Working Visit 2

 

Hohenstaufen at dawn

Hohenstaufen at dawn

In late September I drove down south for another working visit to my studio. This time I was staying short of two weeks. It was all working with metal type and ink and paper. It was composing, printing and cutting to size. Incredibly wonderful to be back.

work-visit-2-workplace

First thing I learned: there was a stretch of intense road works in a village nearby so I had to use a divertion to get to my studio every day. In fact I had to drive all the way through what is called „Schurwald“ here. It is the mountainous and wooded area with small villages I had been living in for so long. I always liked this spot best in autumn. There are a lot of meadows with fruit trees and in autumn these trees turn very colourful with deep bright reds and yellows.

work-visit-2-autumn-fruittrees

During the dramatic storm in the late 1990s most of the fir trees in the forests had fallen. They had been planted for commercial reasons only and were not a good match for the climatic and soil conditions here. At last, this lesson was learned and now the forests are mostly decidous with beech and hornbeam, oak and ash and the occasional birch tree. This makes an incredibly beautiful scenery in autumn when all the leaves turn different colours. We did have the odd two or three first cold nights that kicked off the process. Over the days I was staying the forests gradually shifted from mostly green to red and ochre and vivid orange.

work-visit-2-buildingworks

Next thing I learned, there were building works going on beyond my studio. From the moment I moved in there in February 2004 I had had a stunning view throughout all seasons. Everybody who came dropped their jaws at the sight. Now there are all sorts of building machines and soon there’ll be houses and industrial estates taking the place.

Fountain at the former monastry Adelberg

Fountain at the former monastry Adelberg

One of the small villages I had to go through while commuting is called Adelberg. Until into the first half of the 19th century ist was called Hundsholz (Dog’s Wood). Adelberg was the name of a small monastry. But from 1851 the village dropped Hundsholz and took on the monastry’s name. The monastry was founded in 1178. During the 16th century it was a Protestant convent school. One of its students should become famous, it was Johan Kepler. Many of the old buildings including the chapel are still in very good condition, and the wall around the perimeter is so too.

Chapel at the old monastry

Chapel at the old monastry

monastry-wall

Sun rising next to mountain Hohenstaufen as seen from the old monastry

Sun rising next to mountain Hohenstaufen as seen from the old monastry

The place has a stunning view, good soil conditions for farming and comparatively high amounts of rain. It is high up on the ridge of the eastern part of Schurwald. The monastry had possessions as far as into the town of Göppingen. What houses the public library there today used to be the granary of the monastry. Nearer by, just down the hill there is „Herrenmühle“. The old mill has been turned into a restaurant many years ago. In 2012, when we had an arctic spell in February, and the bitter cold was lasting some two weeks, the old millwheel was covered in thick crusts of ice.

work-visit-2-metaltype

work-visit-2-print

But it was not sight seeing I had come for. I wanted to make my new book. I had done as much planning as possible. I wanted to handset the text, print the sheets and cut everything to size in the studio. I’ll be doing the binding once I am back in our new preliminary home, it’ll be a non-adhesive form of binding. And also I had to get all my prints and books. I had taken a break from attending fairs for a couple of months. With being part of Whittington Day in early September I was joining in again. And by the end of October I’ll be touring venues again, at last. The Fine Press Book Fair in Oxford will be the first indoor venue for me after a very long time. The next will be 5th Book Arts in Weimar (November 28-29) followed by the 11th Fine Press Fair in Hamburg (January 15-17).

work-visit-2-hotoff

My new book will be all about the theme that is so very predominant in my life and has been so for the past couple of years: away-ness. It will be out hot off the press at the fair in Oxford. So if you’re anywhere near Oxford’s Gipsy Lane at October 31 or November 1 pop in at Brookes University and have a look around.

work-visit-2-keepsake

work-visit-2-press-sign

 

As I write this, we are preparing for the first days with early frost to come. On our balcony I replaced the tired petunias with decorative cabbages in whites and purple, joining some late lavender flowers. The coriander has long gone.

My Books 2000-2015 – Part 2: Typographic Books

 

Fernöstliches Schmausbuch

Fernöstliches Schmausbuch

 

I consider myself lucky in that I have a huge stock of metal type to work with. I started off with two cases of metal type way back in 1998. One was Victor Hammer’s Uncial, the other was a well filled case of 10 pt Optima. Over the past years the stock grew to around 100 founts. It really is a treat to have so much choice. However, when it comes to relocating this will make up for a heavy load.

schmausbuch-lebenskraft

The first typographic book I made was a cookbook. As you can imagine, it was unusual in many ways. I love cooking, I enjoy philosophy and I am fascinated by founts. This easily sums up to a cookbook with philosophical texts, designed using a variety of different founts.

schmausbuch-art-der-tiere

All recipes in the book are of Asian style in that exotic spices like ginger, cinnamon or curry are used. And all recipes are accompanied by an aphorism or a philosophical tale taken from Asian wisdom, like the thoughts and writings of Confucius and many others (with one ancient Roman thinker having wormed himself in). All the philosophical texts are in some way or other to do with eating and drinking or with what people relish. The book comes with some 20 recipes, printed with some 30 different founts. I printed the book in 2002 and I used most of the metal and wood type I had on stock back then.

deckled edge paper in the colours of cinnamon and ginger

deckled edge paper in the colours of cinnamon and ginger

The recipes, of course, are those we used ourselves. It is quick as well as sumptuous meals, vegetarian dishes as well as some with fish or meat, and there is one dessert right at the end of the book. I used Zerkall deckled edge paper for the book in the colours of cinnamon and ginger refering to the ingredients used in the recipes.

