Friday, 16 March 2018

Print and Process

For some reason yesterday morning I recalled a brief conversation I had last summer with one of my ex-colleagues, when I had dropped by the university library: she'd said that one of my books would probably be used in a forthcoming exhibition in the Special Collections gallery. As I was in the middle of all the excitement of having two pictures in the 2017 Royal Academy Open Exhibition this didn't make a great impression at the time, but yesterday I wondered: Did that ever happen? If so, I'd better add it to my CV. So I had a look at the Special Collections webpage to get the exhibition details, and was amazed to find that it's on right now, from 1st March to 8th June.

That's an interesting looking cabinet...

Naturally, I wandered over to the library that afternoon to take a look. It turns out it's a very nice exhibition indeed, called Print and Process, basically exploring all the various printing techniques used in art and book production, from woodblock to digital, using prints from the University Art Collection, artist's books from the Winchester School of Art, and various items from the Hartley Library's Special Collections. As it happens, two of my books are on display as exemplars of the digital artist's book (The Colour of the Water and The Revenants, both self-published under my Shepherd's Crown imprint), and it's really quite a privilege to be sharing space with the likes of William Blake and Max Ernst in the vitrines, not to mention Howard Hodgkin and Edward Bawden on the walls, just to drop a few names.

Oh look, The Colour of the Water, my first book!

 And that's The Revenants, my greatest hit...

Wow! Max Ernst's Une Semaine de Bonté, his greatest hit

I have to say this cheered me up no end, as I had also discovered later that same morning that neither of my submissions to this year's Royal Academy Open had made it to the final round. So, it looks like this year's Open is going to be rubbish, then... Well, it is being curated by that ████ [redacted] Grayson Perry. I hope his stupid pots explode in the kiln.

By the way, if the various processes involved in the printing of illustrated matter over the centuries are a subject of interest to you (and how could they not be?) you should try to get hold of a copy of The Printed Picture, by Richard Benson. Sadly, it seems to be out of print now, and used copies are ridiculously expensive (I can't see one under £100), but it is pretty definitive, fascinating reading, and even more beautifully illustrated than you might expect. Also, if you'd like to take a look at (or even buy!) the Blurb incarnations of those two books of mine, full previews are available; The Colour of the Water has evolved into Downward Skies (although I do still have a few copies of the original stapled booklet – contact me by email if you'd like one), but The Revenants is still The Revenants. It's old work now, but still holds up well, I think.


Anonymous said...

Well, my congratulations for your books being exhibited in Print and Process!

Best, Thomas

Mike C. said...

Thanks, Thomas -- Mr. Blake, Herr Ernst, and I will be having a drink to celebrate later on!


Carl Weese said...

The exhibition at MOMA, NY, perhaps six years ago, that accompanied the publication of the Benson book was simply amazing. I was never enthralled by his own pictures, but his mastery of photographic reproduction was stunning. His book reproductions of Paul Strand's platinum prints were almost as good as the originals, and his reproductions of everyone else were often better than the originals.

Mike C. said...


Now that's an exhibition I'd have liked to have seen. The book is certainly very beautiful, but I cannot understand those used prices!

Probably the most beautiful thing in the Print and Process show is a photogravure of one of Julia Margaret Cameron's portraits of Charles Darwin (the one in a hat and cloak leaning against a doorpost or pillar). The tones are incredible.