Saturday, 21 July 2007

George Melly on Peter Daglish

George Melly, the jazz musician and writer, died on July 5.

Back in 1979, George Melly reviewed an exhibition of lithographs by Peter Daglish - the review was published in the February 1979 edition of the London Magazine. This particular issue was the 25th Anniversary of the London Magazine, and had a painting of Bjorn Borg by Rosemary Taylor on its cover.

The exhibition was at the Graffiti Gallery in London and was made up of a suite of 25 lithographs entitled the Ofay Suite.

In his notes entitles "Ofay Melody" Melly wrote:
"With a rapidity approaching Picasso, and with intentions not dissimilar from that painter's loose variations in a single theme, Peter Daglish has produced twenty-five splendid black and white lithographs to be looked at in any order.

He has worked at them ritualistically. With one exception, he has divided each print into two upright rectangles, two separate images. In the left-hand frame he has drawn a woman. In the right, a man. On completing one image, he covered it over while he drew the other. In this way the first image couldn't directly affect the second. Only the memory of what he'd just invented could influence what he was about to do ...

In the case of every rectangle containing a man there is, either at the top or bottom, a word in a frame. Some refer to poems: "Oranges, for instance (Frank O'Hara is Daglish's favourite poet). Others to art: Vincent for example. (Daglish has also made a series of prints based on Van Gogh's "Painter on the way to work".) Jazz too. "Jellyroll" it says under the image of a thoughtful moustached man who in no way resembles Morton. The words add poetic resonance. They are also formally beautiful. In some cases letters are reversed "as in a mirror".

Melly concludes:
In whatever order these prints are arranged it would be possible to invent "a story". There would also be no point in it except as a test of ingenuity. What they are far more like is a "blues" (isolation or desertion hover). In most blues the verses can be sung in any order and still convey their meaning.

In one print "MEANWYLE" (sic) a sailor in the right-hand frame leans forward to hold the breast of the girl in the left hand frame. Contact is made. The effect is so tender that I would always wish to see this print last".

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