Tuesday, July 31, 2007

More Ink on Paper

PS. Sorry I've not had a chance to say thanks recently to those who've posted comments here or emailed in reponse to various posts I've made on this blog. John C: That was quite a coincidence... not least because I actually have the last two of the trilogy and not the first which you posted - but well spotted on the edge of the picture there. I do still visit yours everyday and your blog has to be the place which has added the most bookmarks to my favourite list, every week or so another post of yours provides me with a new favourite artist-of-the-moment. Thevina: I know you're a Live Journal girl at heart so it's very sweet of you to pop in here from time to time: as you can see I've moved away from the collage and back to straightforward monoprinting this evening. Clixchix: You're in the same boat as me with not being able to remember the real name of the artist 'Trademark' - it's so infuriating: I was really glad to hear that the exhibition opening went so well.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Productive Trip

An unexpectedly productive trip to Alton yesterday. Three book purchases. I've blogged before about the wonder which is Gollancz vintage yellow-backed fiction - one of those things which, like Penguins, look particularly good when seen en masse. Plus, I have a long-term science-fiction habit which needs to be nourished. So, not only did I discover a completely unknown, to me, secondhand and antiquarian bookshop in Alton but on its shelves... two new Gollancz books which I had to have.

Meanwhile in the bookshop which I already knew about R dug out A Wicked Pack of Cards, which you don't have to be an expert shopper to realise is a gay-themed novel. How camp is that cover! In fact it was published by The Guild Press in Washington which made quite a splash for itself publishing some fairly risque material in the 1960s.

So, not only did I manage to augment the already straining bookshelves but it also turned out to be a glorious day to be driving through the Hampshire countryside and wandering around a pretty little town with the love of me life.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Ink and Paper

As the rain continued to fall, sometimes in sheets, sometimes in fine threads, this afternoon was passed inking-up paper to create collages from. The ink takes a good 24 hrs to dry completely on the paper so the sheets are still strewn over the living room floor ready to play properly tomorrow. However, with two sheets (the first two illustrated below) I half-deliberately tried to conjure up some landscapes. These two sheets will, I am sure, end up being cut and torn to make collages later in the week but, encouraged a little by the way they looked I then took some old monoprints of no merit whatsoever and played a little more deliberately with creating a collage landscape. It is only a tiny little thing but I have enjoyed putting it together and it's all good practise for the rather more focussed attempt I plan to have later in the week at putting together something more substantial.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

The Blind Boy and the Wolf

Clive Hicks-Jenkins (whom I've mentioned more than once here before now), wrote a little while ago to ask if I felt I might be able to write something to go on the website of his saints and beasts exhibition - upcoming at MOMA in Wales. I think he had in mind that I might write an email, or some kind of prose reflection but, in the process of reading the story of Herve and the Wolf, and looking at the pictures, I somehow remembered that I am, actually, a writer. And a poem came... Clive has said some kind things about it and added it to his site here.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

The Pictures On My Walls #1: The Living Room

A multi-part post in which I give you a guided tour of the pictures in our flat.

For years I have had a rule that nothing should go on the wall unless you can point at it and tell a story. It may only be the story of why I 'had to have it', or it may be more involved but there was to be nothing which was 'meaningless' on the wall. I thought I would test how well I'm doing with this rule by posting, over a short period of time, all the pictures hanging on the wall and imagining you, dear reader, as our guest, asking about each picture in turn.

If the answer to any enquiry turns out to be 'got it in Ikea for a fiver' - then I have failed!
Undergound Icon by Trademark. Screen print.

Okay, so this post begins with a bit of a cheat. This is a picture which 'normally' hangs in the living room. He's actually been taken down for a while to allow space for some of the others you'll see below.

His story? Well, way back in the 1990s (remember them) R and I were living in London and there was a shop in Compton Street in Soho which had these for sale; there were two editions of the same picture, one in blue and one in pink. R couldn't get enough of them and eventually I bought this one for him. It was, and may still be, the most expensive present I have ever bought but, I think, worth it.

Trademark is the pseudonym of a graphic artist best known for his groundbreaking work producing flyers for the huge London gay club 'Heaven'. We keep discovering his real name, making a note of it, and then loosing it again so if anyone can remind us we'd be grateful.

