Friday, 7 December 2007

Designer Bookbinder Lecture

I said I would put up more pictures of Carnival boxes - and other things too, but they need photographing and will take longer....
Above is the first box I did - a sort of manic George Bush/Bugs Bunny Goes to War box...
actually I just realise it is on its side - I am so used to cricking my neck I didn't notice - will rotate when I have more time..... ( and add another of the inside with G B lookalike inside)

these are some that followed, ( spot the mini-mackerel in their coffins) with below- the sort of images there are inside; some drawings I made in the Munich Toy and Puppet museum, alternated with collaged bits from papers....I seem to remember there was a lot about 'hoodies' at the time, so I found a few alternative hoodies...
I am also having a sort of Baselitz moment again......









I then made a couple of Dr Caligari boxes - the Somnambulist is coming out of his coffin inside, and the outside has angles all over the place as in Expressionist cinema - I had fun with that; the second box I varnished so that it had the air of a celluloid dream, with shellac so it's a honey colour...
......For those who weren't there - the lecture was titled - Books and Stuff; the Quiddity of Artists Books, so I talked a lot about using materials - how as an artist I speak through them; how I used to make my own paint.
I showed a personal selection of slides of other people's work to open up the debate of what an Artists Book might be.
Talked about the contexts of showing - the freedom to define one's own; structures to bounce off, but the permissions the form gives; changing definitions in different historical contexts ( mentioned the 'Breaking the Rules' exhibition at the British Library )...
methods and processes, contemporary papers, the rhythm of processes, cutting text by hand ( Gawain and Lorca's Sonnets of Dark Love ) and the power of being able to do things one's self; and whether the doing is more important than the end product.
I had earlier listened to a discussion on Radio4 - Start the Week - missed the beginning of it but it seemed to be about posterity, or the possibility of lack of it, and how it might or might not alter how we make art - and this led on to technology, ecology and self-sufficiency.
I mentioned briefly the more communal book projects I have done and then went on to show Bluebeard's Castle and Beauty and the Beast, and how these led into making different sorts of books, worlds, installations, and how the viewer might relate to these....
ending up with a brief discussion of the 'Falcon Bride' , the importance of the gaps between things, and how art and life can intertwine in a ritualistic way.














Tuesday, 27 November 2007

The Falcon Bride at LAB07

Here it was - as much as I could squash onto my stand; the poppy image on the right belongs with Peter's stand next door.
I think it was too much for people to get to grips with really and many passed nervously by, but there was also a lot of interest and some positive comments, ranging from - it was a bit different - to - it really seemed to mean something about something I cared about .
It was frustrating for me as I really could see how I needed to spread it out in the way I had in the galleries , and with some comfortable chairs, and with time slowed down; but it was good to be able to introduce it to some people who had missed it in Sussex.
It was interesting for me to see my books in the context of what was going on in the rest of the fair; it won't really alter what I do but it is good to have glimpse of the outside world.
I am now planning how it might become a bigger limited edition book, including and pulling together various parts into one volume, for the WOP Fair at Burlington House in January-
3 days sitting and looking at it all helps the mind move freely about.

I'll be talking about my work with slides and a few real examples
at a talk organised by the Designer Bookbinders
at
The Art Workers Guild 6 Queen Square London WC1 at 6.30pm
(nearest tube stations Holborn or Russell Square )
on Tuesday 4th December
( entry £7 for non-members )
see www.designerbookbinders.org.uk

Thursday, 22 November 2007

LAB07 at the ICA

They are coming thick and fast - next stop is the London Artists Book Fair at the ICA.
I will be showing a reduced version of the Falcon Bride Installation, and showing some of the film footage I took of it at West Dean on a mini dvd player.
Following requests, there will be a few bits of it reproduced for sale - the Boat Books, sets of the Krakov cards, and the printed Falcon Bride book in the box; as well as some prints.

I am stand 63, in the Upper Gallery this year, next to Altazimuth Press; the Fair is in 3 different rooms so follow the signs so you don't miss anything.

