I'm currently reading the excellent 'Punk in Gym' by Andy Pollitt. In it John Redhead crops up with some regularity and his book "...and One for the Crow" gets mentioned as a really good book. Has anyone read it? It's very expensive second hand so I'm not likely to buy it but I was wondering what it was like. John Redhead is quite a character and seems to have operated a little outside of that North Wales mainstream and so I was interested to hear his story and get his perspective.
Marvellous book beautifully illustrated with photos and artwork. I find it suits dipping in and out rather than "reading". And I've even ticked one of the routes.
I’ve got a copy, but wouldn’t sell it for love nor money.
He certainly was/ is an interesting bloke.
Ha! Obvious but it'd never occurred to me. I'll see what they can do.
> Ha! Obvious but it'd never occurred to me. I'll see what they can do.
If your local authority is like Lancashire they'll order any book/map in the country for you (with a small fee if it's not on the county stock list).
I too have a signed copy from John in mint condition, but it's not for sale. I've seen it at £600 on Amazon for average condition. Makes you think!
The photography all in B&W is really beautiful. Many pictures are posed during repeat ascents for the camera. Published privately as publishers wouldn't touch it with a very long pole. Also sketches as prep for paintings, which are in colour. And then there is the writing and language!!!
All in all a beautiful original book.
You'll either love it or hate it but just owning it, is in my opinion, quite a thing. I'm in the former camp though.
My copy (with a lovely message in the dust jacket) was bought through John's website about four years ago. That avenue is probably a forlorn hope but the batch I bought from was, apparently, some long lost but then found box of them that resurfaced.
Harold Drasdo wrote an enlightened review for the 1998 CC Journal which was reproduced on the 'one for the crow' website, which is well worth perusing, that is if you have a spare hour or so!
I read that earlier, it seemed he was more bothered by the obviously shocking bits than he was by Redhead's treatment of women. I've not read it, but I remember at least one review from when it came out saying it was misogynistic and at times disturbingly so. Considering that must be going on 20 years ago, I suspect the reactions now would be quite a lot stronger. Drasdo's review for example, while not uncritical, does feel rather like it was written by a man, about a man, for other men to read. It's interesting to reflect on how much things have changed just in the last decade or so.
It’s a bit more nuanced than that.
Some of the terminology, and his at times very graphic descriptions, would undoubtedly be considered highly sexist in today’s world, but if you dig a bit deeper it’s a man’s (a highly egotistical man at that) perspective on sex and his perspective on female lust. Something rarely written about in this sort of form. It is what it is.
Anyway, art can be ugly and art can be challenging. And the book is definitely a work of art.
It's a beautiful book with stunning climbing shots as well as some of the author posing around on rock.
There is some juicy gossip about what was going on in Llanberis at the time.
He writes about climbing in a way that you wouldnt recognise it as such.
I think the misogyny is just to wind people up. You can choose to bite or not.
I like a bit a painting but his art mostly looks like coloured scribbles.
It's a great book and well worth the money
Not cheap, but not £600.
> I like a bit a painting but his art mostly looks like coloured scribbles.
I'm only really familiar with his work from the mid 70s to early 80s and it is astonishingly detailed and otherworldly; shade and light falling over vegetated human forms which link what look like tears in space and time. Definitely a bit more than 'coloured scribbles'!
> I think the misogyny is just to wind people up. You can choose to bite or not.
Couldn't you say that about anything? Would that make racism ok - if you're just doing it to wind people up?
It's a lovely book. I shan't say what his touching dedication alludes to, but it involves bells.
> I've not read it.
Which means that anything you say about the book is totally pointless.
> > I've not read it.
> Which means that anything you say about the book is totally pointless.
Toby was commenting on things he had read though; reviews of the book and other posters attempts to explain away the misogyny. So not pointless.
It's a long time since I've seen a copy, but from what I recall it's a book that will appeal to some and not to others. I remember John as an artist who seemed keen on challenging the norms and expectations of readers/viewers, often in ways that clearly would make some people uncomfortable.
I was never taken by his artwork. It seemed to me to be very keen to shock (which is no bad thing in itself) but then offered little in the way of resolution or substance to take shape within the mental crater that such shock inevitably creates. I'm quite a fan of a lot of modern jazz, and I'm very aware of how targeted disharmony can be powerful and thrilling; but if all one hears is disharmony, there can be no resulting thrill.
So it is, I think, with John's art and to a certain extent also his writing. I think there are few among us who would not feel a reaction to the tales and the images, often an uncomfortable one but also sometimes impressively aesthetic. The extent to which a reader will perceive value beyond that will, like most challenging art, be very much up to the individual.
The thing is that Redhead has painted several different styles over the years. I'm not sure if you've seen his early works (such as 'Disillusioned Screw Machine' or 'Tormented Ejaculation'), but the stuff around this time is way different to some of the more phallic-centric provocations in OFTC. That in turn is different to the 'scribbles' referred to above. He'll have painted other styles I'm not aware of but much of what I've seen does not fit the descriptions in various comments above!
Which was why I referred to the reviews. The one in OTE by Dave Whats-his-face... the chap who went on to edit Climb and do E9 in Pembroke IIRC, I remember really sticking out as it was very critical of the book on the grounds of misogyny, much more so than was normal back then. Drasdo's review also nods to this although he does that thing that maybe many did a generation or two ago, of putting that to the side almost as just unfortunate and focusing only on the climbing.
Something that Redhead said being interviewed by Grimer on Jam Crack podcast more recently, I found disturbing and made me think I didn't want to read the book. Redhead's writing that was published on the Footless Crow blog, particularly during the pandemic, didn't change this feeling.
Interesting discussion, can we ever separate the artist from the art?
Another successful climber/author who is now generally regarded as being a deeply misogynistic gaslighting abuser was granted a lengthy UKC interview in recent times. I have enjoyed several of his books. Would I buy any more? No. Would I get rid of them? No. Life is not black and white unfortunately.
> Another successful climber/author who is now generally regarded as being a deeply misogynistic gaslighting abuser
Assuming you're talking about Perrin here I got the impression that it was very far from an open and shut case? What I've seen of the whole sorry story looked to me like so much he said/she said/they said that it seemed almost impossible for anyone not intimately involved to come to a conclusion on. It's a shame that people not intimately involved should be involved at all really but I guess that's inevitable where one of the parties is relatively well known.
Have we found climbing's statue-toppling equivalents?
For my money most people will have the 'average morals' of their society of the time. I'm sure Whymper, Brown, Whillans and much more recent climbers would fail trial by social media against modern benchmarks of behaviour.
Before climbing became the modern, anodyne, middle-class lifestyle choice, it attracted broken people from the edges. No surprise there are some unpalatable opinions & beliefs amongst them. If you grow up on the edge, life breaks you and its hard not to grow up somewhat damaged or misguided.
We evolve over time as does the notion of what is deemed acceptable.