|Exhibition in the Artists' Books Study
Area at the Library
School of Art, Media and Design, UWE Bristol:
ed.it 1995 – 2005 10th Anniversary exhibition
17th March - 3rd May
I started making books 38 years ago with the encouragement of Ron King at Circle Press, that most generous of influences in British book art. I see them as a unique art form in the same way as painting and sculpture. I think of my books as part of an ongoing tradition and the debate as to what is a “livre d’artiste” and an “artists book” as an academic exercise, surely the one is only a direct translation of the other. Books made by artists are art works. The quality of the book is commensurate with the quality of thought that has gone into the making of it. ed.it appeared by stealth after I had decide to terminate Tetrad Press in 1995. Tetrad had existed for 25 years and I needed a change. I wanted to attempt to make books more in keeping with the other work I was doing, (i.e. three dimensional).
I began making book/objects that were sculptural in form so that they tended to stand rather than lie open. I cut, folded, glued and sewed assemblages of paper of varying weights, textures, and colours, often recycling abandoned works, mostly without, or with a minimal amount of, text. Sometimes this resulted in a small edition and I found that I needed an imprint. Because I was only making my own books and not publishing other artists, I evolved the title ed.it. I liked the typographical simplicity of it.
Later in 1995 Julia Farrer and I received a grant from Wimbledon School of Art to make collaborative books. We called the project “Partwork” which describes how we approached the subject. In two of the books it is impossible to determine which one of us had done what, in some there is an evident input and in others there exists a “propose and respond” technique. We used a wide variety of media, etching, embossing, screenprinting, hand cutting and painting, letterpress, and woodcut. In two years we produced ten books plus a number of drawings, collages, and unique prints. Running alongside ed.it it gave me a lot of scope for the ideas I was formulating at the time.
In 1999 Circle Press published Roller, a typographic version of a poem by Roy Fisher. I designed this, with some difficulty, in a conventional way using pasted-up type scripts which were then processed by Karen Bleitz, using Quark Xpress on an Apple Mac and printing with an Epson Stylus. It was the first computer generated book I had ever done and I was interested in the possibilities it offered. I was also intrigued by the small edition books John Christie was making using the same means. About this time Julia Farrer decided to upgrade her Apple Mac computer and gave me the old one. It was loaded with some basic essential programmes and had an A4 Epson Stylus printer with it. Julia gave me some rudimentary lessons on its use and I was on my own. I owe a deep debt of gratitude to Julia, John Christie, my son Matthew, Neil Crawford, and all other Mac user friends, who were/are dragged to the phone to answer endless requests for help, which still continue, but much less frequently
The first ed.it book to emerge from this computer was where I used a text culled from something called “The Book of Tea” with a hand drawn image duplicated by means of a stencil. The second book Nocturne used basically the same technique and for the third Pavan I resorted to screenprint for a larger edition. Frottage and Vert(ical) were both printed entirely on the computer which by now had turned into a Mac G4 with an Epson A3 1200 printer. This gave me the freedom to make books in small editions, within the A3 format, as and how I liked; I am able to compose and print the page relatively quickly. Vert(ical) addressed another facet of bookmaking that intrigued me, how to integrate sculpture and printed material. The solution was to house the text and images in a box that was also a piece of sculpture. I made a relief on the top of the lid, which, when the box is opened, exists alongside the book as a three-dimensional corollary to it.
I have continued to make books for and with other publishers, The Case for Memory (with poems by Jerome Rothenberg) co-published with Granary Books New York, Apropos Le Livre also with Granary, The Times are Never Right (with a poem by Jerome Rothenberg) published by Brighton Press, San Diego, and Ghost also published by Brighton Press. These have been printed in a variety of traditional ways, silkscreen, litho, letterpress with wood-cut etc. but the mis-en-page is generally worked out on Quark from sketches in a note book. There are two books scheduled for 2005, one with wood-cuts and the other with lithos, to be published in Belgium and France respectively.
To coincide with the launch of the 10th Anniversary of ed.it exhibition, Ian Tyson gave a lecture on his work at UWE Bristol, School of Art, Media and Design, Bower Ashton Campus on Thurs 17th March.