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 had worked with the photographer Cristian Barnett before and he offered he making of a short film in return for a donation to the Movember fundraising programme (supporting the work of this global men’s health charity).
Posted by Simon Lewin on September 3rd, 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
From 4th-14th July 2014 Ed Kluz is exhibiting a series of new works with our friends at Pentreath & Hall, shown alongside a selection of original works and prints by Eric Ravilious and Edward Bawden.
Ed is fascinated by the objects of our cultural heritage. He seeks out the eccentric, the lost and the overlooked. Follies, curiosities, vanished buildings and folklore inspire artworks which explore themes of renewal and reinvention.
Amongst the new works being exhibited are (from top to bottom below) The Rushton Triangular Lodge (scraperboard - £975), Blickling Hall (linocut - unframed £225 - edition of 18), King Henry's Hunting Lodge, Dogmersfield Park, Hampshire (scraperboard - £875), Kew Palace (scraperboard - £745).
From 4th to 14th July at Pentreath & Hall, 17 Rugby Street, Bloomsbury, London WC1N 3QT. Telephone 020 7430 2526. Open 11am–6pm Mon–Sat.
Posted by Simon Lewin on July 3rd, 2014
Our friends at Dick's Edinburgh opened their doors shortly after we'd relocated to Scotland and we've been regulars ever since.
Uli Schade and Andrew Dick stock a carefully edited selection of menswear, accessories and homewares, supporting small, independent manufacturers, old and new.
We've been slowly but surely adding to our collection of these beautiful, functional ceramic vessels, designed by Atelier NL and manufactured by Royal Tichelaar Makkum.
Atelier NL's Lonny van Ryswyck and Nadine Sterk started by digging up, shaping and baking clay from different locations through the Netherlands, creating a series of plates and bowls in different colors and structures, stamped to identify the area where the clay was sourced.
Posted by Simon Lewin on May 29th, 2014
From 9th May until 9th June 2014 artist Tommy Perman will be exhibiting a new collection of drawings at The Skylark in Portobello. The drawings are inspired by visits the glasshouses at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh.
"I grew up in the centre of Edinburgh and even though this is a relatively green city I still feel disconnected from nature. I've spent much of my career drawing the chaotic geometry of the city, often going to great lengths to remove any signs of life, so I've surprised myself by developing an interest in plants.
I like to set rules and limitations for my drawings. For this set I have limited myself to black on white and each image is contained within a circle. So that I didn't stray too far from familiar territory I have focused on plants with bold striking markings and structure that's almost architectural."
Born in 1980, Edinburgh, Scotland, Tommy Perman is an artist, designer and musician who works in a variety of media including visual art, performance, sound and music. He has a particular interest in combining new digital technologies with traditional techniques and materials. Between 2002 – 2013 Tommy was a member of the artist collective / band FOUND. As part of FOUND, Tommy has released numerous records and co-created a collection of weird and wonderful interactive sound installations including Cybraphon and #UNRAVEL.
Tommy has recently been working with Rob St. John on the art-science Water of Life project. They have contributed to the forthcoming issue two of our journal Random Spectacular and have created this audio accompaniment.
The exhibition runs from 9th May until 9th June 2014 at The Skylark, 241-243 Portobello High Street, Portobello, EH15 2AW.
Find out more about Tommy's work via www.surfacepressure.net
Posted by Simon Lewin on May 7th, 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
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
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