I haven't read much during the last couple of years. As my mental health deteriorated, I found it hard to concentrate. Now I'm well, I find myself craving books. The fragmentary pieces I skim online aren't enough anymore. I have a long list of books I want to buy. These are just a few:Groovy Bob: The life and times of Robert Fraser, by Harriet Vyner
Fraser was an infamous and influential art dealer, responsible for introducing the London artworld of the 60s to Peter Blake, Jim Dine, Richard Hamilton, Bridget Riley and Andy Warhol. Described as a "taste-maker, hedonist, lousy businessman, promiscuous homosexual", he lived large, with little caution and brought sex and glamour to the usual art hustle. Virginia Woolf, by Alexandra Harris
I am come from a long line of neurotic, insane, creative (and suicidal) women so it makes me feel just a little less alone to read about Virginia Woolfe, who was brilliant, charming, abominable, and utterly mad.To The River: A Journey Beneath the Surface, by Olivia Laing
Olivia Laing walked the short length of the Ouse River, in which Virginia Woolfe suicided by drowning in 1941, from its source to the sea. What she brought back was a "passionate investigation into how history resides in a landscape", combining memoir with mythical and historical journeys." The Book Of Symbols: Reflections On Archetypal Images, by the Archive for Research in Archetypal Symbolism
The latest series of paintings I'm developing uses silhouettes of generic objects with intimately personal text describing my own memories and experiences of them. This book offers deeper insight into the purpose and meaning of symbols – and our need for them.A Road Trip Journal, by Stephen Shore
In the 70s, the famed photographer took a road trip from New York to California and back again. Along the way, he made postcards of his own photographs of the towns he passed through and inserted them among the other tourist postcards. He documented his journey with American Psycho-like detachment – itemisations of where he stayed, what he ate, how many postcards he distributed. It Is Almost That: A Collection of Image + Text Work by Women Artists and Writers, edited by Lisa Pearson
The work of poets Bernadette Mayer and the late Hannah Weiner developed in part from their involvement with New York conceptual art during the Seventies. This book includes a work by Mayer called Memory, a thirty-day record of her life at age 26, documented in snapshots and taped narration – what she called an "emotional science project.". Also included in the book is a piece by Weiner called In Pictures and Early Words. It's a recording of her clairvoyant-schizophrenic experiences, transcribing the words that began to appear before her eyes as contorted typography.Vali Myers: A memoir, by Gianni Menichetti
Vali Myers was wild. I visited her studio when I lived in Melbourne, and I saw her often around my neighbourhood: a flurry of orange red hair, a tattooed face. Originally named Ann Rappold, she danced for the Melbourne Modern Ballet at seventeen. She then spent ten years in Paris, followed by forty years in semi-seclusion in a wild canyon in Italy, living with wolves and other wild animals (some of them human). I'm not actually a fan of her work but I envy her life and the boldness with which she lived it.
Andy Warhol Portraits, by Tony Shafrazi, Carter Ratcliff and Robert Rosenblum
My recent portraits are clearly infuenced by Andy Warhol, Alex Katz and other Sixties' artists. Surprisingly, this book is the first comprehensive survey of Warhol's portraits, with more than 300 works from the 1960s to the 1980s. Religion and the Decline of Magic: Studies in Popular Beliefs in Sixteenth and Seventeenth-Century England, by Keith Thomas
I've always been fascinated by the belief in, and fear of, alchemy, magic and witchcraft in England and the rest of Europe. I half hope it might make a comeback in the twenty-first century.