The Fair is open
12 - 6.30 on friday ( tomorrow, 23rd )
11-7 saturday
11-5 sunday

Three days is exhausting in some ways but on the other hand it gives slightly more time to get round and see everything - Oxford felt particularly frantic this year , it is such a social Fair - catching up with people from two years back, and two days isn't long enough, especially when having to cram in giving a talk as well. However it was lovely to see lots of new faces at the talk about Peggy and gratifying to find still a lot of interest in her ideas.
I suppose my main point, thinking of her in relation to Private Press printing and Artists Books, was just how much power hand-printing gives you to get your ideas out into the world, and in a relatively unmediated way. Also how important the two-way relationship with those looking at what you are doing is and how it is worth considering how that takes place.

The biggest excitement at Oxford for me was seeing the new amazing pochoir books and monoprints done by Walter Bachinski with Janis at Shanty Bay Press. The colour in the pochoir work is glorious and I love the images as well.
It was real treat to see his illustrated talk, and wonderful to have a meal with them( together with Denis Hall and Carol Manheim ) and get to know them better, arranged by Simon and Gill McMinn who were putting us up and looking after us in a very wonderful way. It was great to catch up on some of the work I was missing in the rush at the show, in Simon's own fantastic collection over breakfast.
Altogether it was a wonderfully social weekend as we started off getting to Oxford viaCheltenham, and Chipping Camden to meet Stephen Cohn and Laura - he wrote to me after my image appeared on the Agenda edition in which he had written an article about Rilke and which included his translations; we enjoyed seeing his prints and presses. Driving round the Cotswolds in glorious autumn sunshine and colour was a real joy.

The most recent excitement has been the wonderful new show at the British Library - Breaking the Rules - Avant Garde Books in the first half of the 20th century, curated by Stephen Bury. We have been twice already, there is just so much to see and enjoy, its quite fantastic. For me it put flesh on the bones of some of the less well known names I had heard of when writing about Peggy's trips to Russia and the Ukraine. I loved the way it was arranged in cities and set things in context. It was a real shame our Russian friend Dmitry Sayenko missed the opening by a few hours as he had to catch his plane back to Germany to put up his new show.

Dmitry really got into the swing of Lewes Bonfire Night, it was a wonderful evening - he also liked pebbles at Hope Gap - where we all started collecting pebbles and letting our imaginations run riot - Brighton, Chichester Cathedral and West Dean.

Together we also went to the Baselitz exhibition at the RA ( second time for us ) - another really great show; amazing to think what he was doing while I was at art college, and that I never saw; incredible how little exposure German art seemed to get in the 60's and 70's in the general run of London exhibitions. Beuys was very visible in London, but despite visiting Germany a lot as a child and teenager I lost touch at the crucial point it seems - I should have been more pro-active. Interesting to ponder what I would made of it then; had my head down printing wallpaper and being bucolic on the south downs ( that Peggy has a lot to answer for ) -love it now.
Love too many things - hard to focus on what I love best!

Tuesday, 30 October 2007

Brought to Book

This was the title of the talk I gave at the Lewes Live Literature festival in Pelham House in Lewes on sunday 29th October.

What is 'Book Art', who does it and why? Carolyn Trant is a Lewes based artist, originally a painter/printmaker, who turned to making Artists Books about 12 years ago. Here she takes us on a personal journey into the world of book art, illustrated with examples of her own and other contemporary bookworks from England Europe and the USA.

She will talk about how and why she got into the artform and where it all currently seems to be leading, with particular reference to her current exhibition - the Falcon Bride - which extends the book form into a room-sized installation.

