24 January, 2008

Thomas Hardy: Green Blades from Her Mound

We now have in our hands the first copy to be bound of our latest book so that we could photograph it and give its details before it goes into our website. The Fine Bookbindery have pulled out all the stops to get copies ready for our visit to London to show at the COVERED exhibition (Royal Academy, 6 Burlington Gardens, part of the Modern Works on Paper exhibition. For dates and details see below.)
More than half of the copies in the Special Edition are already spoken for and there are healthy sales of copies of the main edition - this from our early mentions of the book as it was in progress through the press. Publicity, in the form of a pdf, is on its way to those for whom we have email addresses but to order you only need to contact us by phone or email to be sure of a copy. Do visit us at the Royal Academy if you would like to see a copy before ordering.

Latest Publication from
The Old Stile Press
February, 2008

Green Blades

poems by Thomas Hardy

images by Mark Cazalet

Thomas Hardy’s wife Emma died in November 1912, in the attic room of their house where she had lived estranged from him. Their marriage had hardened into an empty shell and Hardy had long been in love with Florence Dugdale, whom he married the following year. However, on reading Emma’s secret memoirs detailing his cruelty and the breakdown of their marriage, Hardy was hit by an avalanche of grief. He returned to the north Cornish coast of their courtship and spent the rest of 1912 and 1913 producing his most lyrical and abiding collection of poetry.

Mark Cazalet has created images to act as visual equivalents for the extraordinary insights Hardy found in the depths of his experience, rather than attempting his topography or historical period. He arranged the sequence to suggest his gradual reconciliation to guilt and grief, resolving into a dawning sense of acceptance.
He was just completing the prints when Claire Tomalin’s recent book Thomas Hardy, The Time-Torn Man was published. Green Blades - as we have titled this selection - reflects what Claire Tomalin calls the ‘rediscovery of repressed sorrow and forgotten love’.

It was a long and painstaking task to cut wood and lino for the twenty-two large images and Mark was simultaneously working on huge murals, stained and engraved glass commissions and painting trips to Israel and Palestine for a magnificent series bringing stories from the Bible into the modern world. Each page opening involves text and image using three colours on characterful Italian white paper. The inks are specially mixed by Cranfield Colours from natural pigments. The binding has an image printed on the cover and then is surrounded by a cloth folding slipcase.

330 x 350mm. 48pp. Fabriano Tiziano paper. Centaur type. Each of the images is formed from one woodcut and one linocut and printed directly from the original blocks. Five colours are involved for which the inks were specially mixed by Cranfield Colours. Case-bound with printed paper cover and cloth-covered slipcase by The Fine Book Bindery, Wellingborough.

The Main Edition consists of 200 copies, numbered & signed by the artist. £275 (+ £5 p&p in UK. Overseas at cost)

The Special Edition has a copy of the book contained in a velvety-lined drop-back box together with a portfolio with five of the images from the book but printed and signed by the artist together with one other two-colour image that does not appear in the book. Only 10 copies for sale, numbered I-X. £650

Frances & Nicolas McDowall,
The Old Stile Press,
Catchmays Court,
Monmouthshire NP25 4TN, UK.

13 January, 2008

Editing the Ice.

Yesterday the forecasters had offered us exactly half a day of sun after days of rain and before more days of the same. We, of course, rushed out to make best use of it, feeling a bit like the prisoners in Fidelio as they blunder and grope out into the light.

It was indeed a beautiful morning but I was not prepared to find much of the field between us and the river covered in what seemed like rather exquisite calligraphy. In fact of course the ground was waterlogged and the excess water had not yet seeped into the ground. These shallow puddles had frozen overnight and were now melting at such a speed that, had I turned up with my camera half an hour later, there would have been nothing to photograph.

How I love the patterns of Nature!

12 January, 2008


For the first time last year, a small number of Private Presses including The Old Stile Press, participated in the exhibition, Covered!, alongside art galleries showing paintings, drawings and prints at the Modern Works on Paper part of the Watercolours and Drawings Fair at The Royal Academy, in London.

The venture was a great success and is to be repeated from 31st January - 3 February 2008. Full details are given on this sheet (we hope a click will render it legible) and we are proud that Mark Cazalet's titlepage for Green Blades (which will be shown first at this Fair) was chosen to represent this part of the event. If any of our friends are able to attend the show, we can send them an 'Invitation'.