The Last London, published by Oneworld in September 2017, is the ultimate book in a long series of urban wanderings and documentations by Iain Sinclair. The city is now somewhere else, both more and less than itself. And the old methods of transcription no longer play.
Sinclair strikes out on a series of solitary walks and collaboratives expeditions to make a final reckoning with a capital stretched beyond recognition.
Throughout this long project, begun in the 1960s, Sinclair has collaborated with film-makers, artists, musicians and curators. Inviting some of them to join him at Gallery 46 for THE HOUSE OF THE LAST LONDON is a way of recalling those collisions and celebrating future adventures.
The process of launching books in locations relevant to their composition was always important. White Chappell, Scarlet Tracings was announced in a Victorian operating theatre. Downriverswam into existence with a haunted performance in Tower House, the ‘Monster Doss House’ of Jack London. Others, thanks to Paul Smith and King Mob, occupied slaughterhouse cellars, decommissioned synagogues, church towers and covered swimming pools.
Now the oddly arranged rooms of Gallery 46 become caves of memory for film-makers Andrew Kötting and Chris Petit, painters Brian Catling and Renchi Bicknell, for photographers Effie Paleologou and Anonymous Bosch, for King Mob, Susan Stenger, Stanley Schtinter, Keggie Carew, Susanna Edwards, Bill & Adam Parry-Davies. Images, sounds, whispers, ghosts. A special space for the reforgotten in the labyrinthine area of London where it all began.
Iain Sinclair was born in 1943 in Cardiff, and studied at Trinity College, Dublin, the Courtauld Institute of Art, and the London School of Film Technique.
His early work was poetry, published by his own Albion Village Press, and including the collections Lud Heat: A Book of the Dead Hamlets (1975) and Suicide Bridge: A Mythology of the South and East (1979). He was connected to the British avantgarde poetry scene in the 1960s and 70s involving J. H. Prynne, Douglas Oliver and Brian Calting. He also edited the 1996 poetry anthology, Conductors of Chaos.
The city of London is central to his work, and his books tell a psychogeography of London involving characters including Jack the Ripper, Count Dracula and Arthur Conan Doyle. His non-fiction works include Lights Out for the Territory: 9 Excursions in the Secret History of London (1997); London Orbital: A Walk Around the M25 (2002); and Edge of the Orison (2005), a reconstruction of the poet John Clare’s walk from Epping Forest to Helpston, near Peterborough.
His novels include Downriver (1991), which tells of a UK under the rule of ‘The Widow’, a grotesque version of Margaret Thatcher; Landor’s Tower (2001); White Goods (2002); and Dining on Stones (2004).
His latest book is Hackney, That Rose-Red Empire (2009), shortlisted for the 2010 Ondaatje Prize.
Iain Sinclair lives in Hackney, East London.