22 May, 2008

Keith Bayliss at St. David's Cathedral

Two posts ago we mentioned that Keith Bayliss had been asked to produce work in and around the east end of this amazing Cathedral as part of the 2008 St. David's Cathedral Festival . . . and we gave, as a reminder, an image from the book White Voices that he did with us in 2001.

We managed to make it to this wonderful place, this Cathedral in a village so far west that it is where Wales meets the sea, this awe-inspiring building in which the Nave slopes upwards towards the Altar, on our way from staying in Aberystwyth to having a couple of days beside the Pembrokeshire sea.

We were interested and moved by Keith's work . . . although we felt that some of the tourist visitors seemed a bit 'surprised' at it!

These photographs can speak for themselves.

15 May, 2008

Habib Dingle - bookbinder

We never cease to be amazed by events which just happen. A few days ago, while I was working in my cool printing office, out of the heat of the sun, there was a gentle tap at the door followed by the smiling face of Habib Dingle.

It is some years now since he moved from his bookbinding workshop just over the hill from here and so unexpected visits from him nowadays really are a surprise. He had been visiting Donald Jackson, the calligrapher who is just completing the mammoth task of creating the St John’s Bible for the American University of St John’s. This magnificent work has been in preparation for some years already - close to us in Monmouth - so Habib called in after leaving the Calligraphy Centre. It was good to be able to talk about binding and the directions in which his work is going.

Soon after finishing his training in Bristol, where we first met him, he bound for us A Bodoni Charade - Nicolas’ small typographic alphabet, long sold out.

He then moved on to his tour de force, for us, of binding over a hundred copies in wood of Maryclare Foa’s The Dream Song of Olaf Asteson, of which we do have some copies, most surprisingly. There was also a special hand coloured boxed edition which sold out overnight.

He has always had a great love of wood - and has wanted to use it in his binding on many occasions, but probably never put it to better use than in his special bindings of Kevin Crossley-Holland and Inger Lawrance’s The Seafarer. The strong poem of man’s struggle with the sea - the whale-road - and his use of shape and textures are perfectly matched in the ten copies he made for the group of designed bindings which we asked younger binders to create for us.

Since we last met, Habib has travelled widely and worked overseas and now has come back to thoughts of bookbinding in this country once more. Hence, we had long discussions about the exhibition at the Flow Gallery which Designer Bookbinders put on and the forthcoming show which is touring, starting at Gregynog, of bindings on a book of tributes to Sir Kyffin Williams, painter, especially of landscapes in North Wales.

13 May, 2008

A Box of Dates

We have recently been varying the means of conveying news about our books - we have posted a mailing in the UK about our new Hardy book with Mark Cazalet’s images, but have used email to those of our overseas customers for whom we have email addresses, trying to avoid the amazing cost of overseas postage. It may be that some people who enjoy our mailings have not heard from us in a while and there will be those who do not use computers - certainly not for browsing for interesting books! Hopefully, the website is a constant that people can return to if they have seen a book at a fair but not yet got round to buying it.

This year there is no Oxford Fine Press Fair nor a London Artists Book Fair so opportunities to see new books is far reduced. We have shown at the Royal Academy Works on Paper Fair and that was a great success.

Bertram Rota always have all our books in print available in their Covent Garden shop and I have just come back from a good fair in Glasgow.

Here are some more opportunities to see some of what we do and what some of the artists we work with are showing:

Garrick Palmer’s photography of the south coast over 30 years is on display at the Portsmouth City Museum daily until 8 June and his wood engravings from LAND together with relief prints from The Landscape Within by Bert Isaac are among the works on display each weekend in May at 40 Tidy Street, Brighton as part of their open houses festival.

The Art Shop and Gallery in Abergavenny is showing Old Stile Press books together with other artists books and prints from 19 July-23 August. The gallery is a wonderful historic building in the main street of Abergavenny and displays work in several spacious rooms - details:www.artshopandgallery.co.uk

Mark Cazalet is having a show of his paintings at the Beardsmore Gallery, 22-4 Prince of Wales Rd, London NW5 (www.beardsmoregallery.com)and his book Green Blades: the poems of Thomas Hardy 1912-13 will be available there as well. The private view is on 11 June between 6 and 8pm (all welcome) and continues during the summer.

