Saturday, February 28, 2009

Equus: A Sketch by Clive Hicks-Jenkins

Clive Hicks-Jenkins, the artist friend of mine who has been mentioned a fair few times on this blog, has been working on illustrations for a new edition of Peter Schaffer's Equus to be printed and published in their usual spectacular and beautiful style by Nicolas and Francis at The Old Stile Press. It's not for me to tell the story of the publication, particularly as it isn't yet done, but en route I've been watching the images for the book develop out of Clive's sketch book like a psychic diary of both the story of the play and Clive's involvement with it.

A few weeks ago Clive very generously sent me a small clipping from one of those sketch books after I had expressed strong feelings about the image when a scan of a similar pose was sent in an email.

This is Alan. Clive hasn't said to me exactly when in the play, but I like to imagine that this is Alan Strang lying naked in the field, lost in worship, belly in the wet grass and arse in the cool night air while Nugget/Equus is rolling steaming breath into the air above him just up and right of the prone boy in the painting.

I framed it myself. I get fed up of trying to work out which combination of black/grey/white mounts and frames to put with black and white artwork so this time went for something different. The recessed mount I painted in a Farrow & Ball colour called, believe it or not, 'Arsenic' (but as they also have colours called 'Elephants Breath' and 'Dead Salmon' I suppose I shouldn't be snippy). The frame was then painted in the same vivid green and then overpainted roughly in black. I was very pleased with the result.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Attack on St Winefride's Well - Fredrick Rolfe

Phew! There are some projects which feel like they are never going to end and this, for me, has been one of them. I'm very proud to say though that my new edition of Rolfe's, The Attack on St Winefride's Well is now done and the anouncement email has gone out and the orders are beginning to come in...
It has taken over a year to do the research for the introduction, I have had to source and use new materials, the casebound part of the edition is larger than I am used to doing, the size and shape is slightly different to anything I have created before... on the whole it's been something of a learning curve but I'm very pleased with the result and here's hoping there'll be a slew of happy customers too.

The blurb is below. If you are not on my mailing list and would like details of how to lay hands on a copy then please simply drop me an email...

We are delighted to anounce the first publication since 1898 of The Attack on St Winefride's Well by Frederick Rolfe.

In 1895 there arrived in the small Welsh town of Holywell in Flintshire, a former school-teacher, sometime artist, photographer and writer, called Frederick Rolfe. Rolfe would later become known as Baron Corvo and gain lasting fame as a writer of fantasy and the fantastic. His time in Holywell was marked by his attatchment to the Shrine of St Winefride in the town, which is built over an ancient spring. Rolfe painted banners, edited a Catholic magazine, fought with Protestants and with the Catholic clergy and ended his time in the town in the workhouse. All this in only four years residence. Right at the very end of this period a proposal was made to use St Winefride's Well as a source for bottled table water and, understandably, the Catholics of the town were upset by this. Rolfe wrote a pamphlet in typically ebulliant style railing against the scheme and creating a scathing satire against the local town authorities. He published it out of the same office as the Catholic magazine for which he worked.
Only two copies have ever been discovered of this rarest of all Corvine pieces. It is our hope that, with a long introduction by Callum James representing over a year's research into Rolfe's time in Holywell, that this publication will fill a gap long left empty on the shelves of every Rolfe collector and will also add to the local history of the area. This edition also includes the first publication since their original appearance of two long letters Rolfe wrote to newspapers at the time as well as having, for a frontispiece a previously unpublished photograph attributed to Rolfe.

A Woman After My Patterned Heart

I'm on another of my patterned-paper benders at the moment, in the course of which I stumbled on this delightful collection of patterned papers all scanned and uploaded to Flickr.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

More Penguin Poets' Patterns

Of all the early patterned covers on the Penguin Poets I think this has to be my favourite so far. It's a particularly resonant book for me, however, since it was from the 1980s version of this anthology, with a Jackson Pollock painting on the cover, that I was first introduced to the critical study of poetry at school. This was a seminal anthology which brought together Philip Larkin, Ted Hughes, Thom Gunn and R. S. Thomas to name but a few.

Most, but not quite all, of the patterns for the Penguin Poets were designed by Stephen Russ and many of them really stand out as patterns with an idea behind them, not simply as decorative pieces. There is a
website devoted to Russ's work which includes a 'guess the title from the pattern quiz'. The wonderful Acejet170 (who introduced me to the joys of these covers in the first place) also has a great Flickr set of some of his collection.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

G D H Cole: More Erotic Socialism?

