Nomad Letterpress's 2020 Vision is a beautiful achievement, says (not at all biased) Griselda Heppel
There I was, thinking that I’m the writer in the family (my next book is on the way, honest) when my dear husband goes and produces a book of his own. In fact, if the precious lockdown hadn’t descended, the book, 2020 Vision, would have been launched at the Oxford Fine Press Book Fair in March. Which is a strong clue to the kind of book it is, the most beautiful kind, produced by Nomad Letterpress at the Whittington Press. No photolithography or digital stuff here. This is traditional printing by hand, requiring immense skill, painstaking work and an overriding love of the book as an art form in itself.
Not that my husband actually did any of this (though he used to produce his school magazine by letterpress back in the day, so has some knowledge of the craft). He – along with Pete Lawrence, a gifted wood engraver and graphic designer – merely had the idea for the book. The Society of Wood Engravers celebrates its centenary this year 2020 and Nigel, a lover rather than practiser of the art, dreamt up the idea with Pete of creating a book featuring one work each from 19 contemporary wood engravers, each of whom would choose a
work from an artist who had inspired them, adding a couple of paragraphs to say why.
|Collector's choice: Magnolia by Peter Holland |
and Threshing by John Nash
The 20th position fell to Nigel as collector, who picked two artists he particularly admires, one of whom, Peter Holland, set him off on his love for the medium when he was still a child. Biased as I am, my husband’s account of how he’d watch Peter (father of his best friend) at work, using his fascinating collection of tools – scorpers, spitstickers and such – to create flowing compositions of magnolias, hop fields and many other natural scenes, is one of the most
engaging parts of the book. It was Peter who encouraged Nigel’s interest as a collector, inspiring him, age 11, to travel up to Sackville Street in London and use his pocket money of a few shillings to buy his first wood engraving (below).
|Splendid use of an 11 year-old's pocket money|
The end result of so much skill, dedication and artistry, from the 19 wood engravers to Pat Randle and his team at Nomad Press to bookbinder Roger Grech, who handbound every copy, is 2020 Vision: an extraordinarily beautiful book.
Great and influential
|Places by Paul Nash|
artists of the past such as Thomas Bewick, Clare Leighton, John and Paul Nash, Gertrude Hermes, Monica Poole and Henry Moore feature alongside leading contemporary wood engravers Simon Brett, Harry Brockway, Anne Desmet, Pete Lawrence, Hilary Paynter and many others.
|Stonehenge by Gertrude Hermes|
Particularly pleasing is the fact that despite the missed launch, 2020 Vision has had no trouble attracting the attention of book collectors all over the world, and more than half the print run of 340 has been sold already.