We were delighted to receive a set of chapbooks from Desdemona McCannon, produced as part of her 'Women In Print' project.
Each celebrates the work of a woman who has inspired the designer of these risograph printed publications.
The set we have features Enid Mark (by Desdemona McCannon), Sheila Robinson (by Chloe Cheese), Pearl Binder (by Alice Pattullo), Barbara Jones (by Rosemary Shirley), Peggy Angus (Carolyn Trant) and Olive Cook (by Lotte Beatrix).
We asked Desdemona to tell us more about the project...
"Over the last few years I have started a collection of books by 20thc women designers I admire - people like Barbara Jones, Enid Marx, Pearl Binder, Peggy Angus, Lettice Sandford, Dorothy Hartley - who alongside being 'jobbing artists' also wrote (and illustrated) books about folk culture, craft skills and 'popular' art'. Initially I was interested in the ways their research and writing was folded back into their creative practice, but as the collection grew, I became more and more fascinated by the idea of 'print culture'- the ways that publishers and art directors, printers and booksellers as well as authors and artists are entangled in a huge web of connections. I became hooked on the idea that, as Elisabeth Eisenstein says, print itself can be 'an agent of change'.
The main catalyst for setting up Women in Print was seeing a photo in a book, I forget which one, of Tirzah Ravilious on a step ladder with a paintbrush in her hand, in the process of putting paint on a wall, with Eric Ravilious standing by looking down, and the caption underneath saying 'Eric Ravilious painting a mural'. I realised that there was a silence around these women in the way histories were being told, a huge blind spot when it came to celebrating their achievements.
So the point of the Women in Print network is to focus attention on women who deserve to be better known, and their contribution to 'print culture'- as writers, academics, artists, art directors, publishers, journalists, printmakers and illustrators. This happens through an ad hoc series of events, enjoyable study days with speakers and discussions. Alongside this there is a growing set of tribute chapbooks. Anyone can contribute to the series. If they know of a woman they would like to celebrate, I send them the template and they send the (two colour) artwork and text back. I print them up on the risograph machine at Manchester School of Art with the help of students at the college, and we sell them and give them out at the Women in Print events, in the spirit of radical pamphleteers! Lots of really interesting artists, writers and academics have contributed to the series already... Alice Patullo did a beautiful one for Pearl Binder, and Carolyn Trant made one about Peggy Angus who she knew well. Chloe Cheese made one about her mother Sheila Robinson too. I would love for there to be a whole shelf of them one day.
Over the last 18 months there have been three fascinating days of talks about the different ways that women contributed to print culture in the 20thc, the first at Compton Verney in Warwickshire, the second at MMU Special Collections in Manchester, and the third at the Towner Gallery in Eastbourne to accompany the Peggy Angus exhibition there. Speakers have ranged from Professors to recent graduates, researchers into design history and daughters of the designers themselves. The days attract a mixed audience too, which has been wonderful. Artists, academics, people interested in craft, ex librarians, collectors, and the odd husband quietly trying to sleep in the corner. There have been biographical talks about individual women- people like Peggy Angus and Pearl Binder, Susan Clough Ellis and Sheila Robinson, but also fascinating insights into publishing and visual culture of the period, for example Natalie Kay Thatcher recently gave a blinding talk about the Perry Colour Books at the Towner event.
There are more Women in Print days coming up- one in Boscastle next April looking at 'witchcraft in the popular press 1920- 1990' - inspired by a visit to the wonderful library at the museum of witchcraft there. Several people have already offered to give talks about Doreen Valiente, Ruth Manning Sanders, Margaret Murray and Ithell Colqhoun. The call for papers is still open, with further information available online, and so I'm looking forward to seeing what comes in.
It's really heartening that Chloe Cheese has recently written a book about her mother's work, and that Ann Ullman is writing about her mother Tirzah Ravilous too... there are some other projects in a similar vein in the pipeline too. It feels like an exciting time, a chance to have another go at writing the history of the period, and points to the continued potency of print in shaping the cultural landscape. What I find most most enjoyable is the enthusiasm and generosity of all the people involved- that a shared love of print has enabled these connections too."
Desdemona McCannon was born in Liverpool and studied English Literature at Bristol University before going on to train as an illustrator in Liverpool and Brighton. She is interested in investigating popular and vernacular art forms through organising events, curating exhibitions, writing articles, editing the Journal of Illustration and making work. She is currently a senior lecturer at Manchester School of Art. Find out more
Posted by Angie Lewin on December 9th, 2014
So it's been great to read of artist David Cass' time spent working in this unique landscape.
We're great fans of David's work. I remember being particularly impressed by his degree show at Edinburgh College of Art from where he graduated in 2010, receiving the Royal Scottish Academy’s John Kinross Scholarship to Florence.
As Guy Peploe of The Scottish Gallery explains...
“David Cass has an innate understanding of matière; a sensitivity to material, it’s texture, tone, pigment, weight and beyond this its context, history and emotional resonance. He works with found objects and by an act of appropriation and minimal intervention – perhaps merely turning the front of a drawer through ninety degrees – he creates works of art with quiet authority."