On Sunday just gone R and I laboured up the A3 to Midhurst to a book fair which, despite its having been held there for many years, I've never visited. It was a pleasant surprise to find a really interesting selection of books on display at prices as varied as their subject matter.

The above, An Introduction to Trade Unionism by G D H Cole was a bit of a must-have since, as well as being a writer on Socialist themes, Cole was also a minor poet, and his one extant volume of poetry New Beginnings and The Record is listed in Tim d'Arch Smith's Love in Earnest and is included in the canon of 'Uranian' poets not because of anything desperately explicit in his poems, although they do have a certain 'sensibility', but because he was listed in the 1930s book catalogue from Francis Edwin Murray that Tim used as the basis of his researches: which in itself indicates that that the omniscient Murray knew enough about the subject of Cole's poetry to include it.

The Record-bit of Cole's book is subtitled, 'An Occasional Diary in Verse' and, for your delectation here are a couple of samples, the second of which at least hints at a forbidden kind of love:


I HAVE lain with thee beside me,
And watched the pale stars shine,
And felt thy form beside me,
Through the long night divine.

O loveliness commingling
In my heart with the starry sky,
Thou hast usurped the splendour
Of God's eternity.

12. At A Concert

ONLY a touch of our hands by chance-
Oh, but a trail of flame.
Only a thoughtless, joyful glance,
But who shall name its name ?

A look from thee, and thy body warm,
And the music mingling clear,
And out again to the heedless swarm,
Where I may not call thee dear.

Not exactly Wordsworth but sweet at times and another interesting example of homosexuality and open socialist views from this period: see Mr Paine/Anderson elsewhere on this blog for more on that...

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Another Book With a History

After a couple of similar posts recently, I'm beginning to think I should rename this blog 'Books with a History'. This is a two volume copy of E. L. Butcher's The Story of the Church of Egypt, a desirable little number in its own right. This copy is bound in half-calf with marbled paper boards and endpapers. There's a little wear, some knocks and bumps but it remains a nice set. Opening it up, however, reveals the real history. The bookplates are those of Lord Cromer, Consul-General in Egypt 1883-1907, which would be enjoyable enough but then there's the ownership signature of Harry Boyle, Consul and Oriental Secretary in Cairo 1889-1909.
But perhaps the most fun about this book was that out of its pages fell the visiting card of Shenouda III, otherwise known as Pope Shenuda III of Alexandria. How cool is that, to have the visiting card of a Pope!

Obviously the book will be up for sale fairly soon but I'm enjoying having it around in the meantime.

Monday, February 16, 2009

More Penguin Poets

Two more juicy patterns on two more of the Penguin Poets series. These kind of fell off the shelves at Sunday's book fair and into my hands...

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Samuel Butler and Alfred Cathie

I enjoy a book with a nice visible history attached to it. I was, therefore, really happy to add to my collection the other day this two volume first edition of Henry Festing Jones's Memoir of Samuel Butler. It's not the most preposessing book in its own right but it has, on the inside of the front cover, the ownership signature of William Thomas, editor of The Listener and laid in is a letter from Butler’s devoted clerk and manservant Alfred E Cathie.

October 21st 1935:

“Dear Mr Thomas. Thank you for the letter and book duly received this morning. Please accept my best thanks for the book which I know I shall enjoy the reading of it later on. In answer to your query. “Mr Butler never cared two straws about trying to unite people by his books, he never tried to do so, he only wanted his readers and friends to try and see things in the same light as himself. I am sure a good many of them did, but did not like to say so personally, which left Butler rather in the dark. It seems now that he was 90 per cent right in all his ideas and theories. Butler was not a man to worry himself about other people’s opinions, as his own convictions were very strong inwardly.” I am glad you think of him, as I do. Believe me…”

Cathie was, along with the author of the book, one of the two people with Butler at his death.

Jared Pallesen the Merman

Back in December I wrote about the photos of Jared Pallesen and how much I'd been enjoying them. Somewhere else I read recently about the dearth of mermen in art. Then lo! a new Pallesen photo on exactly that theme. As before, I am recommending his Flickr photostream to those who enjoy a good photo...

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Been away a while...

Actually, not been away anywhere romantic and wonderful. I've simply been having a duvet week, trying to shift an annoying and miserable-making cold. Now thankfully a lot better. I also managed to miss all the snow last week too which was both a blessing and a shame at the same time.

Haven't been entirely idle, have been experimenting again with little bits of printing as above...
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