I went to several of the other talks and features and it was interesting to note some common preoccupations. The opening night cabaret was great with Peter Blegvad, Jean Binta Breeze, John Agard's wicked poetry and Pam Hewitt's raunchy cabaret numbers, and I liked Jane Bom-Bane 'Queen of the Funky Harmonium' with her musical hats and multi-instrumentalist Nick Pynn.
I particularly responded to Peter Blegvad's Surreal lecture the next day, a guided tour of his Milk Museum...
The human mind is often stirred by what might be called the encyclopedic urge, the thirst to know everything. there are two approaches one can take to quench this thirst:
The horizontal - learning a little about a lot of things
The vertical - learning a lot about one thing

For almost thirty years I have taken the latter course, immersing myself in milk, amassing a macaronic museum of quotes and a morgue of pictures pertaining to the stuff in the belief that a sufficiently obsessive study of one thing will eventually result in a complete education about everything........

It seemed a similar idea to my immersion in the world of Bride Falcon and Bee.

Howard Barker and the Wrestling School were fantastic performing a first draft of 'Actress with an Unloved Child'.

Germaine Dulac's The Seashell and the Clergyman 1928 40 mins... 'arguably the first example of Surrealist cinema...' ( I would say it was more Expressionist ) was also fantastic, as were the live band accompanying it - Minima ; it made me want immediately to get back to my ongoing first hesitant attempts at filming what I am doing......

I also loved my friend and fellow artist Peter Messer's illustated talk about his paintings from his last 3 exhibitions - The Luck to be Astonished in the Right Place; Two Dozen Odd Small Paintings; and On the Way to Work.

From Friday November 2nd I will be exhibiting at Oxford Brookes - The Fine Press Book Fair for 3 days, and giving a talk entitled 'Peggy Angus and the Psychopathology of Artists Books' - based on that given at the Cheltnenham Literature Festival last year about my book 'Art For Life', which many printer/publishers missed because they were at Oak Knoll. I'll be trying to pick up on the particular aspects of Artists Books and Fine Press publications that would have appealed to her and why.

Russian Book Artist Dmitry Sayenko will be coming coming back with us to experience Lewes Bonfire Night and see more English countryside, in return for the amazing travelling experiences he gave us in Russia two years ago - and to see what I did with all the photographs of Brides that I took in St Petersburg, now in my show Falcon Bride at West Dean.

Then it will be only two weeks until LAB 07 at the ICA where I will be showing a reduced version of the installation which will be back from West Dean.
check the site....
www.marcuscampbell.co.uk/lab07
or
www.ica.org.uk

On Tuesday 4th of December at 6.30pm I will be giving an open talk about my work as part of the Designer Bookbinders series of lectures - see their site for details:
www.designerbookbinders.org.uk
look under Teaching - DB Lecture series
The talk is called Books and Stuff: the Quiddity of Artists Books
at 6 Queens Square WC !n 3AR ( near Holborn or Russel Sq tube )

Monday, 29 October 2007

10es Rencontres internationales de l'edition de creation


Ateliers Vis-a-Vis & Collectif d'editeurs de la Mediterranee
- my stand at Parc Chanot 'Lire en Fete'.
There were actually 9 countries represented - France, Germany, Hungary, Italy,Japan, Switzerland, Russia and USA with GB as the specially featured country this year, curated by Moya and David Barton.
This is the link for Atelier Vis-a-Vis

Parvenu and Altazimuth Press in Marseilles


We are just back from a wonderful trip to Marseilles for the annual Book fair organised by Atelier Vis-a-Vis. We had a great time exploring the city for two days before the fair ( fortunately therefore arriving just before the Eurostar and SNCF strike kicked in ). The journey from Lewes to the South of France by train was good - the views out of the train window - fantastic, the only real way to travel.

Marseilles is a great city - cosmopolitan, busy, vital, with a great attitude to supporting the arts. They support Atelier Vis-a-Vis with panache and imagination ( of course they do - they are French ) - when a printing works closed down - the presses and premises were given to them to make use of; in return the artists do a lot work with school children making books which are then published/presented in an exciting way. This leads to educational funding. They will also soon be able to make use of the working presses to set up an international centre for printing skills from which the city will benefit. Everyone is happy ( the artists, particularly Danielle and Manuel, work incredibly hard!)

