Friday 12 December 2008

And Other Fairy Tales - New work for the Work on Paper Fair

here are a few images of finished pages of the new book I hope to have finished for the Work on Paper Fair at the beginnign of February
nb I see it is to be held at the Flower Cellars, not Sellers! - new venue anyway...

I shall have to finish it now;
they are woodcuts using a new type of wood and a new paper ( size of page is 12 X 16 inches ) and I am overprinting and trying to work in a free and dangerous way.
it has a good ferocious text too.....

Thursday 4 December 2008

SIX - Open House at 6 Clifton Street Brighton

I shall be showing books and prints at 6 Clifton Street Brighton, just near the Station, as part of the Christmas Open House Trail, for the first two weekends of December - 12 midday until 6.
Sorry - don't seem to be able to upload the flier!
After that
as part of 'Covered' at the Work on Paper Fair, The Flower Sellers, Covent Garden ( the old Theatre Museum )at the beginning of February - 5th-8th.
More details later.....

Sunday 9 November 2008

50 Years of Curwen

Some very old images....

I went to the talk at the Tate given by Stanley Jones, Paula Rego and Alan Powers last week, to accompany the display celebrating 50 years of the Curwen Press in Tate Britain and the new book by Alan Powers. It was great seeing Stanley as usual, and his public reminiscences were fascinating and suddenly put everything in perspective and answered questions I had never quite got around to consciously formulating.
Paula was wonderful at keeping things real with her practical approach, and fun. She re-iterated what I always felt about the Slade – you went to work with Stanley because he respected what it was you wanted to do, be it narrative or in any other way not the flavour of the month, and to get away from all that wretched dot-to-dotting in the painting studios.
I just slipped into lithography because I was working in the corridor next door; I was really doing woodcuts and trying to learn Japanese processes with the help of Lynton Lamb, who was unfortunately soon to retire; ( he got me the job teaching wood engraving at Heatherleys to make ends meet). ( And I was hand printing wallpapers at night in Peggy Angus’s studio in Mornington Crescent with lino blocks..)
When I left the Slade I was approached by Stephen Reiss, who I now know had just taken on being the new Managing Director of Curwen Prints in 1975, to make two lithographs for the new venture Royal Academy Graphics , to be sold through the other new development – Business Art Gallery, upstairs at the RA, which was to be a sort of showcase for Curwen.( Eventually it moved to Windmill Street near the old Curwen Gallery .)
I can’t remember which came first, him starting to sell my tempera paintings in the RA Gallery or the commission for the prints; he really just wanted them to be in the same style as the paintings – not necessarily what I would have chosen to do but I lacked confidence to protest, and in any was not going to jeopardise the chance of working with Stanley again in the Studio at Midford Place.
Living as I was in the depths of the countryside with, at that point, two young children, it was bliss to be back working in London. I never had the time to get together another whole show of paintings for the New Grafton Gallery ( where I had my first one-woman in 1974 ) and continued to dribble them out through the BAG Gallery for some years.
Working in Midford Place was wonderful and the technicians were really helpful and a joy to work with. It is often quite difficult to work outside your own studio surroundings, but Stanley somehow made it seem very comfortable and you felt very well supported and cosseted. It was a very good experience ( even tho I absent-mindedly left all my artist proofs in a shop in Oxford street, and only realised on the train on the way home ; I let out a scream as we pulled out of Clapham Junction and had to get out E Croydon and go all the way back to try and find them – amazingly despite it being the time of bomb scares ( IRA?) they were still there against the counter….they were worth quite a sum of money to me and were part of my ‘wages’).
Over ten years later, I bought my own huge litho press – a 9 foot long, two ton DEFA – and tried to go it alone, first in the Star Brewery studios, and then when the business rate made things impossible, back at home in my kitchen.
I did a lot of lithographs, from drawings when I came back from Guatemala in 1987 and then when I was doing the long archaeological project – Rituals and Relics around 1989-92. See images above.
Reading Alan’s book put a lot of things in a wider perspective; when you are younger you don’t realise what you are part of, you just presume everyone has been doing these things for ages; in the same way I didn’t realise until I read David Wolfer’s obituary, that I was one of the first batch to exhibit at the New Grafton Gallery’s new premises. I wish I had known earlier that Stanley was tutored by Ceri Richards, or that Keith Vaughn was still teaching at the Slade when I was there and presumably still walking around somewhere in its labyrinthine corridors.
Perhaps I was just particularly vague and distracted; but the Slade was a very vague and distracting place.