Peacock cover

Peacock cover

There were three different covers, made from specially chosen fabric related to the recipes’ ingredients. One cover fabric was striped in the colours of exotic spices, one was a brown-beige fabric with a pattern resembling the ornaments on blankets used on elephants, and one was a chocolate brown fabric with a very sophisticated design of peacocks, whose home is in Asia and India. The book sold out a couple of years ago.

 

book-mirabeau-cover-DSE9558

My second typographical book is a response to the beginning of the war in Iraq in 2003. I came across a speech of Honoré Gabriel Riquetti, comte de Mirabeau. He delivered this speech on August 22nd in 1789. It is on religious tolerance. Of course, back in those times, it would all be about the hostilities between Roman Catholics and Lutheran Protestants. But it can be read in a far wider sense. Basically, what Mirabeau says here holds true for all sorts of religious thoughts and the strains between them. The quintessence is that we all can co-exist. We can be braod-minded towards other peoples’ religion and still sleep peacefully. There is no need for killing each other for religious reasons.

book-mirabeau-DSE9563

Taking into account that Mirabeau was an 18th century person I chose Baskerville for the text, as it is an 18th century design. I used paste paper as endpapers. The pattern is an 18th century style made by Susanne Krause in Hamburg, who specialised in making paste paper for restauration purposes. The cover is made from an African batik fabric. The design has been printed by hand on a delicate damasc fabric. The book comes in an edition of 16 copies, one of which is still for sale.

book-mirabeau-finis-DSE9564

Mirabeau had been involved in the process of discussing and designing the Declaration of Human Rights. That was the particular context in which he delivered his speech on religious tolerance.

menschen-wuerde-rechte

In 2005 I chose a number of articles from that declaration and made an exclusively typographic book. There was only one fount I could think of using for this book: Futura, as austere as beautiful. I wanted this book to be special in a number of aspects. I wanted its character to mirror the long-term validity of the articles in the declaration. I wanted the book to have something sovereign to it; it was to express duration and hope. First of all I chose a strong paper of green colour, since green is the shade of hope. I printed on it the grain of an old weathered wooden board, rubbing it off by hand. In this grain every single year the tree has been living has materialised, thus it is like time becoming observable. I printed the text from Futura to stand strong for itself. I gave the book a cover from kingly red silk, expressing its sovereignity. And I made the book a concertina folding whose pages can be turned and turned endlessly. While turning the pages the book will be set in motion like if it had a life in itself. Additionally, the book can be stood on a plinth. The book’s title is „Menschen Würde Rechte“ (Men Dignity Rights), it is an edition of five. The work was accepted at the new Bibliotheca Alexandrina in Egypt for their second Biennial of the Artist’s Book in 2006. One copy is part of their collection.

manarah-human-rights

In 2009 I became aware of the activities of the al-Mutanabbi Street coalition when I met Sarah Bodman at the book fair in Hamburg. Almost instantly I joined in with their broadside project. In 2011 there was a call for artists to join the „An Inventory Of Al-Mutanabbi Street“ project. I developed the idea of the magazine-like works by the title „Manarah“. I had been doing research around this theme for some time, following the Swiss voting against minarets being built within their country. Manarah is an old Arabic term describing a place that sheds light, literally and in a wider sense. In ancient times this would have been something like a signpost or a lighthouse or whatever device to guide people on their journeys. However, over the centuries this term would develop into what we now know as minaret, the typical tower of a mosque.

Manarah - Issues 1 to 3

Manarah – Issues 1 to 3

My work „Manarah“ resembles a magazine. I decided to have three issues. Each issue is a collection of poetry on a special theme: war, time and love. Alltogether they span a period of some 400 years of human thinking about these themes. As this work is partly in German and partly in English it will be described in the upcoming post dealing with all my works related in whatever way to the English language. There is a special blogpost in the category „Artist’s Books“ dating from December 2012 describing „Manarah“.

 

Poetical Rose Book

Poetical Rose Book

My Poetical Rose Books are utterly different in almost every respect, and they were deliberately designed to be that way. The most normal about them probably is their binding. Depending on their size they come with either seven or nine poems. All poems are dealing with roses in one way or another. And all poems are written by well known German poets like Heine, Hoelderlin, Theodor Storm and colleagues. The total number of pages in each book varies according to size and making between around 90 and 152. Understandably these books come with a good number of blank pages each.

Poetical Rose Book

Poetical Rose Book

Poetical Rose Book

Poetical Rose Book

Each book is meant to be completed by its owner. There are many ways this can be done. Gardeners fond of roses could use the book as their garden diary. It could be used as guestbook on a special occasion like a wedding anniversary. People writing poetry themselves could fill the pages between the printed poems with their own poetry. These books are a series of 20 one-offs. Every book’s cover is made from a special fabric with a design related to roses. Every book is unique.

 

tucholsky-DSD_3413

My artist’s book about Kurt Tucholsky is a very special work without doubt. It is purely typographic apart from there having been used some old clishees. There is a special blogpost dating back to July 2014 when there was an article on the book in Matrix 32, plus another one dating back to December 2012 in the category „Artist’s Books“ describing the work.

