Writer, artist and musician Rob St. John (who contributed to our Random Spectacular No. 2 journal) has announced details of his latest project, Surface Tension.
In summer 2014, Ben Fenton, project manager of the ‘Fixing Broken Rivers’ campaign run by London freshwater conservation charity Thames 21, got in touch with Rob. Ben had an unusual commission in mind: could Rob design a project drawing from both art and science to creatively explore and document pollution along London’s River Lea?
Almost a year later, and the project – Surface Tension – is finished, resulting in an album of new music and field recordings taken along the Lea; a book of writing and photographs documenting the Lea Valley and the creative processes in Surface Tension; and an exhibition of film photographs from the project at Stour Space, Hackney Wick, London (E3 2PA) throughout April 2015.
In late summer, Rob walked most of the length of the Lea – one of Britain’s most polluted rivers – wearing holes into the soles of his shoes as he made field recordings with binaural microphones (which look like cheap headphones, but capture a 360 degree soundscape around your head), underwater hydrophones and contact mics. At the same time, he took film photographs on both a vintage 120 camera and a 35mm pinhole camera made from a Lesney toy matchbox (the Lesney factory was on the river at Hackney Wick).
Rob’s work has always had a foot in both art and science: working with sound, photography and natural processes in ways that are both experimental and accessible. In 2011 he released a critically acclaimed LP ‘Weald’; in 2013 the Water of Life collaboration with Tommy Perman; in 2014 the Bastard Mountain LP; and in 2015 Surface Tension and a sound installation Concrete Antenna at Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop.
Surface Tension is released in April on limited edition CD, housed in a beautiful book of Rob’s photographs and writing, designed by Tommy Perman.
Posted by Simon Lewin on March 4th, 2015
We're off to North Uist for the first time later this year. Was rummaging in a second hand bookshop and came across this, with a cover featuring designer Ashley Havinden's 'Ashley Script' typeface which is still available digitally.
Posted by Simon Lewin on January 26th, 2015
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
Just published by Merrell is Jonny Hannah's wonderful 'Greetings from Darktown - An Illustrator's Miscellany', the first book devoted to the work of this popular illustrator, printmaker and painter.
Born and bred in Scotland, Jonny Hannah now lives by the sea in Southampton, but he also resides in Darktown – a mysterious coastal town, not found on any map, peopled by pin-up girls, jazz artists and tattooed sailors. Darktown is home to the Unquiet Grave junk emporium; the Mermaid Café, where folk legend Woody Guthrie still plays each week; McVouty’s vintage clothes shop; and a pier with a condemned helter skelter. Joining Hannah on his trip to downtown Darktown are the writers Philip Hoare and Peter Chrisp, who explore the eclectic influences on Hannah’s work, and Sheena Calvert, who introduces a special typographic catalogue of hand-drawn lettering. As he tours Darktown, Hannah presents his prints and paintings in thematic chapters reflecting his passions, and bids farewell to his alter ego, Rocket Man, who inhabits the darkest corners of pop culture.
In April 2015 we'll be hosting an exhibition of Jonny's work in Edinburgh which will incorporate prints, paintings, music and spoken word. Sign up for our gallery newsletter for details.
And later in 2014 we'll be launching Jonny's first wallpaper for St Jude's, the follow up to his fabric The Captain's Pattern.
Posted by Simon Lewin on October 4th, 2014
We're delighted to announce the forthcoming launch of the second edition of Random Spectacular - a collaborative exploration of the visual arts, literature, music, travel and much more.
Contributors include Mark Hearld, Angie Lewin, Emily Sutton, Ed Kluz, Ralph Steadman, Jonny Hannah, Christopher Brown and many more.
All profits from this issue will again be donated to Maggie's Cancer Caring Centres who St. Jude's have been pleased to support over the years. We raised over £6,500 with the first issue of Random Spectacular and hope to beat that with issue no. 2.
Find out about how you can express an interest in purchasing a copy.
Posted by Simon Lewin on July 27th, 2014
Here's some news from our friends at Caught By The River about their forthcoming book by Neil Sentance, illustrated by printmaker Jonathan Gibbs...
"We’re pretty bloody delighted to be able to announce that we’re publishing Neil Sentance’s Water and Sky: Voices from the Riverside, our first original title in May. After a couple of fantastic compendiums (Words on Water and On Nature), this book is an original by a longtime Caught by the River contributor; and that’s being published in association with the ever-brilliant Little Toller. Lauded by Robert Macfarlane as ‘a marvellous and haunting sequence’, the book revisits Neil’s native Lincolnshire riverlands and fields, farms and market towns, to explore the history of his family and the landscape which shaped them. It’s not a lament for a lost world. It’s a story peopled by characters forgotten by history, celebrating the countryside with a rare combination of lyricism and muddy realism."