The citizens are not a particularly arty lot by our standards but they responded to all the work with great enthusiasm and empathy, and my appalling French was not a barrier to real communication.

On the first evening we were all taken out for a meal in a ca'baret cafe ( where France's most important Story teller was giving a reading in the theatre.) 'All' means about fifty international book artists, including two Russians living in Berlin, Swiss, German, a couple from US, and about six from England - 'The English desk' was a particular feature of the fair this year - sitting at 3 long tables with a librarian from paris and other Bibliophiles.

A great effort was made to bring interested buyers round the fair in a delightfully semi-formal and civilised fashion with much time and consideration given to discussion and real looking at what was on show.

Atelier Vis-a-Vis collection bought one of our books and I was videoed talking about my work for their archive.

Our only complaint - a mistral the day after our arrival brought the temperature down to a highly unusual 2 degrees ( it felt worse somehow although the sun was bright and a there had to be a quick trip to Monoprix for woolly leggings and socks - so much for our mediterranean hot break).


It wasn't so surprising to be equally cold in Lausanne ( another wonderful train journey through the mountains and along Lake Leman from Geneva). Here we visited our friend Stephane Freitz from 'Art and Fiction' ( see on early blog for link to site ) and had a wonderful quirky tour of Lausanne. Unfortunately the exhibition 'Bestial' with work by Christine Sofolosha was closed on Mondays AND Tuesdays so we missed it, but the Institut de L'Art Brut was all that I had hoped it would be with a fantastic special exhibiton of textiles including work by wonderful Michael Nedjar.


It was great seeing HQ Art and Fiction and what they do - publishing books about other artists as well as their own work; we liked the way both French and Swiss artists seemed to be able to group themselves together for mutual support and the atmosphere of debate and excitement about writing, visual art and ideas.

A wonderful traditional Swiss Fondue in a lively cafe in the evening confirmed the feeling that lively and intelligent cafe society is alive and wonderful. In our conversations however we did finally conclude that the grass is always greener...... it was interesting to hear Stephane's impression of England, which didn't always accord with our own.

Many thanks to Stephane for his wonderful tour, especially the bookshop with the gallery and erotic cabinet of curiosities which we might have otherwise missed.

THE FALCON BRIDE AT WEST DEAN



The Falcon Bride is now safely installed at the Sussex Barn Gallery until sunday 11th of November - open weds - suns 11.30-3.30.

In her text panel and gallery hand-out curator Sharon Michi-Kusunoki wrote the following-

Artist's books are a unique genre and by their nature, difficult to define. they not only challenge the definition itself, but, in actuality, defy categorisation altogether. In the installation, the Falcon Bride, Carolyn Trant examines how critical issues such as memory, text, history and myth can be constructed in a way that expands the confines of a book into something in which active participation is not only recommended, but is a necessity. Here the gallery acts as a vessel binding together the narratives provided by the viewer's own personal and/or collective memories.
......
In the installation, Trant sets the scene in what appears at first glance to be a Polish cafe with haunting prints on the wall, hand painted books arranged on a table, and an array of fascinating hand-made objects and reconstructed cultural artifacts - some conceptual, some fetishistic. What is important here is not merely what is shown, but what is experienced....in essence, the experience of a book.......

I am very grateful to Sharon for taking on this idea of a 'room-sized book' so enthusiastically and imaginatively. The scale of the barn that is the gallery is twice that of the Star Gallery, but the sence of intimacy is retained by the low and dramatic lighting levels. As you enter the first thing you see is the hand-painted block representing a book cover with a painted title, as on my notebooks - see the image below. The title block conceals the bride.


Alongside the panel, up above on the sides of the mezzanine walls, are 6 of the images from the Boat Book - as also reproduced on the invitation card, reproduced to 2 metres by a metre and a half, in an imposing processional sequence - giving me the feeling, in the gloom, of almost the impression one might get from entering a megalithic tomb with a processional sequence of hieroglyphs.



