| Meir Agassi (1947 -1998)
Meir Agassi was born in 1947, in Kibbutz Ramat-Hakovesh, Israel, and studied at the Avni Institute of Art, Jaffa, Tel-Aviv (1963-65).
He published his first short story in the quarterly magazine Keshet in 1968. From 1968 onwards he published and contributed short stories, poems, journalism, criticism, essays on art, literature, poetry, cinema and culture in various national newspapers and magazines. His first book of poetry Clouds Carving Forms was published by the Hakibbutz Hameuchad Publishing House in 1969.
From 1980-81 he was awarded a British Council Scholarship to study in the UK. As artist in residence, he set up his studio in the Fine Art Department at Leeds Polytechnic (now Leeds Metropolitan University). His publication To Make Things formed part of the exhibition Meir Agassi - works 1980-1981.
In 1982 he settled in the UK, moving to Bristol where he lived with his wife Tessa and their son Danny, and continued to make art, and write essays, poems, short stories and articles for Israeli magazines and newspapers on a regular basis. His first novel The Black Hills of Dakota was published by Zmora-Bitan Publishing House in 1987.
He began to develop the idea of setting up the Meir Agassi Museum® from the early 80s. After meeting the artist Annette Messager in 1992, and discussing the problems of diversity, he began to use a slogan to consolidate his varied practice: “Work from the Studio, Archive, Collections, Diaries, Library and Museum of Meir Agassi”.
Agassi produced his special publication The Case of the Lost Life and Work of Mo Kramer (1920-1993) as an installation for his final show at the (then) Faculty of Art, Media and Design, UWE Bristol in 1994, for which he graduated with first class honours - and also received the Rebecca Smith Award. In 1995, he re-installed the piece for an exhibition “Neither Here Nor There” curated by Michal Heiman, at the Gordon Gallery in Tel-Aviv. In conjunction with the exhibition he produced two more publications: The Mo Kramer Box of Fragments from Memory and Amnesia, and An Anthology of Fragments from Memory and Amnesia, a booklet in Hebrew containing selected texts on the preparation of the “Case of MK”.
After graduating he continued to publish artists’ books, ideas, essays and related works under the Meir Agassi Museum® umbrella, often collaborating with his friends. He was very well known in Israel as a writer and artist, and was known more for his art in the UK. Agassi was a generous artist and, along with his wife Tessa, welcomed many artists into their home – always connecting people who he thought would be interested in each other’s work and sharing books and artworks with his friends.
Meir Agassi, his wife Tessa Agassi-Smith and their son Danny were killed in a road accident in February 1998. This collection of Meir’s work given by him to his friends here, has been housed in the Print Studio at UWE, Bristol since then as a memorial to the family. The books have been scanned to show some of the wonderful artworks produced by him in the period that he lived and worked in Bristol, to a wider audience.
The Museum of Art Ein Harod in Northern Israel has the complete collection of Meir Agassi’s artwork in the Museum Library. www.museumeinharod.org.il/english/collections/library.html
An Agassi Prize for creative use of text in an artist’s book has been awarded annually by CFPR for the Hereford Book Arts Competition, organised by Guy Begbie. In 2009, we established the Agassi Book Arts Prize, awarded to one artist at the MA show in Multi-disciplinary Printmaking, to continue with these tributes to their memory.
Books by Meir Agassi in the Collection.
Read Dr Iain Biggs’ In Memory
Meir Agassi’s thoughts on his practice and reflections on artists' books (pdf)
CFPR loaned its collection of artists’ books by Meir Agassi to the Amsterdam-based artists’ group Public Space With A Roof, for research and interpretation in producing Endless Installation: A Ghost Story For Adults (Encounters, Questions, Collaboration) by Public Space With A Roof, at SMART Project Space, Amsterdam, March 21, 2009 - April 26, 2009
The 2009 Agassi Book Arts Prize
The 2009 prize was awarded by The Centre for Fine Print Research to the MA Multi-disciplinary Printmaking student Tina Hill for her installation Excavating Babel.
The piece was shown at UWE Bristol - School of Creative Arts Degree Show 2009, Saturday 20th - Thursday 25th June, and will tour to venues in Bristol and around the UK from September 2009
Tina Hill: firstname.lastname@example.org