Gloaming

Keaton Henson

Gloaming is a graphic novel by the artist/musician Keaton Henson. The book’s concept is essentially a field guide to a spirit world beyond our reality. Its melancholic narrative shows spirits that are lost in the city, lonely and seeking escape. As a result they move to the countryside but find they are still lost, so consequently decide to leave the planet, which in turn is but another creature continually searching for something it cannot find.

Keaton’s inspiration is born from old Scandinavian folklore and Japanese Kwaidan (ghost stories) from the Edo period, to the more contemporary Miyasaki “Spirited Away” films. Often we can find Ukiyo-e prints depicting the ghosts of scorned wives returning from the dead; these female ghosts called Yurei have extraordinarily long black hair, a device used to symbolize death, as a woman would rarely be seen at that time with her hair down until she was buried.

 

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This book is a study of the things we cannot see. It is an ode to the suburbs and the creatures that come to life within it’s mundanity.

I spent my childhood alone with views of rooftops and chimney stacks, wondering where all the creatures from my storybooks were, why I couldn’t see them in the suburban landscape where they so clearly belonged. Now what I’m grown this idea keeps me company, and during a year of solitude, I decided my hometown needed monsters. The result is this book. It is where I live, what I see, and how I wish it could be. I call it Gloaming.

-Keaton Henson

Coinciding with the release of his much-anticipated graphic novel, Pocko produced an exhibition of the same name at London’s Blackall Studios. The exhibition featured a range of original drawings from Keaton, and centred around a unique and intimate one-on-one live performance from Keaton, who struggles with playing live in a conventional sense.

Inside the gallery space, visitors found a dollhouse-esque installation, designed and built by Henson and the architectural artist Joely Brammer. The ‘Gloaming’ cabin was built to give a unique and intimate one-on-one live performance from Keaton, who struggles with playing live in a conventional sense. To those lucky few, the experience of a private session from Keaton was a once in a lifetime opportunity.

The deep guilt you feel inside you wants Keaton to share his soul with you, and he does, happily, sitting upon a stool staring out at you. You sit, you wait, he plays, and your hearts broken – all in less than five minutes. You spend your time, post performance, realising that you’ll never get to see an experience that parallels this.

- Robbie Wojciechowski, The Guardian