Mir fehlt ein Wort (I lack the word)

Mir fehlt ein Wort (I lack the word)

I fell for Tucholsky’s writings way back in the 1980s when still a student. He was a writer and essayist in Weimar Republic. His mastering the German language is outstanding. He saw a second World War coming. He opposed Hitler’s party as much he could. His writings are as relevant and disturbing today as they were back in the 1920s and 1930s. He pointed out that socialists and communists faced much more severe sentencing at court than conservatives and fascists. He described how economic networks, particularly concerning the fire arms industry, had their own notion about wars paying off for them. He pointed out that as these industries made their profit by selling weapons, they quite naturally had a dislike for peace. He got stripped off his citizenship by the Nazis in 1933 and took his own live two years later in his Swedish exile.

tucholsky-Ms-Lenin

The very special feature of the book is that it is entirely made of spoiled sheets. The idea being that a young printer had collected those spoils from the waste bin at his Berlin printing office and taken them home to make a good read. He’d collected the texts he liked most in three portfolios. After him fleeing Germany for America in 1933 these portfolios end up on the desks of the Nazi party and thus were turned into files used for prosecuting and expatriating Kurt Tucholsky.

 

Meine Worte fallen wie Steine (My Words Fall Like Stones)

Meine Worte fallen wie Steine (My Words Fall Like Stones)

My so far newest book is entirely typographic. Also, it is of a very experimental sort of typography. Contrary to that typography originally is supposed to aid and support reading and understanding the text, here typography impedes reading, it disrupts and interferes with understanding.

book-meine-worte-DSE_7399

This specific typography wants to make aware of our preoccupations. It wants to make us learn that we so often do not read what is written or printed but instead what meets our expectations. We are unaware of us being convinced we know the text without reading it. We reckon we can guess, and we rely on our guess being correct. The book comprises of 14 postcard-like prints. Each of them comes with one sentence. Next to the sentence a name and a year are given. All sentences have been spoken to me in real at one point in my life, in some sort of context. The context, of course, is not revealed. Readers are free to make up their own ideas of what sort of context this might have been or could be. The books are sewn in a modified way of Japanese binding. The cards are printed on a rather aged quality of brown cardboard. Covers are made from strong cardboard material in different colours. The book’s title is „Meine Worte fallen wie Steine“ (My words fall like stones). It is a series of 12 one-offs. These books are not numbered nor are they signed.

card-meine-worte-DSE9567

card-meine-worte-DSE9572

 

There is a blogpost dating from December 2012 by the title „My Type“ which in a way is about my stock of metal type.

My Books 2000-2015 – Part 1: Books with Pictures

 cumbria-book

Since I have started making books, I have made small books and large ones, illustrated books and typographic ones. There has been the classic handsewn hardcover as well as experimental bindings and concertinas. It is a total of 18 books I published between 2001 and 2015. Generally, all my books are limited editions, copies are signed and numbered and usally blind embossed. The choice to make this book rather than another for me is a very personal one. Basically, I choose subjects for two main reasons: because they appeal to me as such and for the wider context in which they stand.

There will be three posts about the books I have made so far. This first part will be about my books coming with illustrations. In a later post I shall describe the typographic books, and in a separate post the books that have a relation to Britain and the English language.

 

Little Niak - special edition

Little Niak – special edition

My very first book tells the the story of „Little Niak“. The book itself was published in 2001. However, the story is much older. I wrote it way back in 1986, when my goddaughter still was a little girl. The story was written to be read to her at bedtime.

Little Niak - title page

Little Niak – title page

I had just got back from a trip to Sweden in summer 1986. We had been hiking in pretty remote places in Lapland. It was all far off any beaten tracks. In fact, it was far off any sort of track. We had been staying kind of in the middle of nowhere for some weeks. The scenery was stunning, to say the least. There was no kind of shelter apart from the tents we were carrying. It was a very special experience. When I got back there was this story in my head about a chap hiking in remote Lapland, exploring a cave while taking shelter from severe weather. In there he meets Niak and learns that this wee little guy is in charge of our weather. In fact, little Niak is the chef cooking our weather in his very special weather kitchen. So, after having delivered a heavy hail storm to the outside, the two guys sit by the fire, have a cup of tea and chat along about the recipes for snow and hail and the process of preparing the different sorts of weather for the different corners of this earth.

Little Niak - endpapers made from individually made decorated paper

Little Niak – endpapers made from individually made decorated paper

The book is a small size landscape format. I made 4 woodcuts showing the landscape of Swedish Lapland. The woodcuts run all along the bottom edge of all pages in the book and they run straight through the fold. The text is hand set from a fount of Baskerville we had cast ourselves on the Monotype machines at a colleague’s. It was an edition of ten copies and has sold out a couple of years ago. The covers of the special edition have been made from African hand batik fabric.

 

Der Frosch und seine Frau

Der Frosch un syne Fru

I have a pretty large number of books with fairy tales on my shelves. Many come from my aunt’s, who had been collecting books with fairy tales from all over the world almost all her life and left the books to me. I myself have grown up with the classics not only by the brothers Grimm but also by Anderson, Bechstein, Perrault and others. Then somebody suggested I might make a book about frogs. Instantly I had the idea of re-writing one of the Grimms’ tales. One of their very classics is the tale of the fisherman and his wife. She is described as a voracious character, never satisfied. The book that grew from this idea is „The Frog and His Spouse“. It tells the story of an old frog who goes looking for a wife one last time and gets it all wrong. Being old and short sighted he chooses a warty toad who turns out to be insatiable.
The book is a small portrait format from outside, but landscape format inside and comes with two woodcuts. One is inside the book the other one is the cover itself, with the woodcut being printed on a bright green cover cloth. The text is hand set from Akzidenz Grotesk, Memphis is used for the headlines. I chose a paper with a nice decent waterline structure, somewhat resembling the small ripples on the surface of a lake touched by the wind. The book is an edition of 16 and was published in 2003. It is one of the last two books I made in the old place at Ebersbach, where I had started as a book artist originally. I moved out there only a few months after the book was finished.