Landscapes. Pastel on paper.

As this post goes on you will begin to understand that R has a thing for landscapes and portraits - and that the living room is very much R's room when it comes to hanging pictures. These two we found together and they are clearly by the same artist. They have that thing which some pastel drawings have of appearing very rough and ready close up but resolving to almost photographic clarity as you step back. These mounts were my first attempt at the, now slightly old-fashion techniques of mount decoration involving watercolour lines, washes and gold bands.

Life Drawing. Charcoal on paper.
This chap has appeared before on this blog but unframed. R and I went to the 'works on paper' exhibition at the R.A. and found they were running a 'drawing swap'; you pitch up and do a drawing using the materials provided, or you bring one along and when done you stick it on the wall and swap it for a receipt. At the end of the day you return and trade in your receipt for any one of the drawings on the wall. Many were those that had been done on the day but some were obviously 'stock'. R and I both found life drawings by the same woman - whose name escapes me at the moment - from the early 20th Century. R's drawing will feature when we get to the 'landing and stairs' part of this series of posts. I framed him up in an old frame which I renovated and mounted him (!) using a new technique (to me) which I rather like which involves a tiny, tiny strip of gold paper poking from under the mount.

Untitled portrait of a woman. Oil on board.

No name, no signature and painted on what appears to be the bottom of a drawer, this is the mystery lady of our house. Another of R's junk shop finds. Whilst it's nice to have portraits of named people that can be researched and known, there is something appealing about the anonymous too. I occasionally catch R staring at her of an evening, obviously wondering who she was and why she had her portrait painted. In our house, she is known as Elspeth!

Untitled edwardian silver print photograph.
One of the nice things about digging constantly through auctions and junk shops for things to sell on is that every now and again you find something you want to keep for yourself. These two photos (see below) were in a box of assorted photographs, ephemera and other nonsense bought at an auction and both R and I fell in love with them imediately. Framing by yours truly.

Untitled Edwardian silver print photograph.

Whistler by Panayiotis Kalorkoti
This is an etching, signed and titled by the artist from a numbered edition. We have two of these (see below) but the whole series can be seen here, and the is a little more about the artist here.
R found these two in a fairly dreadful state in a junk shop. The owner had obviously done a little internet search and decided they were worth a bit and was asking a ridiculous price. The frames and glass were broken and the prints were (and still are a little) wavy with damp. We went back to the same shop many times and dug through the rubble to see if they were still there - and they always were. Eventually, when they had been in the shop a couple of years R asked again about the price and it had miraculously dropped by an enormous amount so we decided to give them a home. These two are by far the biggest pieces we have on the walls in the living room - the prints themselves - which take most of the space behind the mount are roughly 60cm x 70cm. Sadly, at such a size it was also a while before we could afford to have them reframed but I framed them recently - the linen slip is a nod to their origin in the 80s! - and they now sit proudly on the wall. I've never been as fond of these as R but they do grown on you.

Matisse by Panayiotis Kalorkoti.
The second of our Kalorkoti etchings.

Some Books

I happened to have a selection of my books lying around recently and realised that this publishing lark has become more than a 'flash in the pan' idea. This is by no means a photo of all my titles but seeing a selection of them together I am suddenly very proud of them as a 'body of work'.

I don't think when I started this over two years ago I would ever have imagined having such a range and number of titles.

Another Raven Flies

The latest in The Raven Series of monographs by Robert Scoble has just been let loose on the world. In its normal special state of 12, the book sold-out in record time.

Raven 4: Justus Stephen Serjeant tells the story of the eponymous Serjeant who was Rolfe's last benefactor. It is often said that Rolfe died in poverty in Venice. In fact, this is inaccurate. When Rolfe died he was enjoying one of the few periods of his life when money and a reasonable standard of living was available to him. This was largely due at that time to Serjeant. It has always been something of a puzzle to Corvine scholars why an otherwise anonymous and unremarkable man like Serjeant might have become involved with Rolfe at all and this is one of the questions addressed in the monograph. It also contains, in its special state, the text of the various Deeds of Assignment made between Serjeant and A. J. A. Symons for the rights to many of Rolfe's works, then unpublished.
As always Robert Scoble has done a fantastic job creating an easily readable narrative out of a vast amount of detailed research.

