28 July, 2014
Keats and calligraphy
Although we are extremely pleased with how our recent publications have turned out and proud of our involvement with the projects and their artists, one could say that they have been weighty in content and spirit . . . as well as in their physical manifestation!
A bit of a change, therefore . . . and (at least, for now!) a lightening-up at The Old Stile Press.
This all started when we first had the pleasure of meeting the calligrapher, Andy Moore, at a book fair. I have always been much taken with the craft but much prefer the work to be colourful and loose rather than perfect and po-faced. I have also long had a wish lodged in my mind that I might one day discuss with an amenable practitioner the possibility of 'editioning' calligraphy work in some way through the medium of letterpress printing.
The work that surrounded Andy on his stall was very skilfully made but full of wit and almost reckless invention. Pious saws and holy quotes were thin on the ground in favour of writings about artists and fascinating places, quotes from tombstones and collaged photographs taking their place alongside deliciously free and swoopy lettering - not minding the flicks of ink that seemed the entirely appropriate byproduct of the energy with which he had worked.
I was enchanted and over-joyed, when we got together later, that Andy was as keen as I was to experiment into means of bringing us together on a project.
Some experiments followed and soon the search was on for a text. I cannot remember, as usual, quite where this idea came from but it has turned out to be just perfect for our happy jaunt . . . alongside the youthful John Keats and his "A Song About Myself", sent with a letter to his young sister during a homesickness-ruined stay in Edinburgh.
So . . . we have made the book and it is, at present, with the binder. I have been able to photograph a first copy and here are some shots.
The Main Edition of the book consists of 150 copies. There is also a Special Edition of 12 copies - 10 copies for sale. For this, the book is enclosed in a solander box, shown below, which also houses a portfolio in which are to be found all the actual artwork used in the making of a pair of facing pages in the book AND a sheet of original calligraphed work . . . a further piece of Keats created by Andy Moore afresh for each copy of the Special Edition.
The only things I cannot give here are the prices of the two editions. Watch this space!
So . . . thank you Andy. This has been good fun. It has also been a good and successful experiment for me and I hope that it might lead on to future collaborations.