Monday, June 7, 2021

36 Elevations

Calum Storrie’s 36 Elevations is a book of drawings of imaginary architecture, with the emphasis on towers, stairs, ladders, globes, oblique angles, gantries, finials etc. Each piece has an elusive fantastical aura to it which reminded me a little of some of the ziggurats and cityscapes of Yeats’ great friend, the black-and-white artist William Horton.

But the ink drawings also suggest the sort of functional modernist edifice that might be found unexpectedly while wandering in the unfrequented quarters of a city or in remote landscape, something like the Water Tower that haunted the imagination of Jocelyn Brooke (as recounted in The Orchid Trilogy), or the Vats encountered by the narrator and his companion in the story by Walter de la Mare of that name. As some of the titles of the pieces imply, these enigmatic structures might be listening stations, watchtowers, decaying monuments, redundant defence installations, abandoned works. 

The artist, who is also an exhibition and museum designer, explains that “The pages on which I drew were removed from an already ruined ex-library book on the history of the Tate Gallery. These pages show the traces of tipped-in colour plates and, all but one, are individually stamped: HORNSEY COLLEGE OF ART LIBRARY.’ 

This use of the distressed and discarded pages gives a further mysterious dimension to the work, suggesting furtive sketches made of forbidden places on whatever paper was to hand.This is a wonderfully entrancing work that opens peculiar possibilities in the imagination.

36 Elevations is published in a signed limited edition of 50 copies and it can be obtained from Café Oto or Horn of Plenty

(Mark Valentine)



  1. Thank you for this Mark…you can see all these drawings and more on my Instagram feed @deliriousmuseum


    1. I had a similar idea (in some ways) for a book titled "City of Follies". I won't go into detail, suffice to say it was never fully realised and more than likely would never have reached the quality of vision as this great work.

  2. Thanks for this perceptive review Mark. You can see many more drawings on Instagram @deliriousmuseum

  3. In this piece Mark mentions two examples of the unsettling awe, and sometimes fear, experienced from encounters with uncanny architectural edifices whose purpose is obscure or at times indefinable. I am remindeed also of Christoper Priest's towers on Seevl, LA Lewis's 'The Tower of Moab' and John Metcalfe's 'The Flying Tower'. I would be fascinated to hear of other examples known to readers of Wormwoodiana.