Tuesday, 11 August 2009

The Albion

I got to have a go on an Albion press this afternoon – get me! I spent a very pleasant afternoon at the home of wood engraver and fellow Red Hot Press member Jutta Manser who is the proud owner of a small Albion press. And what a thing of beauty it is. Jutta showed me how it worked and I printed a couple of my own wood engraving blocks on it; wonderful.

Made in 1884, it’s a magnificent piece of engineering. And ornate with its gold paintwork on black. One has to keep reminding oneself that these were actually working machines used in the printing trade, not merely decorative ornaments. Even the feel of it, winding the plate in and out and pulling across the handle with a satisfying clunk, is most gratifying. I can’t help but wonder about its history; where it’s been for the last 120 odd years… and how nice it is to be a little part of that history, if only a speck.

And congratulations to Jutta for having two prints selected for the Society of Wood Engravers annual show at Bankside Gallery, London in September. Richly deserved.

Wednesday, 5 August 2009


Creative activity seems to be off the agenda for the next few weeks or so while home becomes a building site. Much preparation to do before the builders start; stuff to sort out and get rid of, furniture to move, prints to take off the walls… we are in chaos. So, all I can do at the moment is think about my work, which is no bad thing as I feel I’ve come to a bit of a sticking point anyway.

It’s becoming increasingly difficult for me to find a niche for my work. Galleries aren’t keen on it because it’s too illustrative and although I have had good selling years, private collectors seem to find it too dark for their walls, once they get the references. I’d like to get into book illustration but again, where do I fit? Too dark for children’s books and there just aren’t many illustrated books for adults (not nearly enough) – apart from graphic novels which isn’t the way I see my work going. Other than writing my own books to illustrate, and then trying to get them published (yeah right), I don’t know which way to go. Then I get caught up in my own little dilemma about whether it’s right to put my images in people’s heads when they should be forming their own from the text… but that’s another post for another day.

So, I’m hoping these next few weeks will give me time and head space to at least think about where my work is going, even if I can’t actually make any.