So – three wonderful shows in the space of a week; the Eileen Agar at Pallant House, the Maeght exhibition at the RA, and the Tate Britain display. I feel really invigorated.
Entering the Sackler Galleries was magical – a feeling I had not had since the Matisse paper cut-outs in the textile exhibition.. Braque I have loved for ever, everything he does; Miro I get to love more and more; Giacometti was the first big exhibition I really remember going to as a teenager at the Tate – in the sixties? – and always brings back that time to me – I saw a wonderful collection of his early work in Basel a few years ago too, small and white and surreal and playful, before the larger figures.; Calder is a name I know well from writing the Peggy book – they were friends and he borrowed her studio to make a collection of work for an early exhibition; and there was the famous Calder ‘hand’ toilet holder in the privy at Furlongs which disappeared and was replaced by a copy. I had written about the toys he gave Peggy’s children – and could suddenly see what they must have been like. The exhibition was so beautifully laid out and the juxtapositions were so lovely of the different media; and it was great seeing the little video clips of them all with their friends.
I feel very guilty, because I went round a lot of new galleries in the East End with my eldest son the weekend before, hoping to find this sort of excitement, but not really getting there. Is it me or the work? I feel peculiar finding these particular shows of old stuff much fresher, particularly the Agar which includes a lot of things that haven’t been seen much before.

Sunday 2 November 2008

New Work and Old

These are some new miniature 'Winterreise's that I've been doing for the Open House Show in Brighton...

Here are some pages from the books of old cut up prints....

Here's what I have really been doing - finishing printing my own copy of Lorca's Sonnets of Dark Love at last, there were a few texts still to do.

Monday 27 October 2008

Thoughts from the Small Publishers Fair etc

I'm using the excuse of having just come back from this fair at the Conway Hall, Red Lion Square, to get back into writing this blog. I should of course have advertised it beforehand, but I wasn't actually exhibiting, just supporting Altazimuth ( and he was on the computer getting his stuff ready ).
I must say it was great having time to be a punter ( even tho I rushed off to Chichester on the first afternoon for the PV of the Eileen Agar show at Pallant House - which is a really exciting exhibition, on until 15 March 09 )
Altazimuth was next to Atlantic press and they were lovely neighbours; they publish works by first time authors of graphic literature. They had some good Grimms Fairy Tales.
On the other side was Perro Verlag from Canada - Mayne Island off the west coast
-we had some good talks about why we do what we do.
I always love RedFoxPress and Antic-Ham
-fantastic screen-printed books and collaged stuff in rich colourful abundance.
And on Morning Star Publications I was really pleased to find the book and CD of the piece I liked so much at an otherwise very lacklustre Haywood show last year. It's called Journey to the Lower World by Marcus Coates and I thought it had a strange integrity that hovered on lots of interesting boundaries; I can't wait to see it again after a passage of time.
and I liked some of Alec's projects too.
Road Books - Judy Kraus and Peter Morgan - had a really beautiful book on their stand too - Pages from the Powder Magazine;" Rimbaud's explosive inner life among the cryptic rocks of West Cork"....

What am I doing?
I actually found a bit I had written a few weeks ago just now when cleaning up my files trying to answer this question
but I have since got back to just carrying on doing things, cutting up old prints again and re-arranging them into little books, very therapeutic, destroying to create and all that
I keep going off at a tangent from my main lines of thought but sometimes you just need to do that...
I'm exhibiting at Judy Stevens Open House in Clifton Street Brighton for the first two weekends of December
and I've booked in for the next Bristol Book Fair next April
otherwise I am just cracking on

So What is it I’m doing….

It is said that the people in it who are most happy are those who can exercise some measure of control in their lives and workplaces.
Books are complex concepts and structures, and often used as a metaphor for a world. Making books is a supreme act of attempted control, even though, like the world, books can take on a life of their own. When things get out of control it’s exciting, like going to a new place.