 

Das Nusszweiglein

Das Nusszweiglein

Das Nusszweiglein - endpaper and folded sheets

Das Nusszweiglein – endpaper and folded sheets

Ludwig Bechstein was a 19th century writer and librarian born in Weimar. He is known for collecting fairy tales and legends, his own writings are virtually forgotten. Like the brothers Grimm’s books his works have become classical compilations of long told tales and are part of many family libraries. In 2007 I decided to turn one of Bechstein’s tales into an artist’s book. I chose „Das Nusszweiglein“ (The Little Twig from the Nut Tree). The tale tells of a bargain, a curse and a transformation, and it is about confidence and trustfulness – and love.

Walnut leaves embedded in silk paper

Walnut leaves embedded in silk paper

The book is printed on a green-grey deckled edge paper with wavey waterlines. I made five illustrations. They are lino etchings. One of them is a portrait of Ludwig Bechstein going with his biography. Each book comes with two walnut leaves embedded in silk paper. All text is hand set from a variety of metal type all of the same size of 20 pt. All founts are named in the back in the order of their appearance in the book. Founts used change from page to page. The standard edition is bound in a fabric with bear motif, in the special edition an African batik fabric was used for the cover. All books come in a wooden box. The book is an edition of 12, commemorating the 12 years our wonderful dog had been staying with us. She had passed away in 2006 aged almost 14.

 

 

Die Schöne Lau - 16 unique blue covers

Die Schöne Lau – 16 unique blue covers

In 2009 my studio was 10 years old. The jubilee book was to be a special version of a very old tale. The story itself is very well known in Swabia, the region my studio was located.  It is part of a book written by Eduard Moerike, a 19th century poet and clergyman. The tale of „Beautiful Lau“ is about a water nymph being expelled by her husband for only having still born children. She has to overcome a curse by laughing five times, one time she is not allowed to become aware of it. A vital part in the tale plays a small piece of lead coming from a wizard and being full of witchcraft. There is a tongue twister about it that makes beautiful Lau laugh. The Swabian term for it is „Kloetzle Blei“ (little nugget of lead), which basically is the name I gave my studio. As for my studio it refers to the metal type I use for printing, each character being a little nugget of lead, that can work wonders when used in the right way.

Die Schöne Lau - poster broadside

Die Schöne Lau – poster broadside

I transformed the tale of beautiful Lau into a broadside ballad. The book itself is a concertina folding. The tale adds up to a total of 19 stanzas. It is written to be sung with a very well known tune of an old ballad. During the jubilee event a ballad monger came with her hurdy gurdy and we performed the song in the classic way with me standing on a bench and pointing out with a stick the scenes on the poster broadside that is part of the work. The broadside is a linocut coloured by hand with water colours. The text in the book is printed on strong blue paper and the concertina is made in a way that it kind of pours out of the cover like a well flowing over. The book is an edition of 16.  All books have covers made from blue fabric, but every cover is unique. The special edition comes with a portfolio containing the poster broadside, a bamboo pointing stick, the poster announcing the jubilee plus one nugget of metal type with the number of the copy tied to the portfolio.  It is up to the owner to find out about the magic powers it might carry.

Die Schöne Lau - portfolio (part of the special edition)

Die Schöne Lau – portfolio (part of the special edition)

 

There was a scandal in 2009. It might not have grown into a scandal had it not happend during the silly season. Somebody had bought a pack of rocket and while unpacking it he had found some herb of the wrong sort. He could have chosen to just sort it out and throw it away.  But he did not so. He sent it to a laboratory and it was identified as being a poisonous plant, and that was, where the scandal took of.  It resulted in a number of very specialised gardeners’ businesses almost going broke as people virtually stopped buying rocket.  The herb found has an appaling taste. Normally you would just not eat it.

Rucola

Rucola

The book inspired by this incident was „Rocket – who has found this?“ and it was published in 2010. It describes 21 plants in text and images that could be mistaken for rocket – well, more or less. The illustrations are linocuts showing the outlines of the leaves. On the bottom of the page describing the respective plants there is a scale showing whether the plant can be eaten or is considered poisenous. There is a sachet pasted to the inside back cover containing dried rocket leaves. The book is sewn through the back with black thread.

Rucola - title page

Rucola – title page

The book is all about taking responsibility for oneself, for ones own health and life and for the risks one decides to take. It comes with a quote of Immanuel Kant’s quintessential proposition based on the old Latin advice “sapere aude!”. There is a standard edition of 15 copies (Arabic numbers), and a special edition of ten copies (Roman numbers), the latter coming with a poster with all 21 linocuts.  Being a trained botanist I thoroughly enjoyed making this book. It is dedicated to our late friend and talented Blues musician Harald Goldhahn who died far too young just before Christmas in 2009, the very time when this book was in the making.

Rucola

Rucola

 

So far I have made two more illustrated books. One is „Cumbria“ (Image on top of this post) and the other one „Woods in Winter“ (image below). Both books are completely in English and will be part of an extra blogpost covering those of my works that have a British background. So stay tuned, there is more to come.

woods-in-winter

Fairs I’ve been part of so far

 

Turn The Page 2013, Norwich (UK)

Turn The Page 2013, Norwich (UK)

For the time being I am stuck in the middle of the process of relocating. As a first step I have moved away from my studio to live in Westfalia, and find myself now separated from my workplace for an indefinite period of time. This seems to be the perfect moment to look back and recall how things have evolved. This particular post is all about the fairs I have been part of so far. It is not about all the fairs I’ve been to, as you can  imagine, but about many of them. You might find it somewhat odd that from 2012 onwards I have not attended as much fairs as before. This is nothing to do with the respective fairs. This is for the simple reason of a lack of time due to the relocating process waving its flag from afar at me for quite a while already.

