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Tim Key and Annie Collinge bringing some unexpected sensibilities to the table

When it’s done well, the combination of well-chosen words and images together can spawn a pretty magical, symbiotic relationship. Take these poems by writer and poet Tim Key put with photographs by Annie Collinge. Tim’s irreverent, topical musings sit very comfortably next to Annie’s surreal imagery. Here, LIMBO contributing editor Anne Bourgeois-Vignon writes about how this particular feature came about.

This is the third of three pieces re-published from LIMBO: a printed arts publication created to support out-of-work artists and creatives following the coronavirus crisis.

As a contributing editor for LIMBO I thought it would be fun to bring some unexpected sensibilities to the table, voices that would make sense together but also feel surprising and irreverent on the printed page.

Annie Collinge and Tim Key operate in strictly different worlds. Annie's work is predominantly in art and fashion, while Tim is a star of written humour and broadcast comedy. But there's something dark and deadpan that unites Annie's uncanny photographs and Tim's mournfully funny poems which he publishes on Instagram as typescripts. They share an offbeat yet deft aesthetic that is at once surreal and humane.

During quarantine Tim was particularly prolific. He passed the time by channeling an elegiac voice to narrate a series of bizarre yet mundane disappointments of the new world order. The poems were all set at home (where else) and struck me as a perfect point of departure for a like-minded photographer operating under lockdown.

The challenge was that the events in the poems are completely surreal. Cows delivered by Amazon. Barmaids sucked down the drain. But Annie got the brief immediately. She brought Tim's visions to life through vernacular set-ups in her home that play with scale and visual metaphor to illustrate and interpret the texts: perfectly balanced compositions that are funny, cranial, and at times totally devastating.

"I think there is a crossover between his words and my photographs, in the sense that they are based in reality but are part fantasy,” Annie told me. “I always like to take pictures that allude to domesticity with some slightly odd goings-on and Tim’s poems seem the same."

Slightly odd goings-on indeed.

Amazon came

“My cow!”

I signed for the livestock and

also a hammock

and led the beast up the stairs.

She swayed through the flat,

knocking awards

off my shelves with her

majestic flanks.

I tethered her on the balcony

and stared into her

sullen eyes.

I pulled a glass of milk from

her and she mooed

deeply.

I sunk into my hammock and

tapped my new friend’s thigh

with my knuckles.

“Welcome to the new normal”

I smiled.

They loosened lockdown.

I invited myself round

to Mike and Angela’s and

accidentally on purpose

cuffed myself to a radiator.

Lockdown started back up.

Mike and Ange couldn’t do

a thing about it!

I was in their home now until

further notice.

At some point they would have

to accept that.

I lay in the bath and shut my eyes.

Blackness, and I spiralled down the plug hole.

I was in the pub now.

Everyone was getting lashed and the footy was on and

darts were flying everywhere.

The place was soaked in laughter and love and I was

snogging the bar supervisor and there was a fantastic

fight and I didn’t wash my hands, just shook the piss

off and rammed my fist into some pork scratchings

and there was a weird singalong.

I woke up.

The water was ice cold.

I jumped out the tub.

The bar supervisor chucked me a towel.

I blinked and she vanished.

Two lovers, exiled from one another.

They started doing the same things at all times.

He would post her a bagel for breakfast and they

would eat “together”.

For lunch they would cook linguini, slinging it into the

pan at 12.45 on the dot.

They’d run at five and stop in front of their respective

oak trees and in the evening they’d start their movie

at the exact same time and watch it with the same

red wine in matching glasses and it was beautiful.

At night they screwed their respective flatmates and

all four had a WhatsApp group and it was an absolute

disgrace.

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