Monday 4 August 2008

Events Coming Up

The end of August is the start of Lewes's ArtWave Festival with exhibitions all over town.
You can check it out at
This year my Paddock Printmakers group is exhibiting in the newly named 'Hop Gallery' ( F4 in the ArtWave brochure ) - this used to be the Star Gallery and is situated in the old Star Brewery, now craft workshops, off Fisher street near Lewes Town Hall - where I had my Falcon Bride exhibition last year.
Dates - September 4th - 16thIt's open every day from 10a.m. until 5p.m. and we'll be showing prints - including woodcuts and wood engravings, lino cuts, acrylic drypoints, collagraphs and monoprints, and cards and a 2009 calendar of pubs in Lewes from our hardback publication we made last year called Public House.
We'll also hope to be showing some blocks and tools to illustrate how some of the prints were made.
This year all the wood engravers from my group have had their work accepted by the Society of wood Engravers for their annual exhibition at the Bankside Gallery, which starts I think after 24th september - the Society wanted to make a feature this year of work by classes around the country, so our group were persuaded to enter for the first time.
our website at present is
or you can contact us on -

Meanwhile I am exhibiting work with my good friend Judith Kazantzis at her house
32 St Anne's Crescent, Lewes
on the weekends August 23/24 and 30/31 from 12noon until 6p.m
Judith wrote the poetry for my book 'The Garden of Earthly Delights' and a copy of this will be on display, and also a copy of my first book 'Gawain' ( both sadly all long sold out ). Our prints and paintings will include images from this, some new smaller books I have made up out of the proofs and offcuts of the prints, and some examples of new work in progress.
Judith makes a lot of exciting monoprints and it should be a lively show and an opportunity to show things that are too difficult to exhibit in a gallery.
her website is
The house can be found at the top of the town, straight up the High Street all the way to the prison - on foot St Anne's is parallel to Western road beyond St Anne's Church; by car , enter via the prison crossroads.
bus - get off at Lewes Prison and just cross the road.
train - its a 15 minute walk up from the station.


I went back to the house where I was born last week.
It must be 40 years since I last ventured to Metroland and much was surprisingly unchanged.
At Baker Street, the old wooden clattering boards showing the destinations of the Metropolitan Line had gone, but original bits of signage and furniture survive, or are at least in the original style.

After Harrow-on-the-Hill, where the new blocks and offices were as I expected, West Harrow is still re-assuringly scruffy; there seem plenty of green fields and allotments flourishing, and hopefully too the swimming baths where we went once a week if the water temperature was over 56 degrees F.

Rayners Lane felt so familiar and the station architecture did not disappoint. One exit is now blocked off but the two round-ended kiosks – newsagents/confectionary and shoe repairs respectively, could have looked the same in the fifties. There were no new tall buildings in sight. The old, Art Deco, Odeon Cinema is now a Zoroastrian Temple,

( and 3jpg to see how it used to look )
but it still EXISTS with its elephant trunk façade, unlike the other glamorous 30’s cinemas I remember - the Langham in Pinner, now site of Lidl, the Astoria and Rivoli in Ruislip, the Rex in Northwood Hills – I can’t remember in which a ceiling fell down a week after I had been to see a film.
Or the Embassy in North Harrow, the foyer of which my grandmother hired for my mother’s fifth birthday ( grandfather was a commercial artist and doing well in the thirties – he did a lot of drawing for Liberty’s ); great-grandad was a member of the Inner Magic Circle and provided the entertainment, involving eggs cracked into bowler hats which changed miraculously into chocolate Neapolitans for the children ( his birthday presents to everyone always came out of ears or cuffs with many flourishes and delays…”Oh please stop messing around and just give it to me PLEASE…” ).

The bungalow in Rayners Lane, purchased new in 1932 for £750 ( including garage ), and where at least 8 members of my family lived together during the war, looked awfully small now – squashed against a slightly bigger one next door ( source of the pass-me-down leather Clarks T-strap sandals with the toes-cut-out-to-eke-out-another-summer)( remember the lethal wooden X-ray machines to measure our feet in the shoe-shop? Its amazing what we have survived….).
The interior of this tiny box was once covered with my grandfather’s murals and I was born there exactly mid-century. I remember photos of Mum in her donkey-coloured two-piece, wide hat and veil ‘The New Look’ and then the voluminous 50’s skirts which could lie in a complete circle on the floor, from which eventually my home-made dresses were cut all through my childhood.
The Broadway up to the station now has a sprinkling of saris among the hardware and bargain stores; the Woolworth’s is in the same place but the ‘milk bar’ I so longed to be allowed to frequent is now a gloriously gaudy Hindu wedding ceremony supplier.

When I was 3 we moved up the road to Eastcote ….”where each new, brighter, Metroland house was slightly different from the rest…” certainly the case in our patchwork street of semi-d’s; and where the height of early 1960’s chic was the Marinka coffee bar where you could get a glass of Coca Cola with a twist of lemon and brown sugar round the rim of the glass, if you could lose your parents long enough. Mummy had her tennis friends round for iced coffee on the swing-seat in the garden, with multi coloured sugar crystals (in a sugar bowl), which I would steal and offer as a libation to the fairies at the end of the very reasonably sized garden, (one of Betjamen’s ‘fairy dingles’ maybe.)