The boats have been re-made twice the size, with six foot masts reaching from floor to mezzanine ceiling. They have different psychological effect as they are now viewed from the viewers own level rather than raised on a pedestal, but the light effects are similar with wonderful shadows cast on the wall behind.
Together with the photographs they give the boat images a greater prominence in the show, but the three tables - of books, about Krakow, and the 'Egyptian table' - are grouped to the right of the barn, making up the domestic scene of the cafe.















What an amazing landscape in which to exhibit! I have so loved my time setting up the installation here in some of the best autumn days and managing a few long walks on the estate and through the gardens; and staying in the house with Magritte and Leonora Carrington on the walls and amazing cases of stuffed birds to pass on my way to bed.

I really enjoyed working with Sharon and meeting other artists working there - I am looking forward to seeing Mexican artist Antonio's day of the Dead installation at Pallant House when I go over to Chichester next week, ( I can't find my piece of paper with his full name , or any details on Pallant House website - all a bit chaotic here as usual).







Tuesday, 2 October 2007

The Falcon Bride at West Dean

In case some of you have logged onto the site having received your UWE Artists Books Newsletter and found that the Star Gallery Lewes show is now over....
Here are the details of the next venue:

Sussex Barn Gallery, West Dean College
West Dean, Chichester
West Sussex
PO 18 0QZ

www.westdean.org.uk

01243 818316

The show runs from Saturday 13 October to Sunday 11 November
Open Wednesday to Sunday 11.30 am - 3.30 pm

I shall be helping put up the show this week and it will look different again; there'll be more photos maybe once it is up.

Thursday, 27 September 2007

o's and 0's

BINGO!

Amendment

It has been pointed out that I got the last post address wrong ( many thanks to loyal readers - just testing....)
try
Http://www.marcuscampbell.co.uk/lab07press.html

Tuesday, 25 September 2007

Thursday, 13 September 2007

The Falcon Bride




The Falcon Bride is an experimental ‘room-sized book’ – which I set up in a gallery in Lewes, Sussex during the local Arts Festival. I deliberately wrote no introductory explanations of the piece other than that it is based on a visit to the Polish city of Krakow, where we visited the small museum containing Leonardo’s painting ‘Lady with Ermine’ and a small Egyptian Department containing some mummified falcons; the Polish Ethnographic Museum; and the old Jewish Quarter.
It is a ‘book’ in that you are entering a world and a story which it takes time to absorb; there is a web of references and cross-references of images in different forms – 10 prints on the walls, hand-made objects and models, and a table full of hand-painted books.
The idea of making the room look like a Polish CafĂ© (a setting which re-appears within the images) is to make people feel comfortable, both psychologically and physically, as they sit to look into what can be a slightly disturbing journey - in that it asks questions without giving answers. The images and objects, hand-made reproductions of what I saw, but deliberately made to be somehow ‘on the point of becoming’, are proving quite powerful.

I am always there invigilating so it becomes almost a performance piece as I am asked questions and enter into a dialogue about our perceptions of what we are seeing; but the main idea is always to encourage people to allow the exhibits to speak for themselves and to trust and listen to their own reactions.
Each person opens up their own story.
All the exhibits are constructed from basic organic materials such as feather, bone, wax, wood, or recycled paper, card and scrim, and are fragile, but the books are designed to be handled and read.
There is nothing to buy or sell and part of the idea has been to try and restructure the way people look at art-works, how long they spend doing it, and what they expect from them.

It is trying to restore the delicate interaction between maker and viewer which became interesting at the beginning of the Open Studios movement but has now become over-commercialised again .Having been brought up (artistically speaking) by someone totally devoted to accessibility, but working myself with very personal but archetypal imagery, I am constantly aware of the interface between the two approaches.
I shall try and bring a reduced version of it to my space at LAB 07 at the ICA in November.

The Falcon Bride

I realise I have several personae on this blog and the gaps are widening; so those of you approaching it from different directions will have to search for the bits that fit.

