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PRINT May 2022

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ISSY WOOD

Issy Wood

Issy Wood is an artist and musician who lives in London. Her paintings have been shown in galleries and museums worldwide. Wood’s fourth book, But Who’s Counting?, was published by Carlos/Ishikawa last year, and she is currently working on a full-length album.

  1. THE SIMS (EA GAMES, 2000)

    As an early-aughts kid, I would retreat into The Sims every weekend with relief, setting fire to miniature versions of my school tormentors and honing my interior-design sensibilities. I remember resisting at all costs the cheat codes—the ones that gave you unlimited funds—I’d read about on forums, as I preferred a more austere gaming experience. It kept me honest.

    Screen capture from The Sims (EA Games, 2000). Screen capture from The Sims (EA Games, 2000).
  2. MARIANNE NORTH GALLERY IN KEW GARDENS, LONDON

    My West London grandmother would eschew the surrounding botanical gardens and take me to this little-known building with sporadic opening hours. Marianne North (1830–1890) was a high-society woman who, after her father died, used most of her inheritance—which she managed to keep by never marrying—to travel the world in full Victorian garb and paint every plant she saw. She used the rest of the money to build a gallery for the paintings in 1882—I think the best word for describing the hang is maximalist. Charles Darwin, apparently, was a fan.

    Marianne North, Flowers of Another Kind of Coral Tree, ca. 1873, oil on board, 22 × 13 3⁄8". Marianne North, Flowers of Another Kind of Coral Tree, ca. 1873, oil on board, 22 × 13 3⁄8".
  3. CHRIS CUNNINGHAM’S MUSIC VIDEO FOR APHEX TWIN’S “WINDOWLICKER” (1999)

    A year ago, I told my manager, John, that all I want from my lackluster music career is for Chris Cunningham to direct a video for one of my songs. A girl can dream. I can’t speak highly enough of “Windowlicker,” so I won’t try. At 3:52, the seemingly never-ending stretch limousine that finally pulls up has exactly thirty-eight windows (I counted).

    Still from Aphex Twin’s 1999 video Windowlicker, directed by Chris Cunningham. Still from Aphex Twin’s 1999 video Windowlicker, directed by Chris Cunningham.
  4. LEE LOZANO’S GROUP OF UNTITLED PAINTINGS, CA. 1962

    I saw a show of these tiny, upsetting paintings at Hauser & Wirth London in 2017, maybe the first exhibition I truly enjoyed after the misery of getting sober the previous year. Studios were closed for the summer at the Royal Academy of Arts, where I was halfway through a postgrad program. Vanessa, my dealer, let me make equally small paintings in her gallery’s viewing room.

    Lee Lozano, untitled, ca. 1962, oil on canvas on wood, 2 1⁄2 × 6 1⁄2". © The Estate of Lee Lozano. Lee Lozano, untitled, ca. 1962, oil on canvas on wood, 2 1⁄2 × 6 1⁄2". © The Estate of Lee Lozano.
  5. JOY WILLIAMS, TAKING CARE (RANDOM HOUSE, 1982)

    Embarrassingly, I was a literary misogynist for years, only reading works by men. Then I heard a Joy Williams story on the New Yorker’s fiction podcast and things began to change. The author doesn’t really discern childhood from adulthood in her writing—the kids are as precocious as their parents are foolish. The same goes for suffering and enjoyment, as we see in this line from “Winter Chemistry,” one of the short stories in Taking Care: “The two girls sat on the beach, eating potato chips, unable to decide if the people were drowning or if they were just having a good time.”

    Cover of Joy Williams’s Taking Care (Random House, 1982). Cover of Joy Williams’s Taking Care (Random House, 1982).
  6. TRANSCENDENTAL MEDITATION

    I regularly kick myself for not having learned to meditate sooner. I was raised by physicians, so anything outside of Western medicine’s reach was always dismissed outright. My friend Frank, aka Tiberius b, another musician on the label I was signed to, persuaded me to take a course in TM last year. I ditched the label shortly thereafter but kept on meditating.

  7. THE THICK OF IT (2005–12)

    British TV keeps me patriotic in a sea of Brexit-related shame. The Thick of It, written by Armando Iannucci (creator of HBO’s Veep) and Jesse Armstrong (who’s responsible for Succession, also on HBO) among others, has an immaculate provenance. The show captures the sweary inner machinations of contemporary British government. The camerawork is chaotic, nobody is attractive or well-dressed, and the dialogue is some of the funniest out there.

    The Thick of It, 2005–12, still from a TV show on BBC 2. Series 4, episode 2. The Thick of It, 2005–12, still from a TV show on BBC 2. Series 4, episode 2.
  8. CLARICE CLIFF’S ZODIAC WALL PLAQUES

    Clarice Cliff (1899–1972) was a British ceramicist. I came across her zodiac-plaque series during a deep dive into the archives of Christie’s a few years ago. I still can’t find anything concrete about these works, or whether they were commissioned or a passion project, but I managed to buy a Capricorn one (my star sign).

  9. RHYMEZONE.COM

    I owe most of my song lyrics to Rhymezone. It’s easy to forget in the heat of music-making that, yes, “know” still rhymes with “grow.” The site organizes words by the number of syllables they have and features a section for near rhymes that I reference whenever I’m feeling cryptic. Rhymezone’s aesthetic feels born out of a bygone internet era—in the best way.

  10. MICACHU AND THE SHAPES, NEVER (2012)

    Somebody told me a couple of years ago that the lead vocalist of Micachu and the Shapes, Mica Levi, is exceptional because they sing how they talk. I keep this record close at hand when I’m painting in my studio or when I’m stuck with my own songs—it gives me endless permission not to be afraid of either restraint or abandon. It also gently lets me know there are musical heights that I’ll just never reach and that’s OK.

    Still from Micachu and the Shapes’ 2012 video Fall, directed by Micachu and the Shapes. Still from Micachu and the Shapes’ 2012 video Fall, directed by Micachu and the Shapes.