In Eastcote too the Woolworths was still in position. And the P.O. The Fish-and-Chippy had a very new look but seemed roughly in the right place, and some of the other shops too – stationer, sweetshop, newsagents; though not the Express Dairy on the corner ( now a newsagent ) - Eastcote’s first attempt at a ‘Supermarket’, where you could actually choose and pick up your own stuff from shelves and freezer, and take it to the till – unlike the floridly tiled Sainsbury’s with its porky smell of ham and pies and strong cheddar, where young women with white muslin hairnets served you in a strange and unfathomable and time-consuming Russian-style system of separate queuing.
It was outside the Express Dairy that I absent-mindedly walked into a lamppost, very hard, in a thunderstorm, and my mother picked up the hailstones and clapped them to my swelling brow – I still have a slight lump over my right eyebrow……

The little department store for fabrics and haberdashery has vanished without trace, and the two tiny single story coal-suppliers offices, once with their lace curtains and particular warm coke-y smell and sacks of anthracite like a demented squirrel’s hoard of nuts, are now supplying some sort of windows and taxi cabs respectively.
The Ideal Cinema in Field End Road was never an architectural gem. Known locally as the ‘Bug Hutch’, it was wood or half timbered I think; I remember it’s passing in my early teens and its rapid replacement with a small ugly ‘office block’. My mother, who was still in her very early teens when I was 3, was desperate to see ‘Mogambo’ (‘Passion’ in Swahili apparently ) - a florid tale set in Africa, with Ava Gardiner and Clark Gable - so she took me along too to the matinee. It was the first film I ever saw and I still remember the first scene as we groped our way to our seats in the dark – it was of course halfway through the film as for some reason no-one ever checked the times before going or worried about starting at the beginning, you could stay and watch films through several times without attracting the usherette and her torch.
Come to think of it, I always thought my Mum looked a bit like Ava Gardiner, all glossy black wavy hair and very red lipstick.
Crossing to bits of Ruislip or Pinner without going back to Harrow on the train meant long walks which we made without complaint, I don’t remember buses. I walked miles aged 3 for dancing classes and the library in Pinner.
This time my partner and I went by train and the station, half old and country-clapboarded and half new where the main line has been screened off, was not particularly familiar so I’m sure we always walked. But Pinner looks just the same, still remains of the rural village and Helen Allingham-y charms.

Unlike Eastcote, and Rayners Lane it has attracted the posh chains to its old High Street buildings – Pizza Express and Café Rouge Next to the old tea rooms where I remember being taken for a Horlicks (“…I told you you wouldn’t like it…”) , still a cosy, half timbered restaurant. The charity shop test says it all – paperbacks here the usual £2.50, in Eastcote I noticed they were only 50p – I didn’t dare test my partners patience by continuing researches in Rayners Lane….

In which cinema did I see The Young Ones? – it was filmed nearby at Ruislip Lido where we made occasional trips for the pedalos.
I searched for the Pinner library of my nostalgic dreams, home of my love affair with books (there weren’t many in the house at home). In my memory it is always an autumn dusk and I’m walking the 2-3 miles scrunching through dry leaves. I know we are nearly there when we pass the dress shop called ‘Carol Ann’ and my mother says she wanted to call me that, but then my initials would have spelled CAT – to my infant consciousness this doesn’t seem to be a particular problem. The library is a tiny prefab of 2-3 rooms – one for children where the librarian reads stories – with a particular warm yellow light from a primitive source, and a very particular smell of primitive heating, paraffin stove?? oil heater?? ( Northwick Park Station waiting room smelt very similar and I often used to change trains there just to savour it…) It is a fairy tale hut right by the River Pinn and a small bridge…
The bridge is still there, and a tiny strip of park with a couple of benches, but I am assured that the library has always been the solid building near the station, but I’ve checked with my mother and I know I am right. Thank Goodness I still don’t look old enough to be remembering that far back.

Later, Eastcote got its own two storey brick library with serious non-fiction upstairs that would put many larger ones now to shame. It was also open well into the evening , with tables and chairs, so you could sit and do your homework there after tea with no rush and panic.

