Friday 2 November 2018

Pollocks Toy Museum in Scala Street and Toy Theatres

Peter and I were lucky enough to be invited a wonderful afternoon discussing a future project with a small group of makers and illustrators at the beautiful and atmospheric museum in Scala Street ( just off Tottenham Court Road ). Now run again by members of the original family who bought up Pollocks stock and set up the toy museum and shop across two old houses a few generations ago, it is taking exciting steps forward with the introduction of new original artwork by Jack, one of the younger generation and an ex art student, a sculptor and printmaker keen to archive and promote the core of the museum collection - the original copper plates for the Toy Theatres. An exhibition is in the air, possibly for autumn next year. Jack is suggesting some contemporary takes on the Theatre format and possibly interventions in the museum, and also taking the exhibition further afield.

I love the advent calendars and small theatres Jack has been doing for the shop – rush along and buy some!
This place, and project is very close to my heart. I have been going there for fifty years – I discovered it when a student at the Slade nearby and then working briefly in the early 70’s making lithographs with Stanley Jones at the old Curwen Studios in Midford Place round the corner and the Curwen Studio Gallery in the mews nearby; another old and dear Lewes friend was also a member of the family it turned out and I feel she has guided me back there from above. 

I have been making Carnivalesque boxes, small card hand theatres and paper Punch and Judy shows, valentine card boxes on and off for some years now – scroll back through the years of my blog for images – and this new opportunity is heaven sent at a time when I had just decided to do some more small concentrated works on paper as a short rest from huge printed books.

I have also just been forced by the flood to tidy up my house-ful of informal installations and present some images here which show I feel some connections between Jack and Eddy’s museum and my normal working environment!

Well I have been trying to impose some sort of order, which can be a boring - but now I have something specific to work for and plenty of inspiration on hand and at the museum.
I have also been reading Grimaldi's Memoirs which fortunately Peter had to hand ( what a star) and he is all fired up by the idea of printing engraved plates and me to design paper theatres.

Watch this space.

Here's one of my v old handheld theatres to save you scrolling back, in the Tom Paine Printing Shop window.....and various old pop up events

SYLVA PostScript

Wonderful events come thick and fast – the tree afternoon was a delight with two really good speakers and plans for future Tree Events; and it was lovely to find that our informal collaboration with the Lewes Tree Group survey for the text of our book was appreciated and that we were all on the same wavelength – David had a list of categories for dividing up the images of the trees in his talk – to which we had added I think - Revolutionary Trees. We in turn noted some important trees we had perhaps overlooked – so plenty of scope for further research and image making – and a future collaboration too perhaps between all of us and possibly some annual event organised by John. Many thanks to all the people who attended and helped out, it was a splendid turn-out.
It was too busy to even think of taking photos! but here are some of the individual trees laid out when they were work in progress......enlarge and enjoy if you can
book now available from
Tom Paine Printing Press, 151 High Street Lewes
Emporium Antique Centre, Cliffe High Street Lewes
or Lewes Tourist Information Centre, 187 High Street Lewes

Sunday 23 September 2018

Towner Print and Illustration Fair

The Symposium at the House of Illustration was great - interesting questions from the floor and good discussion - a lovely day.
My next public appearance will be at the fair above - it was a great success last year and this year takes place over two days so all its joys can be appreciated more slowly and calmly; hope to see you there - it will be great fun.

Tuesday 28 August 2018

ArtWave Open Studio - further images

Last weekend is next weekend - and all is going well despite horrid weather on sunday; here are some further images of collages I finished just in time for the opening... they are on the way to becoming a pop-up book in due course.
There are some bigger collages too but they are difficult to photograph so you will have to come and see.
I also have my huge new book with poet James Simpson on display.
Sylva ( see below in previous post) is selling really well - watch this space for further deveopments of our Tree event to be held at the Linklater Pavilion in Lewes afternoon of sunday October 28th - save the date; see also below the details of the talks based around Enid Marx and the exhibition at the House of Illustration in mid september......

Monday 30 July 2018

Lewes ArtWave Open Studio and Lewes Printmakers New Book

As usual I will be opening my studio at the Con Club 139 High Street for ArtWave
(let me say here it is NOT the Conservative Club but a wacky live entertainment venue so all may darken my door) for the weekends of 18/19 and 25 - 27 ( including bank holiday monday) and 1-2 September....
there will be old work and new and work in progress - books, prints and bits and pieces including cards 

and I will also be selling our new Lewes Printmakers book, hot off the press, which this year is called SYLVA

This book is named after an important work by John Evelyn (1620 –1706) Sylva a Discourse about Forest Trees and the propagation of Timber. Evelyn lived at Southover Grange in Lewes for most of his childhood, attending a free school in Southover – the original Lewes Grammar School. A radical Lewes character, he later travelled to visit formal gardens in France and Italy instead of fighting as a Royalist in the Civil War as would have been expected for one of his class. He understood and promoted ecological principles among his contemporaries and influenced many horticulturalists and landowners from the 17th century onwards, favouring informal use of trees alongside more formal garden designs.

The Tulip Tree
The Community Orchard

The Liberty Tree
This year is also the 250th anniversary
of Tom Paine's birth

Silver Birch and Turkish Baths

These are my contributions to this year's book; I will post up some of the other images in due course. This will be our tenth publication and we will have some kind of celebratory and introductory event at the Linklater in the autumn. Like the last book - the Spaces in Between - it is in the format of a small booklet of text and a set of card images within a neat little package.

With my other hat on I will be showing a new pop-up book - or will it be a peepshow - I don't know myself yet; plus the remaining copy of the huge and serious book I made for the Oxford Fine Press Fair, and maybe some large images from it, plus remaining copies of other books and prints. See previous posts for some images from these and details of the talk I will be giving at the House of Illustration in September as part of a symposium about Enid Marx.

Also below is reference to the Towner and Design for Today Illustration show in October and I will post up more information about this in due course.

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.......