Thursday, 5 July 2018

Summer News - Enid Marx, ArtWave and new work


I am just back from hearing Alan Powers give a talk at the House of Illustration where there is a lovely show about Enid Marx - textile designs, illustrations and wood engravings and linocuts and lots of information. Alan, who got to know her well, gave a stimulating account of her life and work - his book about her is just out, called The Pleasures of Pattern; and he is also speaking at an event there in September, convened by Desdemona McCannon on 17th September, 11am-4pm, as part of the Women in Print series; other speakers will include LottieCrawford, Graham Moss - who also got to know her and reprinted some of her images and books at Incline Press, Jane Audas, and myself. Friends and peers of Enid Marx being talked about may include Phyllis Baron and Dorothy Larcher, Peggy Angus, and Barbara Jones.See the link below to book tickets ; The House of Illustration is at 2 Granary Square, Kings Cross, London N1C 4BH


Women in Print; Enid Marx and her Contemporaries; highlighting the often overlooked contributions by women to print, pattern and popular art. 


The Oxford book fair went well for me so I have been too busy printing and finishing editions, let alone trying to do new work, to blog properly and keep up with things....



but new work has included woodcuts for the new Lewes Printmakers edition coming out shortly called SYLVA about Lewes Trees.

We have called our new book Sylva after John Evelyn’s seminal text – Sylva: a Discourse about Forest Trees and the Propagation of Timber - first submitted to the Royal Society in 1662 and published as a book two years later (you can read it full online).

Evelyn, 1620 – 1706, like his contemporary Pepys a well known a diarist, lived at Southover Grange in Lewes with his grandmother Jane Stansfield, for most of his childhood. A radical Lewes character he attended a free school in Southover (the original Lewes Grammar School) rather than going to Eton as his father would have wished. He obviously knew his own mind, later travelling to visit formal gardens in France and Italy rather than fighting as a Royalist in the Civil War as would have been expected.
He designed his first garden when he was 22, returning from Europe to live in Deptford near the Royal Dockyard, where he could purchase botanical specimens from far afield. It would be nice to think that he influenced the planting of the magnificent trees in Grange Gardens, mentioned below, and he certainly influenced many horticulturalists and landowners from the 17th century onwards, favouring informal use of trees alongside more formal garden designs. He was aware too of the usefulness of tree products – from apple harvests to timber for shipbuilding, always a priority for the navy during on-going European Wars.
He understood ecological principles, encouraging new planting and inspiring Capability Brown and the 18th century Landscape Movement (not always such good news for the rural poor); but his long life suggests that sympathy for trees and curiosity about the natural world – and gardening – can be good for us.

Research now shows that time spent among trees reduces stress levels, boosts immune function, lowers blood pressure and improves mood and concentration; even hospital patients recover quicker if they can see them out of the window. With the recent headlines about felling of trees in Sheffield and by the railway companies we feel we have again managed to be quite topical. I will put up some images soon.


My images for the Tree book led to ideas for another little book of my own I am now working on for ArtWave - when I will be opening my studio for three weekends, including the bank holiday, the last weekends in August and the first in September .

Then in October I will be again taking part in the Design for Today event at Towner in Eastbourne Ink Paper and Print - this year it will be over two consecutive days as it was so successful - and crowded - last year.


here is the blurb for this event - there will also be another similar show at Margate -

Ink Paper + Print at The Towner Gallery on Sat &Sun 13th - 14th October 2018

Our first event of 2018 will be a Print and Illustration Fair at Eastbourne's iconic Towner Gallery. There will be 55 exhibitors showcasing a range of printmaking, artist's books, 20th Century design, ceramics and contemporary crafts. This is an exciting opportunity to see contemporary makers showcasing their latest work in one of Britain's leading galleries.

There will be two exhibition halls. The first hall will be for new printmakers, design collectives, university illustration departments, zines, riso prints, and fresh talent.
The second hall will be for established print makers, mid-century prints and ephemera, fine press 'artists' books, patterned paper, and those artists and publishers who are influenced by the 20th Century artists whose work is celebrated within the Towner collection.

Accompanying the Fair will be a series of engaging talks and behind-the-scenes tours of the Towner. Hear some of the UK's leading illustrators discuss their work and see behind the scenes of the Towner and its unique collection of 20th Century British Art.



at two venues. The first venue will be the iconic Winter Gardens (where the Beatles played). This will be our main venue with 55 exhibitors, bars, seated food area, exhibitions, print collectives and more. The second venue will be at the Turner Contemporary Gallery with 20 exhibitors whose focus will be 20th Century Graphic art, Fine Press Books and book arts. There will be 75+ exhibitors in total across the two venues showcasing a range of printmaking, artist's books, 20th Century design, zines, screenprints, risos, ceramics and contemporary crafts. This is an exciting opportunity to see contemporary printmakers and makers showcasing their work.

I will fill in all these events with images asap




Friday, 2 March 2018

Three weeks to go to Oxford Fine Press Book Fair....



Only 3 weeks to go and I should be promoting the Fine Press Book Association fair at the Kassam Stadium Oxford, 24/25th March, but I can never stop printing long enough in my basement to enter the upstairs world of my computer…
I just had to check my catalogue entry – and it sounds rather scatty but it was just the tip of the iceberg of my thoughts when I wrote it in haste facing a large pile of woodcut blocks and texts before starting printing over two months ago.
I will elaborate here....with some roughs of a few of the images.....