I apologise for this indulgent excursion into my suburban past, but it does suddenly seem to be all in the air. I had made my impromptu trip before I was told that John Betjamen’s wonderful documentary ‘Metroland’ was about to be televised on an evening all about London’s Underground.
I watched it transfixed. All my topics were there – although he followed the Pinner, Watford and Rickmansworth lines as they push further towards the real countryside. My branch ended at Uxbridge but I often stayed on the wrong train after Harrow just for the hell of it.
I spent two hours every day on the Metropolitan and Bakerloo lines to get to school – a chance for an awful lot of reading ( and endless no-good ) – hence my fascination to return to the well-beaten platforms.
Within 5 minutes Betjamen had mentioned the Pinner and Ruislip wives shopping in Liberty’s – cue my grandfather. He had answered my query about the nameless station next to St John’s Wood that we flashed through last week – it was Marlborough Road.
He’d reminded me of lawn mowing, radio request programs, and car washing ( once a lucrative little industry of mine in our street); and even shown us the crazy man who built his house round the Mighty Wurlitzer. Among other things in his varied musical career, my father played this very organ in Leicester Square ( my mother saw all the films back-to-front in her courting days). He used to be pumped up on his flashy little stand and pound his way up and down the keys, stops and pedals – he was quite a small man so this involved a lot of shifting around to get in reach. He knew this house and its owner well.
In our house in Eastcote there were eventually two pianos and an organ in the room under where I slept, and often a lot of singers as well, including my mother – whose repertoire I used to sing at the top of my lungs in the back garden at an early age ( poor neighbours – I used to stretch over the fence and eat their raspberries too…)

So now here I am ….Hate organs. Love singing. Love film.
Have made a start at coming to terms with being born in Rayners Lane.

Will now post more sensible details about what I am doing next.

Tuesday 8 July 2008


I'm away from base at the moment, so no pics.
A second grandson Bill arrived at the end of last month, so that's wonderful.
Meanwhile I have ( along with a lot of other people I know ) had the most awful summer flu, which doesn't see to want to go away. With 4 big projects on the go the timing couldn't be worse.
In between bouts of deathbed coughing I have been reading a lot... always an upside of being ill.
Greatly enjoyed 'Motherland - a Philosophical History of Russia' by Lesley Chamberlain; it answered all sorts of questions vaguely circulating in the back of my mind; and always good to revisit and reconsider the possibilities of how we might try to organise the way we live a little better.
Am now re-reading, yet again, Schama's 'Landscape and Memory', such a satisfying book. He gives a wonderful background and vindication of Anselm Kiefer ( another of my heroes ), and indeed for the whole process of meddling in mythology.

"...The real problem - what we might call the Kiefer syndrome - is whether it is possible to take myth seriously on its own terms, and to respect its coherence and complexity, without becoming morally blinded by its poetic power.
...without either losing ourselves altogether in total immersion or else rendering the subject 'safe' by the usual eviscerations of Western empirical analysis.
Of one thing at least I am certain: that not to take myth seriously in the life of am ostensibly 'disenchanted' culture like our own is actually to impoverish our understanding of our shared world....."

...this after a couple of hundred pages on trees - fantastic; which brings me to Perceval/Parzival. My co-worker on this project, James Simpson ( who I worked with on 'Hunting the Wren' ) has just been awarded second prize in the Agenda/Thomas Hardy poetry competition; many congratulations to him.

No LAB at the ICA this year ( so a bit of a breathing space ); it is re-opening next year at the newly refurbished and expanded Whitechapel Gallery, at the end of September. I'm a great fan of the Whitechapel - it has really interesting exhibitions - so I'm very much looking forward to that.

Meanwhile, still trying to stop coughing.....

Saturday 24 May 2008

PRESS and RELEASE - Book Fair pics

Fun Day, fun show.
Picture at top is my stand; others are of the display of some of my Carnival books in the main show - you've one week left to see this ( closed mondays ).

Friday 23 May 2008

The Garden of Earthly Delights

See it at the Press and Release Book fair saturday 24th 11 - 5....

Tuesday 20 May 2008

Doesn't it look nice in French....

