An occasional newsletter

Hinton Charterhouse, Bath, UK

 April 2007


a note about the
Exhibition in Venice

where the original watercolours from The Bricks of Venice were on show

Palazzo delle Prigioni, Venice, Italy
10-28 January 2007

In January there was an exhibition in Venice of the original watercolours by Peter Harris from his The Bricks of Venice. January is not an obvious time to visit La Serenissima but we have been there often enough to know that, whatever the time of year and whatever the weather, you will not be disappointed.

The Circolo Artistico di Venezia has fine premises in what must be one of the prime locations in the city, the Palazzo delle Prigioni in Venice, right next to the Bridge of Sighs. As well as a large sala used for concerts they have a smaller room to the side that is used for art exhibitions. Through Venetian friends of the Harris family (the Harrises lived there for seven years), the Circolo kindly agreed to host the exhibition. We arrived a few days earlier and assisted in hanging the sixty-six watercolours which had arrived - of course - by boat from England. There was a private view with, naturally, prosecco and canapés on the first evening and, after some speeches about Peter Harris and his work, the doors to the exhibition were thrown open. We had taken a copy of the book for the opening evening. You can find pictures of the exhibition at our website.


a note about the art fair
Modern Works on Paper

where The Old School Press exhibited


 'Covered!' at Modern Works on Paper
Royal Academy of Arts, London
1-4 February 2007

About two weeks beforehand, the organisers of the Modern Works on Paper art fair at the Royal Academy of Arts in London, decided to open one of the rooms to ten presses, and The Old School Press was amongst them. We were fortunate in being able to say 'yes' at short notice.

Do you remember the joke (now rather politically incorrect, but I continue ...) about the two shoe salesmen who went on a sales trip to a primitive country. One telegraphed back (this is an old joke) 'terrible news, no-one here wears shoes'. The other telegraphed back 'Great news, no-one here wears shoes'. This was of course the situation at this exhibition. The opportunity was to get books in front of a new audience.

We had a spacious and well-lit room, though four days of immersion in fluorescent lighting was exhausting for the exhibitors. It was essentially a cul-de-sac - the room at the end of the road - so it was fascinating watching the reactions of those coming to the threshold from the main galleries. Visitors reached that point after traversing the conventional galleries, with their sparse pictures on white walls, prices in the tens of thousands, and salespeople in suits. Suddenly they were confronted with what at first glance must have looked like a bring-and-buy sale in year 3's classroom. There were two distinct reactions: the turn-on-the-heels and the cautious frown. Those that survived the initial shock and ventured in were invariably heard to utter the words 'I never realised people were making such beautiful books any more' as they went from stand to stand, smiling. There was general amazement at the fact that you could acquire art in a finely printed book for the price of a decent dinner for two. Sales were good and, importantly, to new customers.


a note about the
Codex Book Fair

where The Old School Press exhibited

CODEX Foundation Book Fair & Symposium
Berkeley, California, USA
13-15 February 2007

The newly-formed CODEX Foundation  held an ambitious Book Fair and Symposium in Berkeley, California in February. For a first shot it was very well organised and a great tribute to leading light Peter Koch and his team. Location and arrangements went smoothly, and it was a great opportunity to meet North American customers and a wide variety of book-makers from around the world. Representing the UK were Gregynog, Impact, Old Stile, Incline, Righton, Fox Ash, and The Old School, as well as Harmatan and Bookmarc Leathers.

Our principal reason for going was of course the two days of the Book Fair, but the Symposium offered some respite from the heavy business of selling books. Sarah Bodman from the University of West of England gave a conspectus of book arts in the UK which left me wondering why there was not more interaction between the people she was describing (who, if I had heard of them at all, I only knew from the UWE Book Arts Newsletter) and the sort of people who exhibit at the Oxford Fine Press Book Fair. If I told you that the next speaker, Felipe Ehrenberg ('Cutting and pasting: metaphor for life'), was Mexico’s Cultural Attaché to Brazil you would get entirely the wrong idea. Demonstrating that the Zapata moustache lives on, though now greying, Ehrenberg took the opportunity to contrast our mundane lives as computer consultants and printers with his, covering book installations, establishing community presses in Mexico and Nicaragua and the Beau Geste press in the UK, producing performance pieces, and (as it sounds) a lifetime of heavy smoking.

I skipped the panel discussion on 'Integrating the Arts of the Book in the Academic Curriculum', but one other lecture I did attend was Robert Bringhurst's 'Spiritual Geometry, the book as a work of art'. Such titles rather put me off but it was well worth going, offering more insight per minute than all the academics put together. I look forward to reading his lecture when it is published. I have no intention of trying to summarise it here!


a note about
Other Recent and Forthcoming Exhibitions

where The Old School Press is appearing

Fine Press Book Exhibition
Chapel Row Gallery, Bath, UK
3-20 March 2007


Contemporary Craft Fair
Bovey Tracey, UK
8-10 June 2007


Oxford Fine Press Book Fair
Oxford, UK
3-4 November 2007

From the 3rd to the 20th March 2007, there was an exhibition of fine press books at Chapel Row Gallery, on Chapel Row, Queens Square, Bath. The FPBA helped to organise the work of about 20-25 presses for this exhibition which was timed to overlap the Bath Literary Festival.

We exhibited at this very high quality craft fair for the first time last year. We had a great time and made some new friends and customers. We shall be there again in 2007 - it makes an excellent day out - do think about coming along if you are anywhere near Devon!

It might feel a long way off, but now's the time to get the 2007 Oxford Fine Press Book Fair into your new diary - be sure not to arrange anything else that weekend!



Spring cleaning

from my own collection

I have a number of items that I am selling from my own collection at very reasonable prices.

Postage and packing is extra, at cost. If you are interested in buying any, please contact me by email and we can arrange things. You will find this list at my website where there are also photos of some of the items.

  • Monotype News Letter 71, 1963, 16pp (including paper cover), no inserts, including articles on The Imprint and IPEX. Very good. £3
  • Another Victorian type-family ideally suited to modern needs, Stephenson Blake type catalogue, pencil dated 1959. 16pp (including paper cover) of type specimens of Latins and Chisels. Very good. £5
  • Versions and Diversion, D S Macnutt, for Christ's Hospital, 1964, printed by Will Carter. Dusty and bumped but internally VG. £10
  • Midsummer's Dream, A Idyll, Proctor Patterson Jones, 1972, printed by Grabhorn-Hoyem, patterned cover. Spine label tatty, else VG. The picture shows the spine label in an inset. £12
  • A Printer and his World, Corrigan, Faber, 1st ed, 1944. Chipped and spotted dw, clean internally. £5
  • La Suisse Pittoresque, Jules Gourdault, Hachette, Paris 1890. Sixth edition. 320pp, 134 engravings. Full leather binding, marbled eps, some gold tooling, a little rubbed, a school prize with inscription and school arms on front board. Clean inside and tight. £30

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Copyright © Martyn Ould 2007.