These books I am printing are trying to combine being painted and printed; I always print like a painter anyway – the blocks are just another way of getting colour and image onto the paper – and each book, of a very small edition ( 7? 9? ) will be slightly different.
I want it to be quite rough and immediate, not pretty at all – I am not sure my skills stretch to tragedy so rough and raw will have to do….

James’ poem has reverted back to its original title – The Untenanted Room, after a brief sojourn as The Ruin – lucky for him I hadn’t cut the title page until very recently…








The text flickers between current events and concerns, structured around the medieval story of Perceval, The Holy Fool, and yes – The Ruin. I am trying to mirror the metaphors of the writing with the way I print – shreds of allusions and references in the imagery, cut shapes. Fragmented printing styles. The covers, if I ever get them dry in time, are trying to gather up and meld some of the whirling detritus of the world, both natural and man made – and compact it into a surface; I did this once for a unique volume, The Artists Book, done for a Millennium exhibition in 2000, which is now in the USA and I never took a photo of the cover, so it is an idea revisited from memory nearly two decades on.

‘Current events and concerns’ are the perennial ones – man’s inhumanity to man and the continual degradation of the planet. The first image is of an unspecified bombed building, in the Middle East maybe; later bodies hang like meat from the trees, the woodcuts try to flicker like TV screens, dead birds are strung up, trees look blasted. But art ultimately makes things look aesthetic, cosy: I try to be raw but pages inevitably become cooked – our conscience and consciousness makes things acceptable so that we can carry on. I hope this is an angry book all the same..

Alongside will be our smaller, quieter book – Some Light Remains.

See you there hopefully.......









Friday, 12 January 2018

The Oxford Fine Press Book Association Fair

Old Year, New Year - a catch up on news. the FPBA fair, postponed after the newly refurbished Oxford Brookes university hall where we normally have our stands proved too small now to accommodate us all; we are now moving to the Kassam Stadium, ten minutes from the city centre and home of Oxford's football club! it provides space and easy parking with a Holiday Inn on site, so hopefully some practical considerations will make up for the at first glance rather bleak surroundings - once inside you will be surrounded by a wonderful world of hand-made books.

The fair is 24th and 25th March 2018.

 This year I will be bringing Some Light Remains, another poetry volume with James Simpson , same size and a sister volume to The Rhyme of the Reddleman’s Daughter which I showed in 2015, poems printed from Metallic Elephant metal plate and 7 colour woodcuts plus a frontispiece- see images in previous posts.

Also a very large new book, which is almost a sister volume to my very first book Gawain done in 1997, and based on the Perceval story and the medieval poem of The Ruin. This began as the Untenanted Room, a long poem by James Simpson which was published as an Agenda Editions special  edition a few years ago.
It has taken us a long time to re-model and conceive it in this new format, the complete text cut in wood as I did with sections of David Harsent’s poem cycle Gawain.
I am using A3 and A2 woodblocks, which will give you some idea of the size – which fits Khadi papers cotton rag paper with its lovely uneven edges. It needs to be big so you can be completely immersed in the story, and so that the images don’t become ‘pretty’ in any way – and to show the monumentality of the text. If Some Light Remains was a peaceful contemplative book this one is much angrier and reflects our times I fear.







It is currently still a huge pile of cut blocks, some of which are illustrated here, almost ready for printing and the time of reckoning: watch this space for more images as they emerge.




I have been cutting all over Christmas, after another brief sojourn in Bristol, where I finally found my way to Birdcage Walk on a lovely crisp day and thought sadly of Helen Dunmore.
I just managed to catch the last week of the Grayson Perry exhibition at the beautiful Arnolfini – it looked really good in this setting, packed with enthusiastic visitors. I always love his ideas and this time particularly really loved all the artworks too.

I also caught up with my daughter’s project Making Books in Bristol which was exhibited next to the West of England Academy as part of the Centre for Material Texts which she runs as an academic at Bristol University. It was a very inclusive and interesting display to which people contributed from a variety of skills and interests.










It included a photo of Nick Hand of the Letterpress Collective in Bristol with his printing byke. I saw this project as a crowdfunding suggestion by chance a few years ago and couldn’t resist contributing – the idea of cycling to Mainz, in Germany, home of Gutenburg, on a bicycle with an integral printing press, printing and sending postcards along the way was irresistible. He has since given Peter and I a good tour of his workshop.

It is hard to give a good impression of the exhibition with low resolution images but I hope it gives some idea –book artist Angie Butler made a definitive volume pulling all the ideas together, including everyone’s contributions in an often very witty way. I hope you can read some of the lables if you click on the images to enlarge them. or for much clearer pictures and more information google https://booksatbristol.wordpress.com 


The good recent news about the Bodleian book project I was involved with ( see posting below) is that it is now going on to Bristol and will be exhibited at UWE curated by Sarah Bodman and showing all the books involved this time, starting in June I think – watch this space.

There's a few days left to visit the Outside In exhibition at Sotheby's in Bond Street - begun at Pallant House and now an independent institution this project is really worth supporting - find out about it and see some really inspiring artwork until the 19th I think.