Centre de Ressources pour l'Edition de Création.
jeudi au samedi, 15H à 19H et sur RDV le reste de la semaine.
Rens: 04 91 33 20 80
41 rue Clovis Hugues
13003 Marseille

Du 9 mai au 31 Mai 2008
Exposition Internationale de Livres d'Artiste Contemporains .
Allemagne- Belgique- Canada- Grande-Bretagne- France- Hongrie- Italie-
Pays-Bas- Russie- USA.
Avec la participation de:
Stephan Weitzel (D)- Vicky Roux (B)- Geohew Ink Press (CDN)- Derek Cowan
(CDN)- Parvenu Press (GB)- Reassemble Press (GB)- Atelier de La Dolve (F)-
Atelier Vis-à-Vis (F)- Coco Texedre (F)- Istvan Damo (H)- Ilona Kiss (H)-
Marcello Diotallevi (I)- Franco Magro (I)- Collectif Knust (NL)- Recycling
Press (RUS)- Beata Wehr (USA).
Un éventail de créations internationales dans le champs du livre d'artiste

Brighton: ARTISTS BOOK FAIR at the Phoenix Gallery

This is part of the PRESS and RELEASE exhibition currently on at the Phoenix, and takes place from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday 24th May. Peter and I will have separate stands and have both been working hard to come up with something new in time; a lot of my stuff seems to be out and about at the moment and big new stuff still unfinished. I apparently have 'My Mackerel Lover' exhibited in Marseilles at the moment; pity I couldn't manage the PV.
I'll put up some pics of the new smalls when I finish them ( probably friday!) - I've been tidying up and got down to several archaeological layers of prints on my big press, and found lots of bits of prints from 'The Garden of Earthly Delights' that I have had fun re-assembling into little theatrical booklets with overlapping pages; as the big book was so popular ( but expensive and limited in edition )
I hope these will be a cheaper alternative for those who liked that book.
The show in Brighton is great fun as it has been very cleverly and excitingly arranged, so I am looking forward to a day in Brighton in Festival Time and seeing other exhibitors and their work.

Meanwhile, the day symposium at the V&A was a lovely experience - great to meet lots of heads of Arts Libraries ( especially in the pub afterwards on a glorious summer evening before it got cold again ).
The Blood on Paper show has some fantastic work in it, wonderful Kiefer, Tapies, and Chinese exploding books. Don't miss the Certain Trees exhibition upstairs - tucked away and badly advertised, in room 74 - concrete poetry and Ian hamilton Finlay and others - lots to look at there; and I also loved the Collaborations exhibiton full of stage designs and mini sets, lots of ideas there too.

The USA prints from Hopper to Pollack in the prints and drawings room at the British Museum is also a fabulous exhibition; masses of good stuff, good labels with printmaking details and further explanations in the excellent catalogue. Over the last few years there have been some really stunning shows here - and they're free so you can keep going and going. I'm delighted to see the show is coming to Brighton next spring, so I can keep on going for some time.
Enjoyed the 1968 prints at the Hayward too.

Reading-wise - I've enjoyed the new biography of O G S Crawford immensely - absolutely fascinating; it's called Bloody Old Britain and by Kitty Hauser, whom we met a couple of years ago when she was writing it and wanted to talk to Peter about aerial photography. We went to the launch in the Colony Room which was interesting - sadly due to relocate apparently - will never be the same. I fantasized as to whether Peggy Angus might have met OGS on a boat to Russia in 32/3 and what they might have said to each other; Kitty's research would have been really useful context when I was writng Art for Life.
I went to a show in South Heighton - part of the outer Brighton festival trail -
and went in to see Ursula Mommens, now 99, and had a wonderful chat, and came away feeling very nostalgic; the sense of time arrested and the pictures on the walls in Grange Farm, and the smell of the first cow parsley - that I always associate with going down to Furlongs in the spring ( the close contact with weeds and nettles on the way to the Elsan bucket, the incredible lushness after the dryness of London streets )and the extraordinary conversations one has with people who have lived such a long time, have such amazing memories and stories, and have moved into an almost beatific limbo-land where near is far and far near, was very special. It also made me angry - that old people are often not appreciated in current society and that their lives are often so difficult, despite all our 'progress'; and leading on from that , how family unfriendly everything is as well, women and children and working life and fathers........will it ever get sorted - but that's another story; all the big issues in the news seem to be asking the wrong questions which will have the wrong answers.

Tuesday 8 April 2008

Press and Release

PRESS AND RELEASE - 26 April - 7 June
Tues - Sat 11 - 5
'A celebration of Artists Books and independent publishing.....'
I have some small pieces of work in this exhibition and look forward to seeing it.
I am also talking at the ARLIS Artists Books Workshop at the V&A on 9th May which accompanies two exhibitions just about to start there - 'Blood on Paper' and 'Certain Trees, the Constructed Book, Poem and Object 1964 - 2006'.
see the NAL web pages about artists book: books/features/artists books/index.htmlor BL web pages

Wednesday 2 April 2008

It's April already....

