Saturday 31 August 2013

Heaney's Beowolf

Wednesday 28 August 2013

An Oak Fern printed directly from Nature (1857)

Nature printing is a process whereby a natural object is somehow used directly to create a print (HERE).

Below is a nature printed image of an Oak Fern (Polypodium Dryopteris) from a book by Thomas Moore (1821-1887) - The Ferns of Great Britain and Ireland; Edited by John Lindley. Nature-printed by Henry Bradbury. London: Bradbury and Evans, 1857. 

A digitised copy of the book is available HERE.

Tuesday 27 August 2013

A Nearly perfect Book

A great piece HERE on the Arion Press in San Francisco - a fine art letterpress printer and publisher. 

In 1970 the Arion Press published an edition of Melville's Moby Dick:
To study the Arion Press edition of Moby-Dick today is to have an almost sacred experience of the power of physical print. Its ink is black, with wide margins and initial letters in a dark, aqueous blue. The paper is a faint blue-gray, like the surface of the ocean on a cloudy day. When the reader lifts a page to turn it, the watermark of a whale shimmers through. Because the letter w is particularly wide, Hoyem made the abutting spaces slightly narrower; every semicolon has a hairsbreadth gap before it, as if signaling the partial stop. The result is something that one would not think possible: a nearly perfect book.
an image from the book [HERE].

Friday 23 August 2013

A New Candide

From next week the Royal Shakespeare Company are putting on Candide, a new play by Mark Ravenhill inspired by Voltaire's book of the same name.

 Image: Royal Shakespeare Company

Saturday 17 August 2013

Structure, Substructure, Superstructure

Cyril Stanley Smith (1903-1992) was a historian of science and quantitative metallurgist. 

One of his classic books is Search for Structure: Selected Essays on Science, Art and History (1981, ISBN 0-262-19191-1, MIT Press).

The object stands at the very point where the structures and properties of matter resulting from forces between atoms are in visible interaction with man's ideas and purposes. An artists work preserves a record of both - one in the outer form and decoration, the other in the texture and color and fine contours that result from the interpley of atomic, molecular and crystalline forces.
Below is an image from one of his papers: Structure, Substructure, Superstructure published in the Rev. Mod. Phys. 36, pp 524–532 in 1964. The paper begins as follows:

Anyone who works with the microscope for an intellectual or practical purpose will frequently pause for a moment of sheer enjoyment of the patterns that he sees, for they have much in common with formal art.

CAPTION: Raft of tiny uniform soap bubbles showing 'grain boundaries' where zones of differing orientation meet.

Josef Albers Album Covers

Josef Albers (1888-1976) was, amongst other things, a colour theorist, observer and artist. He also designed album covers. Here is an exhibition of some of his best, four of which are below.

 In an essay on them Joseph Masheck makes the following connection with the work of Cyril Stanley Smith:
Persuasive Percussion (1959; in this case not the Light Brigade but Terry Snyder and the All Stars) shows a tightly packed grid or lattice of small black disks from which a few wander up and out like stray molecules of some light gas; or better still, like the diagrams from a classic essay in which Cyril Stanley Smith would show how natural lattice structures are surprisingly tolerant of irregularities (“Structural Hierarchy in Science, Art, and History,” 1974-75, 1978).

Thursday 8 August 2013

The Walls of Ireland

A beautiful dry stone wall from Glasdrumman in Ireland.

Image © Copyright Paul McIlroy

Sunday 4 August 2013

On Nature: Jon McNaught

HERE are the illustrations that Jon McNaught did for On Nature, a collection of essays on getting the most out of the British countryside.

 Image copyright Jon McNaught

The Crucian Carp

When I was younger I was a keen fisherman. I fished in the hard fished small farm ponds and canals of the North-West of England. There are two books that I remember helped me get into fishing. The first was first published in 1950 as a Puffin Picture Book - Fish and Fishing by Bernard Venables. This was a basic introduction to the fish, tackle and methods used in coarse fishing. Below is a page from the book - taken from a full set of pages HERE

The image shows several of the different type of Carp. My favourite was the Crucian Carp. Although these do not have the avid following that the other carp do, nor do they attain the same weights, they are a beautiful fish. I always threw the fish back in after catching them.

The second book was World Class Match Fishing by Kevin Ashurst. This described in detail Ashurst's methods for winning highly competitive match fishing contests on rivers and canals.  I had no interest in match fishing, but from Ashurst I learnt how to make my own floats from peacock quill, copper wire and balsa wood. I spent hours perfecting my own set of floats, complete with a colour coding scheme for the lead shot that they needed to be perfectly set in the water. Unfortunately, I find I don't call on my float making skills too much these days.