25 January, 2007

Artists' Books at prestigious Art Fair in London.

is the title given to an exciting new addition to the Watercolour and Drawings Fair at the Royal Academy of Arts, 6 Burlington Gardens on 1 - 4 February. It is part of the Modern Works on Paper section which fills the ground floor with prints, photographs and posters.

However, one room will be filled with BOOKS which are true marriages of text and image - some created entirely by a single artist and some which are close collaborations between an artist and a designer/printer. This will be a rare opportunity to see and handle the work of about a dozen presses, each sought after by libraries and collectors worldwide.

Such books preserve the craft of printing directly from an artist's work. They use fine materials and are accorded the time and care which is often lost in large scale printing processes. Such books, filled with original prints, will present entirely new experiences for many collectors and readers to discover.

The presses are: Susan Allix, Altazimuth, Enitharmon, Gwasg Gregynog, Inky Parrot, Old School, Old Stile, Parvenu, p's & q's, Tern and Whittington.
Nearly all of these have a website to explore with details of their books and the press.

More details of the Fair itself, including dates and times, are at

22 January, 2007

What's on the press at the moment?

Black Marigolds by Powys Mathers is an amazingly sensuous poem of love remembered and yearned for. The original was written by Chauras, a young Brahman poet, about nineteen hundred years ago but it was in 1915 (while in wartime 'hutments' on Salisbury Plain) that Mathers 'englished' the fifty stanzas in such a haunting way. To be a young poet imprisoned for having loved the king's daughter and to know that the morning would bring the loss of one's head - for this is indeed the scenario - might well concentrate the mind and this is suitably powerful stuff.

I am in the middle of printing the text (in a beautiful burnt orange ink) but I long to get to the images . . . by the wonderful Glenys Cour.

Above are photographs of two of the collage artworks - from which I make blocks to print. This book has a smallish, tall and very concentrated format which seems to us very right for the subject (and we also have some exotic ideas for the binding but I'm keeping mum at the moment!) but is completely different from the earlier book we published with images by Glenys Cour.

This was Taliesin and the Mockers by Vernon Watkins, with an afterword by Gwen Watkins and a commendation by Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury.

In case you have not seen it, here is its front cover . . .

and here its titlepage spread . . .

and one of my favourite two page spreads.

Full details can of course be found here.

15 January, 2007

Charles Shearer

We went to our friend Charles Shearer's most recent exhibition (at the Galanthus Gallery in Wormbridge, Hereford, UK) armed with my trusty camera but unfortunately without checking its battery. It succeeded in taking the striking, if surprising, image above - among a number of others which were more or less random in such matters as focus and exposure - before giving up the ghost entirely.

This exhibition continues until 20 Feb and consists of a number of Irish (and some Cornish) landscapes in his unique style. To quote the catalogue: 'Charles' work sensitively depicts the processes of wear and decay in a way that seems to raise an unloved and often forgotten ruin to the status of well-loved, stately old gentleman.'

The two works on paper given below are NOT part of the exhibition and were photographed when my camera was properly charged!

I cannot resist whispering to the world that we have been trying to persuade Charles to join us to produce a book for about FIFTEEN YEARS!

All parties concerned are keen but all sorts of things seem to intervene to make it not happen. I am not quite sure why but I feel that the renewal of good intentions this time might just bear fruit. Watch this space!

03 January, 2007

. . . for Books that Never Were

We have been very pleased to read an article about our activities in the January 2007 issue of The World of Interiors, by Bridget Bodoano, which incorporates a kind review of this book.

Among Nicolas and Frances’s artist friends was Bert Isaac, who, as a contemporary of Ceri Richards at Cardiff College of Art in the early 1940’s, was influenced by Neo-Romantics such as Graham Sutherland, Henry Moore and Paul Nash. Like them, Isaac used landscape as the basis of his work. He was a founder member of the Welsh Group in 1947 and for most of his life was also an inspirational teacher. In 1992 The Old Stile Press published his woodcuts and meditations on the creative process: The Landscape Within.
Their final collaboration . . . for Books that Never Were features a recently rediscovered collection of book designs made in the 1940s and 1950s for his own pleasure. These were not actual commissions but imaginary publications, including New Paintings by Paul Nash and additions to both Edward Bawden’s Good Food series and New Excursions into English Poetry. It is difficult to believe that these books never existed as they somehow look familiar. In drawing (literally) on the styles of the artists and of the times Bert Isaac has created phantom editions that admirers of the books of this era would surely love to add to their collections. Bert Isaac died, aged 83, shortly after the book was finished.

For full details about this book, please click here.