The Falcon Bride website will take some time to construct because I am still playing with what I might do to take the installation forward; but a few very general installation shots in the Star Gallery appear here. It really needs to be seen and experienced properly.

Likewise I am loathe to to write much about it but have been forced too for various publicity reasons, so one of the resulting attempts is reproduced above.

The show will continue until September 30th, then move to a different incarnation in the Sussex Barn Gallery at West Dean College, near Chichester ( the Edward James Foundation )
where it will open on 13th October
open weds - sundays 11-30 - 3-30
until 11th November.















Friday, 7 September 2007

The Falcon Bride




The Falcon Bride opening tonight.....

I hope those of you checking out the falconbride website have been successfully diverted here to this blog.
Since setting up the show a couple of days ago I have been taking photographs, but it will be some time before they are in a fit state to publish on the site, so please be patient. I will post a few up here from time to time.

Monday, 3 September 2007

The Falcon Bride


Apologies for lack of information updates re The Falcon Bride – last week my back finally gave way at a most inconsiderate time so am still trying to get mobile again; may get it taped up today which could be an interesting installation in itself…..
Sitting at computers is certainly bad news
But the show will go on , the pieces are garnered in but the Piece is still in a creative state of flux, as it should be; nothing is fixed until Friday night, and even then……….
You will make of it what you will



Sunday, 19 August 2007

Paddock Printmakers new exhibition PUBLIC HOUSE

New information and images about the PUBLIC HOUSE exhibition are available on the blogspot and will be updated from now on
check out
http://lewespublichouse.blogspot.com
where there are images of the previous books and exhibitions by the group

Saturday, 18 August 2007

Local Distinctiveness

I wrote this several months ago and never posted it but perhaps now is the time as - see below - Paddock Printmakers are about to launch their new book of pubs:


One thing about keeping a blog I find is that I start getting a nesting instinct and want to start putting certain things that have happened in my artistic life together.

I was walking down the High Street last week and met up with one of my Paddock Printmakers ( one my printmaking class ) and he dragged me to look at some wonderful reproductions of Edward Bawden linocuts that were framed up in Kings Framers framing shop window, of railway stations, a livestock market ( as we once had in Lewes), and what looked like it could have been Borough Market in London. While we were gazing and talking, two more friends turned up with Sue Clifford and Angela King, the founders of Common Ground, on a visit from Dorset, and it turned into quite a party.
Common Ground is an innovative charity which celebrates ..’ the commonplace, the local, the vernacular and the distinctive’. I first became aware of them when I came across their first book ‘Second Nature’ published around 1982; I then met up with them while I was working on ‘Rituals and Relics’ in 1990 when they had premises next to the Ecology Centre in Shelton Street Covent Garden.

It was good to catch up with what they are doing and I rushed off afterwards to buy their recent book, the result of 20 years labours, called’ England in Particular’. See more details of this below.

In return I told them about the projects we had been doing as Paddock Printmakers. About four years ago I suggested to my class that working on group projects often helped if people were at a loss for inspiration and asked them to consider making images of Lewes High Street shops that we could make into a concertina book.
‘High Street’ by Eric Ravilious’ , with text by James Richards – one time husband of Peggy Angus – was of course an inspiration.

We exhibited the resulting prints – wood and lino cuts and collagraphs – in the Lewes Arts Festival - ArtWave and Peter Flanagan, a graphic designer, helped us make it into a digital concertina book, 14’ long when fully extended with around 22 images of shops. As luck ( or intuition ) would have it, this coincided almost to the day, with much promotion in the national press, of a report highlighting the loss of independent shops and bland uniformity of an increasing number of towns and their High Streets. Lewes was actually named as an example where chain-stores had not taken a hold and diversity still held sway.
The exhibition was resounding success and our limited edition book sold out in 2 days.

The following year we produced an extension of the idea documenting Cliffe High Street as a companion volume; at the same time we reproduced some of the previous images as a calendar for 2005; we then made a Cliffe calendar for 2006.
Since then some of the shops have changed hands and out of all recognition already, so it is an interesting piece of history we have produced; we should repeat the process every few years I suppose. 3 of the original prints were bought and donated to be hung in the new Lewes Library.