The Old and the New

This is the proof copy of a new publication - not yet available - called The Colt and the Porcupine. Four Letters from John Holden to A. J. A. Symons. These four letters are the bulk of the information that Holden sent to Symons about Frederick Rolfe Baron Corvo when Symons was researching his book, The Quest for Corvo. There are extracts from the letters in The Quest, but as the editor of this volume points out, Symons felt little compunction about letting accurate transcription get in the way of a good story, hence, this is the first accurate appearance of these letters and their first appearance complete. When I read them for the first time I was bowled over by the impact of their directness and the way they paint such a vivid picture of what it was like to actually know Rolfe. They are far better at making one feel one knows Rolfe as a person than any of the three biographies, including The Quest.
I have designed this booklet to roughly the same format as A. J. A. Symons' Notes on Wilde, which I published a while ago. I do particularly like the way these booklets look. There is something about that gold line which makes one think of gilt ruling on half-leather books and yet I have used a fairly modern set of ornaments and the clean cream covers give a rather more modern appearance.
There is one more project in hand at the moment which has to do with Symons and I suspect that too will be put together in the same format.
Unusually, I shall also be creating a case-bound special state of this title using some of the store of marbled paper I recently accquired. There is not enough of most of the patterns I have for anything more than one-offs but there is just enough of one to cover the boards for twelve special copies of The Colt and the Porcupine.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Wilde is Here

I have recently been blogging you all to death with news and snippets about my latest project Aspects of Wilde which is my first attempt at a conventionally published hardcover book. My hope is to use one of the internet print-on-demand services to create a limited edition hardcover with jacket. This is probably a new way of using these services. Today, the first copy of Aspects was on the mat when I came home. Despite all kinds of nerves about this project I have to say that on the whole I'm very pleased with the result. I now have to do some tweaking to the cover and a final proof-read and then we can see what my loyal customers make of this new branch of Callum James Books [holds breath in fear and anticipation]...

Monday, July 09, 2007

A Wonderful Place to Visit

In the spirit of passing on good news - a friend recently alerted me to this site: The Visual Telling of Stories and what an amazing place! I haven't yet got through a fraction of the wonderful stuff on this site which covers almost every form of illustration, graphic design, typography, printing, book binding and so on. The site is based on an ad hoc menu system to show off perfectly chosen examples within each category. The image here is one taken from the section on 'trees as metaphors' but you might as well go look at 'cold war advertising' or 'alphabet books' or... oh I need to shut up and you need to go visit... go on.. shoo!

Poignant Photo

Every now and again in this job - dealing in books and paper and stuff - one comes across something which, whilst it may not have an enormous monetary value, seems special in some way. I bought this photo on Friday at a small auction in the village of Emsworth on the south coast. The photo is clearly of the Titanic. There is an ink stamp on the verso which gives the name of a Southampton bookseller and the date 25 Jun 1912 - so, although there is little enough detail in the background, we might assume this was taken in Southampton Water. Clearly, this was a print of a photo made just a few weeks after the sinking at a time when the whole world was consumed by the tragedy. What makes this particularly poignant however, is the fact that almost with the naked eyes, and certainly with a magnifying glass, one can make out the people on the deck. There is enough detail to see even the shapes of the dresses and hats that the women are wearing. Dresses and hats which presumably came to rest fathoms down at the bottom of the Atlantic with their wearers!

Black and White Boy

My friends at The Old Stile Press have been beavering away at their latest - a beautiful rendering of Black Marigolds, known as 'one of the most beautiful love poems ever written'. The images have been created by Glenys Cour and as the progress the book has been charted on the OSP blog, I've been more and more enchanted by them and, in particular, the method used to create them. I tried once before to play with that method and the rather unsatisfactory results were blogged here earlier in the year. Tonight, because I was sent an early copy of the electronic prospectus for the book (and because R was ensconced in front of the computer), I had another go, using the same basic figure as before. Clearly this is utterly derivative on my part and not a patch on the experienced and skillful collage work of Glenys Cour but I can't help thinking that there might be something for me in this method of creating images if I can find a way of making it my own.

And, my rather obsessive brain gets off on the finicky and painstaking work involved in this kind of cutting and glueing!
Who links to my website?