 

Turn The Page in Norwich (UK)

Turn The Page 2013, Norwich (UK)

Turn The Page 2013, Norwich (UK)

In 2014 and 2013 I had been admitted to exhibit at Turn The Page artists’ book fair in Norwich. The fair is held in the glass roofed entrance hall of The Forum each year in early May. The impressive building also houses the public library, the Tourist Information, a café, and on the upper floor an Italian restaurant, plus the rooms of the BBC. It is a vibrant meeting point right in the city’s centre. Just across the street is the Market with its colourful stalls offering almost everything from baked potatoes to second hand clothing. To the left and across the street there is the old Guild Hall. It is a fascinating piece of flush work craftsmanship and houses a Caley’s Cocoa Café. It is the country’s largest civic medieval building outside London. The Forum, on the contrary, has been built on the turn from the 20th to the 21st century, on the site where the old library had burnt down in 1994. The entrance hall is a wonderful venue for this book fair. Each year a jury admitts some 35 artists to showcase their work. Exhibitors might come from as far as the US. There is a blogpost here to be found in the “Fairs and Markets” category telling what the 2013 fair was like.

 

Norddeutsche Handpressenmesse in Hamburg

Norddeutsche Handpressenmesse 2013, Hamburg

Norddeutsche Handpressenmesse 2013, Hamburg

So far I have been part of the artist’s book fair in Hamburg three times, in 2009, 2011 and 2013. The fair used to be biennial but in 2013 changed into an annual event. Exhibitors are admitted by lot – so participating is a question of good luck. But with the fair now being every year many more book artists will be able to consider themselves lucky over the years. The „Norddeutsche Handpressenmesse“ is housed in what is called the „Museum der Arbeit“. The impressive old red brick building was turned into a museum several years ago. It houses a rich collection of printing presses, metal type and equipment for type casting.  All of which is shown working by passionate and thouroughly trained volunteers to the visitors during fair times.  For this fair, too, you’ll find a separate blogpost from 2013 in the “Fairs and Markets” category.

 

Leipzig Book Fair

Leipzig Book Fair 2008

Leipzig Book Fair 2008

Leipzig has a long bookish tradition. For centuries it was home to book fairs. And nowadays with each book fair there is a more than rich programme of readings and performances in all sorts of venues throughout the city and its outskirts.  In 2008 I went there as a first time exhibitor. I presented my then new book: „Das Nusszweiglein“, a fairy tale by Ludwig Bechstein. Another new artwork I put on show there was the scriptural series „Soil Letters“. This series was inspired by Chinese calligraphy. I had taken up lessons with a Chinese teacher some time before and working with the brush in this specific way just mesmerised me. I had printed a broad side using Matthias Claudius’ poem „Song of War“. After completing the print I went over it with the brush and dye prepared from soil pigments, to give it the shades of earth and blood that go with the text. Alongside grew the idea of having the series of „Soil Letters“.

I went to Leipzig Bookfair for a second time in 2014, presenting my new book „52 Weeks“. It is a collaboration with Australian artist Marianne Midelburg and my first artist’s book using photos. For both, the book „52 Weeks“ and Leipzig Book Fair you can find specific posts on this blog in the “Photobooks” and the “Fairs and Markets” category respectively, and you’ll also find a 2014 post on “Marktplatz Druckgrafik” the young venue for printmaking artists within Leipzig Book Fair.

 

Mainzer Minipressenmesse (International Fair for Small Presses and Publishers, Mainz)

Minipressenmesse 2011, Mainz

Minipressenmesse 2011, Mainz

The first artist’s book I ever made was „Little Niak“ (Der Kleine Niak). It was out in 2001, just in time to be presented at Mainzer Minipressenmesse. This international fair for small presses in Gutenberg’s hometown Mainz is a very special event. It has a long tradition. It is held every other year (the odd numbers) and until 2011 the venue was housed in two large tents right next to the banks of river Rhine. In 2013 the organizers gave the schedule a slight brush-over. The event is now a few weeks later, in June, plus it moved from the tents into Rheingold Hall, which is only a few yards further into town. The tents are being sadly missed by some exhibitors for their make-shift character, which certainly was special. However, there have been years when there was a serious risk of flooding from the nearby river. And there have been severe thunderstorms which have not been very pleasant to sit out in just a tent, even a big one. So with the fair being indoors now both, exhibitors and visitors can get their heads down on the books and prints and publications without keeping one eye glued to the floor in case water comes rushing in.
I have been showcasing my work here on quite a regular basis until 2011.

 

Druck & Buch, Erlangen (Print & Book, Erlangen)

Druck & Buch 2009, Erlangen

erlangen-poetenfest

Every year in late August Erlangen invites people who love reading to come to their traditional „Poets’ Festival“ (Poetenfest).  The event comes with a rich programme of readings and performances. It is considered to give the opportunity for something like a „sneak pre-listen“ to some of the new and upcoming titles in autumn. One of the venues for the readings is the huge castle right in the city centre. The photo above shows the castle’s front facing the park which, too, is a venue for readings, with people sitting under the large trrees outdoors. During the final weekend of the Poets’ Festival the entrance hall of the castle houses a fair for artist’s books called „Print & Book“ (Druck & Buch). As it is not a big space only some 24 exhibitors will be able to show their works. I have been part of this event from 2009 to 2012.