Glenys Cour’s new paintings will be on show at the Mission Gallery in Swansea 19 July-16 August - her books with us are Taliesin and the Mockers and Black Marigolds.

Keith Bayliss whose book White Voices was launched at the Dylan Thomas Centre in Swansea will be installing work in St David’s Cathedral for the Festival there 19 May - 7 June. ‘I cannot say how important this event is for me. To make art for installation . . . for such a special place is a dream come true. It is a rare opportunity for a contemporary artist.’

During the Aldeburgh Festival at the Britten-Pears Library an exhibition will celebrate 50 years of Noye’s Fludde. (www.brittenpears.org) Among the exhibits will be a spread from A Christmas Sequence with Angela Lemaire’s woodcuts - our forthcoming book - more news soon. (See more about the book in the blog for 1 July, 2007.)

07 May, 2008

Time for some Spring photos

Yesterday and today the air has been intoxicating with apple blossom richer than any I can remember, even on an ancient tree (left over from a former cider orchard) that we thought had died. In a few days every plant, grand or humble, has thrown itself into manic Spring growth. Our so-called lawns have, for various reasons, not been mown at all yet. Every day this continues will make the cut harder but what a joy to see the waving grasses dotted with Ladies' Smock and many other natural delights.

We have decided never to leave our domain during May if we can possibly help it. Pure magic.

The top stone here, as a found sculpture, has sat in the middle of a herb garden for many years. One morning I found that it had been knocked over and, falling on another stone presumably, had broken. Deer are to be suspected, I reckon.

I used some metal spacing material from the printing office to turn it into a different sort of a sculpture. So far the deer seem to have stayed away!

I am planting some grass here, in front of last year's box hedge of which I am inordinately proud. The little lion head feet under this pot (and three more for another pot) were the only purchase we made in Florence. Fine enough but it did mean that we had to go out and buy a couple of pots. It was then clear that, if the pots were on the ground, they would be quickly hidden by grass and so on. So . . . out we went to get round stones for the pots to sit on. Now it only remains to decide what to plant in them!

02 May, 2008

Will try to do better!

Since our return from Florence, things have crowded in from all directions and I have got lamentably out of the way of adding titbits to this blog. I will indeed try to do better!

One of the many things that happened was the eventual realization that our roof needed dealing with to mend leaks and prevent almost-leaks from breaking through.

The 'crawling over the roof' event took most of a week and involved much 'change' to our daily round. One could almost forget what was happening but then be suddenly faced with a rather disturbing vision such as this!

I do not, I confess, enjoy invasions like this. Robin Tanner was very much the same. On such occasions he would announce that he was suffering from "men-in-itis".

01 May, 2008

A few more Florence photographs

The Arno on a deliciously storm-threatening afternoon.

Everyone knows that I like pigeons!

All the guidebooks say that you keep catching glimpses of the Duomo round corners or at the end of narrow streets. This is my take on the subject.

We kept seeing this one lone egret hanging round in the Arno.

On our last afternoon, when all was packed up (including my camera sadly) we went for a last look at the Arno. There on a little 'beach' at the side of the river was our friend the egret. He seemed to be pecking at a bit of discarded pizza floating at the edge. We became fascinated because every time he pulled at the delicacy from the shore, it seemed to be pulled out again into the river. Staring harder into the brown water, we suddenly realized that there was a large FISH (carp, I think) biting hard on the pizza and determined to haul it away from the bird.

That was, sadly, the photograph that 'got away'!

. . . and yet some more Florence photographs

Just a composition I was quite pleased with. Shows that, even in early March, the sun can be quite strong in Florence . . . quite hot enough for me!

This fun object was to be found in the Santo Spirito flea market. I think it was on this stall to amuse and draw customers. Even if it had been for sale, bringing it home on the plane might have caused problems.

Telling photographs of the 1966 flood. Santa Croce while the water was up and after it had receded.

Cimabue's crucifix being unceremoniously hauled out by any folk who happened to be around and in possession of two strong arms.

I had never understood why this wonderful object had been so cruelly done by in the flood . . . when its place is hanging by a chain from the roof. All is explained by the fact that, when the waters surged in, the crucifix was at ground level, ironically for 'restoration'.