By Our Selves – a film by Andrew Kötting

Andrew has launched a kickstarter campaign to collect funds for a new project. Read more.


It’s dark in London

The graphic novel “It’s Dark In London” is now out, Published by Self Made Hero.

Says Iain: “Oscar Zarate’s ‘It’s Dark in London’, a book of ‘graphic’ short stories, has just been reissued by Self Made Hero. Work by Alan Moore, Chris Petit, Stewart Home, Stella Duffy, Neil Gaiman etc etc. I have added two new (brief) texts to my original collaboration with Dave McKean.”

Order it from Amazon clicking on the following link to support this website:


Originally we announced the book back in April 2011, the following is the original post from 9/4/2011



Coming out in Apr. 2012, a new book containing works of various writers and artists:

It’s Dark in London

“London Noir in graphic form.”

It’s Dark in London features the work of Alan Moore, Neil Gaiman, David McKean, Ilya, Carol Swain, Dix, Melinda Gebbie – in tandem with the stories of London writers like Iain Sinclair, Graeme Gordon, Christopher Petit and Stella Duffy. This fusion produces a portrait of London that captures the city’s fundamental essence as an exquisite mixture of lofty towers and gutter sleaze, of suburban gentility and urban depravity, of private vices and public philanthropy.



ALAN MOORE –Watchmen, V for Vendetta, From Hell,
NEIL GAIMAN – The Sandman, Stardust, American Gods
DAVE MCKEAN – Hellblazer, The Sandman, Cages
STELLA DUFFY – Martha Grace, State of Happiness
JONATHAN EDWARDS – Deadline, Tank Girl
JOSH APPIGNANESI – Song of Songs, The Infidel
DIX – Roll Up! Roll Up!
MELINDA GEBBIE – Lost Girls, Tomorrow Stories
ILYA – Skidmarks, The Clay Dreaming
CHRIS HOGG – Killer Fly, Holy Cross
STEWART HOME – Killer Fly, Holy Cross
GRAEME GORDON – Bayswater Bodycount
CHRISTOPHER PETIT – Robinson, The Falconer
WOODROW PHOENIX – Rumble Strip, The Sumo Family
ALEXEI SAYLE – Stalin Ate My Homework
IAIN SINCLAIR – Scarlet Tracings, Downriver
YANA STAJNO – ‘Ten Plastic Roses’, Timeshare
CAROL SWAIN– Invasion of the Mind Sappers, Foodboy
CHRIS WEBSTER – Malus, Wormwood
CARL FLINT – Sonic the Comic
GARRY MARSHAL – Axis Mundi, Missionary Man
WARREN PLEECE – True Faith, The Invisibles

Maps by Ross Bradshaw

A new magazine, to which I have contributed – nicely produced, thematically interesting, with many excellent writers on board.

with best,


Link to buy:


Maps by Ross Bradshaw


The first of a series of annual themed compendiums by writers associated with or friends of Five Leaves.

A quirky compendium of essays on maps, places and people, many by leading writers including Iain Sinclair and The Guardian‘s David McKie and Chris Arnot as well as writers from the London Review of Books, academic journals, a journalist from the BBC World Service and several biographers.

Iain Sinclair – Walking Through Liverpool
Chris Arnot – Lost Cricket Grounds of England
David Belbin – Graham Greene in Nottingham
Ross Bradshaw & Ian Parks – The Land of Green Ginger
Andy Croft – Reading Poetry in Siberia
Richard Dennis – Mapping Gissing’s Novels
Gillian Darley – Ian Nairn and Jack Kerouac: On the Road
Roberta Dewa – Wilford: An English Village in the 1950s
John Lucas – Uprisings in the South West
David McKie – The Mapping of Surnames
Deirdre O’Byrne – The Famine Roads of Ireland
John Payne – Death on the Border: Walter Benjamin
Mark Patterson – A Short Walk up Dere Street
Andrew Whitehead – Beyond Boundary Passage: London Fiction
Sara Jane Palmer – A Walk to Tafraoute
Paul Barker – The Other Britain: Leeds
Robert Macfarlane – The Guga Men


The museum of loneliness: Flying down to Rio

The Gallery @ sketch

9 conduit street, london w1s 2xg

16 JULY, 2pm

Performance by Chris Petit, Iain Sinclair, Kirsten Norrie, Wenge Dur & Govenda Asiti.

