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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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.

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