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Writing (MA)

George Leith

Before the RCA, I studied literature at the University of Sussex and Ludwig Maximilians Universität, Munich. I then worked in film in Bristol for a year prior to the Writing MA.

Alongside writing, I want to make films. I have previously written for and directed two short films, one about ghosts and one about self-help tapes. Ghosts in Films was screened at the Cube Microplex in Bristol in January 2019. My writing is featured in CityMetric, The Invisible Worker, Mshed, NOIT5 and Self & Other, a podcast on NTS.


Degree Details

School of Arts & Humanities

Writing (MA)

I suppose my final major project Cold Storage betrays my conscious and unconscious habits in writing and research in the last two years, at least the starting point of some projects, which is a tendency toward circling around commonplace situations, objects, places. In the case of my major project: a desire to think and write about fridges, freezers, industrial chillers, etc.

Reading and research have led to experiments (often working with and drawing upon other writer’s work closely) with how this interest in exhausting the normal and ordinary can formally take shape. This interest was catalysed by a talk at our course symposium: ‘Where SARDINE’S: Poetry and Art in Conversation’ entitled: ‘Collective Ekphrasis’ with Max Porter, Jane Yeh, Rachael Allan, Catrin Morgan and Daisy LaFarge in November 2018.

These directions also (probably) began with visiting the Wallace Collection and reading dozens of documents about Charles Auguste LeBourg’s drinking fountain, ‘La Fontaine Wallace’ at the collection’s archive, leading to A Parisian Drinking Fountain in London. Dozens of these Wallaces dot the streets of Paris. Other smaller projects include a screenplay/interview with actor and writer of This Country Charlie Cooper about countryside inertia and the mockumentary form, and a catalogue essay on writing, reading and the work of Dora Garcia.

My piece for NOIT mixes short fiction with local history writing, trying to understand the sinister gentrifying ‘urban sculptures’ (bollards) made by Antony Gormley on Peckham’s Bellenden Road. This piece was also an overt attempt to write in the style of Francis Ponge in Soap, a key reference text in exploring how the quotidian can become bizarre, disturbing, profound, etc: ‘Because of this object’s qualities I expatiate a little, make it froth before your eyes.’ 

Another area of interest and prolonged period of research was experimental film in the 70s and 80s, in particular the work of Anne Rees-Mogg, whose work unveils an extraordinary range of video practices from that period, made more remarkable by its contrasting geographical locations and scenes, including the London Filmmakers Co-operative, Chelsea Art School and her bucolic Somerset home.

My interests in Rees-Mogg's work, along with some of the previous projects mentioned above, also indicate my intrigue in geographical locality and its manifestations in writing and film; how it is (re)produced, in moods and atmospheres of locality, regularity and familiarity (homes, college, garden, studio, pub, etc).





Screenshot 2020 07 09 at 00 54 30



My final major project unravels the idiom: ‘Let’s put this into cold storage.’ It avoids the argument of what cold storage means — instead experimenting with approaches of what it could mean for me, for others.

It presents a literal and metaphorical search into conditions of stasis, suspension and temperature. It explores how these things collide as ideas, and how temperature-induced suspension — like refrigeration — tell us about thoughts, experiences and art forms.

My ambition in writing a broad and intuition-led set of writings on this subject is reflected in my research, which ranged from reading 1970s newspaper clippings from New England to Early Modern history to the fiction of H.P. Lovecraft, Ursula Le Guin and Virginia Woolf.

The reader will glean, cold storage is an object of incidental personal relevance to me and my motivation to write about it.


4 pages





Early on in visiting Flat Time House, I knew I might want to write something about its surroundings on Bellenden Road for NOIT. I was intrigued to write about John Latham’s exploding book that juts out of the window of Flat Time House, or the bizarre street furniture that stretches from the north end of Bellenden Road in East Dulwich to the bottom near the railway tracks beside Peckham Rye Station.

Reading a local history book from the 1980s, The Names of Peckham and Nunhead, I discovered a bizarre association: the book’s author suggested there could be a link between the street name and a character in Walter Scott’s novel Tales of my Landlord, Lady Margaret Bellenden.

This seemingly far-fetched idea, along with researching the urban ‘regenerative’ schemes that gave rise to Anthony Gormley’s bollards and the ornate street lights, led me to the re-viewing of Bellenden Road as this bizarre confluence of history, fabrication and gentrification.

I collaborated with Sean Steed, a 2nd year Visual Communications student who took film photographs, along with designer Emily Schofield, to attempt to recreate this ‘local history’ format that we wanted to imitate and experiment with.


4 Pages

In Collaboration with:

Attention 1

Attention Page 2

This short story was written for the workshop and publication Attention, launched in January 2020.

Excerpt from the brief by Brian Dillon: 'The task here is to consider the forms of attention or concentration that inform critical (and other kinds of) writing – these may include the duration of looking or experiencing a work of art, place, object, or state; the spatial delimiting of your topic (a place, a room, a detail); the organisation of material by hierarchy or stratification or narrative movement. Among the narrative clichés often levelled at critics is one that says they have not paid enough “attention” to the work at hand… What is, or could be, the duration, extent, and degree of proper attention? We will think about the degree or kind of attention that our writing demands of the reader, and the techniques adopted to persuade a reader that an object or experience is worthy of attention.’


2 Pages

In Collaboration with:

Garcia 1

Garcia 2

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I first encountered Dora Garcia’s work in a queue outside the Reina Sofia. It was a scripted performance that I thought, at first, was some kind of protest or argument between members of the public. Two people (actors) ran up and down the queue, shouting questions and commands at nervous visitors.

Reading Ad Absurdum is a catalogue-style essay about how Garcia’s work pushes the extremes of performance and reading, how acts such as reading books, theatrics or comedy performances can be extended into daring, extreme political and artistic statements.

Parisian Drinking Fountain 1

Parisian Drinking Fountain 2

Parisian Drinking Fountain 3

Parisian Drinking Fountain 4

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Drinking Fountain Image — Personnes se désaltèrant à une fontaine Wallace à Paris lors de la revue du 14 juillet 1911 People quenching their thirst at a Wallace fountain in Paris during the review of July 14, 1911 Bibliothèque nationale de France, via Wikimedia Commons

Parisian Drinking Fountain 6

A Parisian Drinking Fountain in London is a commonplace about the Wallace Fountain. Dozens of these fountains dot the streets of Paris, but my text takes interest in the replica standing in the forecourt of the Wallace Collection, Marylebone. It is a text about the weirdness of this object, simultaneously a monument of neo-classical august yet also an urban facility. Much of the writing is taken directly or inspired by research I undertook at the Wallace Collection Archive. I was presented by the librarian with two bulky files, bursting with newspaper clippings, postcards, letters, plus various mundane documents concerning its history. A personal favourite was a letter written to the Wallace Collection in the 1980s, with the writer explaining how much his recently passed away mother enjoyed walking between the fountains in the city, using them as route markers and destinations.
25 July 2020
1:00 (GMT + 0)

MA Writing: Short Provocations on Form

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