On one of my many lists I recently found a note to read Ian Breakwell’s Diary. I’m not sure what prompted the note but it had conviction so I tracked down a copy of the book, long out of print, on eBay. When it arrived I was surprised that it really was just a book with a formal layout, not an artist sketchbook in any way, but decided to read it.
Ian Breakwell was an artist who kept a diary for over 20 years, generally observing the world around him, frequent rail journeys, days at the cricket and the life around Smithfield, London where he lived. Today, he would probably have been tempted to snap these events on an iPhone and they would be lost in the Instagram feed, but writing them down, with an insight into his thought process and personal reflections made them feel more valuable, less ephemeral.
The review on the back probably sums it up best ‘ His talent is that of montage, the bringing together of often disparate images to create a new and significant meaning’ The Times
A few examples (generally the shorter ones as I’m a lazy typist) :
8.7.1973 the 6.30pm train from London to Plymouth
In the dining car, the fat businessman farts loudly and unexpectedly, and simultaneously by the side of the railway track a racehorse falls down.
12.2.1974 London: Smithfield Market
A man strides out of the main entrance fo the meat market, wearing a pair of pig’s ears fastened to his head; he walks across to his parked car, whistling loudly.
10.2.1976 St. Barts Hospital
Patient: ‘Phil’s not too well, I hear.’
Visitor: ‘No, he’s died’
20.9.1978 London: St John Street, EC1, 9.55am
On the white line in the middle of the road, between the two streams of traffic, are two eels.
3.4.1980 London: The Pavement, Clapham Common, SW4
Good Friday Eve. Two adjacent posters: Jesus hangs on the cross, looking balefully down on an advertisement for Public Liability Insurance Policies.