This year, 2007, we had already decided to focus on pubs, when surprise, surprise, Lewes again made national ( and International ) headlines by resisting the efforts of Greene King to stop serving the local Harveys beer in the Lewes Arms pub; ( try googling lewesarms or John May's blog )

Back to ‘England in Particular’ – I quote from the flyleaf….
‘…diversity is under siege. Mass production, increased mobility and the forceful promotion of corporate identity have brought with them standardised shop fronts, farm buildings, factories, forests and front doors, while intensive farming has created a bland empty countryside.
This book is a counterblast against loss and uniformity, and a celebration of just some of the distinctive details that cumulatively make England…..things need not be conventionally picturesque, rare or spectacular to be special – there is value and local meaning to be found in cakes, cliffs, cooling towers and cuckoos.’
(Peggy Angus would really love all this…….)

‘England in Particular offers a way of looking that makes the mundane magical. It will change the way you see the world.’

Links Common Ground commonground.org.uk
england-in-particular.info
the-corrugated-iron-club.info
Incline Press/Peggy Angus

The Falcon Bride




This is the private view card for my next exhibition at the Star Gallery, Castle Ditch Lane, Lewes in September; it is a room sized book called The Falcon Bride.
More details will be posted soon and more photos once the installation is up and running.
The images show both sides of the card. The coloured side is designed to folded sides-to-middle
so that it reveals the black images inside and with the feathers and bone image on the back.
I'm very busy at the moment as my students ( Paddock Printmakers ) show is opening on friday and we are launching our third limited edition book celebrating local distinctiveness - a book of prints of all the Lewes pubs. See further details on http://lewespublichouse.blogspot.com
We should be updating this site with all the images soon as well.

Thursday, 21 June 2007

Agenda

This month I am very happy and honoured to have one of my images on the front cover of Agenda, especially as it is a particularly large and wonderful volume devoted to the poetry of Rilke.
We chose the image carefully to be appropriate for the volume but deliberately did not give it a title, because it in fact comes from my book 'Gawain', but I hope on its own it stands for other ideas too.
We also considered these two smaller woodcuts of Orpheus, which come from a book I did using a poem by Peter Abbs.




GAWAIN............................


Gawain was the first Artists Book I made , in 1997. It was made as response to seeing the opera by Harrison Birtwistle with libretto by David Harsent - wonderful words, which inspired images which were rarely related to what was going on on stage visually; but close I hope to the spirit of both the opera as a whole and the medieval story of Gawain and the Green Knight. In fact I came to feel totally consumed by this spirit as I set myself the task of completing the book , like Gawain's task, in one year and a day.
It was quite a hard labour, twenty woodcut images about 60cm X 40cm, plus their corresponding texts. It was the first time I had cut text before and I decided to just be guided by the marks of my scalpel, making the letter forms from straight and angled cuts and following the flow of the ( considerable ) wood grain of the plywood.
David bravely gave me a free hand in choosing the extracts of text.
I printed ( and sold ) 20 copies, burnishing the prints by hand with a spoon on rough Nepalese Khadi loktar paper, which has so much wonderful texture in it ( including small lumps of clay and roadgrit and even the occasional crushed Nepalese spider ) that using a press runs the risk of the paper making damaging marks on the woodblocks!
The pages were sewed directly into a cow-hide, thick leather, that I had specially dyed a wonderful dark green; each book used 'half a cow', and I kept the edges untrimmed, exactly as they had been stretched, to echo the riffled edges of the paper.
Front and back were blind-embossed with two of the woodcuts, very difficult to photograph as they catch the light in strange ways, but I include a detail above ( should have rotated the image 90 degrees but it gives you some idea ).
The book won the first Society of Bookbinders competition for the Complete Book; I'm not sure it was an entry they quite expected but everyone was very encouraging to this 'parvenu' press.
I reproduce it in full below to give the complete story