Weird Scenes Inside the GoldMine. Bella Basura 2019.
New Bella Basura YouTube video
Words, images and voice – Bella Basura
Original voice recordist – Bob Kemp, with Maxine Mackenzie
In the 1990s one of my favourite small press publications was the seminal Unlimited Dream Company series – Towards 2012 – it’s editor – Gyrus – produced a stable of beautifully themed cutting edge factual anthologies at the end of the twentieth century.
In 2006 Gyrus started a new journal – Dreamflesh, which he subtitled “A Journal of Body, Psyche, Ecological Crisis and Archaeologies of Consciousness”. The list of contributors was an impressive roll call of writers working in marginal spiritual and philosophical paradigm, the whole was a smorgasbord of the strange and the alluring.
This month (August 2017) Gyrus has been posting the whole journal online, reprinting the articles and drawing out ideas that have persisted and flourished in the intervening 11 years.
In the web reprise Gyrus summarises the project: “Dreamflesh Journal documented an eclectic range of ideas, investigations and experiments informed by this complex ecopsychological framework. Essays, interviews and art ranged over many facets of human and non-human life that seem to be important to this transition: dreams, altered states, visionary media, occultism, sexuality & gender, animism, collective intelligences, psychosomatic healing, bodily symbolism, cognitive linguistics, new materialism, creatively disciplined prehistorical and anthropological studies, images & spirit (iconoclasm, idolatry, anthropomorphism, fetishism), death & dying, depth psychology, ecology… to name a few.”
Back in 2005, when I first heard that Gyrus was planning to edit a new journal I wrote a piece specially, my concern was female facial and body hair and I enjoyed myself writing a selected history of hirsute women. Then I sent in off to Gyrus.
A few months later I heard it had been accepted. I was delighted to have my piece included in Dreamflesh, it gave me the biggest readership I had ever had, I felt like I’d arrived, more than this, I felt I’d been accepted into a publication so inspiring that it left me in awe. And the Journal was certainly well-received, The Guardian called it “a bastion of the esoteric”, and not long after the Journal was released it was reviewed in Fortean Times “There is a dimension way, way out where flesh and dream coalesce, explored by people with names such as Orryelle Defenstrate-Bascule, Gyrus, Bella Basura, Pablo Amaringo and Lars Holger Holm, not to mention the formidible Dave Lee”. And that wasn’t all, wonderfully, Genesis Breyer P-Orridge, the transgender founder of Throbbing Gristle and Psychic TV, wrote of Dreamflesh “I felt EXCITED as I read. No mean feat. I truly was inspired”.
In the original introduction to the Journal Gyrus evaluated the role of traditional publishing in an increasingly digitized world, “The existence of the web can goad us into a sharper awareness of how print media impact the environment, in turn encouraging us all — in both writing and reading — to try to make every piece of paper and every drop of ink count. ”
A revised Strawberry Fair Armpit Hair was reprinted in March 2016 Novelty Online Magazine in their Under The Skin issue, the magazine website now seems to be down, but they still have a facebook presence.
Saturday 8th December sees the launch of the Edgewords Renewal Anthology.
At The Edge Cafe on Mill Rd.
Doors open at 6.30pm, contributors readings start at 7pm. The cafe is open through out the event, selling hot/cold drinks (TIP: Ask Jacob for a Wild Encounter) and cake.
Copies of the chapbook anthology cost £5, proceeds to The Edge Cafe to support their recovery work.
Plus, it’s Simone’s birthday…
Come along and enjoy an evening of creative writing in Cambridge.
5th December 2018
One-off performance in the Cambridge festival of Ideas
of Mosaicked with Swimming Horses
19th October, Upstairs at Waterstones Sidney Street
I have just posted up my first attempt at a Youtube video.
The text is one that I’ve had knocking around for sometime. It’s one that I used extensively when working with Jonny Marvel on Thee Sex Toy Library Experiments during 2015 to 2017. I have reused the text here with sounds, samples and support from Eli Saxman and Shakey Navel-Bones. The images are of a supposed derelict Elm in Cherry Hinton Hall, Cambridge. June 2018.
