25 August, 2009
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