Tom Chadwick and the Grosvenor School of Modern Art
by Julian Francis
One of my treasured prints is The Introduction, a wood engraving of two Balinese men introducing fighting cocks to each other, by Tom Chadwick. Tom died at an early age – just 30 – while fighting at El Alamein in the Second World War, but in his short life had managed to engrave images of the highest quality. Taught at Iain Macnab’s Grosvenor School of Modern Art, Chadwick was also a talented painter, and more besides. Julian Francis has made a special study of Chadwick’s life and work, and it forms the first monograph on this important artist. Few such monographs are as carefully researched as this one.
With such a short life and relatively limited body of work, Chadwick’s prints are rarely seen, so it is delightful that most of his best blocks survive in printable condition and are included here in the special copies, tipped-onto the page. One of them is Derby Day, of which a rough print is shown above; it is an astonishing piece of work as are the other surviving blocks.
The text and colour illustrations of this bold book were printed at J. W. Northend in Sheffield; it is a square format (give or take 2 mm) and this was chosen carefully to display Chadwick's work to best advantage. There are 210 special copies of the book, containing 16 tipped-in engravings printed from the wood (price £365; a slipcase is included). All copies contain one of Chadwick's very best engravings – Wayside Laundry – printed from the block, as a frontispiece; and the 160 standard copies contain reproductions of all the same engravings shown in the special copies, tipped-in in the same way (price £192, no slipcase). A prospectus is available on request and the book was published on February 28th.
This is one of my finest books, and everything has come together in what seems to me exactly the right way.
Long Live Great Bardfield, & Love to You All
The Autobiography of Tirzah Garwood
edited by Anne Ullmann
Planned for seven or eight years, this is be a monumental production based on the Autobiography which Tirzah Garwood, the wife of Eric Ravilious, wrote when she was coming toward the premature end of her life. Tirzah has a facility in her writing for perceptive observation of the world around her, and I would happily rate her story alongside Gwen Raverat's Period Piece, while being substantially longer and more detailed. The section on life in Great Bardfield during the 1930s, among the unique artistic community is a fascinating first-hand, slightly detached account of a precious and outstanding group of artists.
The text has been transcribed from a number of Tirzah’s handwritten notebooks, and edited by her daughter Anne Ullmann; she has in addition written a separate critical study of Tirzah's work, which will be published after this volume (in a further separate volume, since the Autobiography is very substantial, and demands wide-ranging illustrations of work other than Tirzah's own).
Writing in The Times, which printed a full page review on April 21st 2012, John Russell Taylor wrote 'Long Live Great Bardfield is the latest in a distinguished line of books from Simon Lawrence's Fleece Press. The design and workmanship are, as ever, exquisite, and the text is of absorbing interest. . . . This belated encounter is a delight from every point of view.'
304 pages, bound in quarter patterned paper (designed by Tirzah) with a cloth spine and paper label, there are 550 copies, of which 475 are for sale.
I ofen feel that books I publish have been a privilege to bring into the world, Long Live Great Bardfield being no exception. A detailed prospectus is available and copies are available, price £234
Today I worked well – the picture fell off the brush. The artistry of Leslie Cole
by Malcolm Yorke
Leslie Cole, who trained under Bawden and Ravilious at the Royal College of Art in the 1930s, produced some of the finest paintings when appointed an Official War Artist, and his watercolours are especially fine, many in a Ravilious mould. Cole travelled through Germany (recording the scenes of horrific trauma at Belsen a week after its liberation), France, Malta and the Far East, where he recorded the action in Borneo and Singapore, a theatre of the war largely forgotten by Europeans today. Cole’s work was the equal of any other war artist, and yet he was unable, for personal or other reasons, to maintain the momentum after the war, when he seems to have slid very slowly downhill, and his early promise was unfulfilled.
Cole’s wife Brenda had a very colourful teenage history, being the chief prosecution witness for the Church of England when they prosecuted the Rector of Stiffkey for importuning young girls. She disguised this past very ably through her life and may not even have told her husband. Her identity – kept secret even when the BBC tried to find her in the 1980s – was revealed to friends before she died, and for the unconvinced, a meticulous genealogical investigation by Christopher Whittick and Julian Moore ties up the details very neatly.