This Saturday is Strawberry Fair, the longest running free festival in Britain.
Many years ago Scarecrow Corner used to be called The Green Area, but had to change it’s name in 2012 when the whole fair went green. it’s still over in the far left corner by the river and aside from some hippy trappings – The Peace Labyrinth, Body-Art Mike’s tipi and The Tree Circle – it’s now a writhing mass of Cambridge’s finest Punk offerings. I am on at 2pm, just a short 15 minute set of classic Basura-isms.
Hope to see you there!
Up The Punx!
Here, for your pleasure, is the report I wrote for The Edge Cafe Newsletter April 2018 about the Creative Writing group at The Edge Cafe…
On 12th January this year a thronging crowd gathered at The Edge Café for the combined Launch of Edgewords Anthology and Oblique Arts Exhibition.
As I stood beside the Community Fridge, I wondered how many more people could comfortably fit into the room. In nervous anticipation I watched, as more chairs were dragged out from the back room to seat the expanding, buzzing audience. Victor, Munizha, Lisa, Faith, Kate and I (The Edgeworders) were waiting to perform from Edgewords Anthology chapbook. Chapbook is a sixteenth century term for an independently printed pamphlet. In making our 2018 chapbook we participated in the whole process of it’s production: from writing content, through editing and collating, proof-reading and printing, to bookbinding paperback and hardback copies, using traditional hand binding methods.
We started writing back in September last year, our Creative Writing sessions ran on Friday afternoons, and we spent two hours a week in word games, outings to Cherry Hinton Hall and a local bookshop. We played with images, rune cards and even a chess board to ignite our imaginations. Our writing was posted weekly on our blog-page (https://oblique-arts.com/tag/creative-writing-workshops/). We chatted, drank tea, laughed and got to know each other, but mostly we took quiet time to explore, follow and write out our thoughts and inspiration, we wrote, and wrote, and wrote.
By November we had gathered enough material to edit our chapbook, which we then proof-read, printed and bound. Later, preparing for the Launch, Edgeworders worked together at solo performance and in devising collaborative group performances.
The accompanying Art Exhibition, in deep white frames around the walls, encompassed a range of media – photography, painting, sketching, illustration, bookbinding and collage, work from Oblique Arts visual art workshops in December and January.
For me, the Launch was a thoroughly enjoyable success, and a satisfying culmination of working with inspired and inspiring writers. I hope we can secure funding for future creative writing sessions, and produce an Edgewords 2 Anthology.
I am hoping we Edgeworders will meet again soon
for yet more Wild Encounters.see footnote
Thanks to Bev, Sarah and Jannie of Oblique Arts, Andy and The Edge Café staff, Simon and ASH Coop, and to Cambridge City Council. I mostly want to thank Munizha, Lisa, Victor, Faith, Kate, Jane and all who joined us in the Creative Writing workshops, for the enthusiasm and joy they brought to the project.
Footnote: Wild Encounter is a delicious ruby-red fruit tea served at The Edge Café.
Edgewords Launch running order:
Introductions from Beverley Carpenter, Jannie Brightman and Jean Dark.
Performing Haikus Medley – Group Collaboration Performance.
Mill Road Day by Victor-Manuel Ibaῆez.
Speaking of Smoking by Bella Basura.
Recovery Runes by Faith.
Fiction by Munizha Ahmad-Cooke.
Rainy Hearthfire by Jean Dark.
Gaia by Faith.
The Narrow Escape by Victor-Manuel Ibaῆez.
Ripe by Munizha Ahmad-Cooke (performed with Lisa Evans and Jean Dark).
The Cuckoo by Lisa Evans (Group Collaboration Performance)
“A cyclical shape/structure ( as opposed to linear Aristotelian male orgasm shape/structure) is a female shape/structure, like the Wheel of The Year, like the cyclical menstrual cycle.
This circular repetitive structure is ubiquitous in paganism – Wicca etc. Like the Maiden Mother Crone cycle, like the Wheel of The year. Paganism perceives life as cyclic, circular, repetitive, coming around again. Connecting with menstruation, and menopause is the ending of that cyclic life structure.