Music: Wenge Dur (Sound of the Fars-Uzaklarin Sesi)

Vocal 1: Aysegul Erdogan

Vocal 2 & Saz / Kurdish String: Mehmet Fatih Aydogan Saz / Kurdish String: Hamit Sag

Guitar: Selim Guzel Violin: Emre Kubilay

Percussion: Kibar Erdal

Santur: Peyman Heydarian


The premise is simple: a filmed drive, projected on four walls, replicating the act of driving, or being driven, and representing the metaphorical dimensions of any journey, into which insertions are made, the interruptive equivalents to red-light reverie, that peculiar dreamlike state of the driving mind, caught between passive, screened insulation and rage.

Four fixed cameras inside a car: the first points forward, to the road ahead, (the future/destination); the second points backwards to the road behind, (the car following in the rear view mirror; departure/escape from). The cameras to left and right mark the peripheral, less noticed pedestrian aspects, while, in cinematic terms, act as classic tracking shots. All four cameras are neutral points-of-view, with no obvious human presence behind.

Within this, the viewer is free to recall memories of other personal journeys taken in life or through books and cinema. Road, like cinema, is a form of projection and, like cinema by way of back-projection, a memory loop: the point-of-view driving shots in Vertigo being among the most haunting in cinema. This presupposes the apocalyptic/romantic notion proposed by JG Ballard that the key image of the 20th century was a man driving alone down a super-highway. But the coolness of that image no longer holds in a world of people carriers, oil crises, prohibitive prices, gridlock, the knockabout of Top Gear, Boris bikes, speed humps, jungles of road signage, with the London motorist’s average speed slower than in the age of horse and carriage. There is no open road. The London Westway, that elevated expressway and testament to concrete, what Ballard himself called a “stone dream”, has shrunk under a now crowded skyline, and what once appeared expansive – bursts of speed, skimming rooftops – has contracted, and what was cinematic (not that anyone noticed particularly) now looks like a relic from an abandoned theme park, therefore quaint.

The questions now, in a world that has been shot to death, are what to shoot and whether to shoot at all, and whether to subscribe to a vision of speed. Two years ago we drove empty motorways in Poland and across the south-west of the United States on underpopulated roads, but both felt like visions of a future past. That was followed by a cinematic stretch of M62 outside Hull on a fine summer’s day, since when the cost of gasoline has gone sky-high. Logistics of equipment hire and school pick-up further limit the working day and narrow choice, plus the realisation that perhaps more rewarding than motorway verges already shot might be shop fronts and passing pedestrians whose unimpeded progress stands in contrast to the stop-start congestion involved in nearly every vehicular journey today. One paradox of virtual technology is how much the corresponding world stutters. What was not made clear when the London Congestion Charge was introduced was how the apparent invitation to buy into a free-flowing zone of restriction was in fact a surcharge for the privilege of sitting in a traffic jam. Which leaves one contemplating the great, clotted arterial routes out, and discounting roads previously shot – Westway, M4 – (Radio On [1979], radio on (remix) [1999], Content [2009]) – A13 – (So Near, So Far [2004]) – M25 – (London Orbital [2003]); or those too familiar (A5, A40, A1); or the suburban shuffle, with anti-cinematic sleeping policemen and school- run frenzy. Maybe the North/South Circular suggested by Iain Sinclair, as a shrunken-head version of our London Orbital film, would stand, but that belongs to a longer project.