 

Künstlerbuchmesse Klaffenbach (Artists’ Book Fair in Klaffenbach)

Artist's Book Fair at Castle Klaffenbach 2010, Chemnitz

Künstlerbuchmesse auf Schloß Klaffenbach 2010, Chemnitz

Just outside the city of Chemnitz there is a beautiful moarted castle. Castle Klaffenbach houses an artists’ book fair. The old castle is a very nice venue with a lot of carefully restored, charming rooms where books and prints can be shown to the visitors in a very special atmosphere. With each fair there is an award given to one artist chosen by a jury, the Von-Taube award. I have been at Klaffenbach in 2010 and 2012.

 

Frankfurt Book Fair

Frankfurt Book Fair 2010

Frankfurt Book Fair 2010

Frankfurt Book Fair used to have the „Place of Book Art“ (Platz der Buchkunst) for a period of 10 years, but sadly gave up on doing so just the very year I went there as an exhibitor. This was back in 2010. I was presenting my brand new artist’s book on Kurt Tucholsky there. Tucholsky had taken his own life exactly 75 years earlier, in 1935. You can find more on this artist’s book in a 2013 blogpost in the “Miscellaneous” category, when there was an article on this book in “Matrix 32”.

 

Frauenfelder Buch- und Handpressenmesse, CH (Frauenfeld Book and Fine Press Fair, CH)

Frauenfeld Fine Press Book Fair 2008, Switzerland

Frauenfelder Handpressenmesse 2008, Switzerland

Frauenfeld Fine Press Book Fair 2008, Switzerland

Frauenfelder Handpressenmesse 2008, Switzerland

In autumn 2008 I went to the book fair in Frauenfeld, Switzerland. This, too, is a biennial fair (in the even numbered years) organized by Atelier Bodoni. The town of Frauenfeld is not far from the German-Swiss border. The fair is called Frauenfeld Book and Fine Press Fair (Frauenfelder Buch- und Handpressenmesse). It is in quite a special venue: an old ironworks with a very specific flair. This was my first ever fair abroad.

In late October I shall be exhibiting at the Fine Press Book Fair in Oxford. In 2011 I had been a visitor there.  Save the date – it is very much worth while going there. And if you can spare a few days more, stay on and pay a visit to the city’s many treasures, such as the Bodleian Library.

Fine Press Book Fair 2011, Oxford (UK)

Fine Press Book Fair 2011, Oxford (UK)

OxfordFinePressBookFair2015-q

 

 

 

 

Working Visit + Fairs to Come

 

Working visit

Working visit

We’ve still not found a suitable place to put all my printing and bookbinding gear in. Commissions started coming in. There’ll be fairs to go to from early September onwards; good reasons for a working visit in my studio. On July 8th I was headed south.

Hohenstaufen from the workplace

Hohenstaufen from the workplace

I was back at my old place after a six hours drive over summerly motorways and after having been away for almost three months. I realised, once more, what I loved this place for. It is quiet here. Friday morning was crisp and cold. I went for an early morning walk through the forest on a path well known. It was where we used to walk our dog. The old lady preferred the woods for her daily walks. She has long left us and the forest has grown dense over the years.

Forest near Wäscherschloss in summer

Forest near Wäscherschloss in summer

 

Pond with reed

Summerly rapeseed field

Just opposite the room where I was staying is a pond which is meant to be a reservoir of water in the case of a fire in the small hamlet. This pond is overgrown with reed and seemed to be filled with crickets. Their chirr filled the late hours before midnight. But in the end they might have been chirping in that field of rapeseed which, further back, was waiting for being harvested.

 

House mouse visitor 2013

House mouse visitor 2013

It was a great relief that I could not find any signs of uninvited visitors. Over the past two years mice had invited themselves in on a few occasions. They must have wandered in through the open door and decided to make themselves at home. It was house mice in 2013 and shrews in 2014. The house mice came in a group of three and turned out to be tricky to catch. The shrews came one after the other and were surprisingly cooperative. I caught them all alive and gave them a lift to some nicer place outside – far enough away from my deckled edge papers and handmade books.

However, it came as a surprise when I actually watched a sparrow flying into the studio through the open window. The little lad seemd to like the place (well, I don’t blame it) and it took me half of Friday and half of Saturday to persuade it, to go and play with its mates outdoors again.

working-folding-sheets

Folding sheets

Folded sheets

Folded sheets

working-bookblock

Working this time meant making books to order. Cutting, folding and sewing sheets. Making covers from fabric and have nice books in the end. My customers wished for books to write into, so it was all blank sheets.

Sewing book

Sewing book

working-assembling-book

 

The Cotswolds Arms

The Cotswolds Arms

Working also meant packing up artist’s books and prints to have them at hand once it comes to travel to the fairs coming up in autumn. Three dates are fixed. It shall be ferry time twice this year, going from Hoek van Holland to Harwich port again. To start with I’ll be part of Whittington Day at Whittington Press near Cheltenham (UK) on September 5th. We’ll be staying on a couple of days enjoying autumn in the Cotswolds. Last year lucky us two picked what later was said to be the warmest September on record. That was not what we came for, but we enjoyed it all the same.

The Fine Press Book Fair at Brookes University, Oxford (UK)

The Fine Press Book Fair at Brookes University, Oxford (UK)

A couple of weeks later I shall be part of the Fine Press Book Fair at Oxford’s Brookes University. The fair will be open on 31 October and 1 November. We’ll be staying on a few days again, greeting Oxford with its Bodleian Library, its gargoyles, its bookshops, the Covered Market and its coffee houses.

Bookshop Oxford

Bookshop Oxford

The next fair to come is 5th Book Arts in Weimar on 28 and 29 November. So after having had a rather long period of more than six months with no fairs at all there’ll be a few of them in quite short a period of time.

Weimar: Goethe and Schiller

Weimar: Goethe and Schiller

By Sunday morning all new books were finished and all the boxes with artist’s books and prints were safely piled up and secured in my little van. I hit the road on Sunday 12th July around 9am. It was still warm in the south. The farther north I came the cooler it got and after some 350 kilometres the downpours began. I made it back in good time.

studio-working-visit-books

Mission accomplished

As I write this it is still overcast, we did have more downpours and all the herbs and flowers on our tiny balcony are still going strong. Our basil is very tasty with fresh tomatoes of the season.

july-balcony

First days in the Northwest

 

avenue-in-spring

This second post on my Relocation Journal will fill you in about the first sequel of us moving away from the southwest and about where we are living now.

moving-books-box

We have moved to a country of red bricks, impressive trees and avenues – and horses.

red-brick-wall

trees-in-line

horses-grazing

Before leaving the southwest I paid a final visit to the Museum of Literature in Marbach/Neckar. There are two famous places called Marbach in the southwest: one is famous for its horses and one for Friedrich Schiller. This time I went to the latter. In 2006 the new museum opened and it is a stunning building designed by David Chipperfield Architects. The current exhibition is discussing the specific character of the original piece of artwork as such. It goes without saying that the show is focussing on literature and writers. The exhibit is part of their series of „essay exhibitions“ and a nice little brochure is published alongside. The show will be on until September 13th. But by then we’ll be far far away…

Literaturmuseum der Moderne, Marbach/Neckar

Literaturmuseum der Moderne, Marbach/Neckar

 

LiMo-Marbach

At last the days came when things were going to happen. When we finally cleared the flat we had sunny days and frosty nights. Gradually the impression of a lived-in dwelling trickled away as bit by bit furniture and boxes left the place and got stored in the huge container.

moving-lonely-lamp

Our tulips on the balcony had only just started to open their flowers. The pots needed to be re-homed. They travelled to my mother’s garden where they will have all the care they can wish for as my mother is a passionate gardener. Since we will not have a garden for the time being, we only kept four pots of herbs for cooking including parcel, English mint, caraway and a few varieties of thyme.

moving-rehomed-tulips

moving-rehoming-tulips-salmon

On Saturday April 25th we hit the road heading northwest. Münsterland gave us quite literally a warm welcome: it was all sunny. Stuffing our core belongings into the smaller flat (while leaving the bulk in the storage container at the movers’) was tricky but it worked out-we are now experienced.

Farmer's market in Münster

Farmer’s market in Münster

Next thing we were heading for was the farmer’s market in the city of Münster. The region is known for its tasty asparagus. The plants grow well in the sandy soils. The season has only just started and soon the strawberries will follow.

asparagus-strawberry-time

The market is spread out on the large space just in front of Münster Cathedral or known as Münster Dome. Virtually everything is decoratd neatly in the numerous stalls of the weekly market. The city of Münster is known for a wealth of things. Among them the abundance of sculptures.

muenster-bronze

 

Church inNuttuln

Church in Nottuln

We are now living in a town called Nottuln, which is part of the region called „Baumberge“. Literally translated this means „Tree Hills“. While Münsterland is basically quite flat, Baumberge is an elevation of some 187 metres above sea level. It is the highest elevation in Münsterland. Baumberge is famous for its decently yellow sandstone. First quarries have existed some 1.000 years ago already. Baumberge Sandstone has been widely used during the past couple of centuries. Both, palace and dome in Münster were made from this quality of sandstone. Johann Schlaun, an architect of the baroque era, designed the town centre of Nottuln, combining the yellow sandstone with red bricks. The building works started in 1748 and the group of houses surrounding the parish church is still being used by the local government and as the town hall.

Wesel-Datteln canal

Funnily enough, once more I am living in the vicinity of a water parting. Here basically it means some streams drain into river Rhine, others into river Ems. Both rivers are navigable waters and there are a number of canals running more or less parallel to some of the rivers with locks and canal bridges. There is a waterways crossing not far from here, which is said to be the busiest stretch of water way in the whole of Europe. It is the crossing of Wesel-Datteln-Canal with Dortmund-Ems-Canal. It connects rivers Rhein and Ems with the industries in the Ruhr District and the large ports on the northwestern coastline.

Datteln lock

Datteln lock

 

Also, not far from here and still within the region of Baumberge is a little town called Havixbeck. It is the home of famous poet Annette von Droste-Hülshoff (1797-1848). Her birth house is a moated castle in a beautiful setting and houses an exhibition on the life of „The Droste“. When visiting, you will be kindly asked to choose from the felt slippers provided in all sizes in the entry hall and put them over your shoes-as a precaution to protect the old wooden flooring and carpets.

Annette von Droste-Hülshoff

Annette von Droste-Hülshoff

 

Castle Hülshoff

Castle Hülshoff

 

And, last but not least. There are the horses. This is a region of horses and horse riding, no doubt. But there are some very special horses here and they are roaming free on grazing land not far from the town of Dülmen. These are the famous „Dülmen Wild Horses“. It is a large group of some 300 horses basically left to themselves in a nature reserve of some 350 hectars. These horses have been kept here for centuries. They have been „Endangered Livestock Breed of the Year“ in 2014. The aim is to keep the breed as original as possible. The horses are small and very tough. Once a year a small number of young stallions will be caught by hand and auctioned. This is to keep the size of the drove fairly constant and to prevent excessive fighting between stallions once they have grown up.

wildhorses-of-duelmen

 

As I write this, it is, apart from asparagus season, rapeseed bloom. The very specific scent of rapeseed flowers is in the air virtually everywhere. It is sunny and warm-we did have some forceful downpours a couple of days ago.

rapeseed-scenery

Prior to relocating

 

Rechberg - sunrise

Rechberg – sunrise

We’ll be relocating ourselves from the southwest of the country to the northwest, covering a distance of some 500 kilometres. We’ll be moving both our residence and my studio. The whole procedure will happen in several stages and take its time. Currently we are in a preliminary phase, i. e. we are packing. The flat is crammed with boxes.
Yes, we do own some books. Has anybody out there ever been moving with books?

pan-schurwald-snow

pan-schurwald-summer

You can follow the progress of it all here. At one point it will come to relocate all those tons of metal type and printing gear, but for the time being the studio will stay put in the south. The first step will be to move our residence. We expect the pantechnicon to come and collect our belongings by the end of April.

Schurwald stretching north with castle Waescherschloss (below right)

Schurwald stretching north with castle Waescherschloss (below right)

Today’s blogpost will fill you in about where I’ve been living those past four decades. The region is called „Schurwald“. It is a mountainous part of the most southwesterly state of Germany. „Schurwald“ is located fairly central in Baden-Wuerttemberg, east of the state’s capital Stuttgart and just north of the famous „Swabian Mountains“ or „Swabian Alb“. Looking south from the peaks of the Schurwald mountains you’ll face the impressive skyline of this geological formation known for its abundance of fossilised dinosaurs. The „Schurwald“ is a wooded area with meadows and pastures interspersed. It is all hills and slopes and valleys.

Skyline of Swabian Mountains

Skyline of Swabian Mountains

Mountain Stuifen with fog in autumn

Mountain Stuifen with fog in autumn

I have moved here with my parents when I still was in primary school in the late 1960s. I spent my younger years in a small town down in the valley of a stream called „Fils“ whose waters eventually end up in the river „Rhine“ draining into the North Sea and Atlantic. This is a fact to be noted as not far from where I live you can find what is called the European Watershed and the more southerly and easterly streams and rivers will drain into the Danube and the Black Sea instead of the Atlantic Ocean. The Fils valley is densely packed with businesses many of them related to the automotive industries with the headquarters of Mercedes and Porsche in the vicinity. However, in the even smaller valleys of the Fils tributaries there can still be found charburners working in tiny hamlets.

View from derelict castle Helfenstein overlooking the town of Geislingen/Steige

View from derelict castle Helfenstein overlooking the town of Geislingen/Steige

Herrenbachstausee - a water reservoir frozen in 2012

Herrenbachstausee – a water reservoir frozen in 2012

When I got married I moved uphill to the village Wäschenbeuren, which is at an elevation of 442 m. Up here you do get a fair share of snow in winter. It can be pretty frosty, temperatures may plummet below minus 20 Centigrade. We’ve had seasons with such conditions lasting for days and even weeks. In February 2012 we had a period when a rush of bitterly cold arctic air froze everything rock solid for as long as two weeks. There have been considerably longer periods of cold in the not so distant past of the 1990s.

Mountain Hohenstaufen in winter

Mountain Hohenstaufen in winter

Mountain Hohenstaufen in spring

Mountain Hohenstaufen in spring

Spring is a beauty around here with all the fruit trees blossoming covering the slopes in a veil of white and a tint of pink. The soils are fairly rich and we do have lovely hedge rows with blackthorn and lilac and a great variety of shrubs and trees. There is a lot of meadows and in recent years more of them are being used as grazing land, while still many are mown. On the fields cereals are grown and of course corn and rapeseed, the latter colouring large stretches a bright yellow when in bloom.

Fruit trees in spring

Fruit trees in spring

 

Cattle grazing

Cattle grazing

“Schurwald” is Red Kite country. We have a good number of those impressive birds of prey living here circling the summer skies.

Resident Red Kite

Resident Red Kite

 

Forest in May

Forest in May

 

Basically the forests are classical beech groves with bear’s garlic and lily of the valley in spring, turning shadowy during summer with the canopy keeping the bright sunlight out. The valleys of the small streams can be very quiet and peaceful. There was a severe winter storm on Boxing Day in 1999 called „Lothar“ causing an incredible amount of rolled lumber in a vast area stretching from France right through to the eastern border of Germany. This storm hit “Schurwald” very badly.  It took the lumbermen years to deal with the damage.

Forest in 2005, six years after the big storm

Forest in 2005, six years after the big storm

With all the hedge rows and woodland autumn is almost even more beautiful than spring. The scenery will change from the dull late summer’s green into all shades of vibrant yellow to deep burgundy. With the weather being favourable this can last for weeks and is a real treat.

Mountains with autumn fog

As I write this a spring storm lashes the streets. Gushes of rain drench any person who felt brave enough to dare to go outside, their dogs having this disgusted look on their faces for their owners having chosen to walk them in such a particularly bad weather. It is one of those cold and wet and bleak and rather unpleasant days of spring that will make your front door rattle with disagreement.