You can see Jonathan Gibbs' wood engravings over at our online gallery. And here's his screen printed fabric for St Jude's, Herring Moon.
Posted by Simon Lewin on March 3rd, 2014
We recently went along to the opening of an exhibition of emerging Scottish picture books illustrators at the National Gallery of Scotland in Edinburgh.
Picture Hooks was set up by author Vivian French and agent Lucy Juckes. Initially, they held a conference at the Edinburgh College of Art, to demystify the picture book publishing industry and assist new graduates from art school in their journey towards publication.
Then, under the guidance of established professional, prize-winning illustrators – Catherine Rayner, Ross Collins, Natalie Russell, Alison Murray and Sue Heap – five illustrators were mentored for a year, giving them the chance to focus step by step on the development of their work. Their work now forms a stunning new exhibition at The Scottish National Gallery which runs until February 2014.
Co-founder and author Vivian French says: “It’s been a huge and exciting journey for all five illustrators and the development of their work has been sensational.”
The award of Picture Hooks Scottish Illustrator 2013 was presented by acclaimed artist John Bryne to illustrator Laura Clark, and Orchard Books, a sponsor and supporter of the mentorship scheme, selected Stuart Simpson as the illustrator for potential publication.
Picture Hooks is supported by partners Orchard Books, The Edinburgh College of Art and Creative Scotland.
Find out more about the Picture Hooks scheme and the exhibition at The National Gallery of Scotland which runs until 16th February 2014.
Here are examples of the work exhibited by three of the emerging illustrators...
Posted by Simon Lewin on December 3rd, 2013
If you're visiting the Edinburgh Book Festival this year, illustrator and printmaker Jon McNaught will be holding a creating graphic novels workshop (on Saturday 24th August) and talking with fellow artist Glyn Dillon about the graphic novel (on Monday 26th August).
Jon McNaught's latest book, Dockwood, weaves together the everyday lives of three locals against an evocative backdrop of autumnal transitions. Bittersweet and contemplative, Dockwood is for anyone who believes the stories that take place within life’s small moments can often be the most meaningful of all.
Posted by Simon Lewin on August 17th, 2013
The Gentle Author’s Spitalfields Life blog has become a regular stopping off point when online, with new posts published daily. Today, guest contributor David Buckman (author of From Bow To Biennale about the East London Group) has written a feature on the artist Barnett Freedman - explaining why the work of this contemporary of Bawden and Ravilious deserves to be more widely known.
His colour and black and white lithographic illustrations for Siegfried Sassoon's ‘Memoirs of an Infantry Officer’ first attracted me to his work when I spotted a copy in a bookshop in Museum Street when I was still a student but, as it was a first edition, it was way beyond my means and stayed firmly put on the shelf.
Alongside his illustration and printmaking, he also produced typographic work embellished with the textures and patterns that resulted from his skilled celebration of the lithographic process. Clients included Ealing Films, British Petroleum, General Post Office and Wedgwood.
We were lucky enough to purchase a couple Freedman pieces a couple of years ago via Simon Lawrence at Fleece Press who is representing an archive on behalf of the Barnett Freedman Estate.
Read David Buckman’s article in full over at Spitalfields Life. Images courtesy of Special Collections, Manchester Metropolitan University and Fleece Press.
Find our more about the work available from Fleece Press.
Posted by Angie Lewin on June 2nd, 2013
We had the pleasure of printmaker Chloe Cheese's company last week - she was staying with us whilst working on a print for our St. Jude's In The City exhibition in Edinburgh in July.
The week before we'd received of Chloe's mother Sheila Robinson's illustrated book of the Brothers Grimm's fairy tale, The Twelve Dancing Princesses.
This was never published in her lifetime but The Centre for Children's Book Studies at Anglia Ruskin University have worked with the Fry Art Gallery in Saffron Walden (who hold the original artwork in their archives) to publish the book for the first time, instigated by Professor Martin Salisbury with additional design and retouching by Brian Webb of Webb & Webb Design.
The illustrations - with skilfully varied weight of line and texture - are just beautiful. Where she has applied colour it is in a simple printmakerly way and the delicate script text and drawings are combined to fit a landscape format. The dust jacket is lined with spreads from her original sketchbooks. It's a beautiful piece of print.
Printmaker Chloe Cheese says of the book…
"The beautiful pen and ink drawings and delicate text of this book fascinated me when I was a child and drew me into the enchanted world of the fairy tale.
Although she hoped for publication at the time, she was still a young woman and I think other things, such as working on The Festival of Britain, marrying and having children, took over her life so that this book was put to one side.
The princesses in the boats rowing across the lake in particular is an image that fired my imagination and inspired me to emulate my mother to become an illustrator myself. Looking at this illustration now I admire the lightness of touch and the use of light and shade. The picture still takes me to the edge of the lake and into the story."
Posted by Angie Lewin on March 11th, 2013