Given the recurring collaboration with Iain, the two routes that present themselves (in memory of the uncommissioned project on the North-West Passage) are the A5 from Marble Arch up through Maida Vale, to Kilburn and Cricklewood (my main axis between 1979-84), and Kingsland Road through Hackney, Dalston to Stoke Newington and beyond, which for me always represented one of those personal boundaries, an eastern border, like the Holloway Road, beyond which lay blank zones into which it was inadvisable to stray (rather like Jeffrey in Blue Velvet), but to Iain it came freighted with baggage: “Kingsland Road… the old Great North Road, the way out (or, in the case of James I, in). (Jack the Hat’s Axminster corpse avoided the deadly one-way system by taking the back route mantra: ‘Narrow Way, Mare Street, Cambridge Heath Road’… the ghost road.) You’d have to come from the south, Shoreditch. It’s the classic route from the City, joined by the foot-foundered John Clare. And you’d have to respect geography – the wide spaces of Kingsland Waste narrowing to current insanity of Dalston Junction and Stoke Newington High Street, up the ridge through Hasidic orthodoxy. The post-Dalston Junction move into Turkish and Kurdish territory really needs to be done at night. Flowers and haircuts at midnight. Nail-extension parlours, barbers, fast food for Afro-Caribbeans. I do have an 8mm single-take walk along the Waste stretch to the junction (if I can locate it). And other film references would include: 1. Patrick Keiller’s London. Geoffrye Museum to Defoe’s Stoke Newington. (Cue: Poe. Cue: Corman. Cue: various Robinsons, including Bunuel’s.) 2. Petit & Sinclair: The Cardinal & The Corpse: the Alexander Baron drive. 3. John Smith’s famous short (pre-Keiller), The Girl Chewing Gum: narrative imposed on static shots. 4. Tony Grisoni. Kingsland: Ridley Road… night driving… Kurdish kill. 5. Robert Petit. CCTV footage from Stoke Newington monitors. (Great photo printouts of Kingsland Road.) While he is panning around, he misses shooting incident in barbershop.

“The road is marked out by ghost bicycles. Three of them. (One by Fox pub.) Road deaths. Last one on Stamford Hill. Filming needs to be discreet. High levels of chemical and atmospheric paranoia. Junkyard illegal threatened to shoot Culture Show director when he suspected that any filming had to be a documen- tary exposé. Language problems. Containers. Loose tracksuit pants: like your carpet dealers in Archway. With guns. Baron’s nocturnal Hackney reverie (Cardinal & The Corpse). Lambrianou’s death tour (ditto). Jayne Mansfield: Too Hot to Handle. This is also Babs Windsor’s road… born Shoreditch, marries Ronnie Knight from Stoke Newington. Criminous connections with Fox pub. Brinks’ Mat bullion. Turkish clubs all watching 24-hour football, soaps, news.”

If James Stewart finds himself hijacked from Vertigo and dropped into Kingsland Road, his vertiginous obsession becomes doubly absurd. What is he looking for? No Madeleine, for sure. A place to park? He becomes questless, stranded, deprived of content or obsession. He becomes disconnected. Driving becomes the movie projected in one’s head. Iain emails: “Didn’t girls dance on wingtips, in Flying Down to Rio, with cityscape beneath? (Mix to memories of Belmondo creeping around balco- nies overlooking Copacabana in That Man from Rio, mix to the sadistic melancholy of Ingrid Bergman’s drugged performance, staircases and cellars, in Notorious, with subtext on Hitchcock’s Nazis, as being too high- cultured to trust.) So, no vertical element, no lift off, for this road flight… The enviable quality of the project is the amelioration of noise, fuss, argument, exchange, business on the elongated epic of this spinal route. Bad stuff migrates down it, unchallenged. The horrors of Dalston Junction (and you should check out Gillett Square) are a function of the failure by planners to accept Kingsland Road as a river flowing through (as recognised by Izaak Walton on his expedition to the sweet Lea). The technique has one thing in common with Major Jules Pipe’s legacy vision, it wipes history. And teaches us to swim miles on a single breath. We can take the tributaries – wig shops, nail-extension parlours, Kurdish café caves – on trust. The true detour is straight ahead, keep rolling.”

