25 August, 2009

EQUUS: here it is at last!

The play by Sir Peter Shaffer
Images by Clive Hicks-Jenkins

Equus was first produced on stage in 1973 and, in its first published form, Peter Shaffer wrote of the dangers of ‘flatly setting down on paper what was far from flat on the stage, and listing inexpressively details of the work which, in accumulation, became deeply expressive’. John Dexter directed that first production ‘powerfully through suggestion’, ‘. . . he charges the action of the play with electric life. He is a master of gesture and economy.’

More than thirty years later those words could be written about Clive Hicks-Jenkins' imagery which now accompanies the text. He wanted to create his own universe for this new expression of Shaffer’s story. ‘Meditations and inventions, rather than recollections of past productions’ were his aim.

This is a long, dramatic text of a dreadful event committed by a highly disturbed young man. The characters endeavour to explore the mental world in which such a deed could be comprehensible but the power of the play is in the extraordinary relationship of the young man and his psychiatrist. Understanding the overwhelming nature of Alan’s love of horses becomes the key and the imagery focuses on the struggle between horse and man and emergent sexuality.

124pp. 325x235mm. Bodoni type. Regency Klassica paper. Images by Clive Hicks-Jenkins, multiple ground drawings printed from photopolymer blocks. Text printed by J.W. Northend. Cased binding, executed by The Fine Bookbindery, with printed paper sides and chemise slipcase printed from wood.

ISBN-13 987-0-907664-83-3

Main Edition: 200 numbered copies signed by the artist
. £275

Special Edition: 12 copies (10 for sale) signed by the artist. £950
For the special edition,
the book (within its chemise) is as described above but it is housed in a drop-back box together with an articulated maquette such as the artist is wont to make for himself to provide a 'model' for painting or drawing. In addition to the one model that has been made up, there is another copy on two sheets, as designed, which could also be made up into a second maquette. The artist has also provided an original drawing for each copy (one of his studies for an image in the book) together with an original linocut which was made, especially for this edition, on an EQUUS theme. Both of these are signed by the artist.

Further photographs of the binding and text pages of the main edition are given below. Some images of the goodies included in the Special Edition will be posted at a later stage!

EQUUS: how the OSP edition came about

Over the years, there have been many ways in which we have found texts which tempt us to work with them and many ways also in which we have discovered artists whose work we can visualise within one of our books. Our newest venture is a dramatic example of these arcane processes.

This remarkable (and vast) drawing in conte crayon is by Clive Hicks-Jenkins and has hung in our hall since 2001 when it was shown in his Mari Lwyd exhibition in Newport Museum and Art Gallery. We are constantly moved, torn apart, rendered speechless by the power of this picture . . .

. . . as indeed was our friend, Callum James, who happened to be staying a night with us some time ago. Sleepless (not unusual for this perpetual motion man!) at 2am or thereabouts, he found himself standing in front of it for an hour or more.

Not long afterwards he went to one of the early performances of Equus in the 2007 production of Peter Shaffer’s play with Richard Griffiths and Daniel Radcliffe in the lead roles. The next day he visited our stand at the Watercolours and Drawings Fair in London. He rushed in saying ‘you have to put that play and that artist together - they are meant’.

We did indeed put it to Clive Hicks-Jenkins who then declared how overwhelmed he had been by the play when he first saw it in the 1970s. He had always hoped he might direct it in those earlier days when he was a choreographer and theatre director and had also worked with puppets and figures such as John Napier had created for the horses in that first production. The idea grew on him . . .

The author and his agent were agreeable to the possibility of such a book and so Clive and Nicolas set about finding a way of presenting this long, dramatic text in relation to images which Clive was determined should not detract from the language of the drama but would enhance the moods and states of mind of the characters as they moved through their confusion and distress.

The imagery was created in ink but on multiple grounds. Line work on paper but solid work, with techniques such as sgraffito, on a transparent overlay. These were combined on photopolymer blocks to print the image, in black, on to the page on which the text (using a deeply dense green ink) had already been printed.

We add here a few images to give an idea of what is soon to be a most spectacular book. After what has been a mammoth labour on all sides, we are absolutely thrilled with the result. Sneak previewers say it is probably one of our best!

The bindery are at work now and we will post lots more photographs in a few days time - together with important details such as price!

We are to going to ' launch' the book on 25 September at the London Art Book Fair in the
Whitechapel Gallery, 77-82 Whitechapel High Street, London E1 7QX
tel. 020 7522 7888

Underground: Aldgate East, Liverpool St, Tower Gateway DLR

Friday 25 September: Private view 2pm-5pm: Open to Public 5-11pm
Saturday 26: 11am - 6pm
Sunday 27: 11am - 6pm

13 August, 2009

'New' wood engravings from Peter Reddick

However much fun it may be to obtain pictures, or whatever, from sympathetic galleries and dealers, it is even more rewarding to have them direct from the artist.

A fantasy version of this sort of transaction could involve paintings torn, still dripping with paint, from an artist's easel or a printmaker just popping across to his Albion so that a particular block could be rolled up so a proof could be taken! The other day we received two lovely wood engravings . . . but through a process very different from the one I have just described!

Peter Reddick had come to see us about something quite other and I announced that I had 'rediscovered' an article about him, together with two other wood engravers, in Volume 7 of the splendid journal Motif - seen below with its glorious cover by Alan Davie.

Now this, as you can see (together with other mouth-watering offerings) from the Contents below, was published in


I found that I greatly admired all Peter's work in this article (together with the others artists) but there were two prints that I thought were incredibly strong and would be seen as innovative now, let alone then.

Absurd though it seemed to attempt to order a commodity from a 'catalogue' dated 1961, I nevertheless revealed my interest to Peter and wondered whether he might possibly have a proof of either or both lurking around somewhere. Peter said he had no idea but that he would search through his box labelled "Early Stuff".

Wonderfully, he was able to find just what I had wanted and a swopping bargain (another very satisfying thing to do) was struck.

Thank you Peter!