An occasional newsletter about forthcoming books and events

May 2017

This newsletter tells you about the second of four new titles that we expect to announce this year. 


a new project
Alchemy of the Planets

Images and poems inspired by planetary exploration

planned for 2017

read the next news item on this title

Right back to early childhood I was fascinated by the universe and I remember preparing with my father a very long roll of paper on which I marked the positions of the planets, to scale (I think). And I always get a thrill at the sight of any planetary mission taking off. The thought of Voyager 2 still hurtling away from our Solar System continues to make my spine tingle.

My enthusiasm is shared by British artist Philip Hughes who contacted me in 2016 to ask if we would be interested in another collaboration with him and Mexican poet and novelist Carmen Boullosa. Of course! Our previous collaboration was the successful Jump of the Manta Ray.

Alchemy of the Planets has been inspired by the wealth of images from recent missions to planets and moons within our solar system. These include the New Horizons mission which in 2015 gave us our very first close-ups of Pluto, and in 2016 the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, the Cassini-Huygens mission to Saturn (soon to end), and the probe Dawn to the dwarf planet Ceres between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter.

Philip Hughes has created a total of thirty-two works relating to twelve planetary bodies, derived from images selected from those sent back by planetary missions, as well as from the Hubble Space Telescope and the International Space Station, images of distant landscapes that have provided the source inspiration for paintings, pastels, and digital collages.

Boullosa and Hughes have collaborated before on two artist’s books in which Hughes illustrated Boullosa’s poems. This time it is Boullosa who has been inspired by Hughes’s images, producing two poetic responses, a set of short poems – Pies – and a further set of longer poems – Cantos. In order to develop more clearly the association between the pictures of the planets and their moons and the names attributed to various celestial bodies, she researched into mythology, beginning by re-reading Hesiod’s Theogony and studying the rituals attached to their worship as described in his Orphic Hymns. In turn Psiche Hughes has worked closely with these texts to create an intimate translation. The Spanish and English texts sit together on the page, facing Philip’s image.

Here is one of Philip's images, taking its inspiration from materials returned by the 1996 Magellan spacecraft to Venus:

I want the construction of this book to bring together technology and art, so expect something a little different from the usual codex! The text will be hand-set in Hunt Roman and we shall be using heavy Somerset and Arches papers throughout. Philip's images will be printed here at The Old School Press on our eight-colour Epson 3800 printer. It will be a small edition.

We are happy to take expressions of interest now. Further details and prices will be announced in a future newsletter.

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Copyright © Martyn Ould 2017