The Museum of Loneliness was founded in Berlin, June 2010, as an anti-institution, working in the gaps, operating in the slipstream of discontent, on mostly decommissioned and informal collaborations. Among its areas of inquiry is the realm of Post-Cinema. – Chris Petit, 2011

“The MoL operation is like a detective agency for erasing cultural memory: reverse archaeology. Inventing narra- tives for broken artefacts, before returning them to the earth. Freelance curators replace the private eye of film noir myth. Replace artists. A pointless accumula- tion of lists, documents, deleted DVDs, deservedly lost books: the anti-pantheon where the fault lines of history are revealed.”

– Iain Sinclair

“Post-Cinema is what happens when the individual filmmaker reaches that interesting and increasingly tenable state of being unable to make or not wishing to make films anymore. Then we move into other forms and spaces. We move into strange rooms and “locations”. We move into different kinds of fabrication. We move into forms of retrieval and archeology, where the ideal is a projection, or a piece of music, playing in an empty space.” – Chris Petit



iain sinclair and Andreas Kötting The Swan Pedalo Project

iain sinclair and Andreas Kötting The Swan Pedalo Project


An English journey, in advance of the 2012 Olympic moment (that global-corporate invasion). Between Hastings (traditional entry point for invaders) and the emerging Olympic Park in the Lower Lea Valley.

A water pilgrimage, swanback, welcoming difficulty and celebrating local particulars, traces of submerged histories (song, civil protest, wilderness).

iain sinclair and Andreas Kötting The Swan Pedalo Project

iain sinclair and Andreas Kötting The Swan Pedalo Project


Two swan pedalos are liberated from the shallow pond beside a pleasure park in Hastings Old Town. This action may, in part, be a response to the remaking of this traditional fisherman’s zone as a Grand Project art gallery. The business of lifting the hooded beasts from the turgid lake, and dragging them over the shingle to the sea, is the film’s opening sequence: dawn or dusk. Shots framed from the depressed fun fair with its haunted house, gaudy paintings and helter-skelter towers. The mood here reflects, in absurdist form, the era of WWII guerrilla raids launched across the English Channel. The other obvious strand is the megalomaniac vision of Werner Herzog, choosing to wrestle a paddle-steamer over a jungled Amazonian hill.

At certain points in the journey, other people (artists, naturalists, writers, performers) will be invited to come aboard the swan. Encounters with hikers, dog accompanists, fisher-folk, are expected and welcomed. The evening campsite with the fire, as in generic Westerns, will be a focus for conversation, tale-telling, music. The strange swan craft, in the course of its epic voyage, should become part of a natural ecology, weathered, chipped, gouged. The search for a story, becomes itself the subject of speculation by others. A landed chorus: ‘What are they doing? Are they mad? It’s only art? Where’s the money come from? Is it the Olympics?’ Etc.

In essence, you have two complimentary but distinct versions of the swan voyage. Kötting asserts that the journey is the film, that a measure of manipulation is necessary and acceptable. Sinclair’s position is shamanic, the exorcism doesn’t work unless the swan really is peddled or dragged every inch of the way. He is a fundamentalist of difficulty (especially when someone else is doing the peddling.)

iain sinclair and Andreas Kötting The Swan Pedalo Project


A first taste of salt and swell, being on the water, even a few yards from the shore, sets the soul afire. And confirms one instinct: that the form of the voyage is Homeric, that is its underlying structure.

And then went down to the ship

The dragging of pedalo to beach seems to hover between potential Carry On/Rag Week stunt and Jarmanesque apocalypse out of The Last of England. (And why can’t it be both?) One element of the Homeric Odyssey (carried on by Dante, customised by Joyce and Pound) is the flight from hell. Suggested here by the mirthless gothic fun fair and the ruined pier. We could petrol-fire a line in the sea.  The voyage crosses a watery wasteland to achieve the ‘paradise’ of the Olympic Park, which may be revealed as another purgatory (making the trip a plunge into a funhouse mirror).

iain sinclair and Andreas Kötting The Swan Pedalo Project

iain sinclair and Andreas Kötting The Swan Pedalo Project

iain sinclair and Andreas Kötting The Swan Pedalo Project

iain sinclair and Andreas Kötting The Swan Pedalo Project

iain sinclair and Andreas Kötting The Swan Pedalo Project

(all photos courtesy of NRG Smith).