Do you remember your last period?
Menopause is something that you only become aware of after it has happened.
Do you remember your last period?
Our culture makes menstruating women invisible – tampons conceal the blood, sanitize and…what is the word? …Sanitize and deny the existence of menstruation. So that when it ends nobody’s any the wiser.
During the last 3 or 4 years of my periods I consciously chose to use reusable sanitary towels which had to be washed and dried and folded between uses. There was a kind of flappy thing with press studs that popped into my knickers and the clean towel was tucked into this sling. I had to change the towels every time I bled – like every little flow or drop stained the towel. In order to cut down the mess and to stay hygienic each towel had to be soaked in water immediately after removing it – or they became permanently stained. They were made in a fluffy kind of brushed cotton, and off-white – they stained easily.
Because the towels had to be changed and soaked at every drop and drip it was difficult to leave the house, a job of work was impossible. I managed a bookshop at the time – a front-facing customer service role – and I couldn’t have just left the floor, gone to the loo, put the soiled towel into a bucket of salt water and left it in the staff toilet, so I arranged to stay home during my periods, I used my holiday allowance visiting ‘auntie’. This made it important, it made my periods important, it made me aware of them , to respect the blood flow. I felt I got to know my body more in those few years, how my cycles and needs shifted, than at any other time. It was very empowering, very empowering. I made my cycle visible, acknowledged, not denied, not hidden.
Do you remember your last period?
Invisibility. Invisible if you’re pregnant, invisible if you’re a mother, invisible if you’re childless.
This is all fitting together. Invisibility, invisibility of periods, cyclic periods, cyclic structure, cyclic time, cyclic pagan-time, cyclic pagan-year.
Do you remember your last period?
Is Paganism feminist? It can be goddess-oriented, but I’m not sure it’s Feminist. Is goddess-worship the same as Feminist? Pagan feminists? Feminist pagans? I don’t know. Just because my Paganism is green, feminist, goddess, earth, animal welfare oriented, I don’t think most Pagans are. In fact, the vast majority of Pagans are…I don’t like this train of thought. Think something else.
Maiden Mother Crone
(chants) We all come from the Goddess and to her we shall return, like a drop of rain falling to the ocean. Hoof and horn, hoof and horn, all that dies shall be reborn. Corn and grain, corn and grain, all that falls shall rise again.
We are a circle within a circle, with no beginning and never-ending.
Starhawk, obviously, Spiral Dance. Feminist Pagan Eco-Warrior, par for the course.
I remember my last period.
It was Lammas sunset seven years ago. I hadn’t had a period for over six months.
I was at a Pagan Ritual Camp with 200 or 300 other Pagans. It was the last night of the camp and we had built the Wickerman , processed him through the fields and were taking him to the fire-pit to be burned and I remember passing the Priestess, Carol, skyclad under an Oak, welcoming the procession into the field and I felt SO happy, So fucking happy, so completely at one with it all, In that place, in that ritual, in that time.
We were casting the circle, and they lit the Wickerman, and suddenly I burst into tears, I couldn’t stop crying, couldn’t stop. I had to leave the ritual circle and go cry in my tent. I cried hard night long. I cried a cosmic grief in the pain of the childless mother.
Next morning I woke up and there was blood in my knickers and I thought “Oh wow! That’s what that was all about”.
Lammas is the harvest ritual, is about reaping what you sow, is about reward.
My reward that year was infertility, barrenness, I don’t like those words – I wish there were more positive words for childlessness.
Is it over yet?
Has time run out for this monologue?
Or is it just my time that has run.”
This piece was originally written during a week of theatre workshops with RashDash physical theatre group, and was subsequently performed with Scramble Ensemble -women’s theatre collective, on 6th September 2017 at J2 The Cambridge Junction.
The image is of Panos by Carina Úbeda, a chilean artist who created an installation with used cloth sanitary towels mounted in embroidery hoops, embroidered with solgans.
Bella Basura 2017