200 pages with over 130 colour illustrations, the book is quarter bound in cloth and beautiful blue marbled paper made by Louise Brockman. There are 500 copies, price £212, plus £6 postage. A prospectus is available on request.
Eric Ravilious: Landscape, Letters & Design
by Anne Ullmann, Christopher Whittick and Simon Lawrence
The acclaim which met Ravilious at War has spurred the preparation of a companion volume showing all Ravilious' murals and painted work which he produced upto the outbreak of war in 1939. Ravilious at War began with the group of six paintings of chalk figures in landscape settings, and it is appropriate that the new book ends with this group, a high-point and at the same time, turning-point in Ravilious' career. The text is comprised of selected correspondence: from Ravilious' early art school days (when his irrepressibly humorous friend Douglas Percy Bliss wrote to fill him in with news of college life), through friendships with Cecilia Dunbar Kilburn, Helen Binyon, Edward Bawden, Percy Horton, John and Christine Nash, and many more (some more intimate than others). The letters relate a little less directly to the paintings than in Ravilious at War, but give us a very good view of the artist's life in all its aspects. A separate prospectus is available while supplies last.
The book is a phenomenal 528 pages in two volumes, and contains about 300 images with 180,000 words. The collected letters give a deep and honest insight into Ravilious' personality and his perception of his world, and also give us a broader understanding of the 1930s, with the inexorable progress to European war. Of course for many people, the illustration of every known painting by this unique artist with a great many associated images, is what they will initially buy the book for, and this aspect alone makes the book so important. It has been a profound pleasure to publish this collection of words and images. Reviewing the book in the Times Literary Supplement, January 30th 2009, Miles Symner wrote: 'the care that has been devoted to designing and producing these two revelatory volumes matches that evident throughout Eric Ravilious's work. The result is enchantment.' Paul Johnson's assessment in The Spectator (March 21st 2009) was that 'It is one of the most remarkable books ever produced on an English artist.'
Two volumes bound in coloured cloth with a gilt spine, 528 pages printed in Sheffield by J. W. Northend Fine Print, with twelve tipped-in plates, bound by and housed in a slipcase made by the Fine Book Bindery in Wellingorough, price £355 (postage £14).
*** January 2014: I thought I had sold the final copy of this book but today found five copies under a pile of other things, and so these are for sale, with the bonus of being post-free.
To War with Paper and Brush: Captain Edward Ardizzone,
Official War Artist
by Malcolm Yorke
Published in October 2007, this is another of the major four-colour books printed out-of-house but entirely conceived, organised, designed and typeset by one person (as all my books are); together with the author Malcolm Yorke, whose earlier book for the Press on Edward Bawden was so successful, this is an important new book, and its design is perhaps the one which gives me most satisfaction. Ardizzone's Diary of a War Artist has hitherto been the only book relating to his wartime experiences in many British locations as well as on the front line in France, Belgium, Italy, North Africa, Sicily, Denmark and Germany; it consists of the edited diaries which the artist kept. To War with Paper and Brush traces and assesses his extraordinary wartime path, and is illustrated with a great many original watercolours, line-drawings and photographs.
The book runs to 162 pages, and in true Fleece Press style is very heavily illustrated. Printed in Sheffield by J. W. Northend on the uncoated but smooth and classy Monadnock Dulcet paper in an edition of 600 copies (the colophon mistakenly reads 700), all copies are bound in full Record Leinen cloth with an accompanying slipcase. The book is £212 (slipcase included), with postage £6.
Copies of the book block, sewn but without boards or endpapers, can be supplied for binding; see the Special Offers page.
A detailed prospectus has been made for this book and will be sent on request. For a perceptive review of the book and assessment of the Press' books, see the Spectator review by Paul Johnson here: http://www.spectator.co.uk/the-magazine/columnists/3454556/and-another-thing.thtml His final sentence reads 'Lawrence is a public benefactor in making the work of such artists as Ravilious and Ardizzone more generally available, and I salute his achievement.'
Simon Lawrence, The Fleece Press, 95 Denby Lane, Upper Denby, Huddersfield HD8 8TZ
Telephone 01226 792200