Currently reading : November Books for Sang Bleu
November Books is a specialist art, fashion, photography and youth culture book seller based in the West End of London. Run by fashion designer Paul Lawrence he started his business from his own ever growing personal collection of rare and out of print antiquarian books and magazines. Championing the importance of fashion and subcultural history, visiting Paul on Cecil Court is like delving into a treasure trove of endlessly unrivalled information and images. As the internet cements itself more and more as a resource of so much research having the ability to hold and celebrate these books brings out so many more satisfying sensations.
Situated on a street best known for exclusively selling antiquarian books along a line of Victorian fronted shops showing off stamps, maps and banknotes, presenting books concerning the subjects that Paul sells is completely refreshing. As Sang Bleu throughly appreciates the significance of publishing and collecting books we’ve asked Paul to chose five of his favourite books around five appropriate themes: Subculture, Death, Tattooing, Photography and Sex and to explain to us why he likes them so much.
Cha Cha Cha: Stephen Willats : 1982
A beautiful and fragile object, like a giant post-it pad. Most copies fall apart. This book is 100 times more amazing than conceptual artist Willats intended, because as it turns out his subject- Cha Cha’s, is now the stuff of underground legend. Leigh Bowery, Scarlett and a huge host of other club faces at home in their natural environment. He interviews the people who frequented the club, and takes pictures of them, simple.
The Harlem Book of the Dead : Van Der Zee, Dodson and Billops : 1978
Wonderful book of photographs shot in a Harlem funeral parlour during the first half of the 20th century. Texts, poems, open caskets of people and the people who loved them. Radiates quiet pride, beauty and melancholy.
Pushing Ink : Spider Webb and Charles Gatewood : 1979
A book of epic proportion, on a subject often misrepresented. Dedicated to the work and studio of Spider Webb, who’s something of a legend in tattoo circles. His work is phenomenal, from the classic to the highly conceptual, as is the cast of people that pass through his studio. The photographs are by Charles Gatewood, who shot sidetrippin’. Probably the best book on Tattoo art.
Skema : Irina Ionesco Special : 1974
Irina Ionesco is pretty famous for her baroque, gothic work during the seventies, and of course for using her daughter Eva as a subject, a decision that is still pretty controversial. This issue of Skema is dedicated to her work, and sums it up more than most of her books do. Like nothing else.
Sex Objects : Eric Kroll 1977
Kroll’s photodocumentary is unique in that it avoids the pitfalls of most books on the same subject. Instead of abuse, squalor, morbid fascination or pre-meditated judgement we get straight interviews and straight behind the scenes photographs. Of course it’s pretty frank, as you would expect from the people who have sex for a living, who appear to be quite a fascinating bunch.
You can visit the November Books website here where you can buy books online or you can visit them here by appointment: