry conceptual art with science fiction writing. He lives with a wife and three cats – none of which are familiars.
Register on Eventbrite here
Art by John Coulthart from 'Reverbstorm 7 - Juden Wars' Savoy 2000