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The Sail

Monday 18 April 2011
Words Spindle

One To Watch for 2011

Written by Greg Allum/ Illustrated by Taxi Taxi
As I opened the book, a letter slid to the floor encased in a purple envelope. Not knowing the literary etiquette behind ‘The Sail’ I decided to nosily inspect the stray epistle but before I read the first line, something stopped me, it seemed an invasion of privacy to open this unaddressed letter before introducing myself to what appeared to be, the most delicate book I had ever touched. I devoured page after page of this simple yet highly emotive tale of one man’s journey between love and loss, the pictures accompanying I stroked in sympathy. This poetic story speaks to its audience in more ways than one; the letter that had fallen from the book at the beginning was the finishing touch. Seemingly addressing oneself, you feel the letter is personal; the nostalgia that drips off the pages will be empathised with by anyone that has felt the unquenchable thirst for love.

Spindle caught up with author and photographer Greg Allum to talk about the release of his new book ‘The Sail’ in which he collaborated with Polish Illustrator Taxi Taxi, to form an ethereal eulogy to love.

‘The Sail’ depicts the journey our hearts go on after losing love; do you find emotion to be a creative outlet?
In all honesty, rather than emotion being a creative outlet, I find creativity an outlet for emotions.  It’s such a transient and lucid process, one that still amazes me, that nothing was there before this, that these images or words were hidden away and now they exist, they breathe and they release a myriad of emotions.

You have described ‘The Sail’ as a contemporary adult fairytale; does this story have a moral?
I am probably a highly immoral individual and it’s not for me to force any barriers, restrictions or rights and wrongs on others.  Rather than a book or a story of morals, it hopefully will touch people through association. My influences are the same, they express themselves with beauty and one takes what you can from it to move you forwards in life.

Did you ever consider accompanying the text with your own photography?
For this particular project it was always about having illustrations, that was clear from the start and wanting to work with Taxi Taxi was a very big motivator and desire. luckily she agreed.  Interestingly enough, I am working on a new project featuring my writing and photography.

How did the collaboration between yourself and Taxi Taxi come about?
I’ve known her since my photography work with a band called Colour of Fire/Grammatics from 2003 onwards, I admire her work so much, it has this mystical, eastern european and mythical truth to it.  The illustrations sit perfectly beside the words, I couldn’t be luckier or happier.

Was there a catalyst to the writing of the book?
For me, it is autobiographical, everything that happens in that book, happened to me.  In my early to late 20’s,  I put myself in circumstances that were unhealthy but also I fell in love very deeply, then learnt that sometimes life doesn’t work out how you dreamt it, how it was meant to. Whether I’ve learnt and changed from those experiences, it’s hard to say, I am an old romantic who believes love is all.

What books/authors would you advise Spindle readers to take notice of?
I’ll narrow it down to three authors/books.  I’m currently reading a lot of John Fowles, he wrote a lovely book called ‘The Collector’, quite dark and based around Sussex, so very relevant to the streets I walk everyday.

I’m also a big fan of Richard Brautigan and a book of his called ‘So The Wind Won’t Blow It All Away’ is stunning, every sentence that man writes was written by angels.  Finally, I’d recommend all of Shel Silverstein’s children’s books, he wrote ‘A Boy Named Sue’ for Johnny Cash but his children’s books such as ‘The Missing Piece’ or ‘The Giving Tree’ were direct influences on ‘The Sail’

Have you any other projects in the pipeline? Spill the proverbial beans!
As mentioned earlier, my latest project is entitled ‘A Serenade to The Ghost’.  I’ve just signed an exclusivity deal for prints from this series with The Portman Gallery, London.

It is a distant cousin of ‘The Sail’ and a story about closure of a relationship but rather than loss of love, it is more of loss of a partner and how the central character lets go.  It features my photography, a long lucid poem and also some Super 8 footage that I am filming in an asylum in Oslo, Norway later this Spring.

You can view some samples of that work at here.

If you want to buy The Sail, you can direct through this link.

More of Greg’s work can be found on his facebook.