....and the work piles up
It's been a difficult year so far, lots of time spent looking after ailing members of my family, alternated with spurts of activity done with a disconnected head and hand ( often an interesting alternative way to work ).
I am trying to get to grips with using allergy free and benign Japanese plywood, rather than my favourite old rough, packaging plywood that I used to enjoy hacking away at with my scalpel. I am trying out using gouges on the softer wood ( less sharp knife-work) in a very free manner and making reduction prints with several layers of colour ( and without working much out in advance ).
I have also bought a new supply of wonderful hemp paper from Khadi; it is a good size for folding into a book page, either in 2, or especially in 4, which makes the best use of my (not particularly large ) etching press ( 18" wide with an extra long -40"- bed provided for me by John at Rollaco).
The smooth hemp paper means I can now print the woodcuts with the press without the texture indenting the blocks like good old Nepalese loktar J4; I must say my spooning hand is relieved about this development.
I have just read a quote from Hilary Peplar talking about his Stanhope Press '...when man first discovers how to make anything, that thing which he makes is good....' - I am not sure I am taking it the way he is thinking but I do find I am always excited about changinfg my way of working and new materials, there is an excitement in the battle which supercedes all other aeshetic considerations and in a way that makes 'good' or 'bad' irrelevant.
I read this quote in a wonderful new book by the (sadly) late Peter Holliday 'Edward Johnston; Master Calligrapher' - brought to fruition after his death by his sister Susan Skinner and published by the British Library and Oak Knoll Press.
I went to the launch at the Ditchling Museum, where there were several members of the Ditchling Craft Community , and enjoyed various discussions about why we do what we do.It was a bit like arguing with Peggy (Angus) all over again.
The previous day I had been to the opening of an exhibition of drawings by Peter de Francia at Charleston. The handout was a reprint of something Norbert Lynton had written in 2004. he quotes de Francia writing in 1984 -
'One of the most deep-rooted prejudices that this country suffers from is that of a profound aversion to philosophical concepts of any kind and notably to such concepts forming the basis of either the structures of culture or systems upon which critical theory can be founded ....Amongst practitioners and critics the very notion of art having a direct relationship to politics or sociology invokes responses close to panic or incredulity.'
I am still thinking about that one.
Norbert reckoned the English ...'can take the rough art and smooth, wild and pacific, decent and indecent, and yesterday's shock horror sensation is today's norm, but we will not put up with art that says anything significant, art that troubles our minds.'

I am still making books about the Falcon Bride....
here she is passing through the kitchen studio - the photographs are by kind permission of Judith Kazantzis who took them when she last came round for a meal.

Wednesday 5 March 2008

It's March already

It's March already and I am far too busy trying to get some work finished to blog; but Nancy Campbell has written some kind words about my work on the Bertram Rota blog, with lots of pictures, so I'll put the link in here
There are also plenty of negotiations going on for interesting projects for the next 12 months, of which more anon.

Monday 18 February 2008

Post Work on Paper Fair

Here was the stand at the Work on Paper Fair.
It was over a couple of weeks ago and the year seems to be rushing on and I am still dealing with the backlog from it; still trying to finish the work I failed to finish for it and pick up the threads of my thoughts, while longing to get on with something new - new/old in my case, my Irish book I wrote in Donegal 2 years ago.
Still, the Fair was fun and lots of nice contacts made and I'm sure these fallow periods must have their uses. I've stocked up on lots of wonderful paper. Last week got side tracked by an interview with BBC Scotland for a program about Peggy Angus - very strange to be back at Camden Studios where I was printing wallpapers for her 40 years ago. I also met a very nice architect, David Wild, who had bought a piece of my work - loved his book and collages "Fragments of Utopia ; collage reflections of heroic modernism" - Hyphen Press; and went to see the Rodchenko photographs at the Haywood, and was fascinated by the video of the shamanistic performance in the Liverpool block of flats in the show downstairs.
This week I've been interviewed for a big book on printmaking being published next year and I'm seeing a gallery in Hampstead who is interested in my work.
The Designer Bookbinders have written up a resume of the talk I gave before Christmas, and said I can publish it on my blog. I'm still thinking about the last paragraph and wondering how I can organise a Falcon Bridal Boat Burning ceremony on the river without them sinking like a stone too soon.

