Archive for November, 2009

No more Classics from Bloomsbury?

November 29, 2009 1 comment

Several years ago, my family discovered the Bloomsbury Classics series of delightful little hardback books. We bought one or two, and fell in love with them – not only as books to be read, but as beautiful items in their own right; and since then the collection has grown, either through birthday presents or by way of the occasional random acquisition.

A shelf of Bloomsbury Classics © Martyn Oliver 2009

Design of the series was the work of Australian illustrator Jeffrey Fisher, with each book having its own Fisher-artworked dustcover and a Fisher cartouche on the half-title page. Printed on high-quality stock between embossed dark blue cloth covers, they were tiny in size, even more pocketable than Penguins. Read more…


Print sale: pictures are an education

November 18, 2009 Leave a comment

Katie Cooke, an Edinburgh-based photographer who specialises in the more difficult aspects of the art, is selling a series of her prints to fund the next stage of her education.

These were poppies, and will be again
© Katie Cooke

Katie renounced digital photography some time ago, preferring the more contemplative process of making images using a tripod-mounted large-format film camera – with or without a lens. And over the past year she has been concentrating on the wet-plate collodion process, which involves adding egg-white, collodion and silver salts, layer by layer, to a sheet of glass, and using this to make her negative instead of conventional, ‘modern’ film. When such care and effort goes into the preparation, no wonder the actual taking of the image is not that far from an act of meditation.

The prints which form the set in question have originated either from this traditional process, or from one of Katie’s pinhole cameras (she makes them herself, out of wooden or cardboard boxes). There are thirteen images in total, and believe me, they are each and every one of them gorgeous, deep and rich and soft in texture with patches of creamy luminescence, and each one reflecting the intensity of thought that has gone into its composition. Read more…

Nice ‘work’ if you can get it

November 12, 2009 Leave a comment

I visited the Guardian’s offices in London the other day to see the Jane Bown ‘Essentials’ exhibition. What a fine workplace this is – and a far cry from conditions in Fleet Street in the old days. Read more…

Jane Bown’s “Exposures”

November 12, 2009 3 comments

I had to go to London earlier this week. It’s not a journey I make often; I had my fill of commuting in the 90s and prefer to do things the easy way now – by phone.

There was an hour to kill before my appointment, so I decided to walk up York Way past Kings Cross station and visit the exhibition of Jane Bown’s photos at the Guardian office. Other British photographers – Patrick Lichfield and David Bailey, for instance – have portrayed the famous and the infamous, but none with the simplicity and lack of intrusion that Jane Bown brought, and still brings, to her work.

Read more…