Monday, 21 June 2010

People print of Dorset: Steam Fair

Dorset Steam Fair 
Giclée print
Image Size: 697mm x 324mm
Paper Size: 840mm x 475mm
Signed edition of 99

This image, sweet and interesting as it is, was sent to The Great Dorset Steam Fair by my printer. I sent it to Hall & Woodhouse, the sponsors, two years ago and even spoke to the marketing director. We've not so much as received an acknowledgement. 
Perhaps they hate it. Perhaps it's a bit arty, who knows? But I love it as a record of a day and the sharp pang of a childhood recollection it brought to mind.

This is a modern day though, still fresh in the mind as a pink and green pastel bouncy castle of a daya,  field day for families and friends, their prams and dogs. A letting off steam day for them and assorted veteran metal. Hence the black engine: a Fowler, which I notice is made in the same year as my Dad: Nineteen Thirteen.

It’s as clean and shiny as it ever was: probably cleaner. As clean as its first new whistle in some buzzing imperial acre, showing off its paces to dazzled men in hats who couldn't have known what was to hit them. Decades later, with Dad, before we all got too much for him, somewhere in the long days before school, somewhere high in the downs in a moment of unspecial togetherness, he tells me about echoes and I throw my voice at a cliff and then some lumps of chalk at a rusty skeleton which my dad says is all that’s left of a steam roller, now becalmed and sinking to earth, being gutted by the weather. I wonder if its fate was sealed, it could have been rescued by a team of welders, coalers, oilers who would fuss and dress and polish and burnish and work to mend its insides, and ease it back into a sweet life of new steam. Not working as it once did, but just relaxing after a long haul to a steam fair. Just to see me.


  1. Johnny why don't you write professionally for god's sake!


  2. Thanks Mim. I did contribute to a Speak The Culture book on Italy (the art n architecture bit), which I really loved. Have sent some Thumbnails to the papers, but they don't seem to be that interested. Or can't do it in light of cutbacks. I'll keep my powder dry until the time's right. Also I'm not Alan Coren's son.