I buy some of my printing tools from Lawrence Art supplies and have some very old wood gravers that bear the name T.N. Lawrence. You can imagine my surprise when I see that it was Stanley Lawrence of T.N. Lawrence and Son in the Bleeding Heart Yard, off Greville Street, London who supplied traditional British blocks to some of the most famous wood engravers; names like Joan Hassall. It would seem although he was extremely shy; Stanley’s enthusiasm for the knowledge of wood-engraving and wood-engravers was paramount and without any ulterior motive. He became a well loved, fount of wisdom to every wood-engraver he served. His gentle charm although innocent and avuncular was attractive to women; this ‘kindheartedness’ didn’t go unnoticed, his grandson Simon wrote in Matrix (7) ‘He fostered many engravers both young and old but especially young and female’. Patricia Jaffe goes of to tell of his commitment to product quality and customer care.
The image of Stanley Lawrence at Bleeding Heart Yard is by Anne Jope (1977), one of those engravers ‘young and female’ whom Stanley Lawrence delighted in encouraging. ‘Anne Jope has ‘woven a medley of evocative images, her tribute both to boxwood and to the block-maker’.
The other engravings are by Joan Hassall who was a one of Stanley Lawrence’s most priced and admired customers and she was to become the best loved British engraver of her generation.
On old years night 2013, my daughter and her partner who were visiting us from Brazil joined us on the edge of Thames to release some sky lanterns. As a family it has become a little tradition when we give thanks for the last year and make wishes for the new year. A silent ritual which is usually followed by a few glasses wine and a new year celebration with Jules Holland (on TV) No more is said about our personal ‘gratitudes’ and wishes. I am always careful how I word the wishes as they can have bitter/sweet responses but I am sure I would have asked for long life and good health for all beings etc.
My visitors returned to Brazil a week or so later, but not before we had buried my mother who died early in the New Year. The a week later my daughter and her partner, while on their motorbike were hit by a car coming from a side street, each suffering a broken leg.
None of this could have been prevented no matter how much we wished that night. Nonetheless as I grieved for the loss of my mother and the ‘awayness’ of my beloved daughter alone and in pain in a foreign country, I did feel that the Wish Master had been a little unfair!
So time passed, my heart and the respective legs have almost healed, life looks OK again; it is hard to ‘mark’ the achievement we have all made this last 9 months in one image. This graffiti on wall near my daughter’s home one of the many ‘works’ we saw in our stay in July is very cheering and celebratory.
My three day weekend began with a workshop at the Rising Sun Arts Centre. It was the inaugural meeting of a newly formed BookFace group. While the Arts centre has staged the BookFace exhibition for several years the exhibitors and performers have not kept in contact throughout the year.
After this year’s extraordinary exhibition not only in terms of exhibitors but in visitors as well ; it was decided we might try to meet up monthly to share knowledge and firm up relationships to perhaps form a committed community, not just for BookFace and the Rising Sun Arts Centre but for Reading.
I, who is always grumbling about isolation, lack of support etc. jumped at the chance to join book binders, designers, poets, artists , authors and lovers of books for a show and tell session. I took a bundle of sketch books, and some books I have made; a surprisingly rich source of stuff I could contribute to the fine bindings of all types and the discussion around further workshops and talks. I while I don’t have the skills or the inclination to make a book I can find words and stuff to fill some!
Today is the last day of my week end and I will print some wood cuts and engravings … only first proofs but I do feel a little more encouraged to carry on.
When I began my journey as an artist about two years ago I was inspired by the book illustration of Peter Hay; with a remark something like ‘I could do … ‘
For a while I did, I mean make prints out of erasers … not illustrate books exactly! I soon realised I would need some sort of artistic instructions. Pete Hay, I think a Fine Artist and of some acclaim … I hadn’t picked up a paint brush since 1966.
So having found a dedicated teacher and attending various workshops I have spent the last year or so learning the theory of art and all types of print making. While, it seemed I was going away from my original plan as book illustrator (in a good way) ; I did continue to study the art of book illustration, jackets and design. I looked closely at the works of wood engravers and print-makers of the middle 19th century to middle 20th.
I would like to begin illustrating to use and develop my new found skills.
However this is easier said than done! My art did begin with Peter but it was more to do with the painful space in my ‘being’ that remained when motherhood was not a full-time option. Being a new artist has been a comfortable alternative. Stepping out of the comfort zone and to show my finished work (if that were to happen) is a bit daunting.
I have shown my rather juvenile works in local shows but now I would like to expand a bit; today I am meeting with other illustrators and graphic artists where we can share knowledge and experiences.
A week or so ago the Museum here at the MERL closed for refurbishment. However, the Reading Room and Special Collections have been functioning as normal. Although if I was honest I have been wasting a little time in the name of ‘work’
On Tuesday I popped into the Studio where a group of art students from a local school were painting some of the ‘not so rare’ items from our collections as part of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award. I didn’t record there wonderful achievements (not so polite perhaps at the time) but I will return and with their permission …
The next day I learned the delights of Gifmaker and look forward to practicing, and using it as a way to promote the library and the museum while it is closed.
I also learned about Tumblr, another den of procrastination if ever I saw one! Nonetheless it was a fun way to spend an hour in the working day.
So while I have no images to demonstrate any of the above probably a best strategy if my line manager is watching; here is a snapshot from the museum that was.
I was a bit premature last week with my blog post for which I apologise. So I will will post a ‘Y’ for the Brave Old Duke of York this week instead.
Oh! the brave old Duke of York,
He had ten thousand men;
He march them to the top of the hill,
And marched them down again.
And when they were up, they were up,
And when they were down, they were down,
And when they were only half way up,
They were neither up nor down.
The author, who is unknown was set on giving Frederick Duke of York a bad name. The hill in question may have been Mount Cassel in Belgium ; but the Duke never went there. He was associated with the Flanders and Helder campaigns where the countryside is very flat and there are no hills nearby.
It suggested that the jiggle compares with another rhyme ‘the King of France went up a hill with forty thousand men’ and considers that a detractor of the Duke adapted the old song to malign him.’ This was an unkind gesture as it would seem the Brave Old Duke was popular with his troops