"When I asked Carolyn for a copy of her lecture notes for my review there was a pause before she admitted that she didn’t intend to use notes. Her lecture would be ‘off the cuff’, prompted by the images. This turned out to be the underlying theme of Carolyn’s talk; how the artist produces pieces prompted by the images in their heads and shaped by the materials they use.
The images Carolyn showed for inspiration were a mixture of her own work and pieces by other people which she liked. They included work by William Blake, perhaps the first book artist, with his illustrations and hand written text, Dadaist work using found objects and rough paper collages and Dimitry Sayenko prints on 1930s magazines and newspapers.
Having originally studied painting at the Slade, Carolyn began experimenting with egg tempera on gesso, beginning her move away from two dimensional works towards the physical experience of making.
The introduction of hand made papers from India and Nepal began her involvement with artist’s books, the variations in size and surface texture worked well with the large grainy wood cuts she had started to make and her development of simple binding techniques produced tactile and organic books.
The first of these books was ‘Gawain’; a large soft cover binding with hand cut lettering and bold images in black, red and green. As the story takes place in a year and a day, Carolyn completed the book in the same period of time. The book works superbly as a whole and won 1st prize for the complete book in the Society of Bookbinders Competition in 1997.
One of the problems with artist’s books is how to display them to a large audience. Carolyn attempted to address this during a residency in Lewes. The Apocalyptic Book of Lewes was produced with the local community, incorporating their ideas and anecdotes. To enable it to be viewed as a whole, it was displayed as posters hung from a line
From this Carolyn moved on to producing installation pieces, literally stories in boxes. The first of these was Bluebeards Castle, seven solander boxes with constructed tableaux and text in each representing the seven doors to the castle.
Another, Beauty and the Beast, contains a miniature dressing table in a forest with drawers that open revealing tableaux of miniature objects. The text is bound in two small books, which slot in beside the dressing table. The materials too are relevant, found objects have a story, which adds to the text and inspires the design, for example an old biker jacket bought from a charity shop is used for the covering material.
With musicians as parents, music has always been very important in Carolyn’s life and in Winterreise she used the songs of Schubert as inspiration for her own text.
She likens creating artist’s books to performing music; each performance is different, although the score (or text) remains the same. The artist’s text, on transparent Japanese paper, overlays extracts from the Schubert song cycle, to make a palimpsest or dialogue with the past creation. The collagraph images and text were all made from recycled packaging. The cover of the book is made from formed white paper pulp, making a soft and fragile binding.
The final set of images were of Carolyn’s latest and largest project, which took her work as far from the Livre D’Artist concept as possible. The Falcon Bride is a story within a room, ‘a room-sized book’ based on ideas gathered during a visit to Krakow; it incorporates hand-painted books, prints, made and found objects, reworked photographs, model boats and a wicker mannequin ‘Bride’.
It brings together many of the ideas and techniques she has used in previous projects into a theatrical space where the viewer can linger and physically explore the presentation, removing the barriers of the two dimensional page.
During her talk Carolyn encouraged us to think of books outside the normal flat folded sheet format. Her work is tactile, adventurous, inventive and shows that books do not have to be precious, delicate objects hidden in boxes and cases.
As a contentious discussion opener she quoted a Today programme considering whether the climate changes in our planet should affect our view of permanence and posterity. Should we worry about the longevity of artefacts? - might our attitudes to artefacts change, the emphasis shift to embracing decay and enjoying them in the here and now. Carolyn’s view was that as an artist, considering the nature of the materials she was using, and recycling found objects and organic materials, was as important as leaving a record of ideas for the future."

Rachel Ward-Sale for Designer Bookbinders

Friday 4 January 2008

A new Hunting the Wren picture

see Modern Works on Paper Fair below.......

Watercolours and Drawings with Modern Works on Paper Art Fair

This takes place at the Royal Academy of Arts, 6 Burlington Gardens W1S 3EX

Thursday 31 january - Sunday 3 February

with a section called COVERED again, at which Parvenu Press will be exhibiting.

times of the Fair are

thursday - 11 a.m. - 9 p.m.

friday 11 a.m. - 8.30 p.m.

saturday 11 a.m. - 6 p.m.

sunday 11 a.m. - 5.30 p.m.

I am stand 9 - just inside the door.

Family illness has meant I haven't finished everything I would have liked, but I have made some new extensions from the Falcon Bride work, and will be showing 'Hunting the Wren' and 'Love Poems and Curses' - which wasn't finished for this Fair last year ( see blog archive for March and April for more pictures of these.)

I am finally ready to part with 'Beauty and the Beast' - see image above, having played about with filming it.
There are still some Winterreise's available to order, see last January's blog entry for images, and some Carnival boxes too; and collagraph prints from the 'Falcon Bride'.