A large part of the work David is creating during his time at Cortijada Los Gázquez will be exhibited in an upcoming show, during the summer of 2015, with The Scottish Gallery. His new works are taking his exploration of water (and the sea), a step further - these new works on paper (informed by his recent photographic and film works) illustrate both real and imagined scenes of flooding, inundation and destruction. His landscape exploration has developed, and he's taking time to learn new methods of response - film, photography, writing and sound.
You can view more of David's work over at his website.
Posted by Angie Lewin on November 3rd, 2014
We recently made an overnight stop in Newcastle upon Tyne - to see Brita Granström’s paintings at the University Gallery.
On the ground floor are her lively illustrations for The Beatles - a book on which she has collaborated with her husband Mick Manning.
Upstairs is an extensive exhibition of Brita's bold paintings - often the result of working in the great outdoors, whatever the weather.
Many of the paintings depict her native Sweden where she includes family and friends in the landscape - fishing, swimming, hanging washing to dry. Others include black hollyhocks, cow parsley or the orange stems of pollarded willows and views to calm interiors.
The exhibition runs until 31st October 2014 at University Gallery, Northumbria University, Sandyford Road, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 8ST.
All of the works being exhibited can be viewed in a PDF file via the gallery's website.
Posted by Angie Lewin on October 26th, 2014
Having spent a couple of weeks living in Spitalfields for the recent St Jude's In the City exhibition, now we're back north it's a shame we won't be able to visit some of these secret gardens of Spitalfields which will open to the public on Saturday 7th June 2014 as part of the National Gardens Scheme.
As Spitalfields Life founder The Gentle Author points out:
"If you did not know of the existence of these gardens, you might think Spitalfields was an entirely urban place with barely a leaf in sight, but in fact every terrace conceals a string of verdant little gardens and yards filled with plants and trees that defy the dusty streets beyond."
Posted by Angie Lewin on June 4th, 2014
Our friend and collaborator Christopher Brown has been busy over at Wild At Heart's Pimlico store, hand painting a number of iconic Chelsea characters in their windows.
These images are also available as a series of hand coloured prints and a little folded leaflet.
I'm not sure how long the display will be on show - perhaps give Wild At Heart a quick call before travelling.
And you can find a selection of Chris' limited edition linocut prints over at St Jude's.
Posted by Angie Lewin on May 29th, 2014
Until 5th April 2014 artist Bronwen Sleigh is exhibiting a range of new sculptures at this group exhibition in the old vaults on Market Street in Edinburgh. Participating artists each have a vault space to show their work. The graphic, geometric sculptures seem as though drawn with wire, metal and thread and have a close link with her architecturally-inspired prints.
Hidden Door is a not-for-profit arts production organisation set up in 2010 by David Martin, a visual artist and art lecturer based in Edinburgh. As well as a range of artists' work there are also live performances.
Posted by Angie Lewin on April 2nd, 2014
Visitors to my Yorkshire Sculpture Park show might have spotted the work of our friends Roop and Al Johnstone in the YSP Shop. RAMP make a range of functional and one-off decorative pieces in both earthenware and porcelain.
Roop and Al have just worked on this film with Jim Le Fevre and Mike Paterson, commissioned by the Crafts Council.
Posted by Angie Lewin on December 18th, 2013
December 10th 2013 sees the opening of Clare Leighton: Working Life at The Pallant House Gallery, Chichester.
The artist Clare Leighton (1898-1989) was best known for her wood-engravings illustrating rural life in England, Europe and the USA. She illustrated over 65 books, as well as writing and illustrating her own books such as ‘The Farmer’s Year: A Calendar of English Husbandry’ (1933) and ‘Four Hedges: A Gardener’s Chronicle' (1935).
In 1952 Leighton was commissioned by Wedgwood to create a series of 12 wood engravings to be transfer-printed onto dinner plates. These were on the theme of traditional industries in New England.
Several of the original wood blocks and plates will form part of the exhibition.
View more images of these plates over at Flotsam & Jetsam, a blog by Simon Martin, artistic director of the Pallant House Gallery.
Clare Leighton: Working Life is in the De’Longhi Print Room at Pallant House Gallery in Chichester UK from 10th December 2013 - 24th February 2014 Find out more
Posted by Angie Lewin on December 2nd, 2013
Many thanks to everyone who came along to the recent opening event for my Yorkshire Sculpture Park exhibition, A Natural Line.
And special thanks to Simon Martin, Artistic Director at Pallant House Gallery, Chichester for his opening speech.
The exhibition runs until 23rd February 2014 at Yorkshire Sculpture Park near Wakefield. For opening times and directions, visit the Yorkshire Sculpture Park website.
Posted by Angie Lewin on November 27th, 2013
I popped into The Scottish Gallery earlier this week to see Stephen Bird's My Dad was Born on the Moon exhibition of ceramics and paintings.
Stephen Bird was born in Stoke-on-Trent in 1964 and studied fine art at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art in Dundee. He has made paintings, ceramics and sculptures since the early 1990s and his work is exhibited internationally. He is now based in Sydney, Australia and lectures at the National Art School in Sydney.
The exhibition runs until 4th September 2013 at The Scottish Gallery, 16 Dundas Street, Edinburgh EH3 6HZ. Visit The Scottish Gallery website for further details.
Posted by Angie Lewin on August 29th, 2013