Saturday, 23 June 2012



Robert Macfarlane gives us the background to, Holloway, his collaboration with the artist Stanley Donwood and the writer Dan Richards:
Eight years ago this July, I drove down to Dorset with my friend Roger Deakin, to explore the holloways of the area around Chideock. Holloways – the word comes from the Anglo-Saxon hol weg, hollow way – are paths that, over centuries of use, have sunk down into the landscape through which they run, worn into the earth by footfall, wheel-roll and rain-rush. Some of them are twenty feet deep and steep-sided: more ravine than road. Many have been overgrown by the trees that border them, so that they’ve become green-roofed tunnels. They’re too deep to fill in and farm, and often too narrow to take vehicles, so holloways are often wild places: filled with brambles, nettles, ferns, bees, badgers, ivy and history.
Roger and I spent hot summer days exploring the holloways, tracing out their routes and their histories, camping in the flower meadows that bordered them, lighting fires after dusk, keeping an eye out for farmers. We became fascinated by how strangely time seemed to behave in those ancient routes; the strange pleatings and repeatings of history they seemed to inspire, the ghosts they kept. We both ended up writing about those days and those holloways: me in a book called The Wild Places, and Roger in his wonderfulNotes From Walnut Tree Farm, which was only published posthumously – for within two years of our trip Roger had died of a brain tumour, long before his time.
In the autumn of 2011, I returned to the south Dorset holloways, this time in the company of two artist-writers, Stanley Donwood and Dan Richards. You’ll know Stanley’s extraordinary work, even if you think you don’t: he’s famous for many things, but is probably most renowned as the artist and designer of Radiohead’s albums and artwork. Dan Richards is a young artist, craftsman and writer of real and varied talents, whose recently finished first book is called The Beechwood Airship Interviews.
Dan had introduced Stanley and me to each other a couple of years previously. He knew that Stanley had read my books and Roger’s books, and that his imagination had been seized by the idea of the holloways. A collaboration was proposed, slowly took form: we would make a small, strange, beautiful book about the holloways. A book about those old ways, printed in the old ways: with lead type, set by hand, written by me and Dan, designed and illustrated by Stanley.
Our journey to Dorset at last came to pass. It featured bicycles, mist, fierce wind, monsoon rain, cider, flying leaves, martyrs, will o’ the wisps, ghosts glimpsed and not-glimpsed, and a friend who remained just beyond reach.
By the time we returned from Dorset, the holloway had lodged itself deeply in Stanley’s mind. He spent months drawing, etching and engraving versions of it. A 24-carat gold, with a figure seen indistinctly at its end. An ink drawing with three thousand or more pen-strokes.
Meanwhile Dan and I wrote. And now at last the book has also come to pass. Working with the amazing printer, Richard Lawrence, and a 1955 Monotype caster, Stanley bought fresh lead, melted it to make and cast the type.
Then Stanley took photographs of his line illustrations, which were turned into etched magnesium plates.
Then he and Richard set the type.
Then Richard used a 1965 Heidelberg platen press and a 1970 Vandercook proofing press, and printed the book on Somerset book wove paper.
Then we founded an imprint under which to publish it: The Quive Smith Press (read Geoffrey Household’s novel Rogue Male, if you haven’t already, to discover the identity of Quive Smith).
And lo, there was a book.
Holloway has no ISBN, and as such is commercially almost invisible. Its print-run is limited to 277 copies, for the height of Pilsdon Pen – the high ground on which our journey began – is 277 metres above sea-level. Each copy costs £27.70, except for 27 ultra-limited-edition copies, bound in embossed leather, in a slipcase, signed and numbered and with a signed Donwood print; these are £277 each.
100 or so copies have already gone; if you’d like to reserve one of the remaining copies, please e-mail an expression of interest, plus postal address and contact details, Or send a postcard saying much the same to Richard Lawrence at 50 Hurst St, Oxford, OX4 1HD.
There will be a London launch of the book at Rough Trade East on the night of 11 July, from 7pm onwards. Come along: it’s open to all. There’ll be copies of the book, a few words spoken, more than a few drinks drunk, and maybe some live music.
Hol weg.

Holloway book news

Holloway book launch (number one).
We are pleased to announce that Caught By The River are hosting a launch for Holloway at Rough Trade East in Brick Lane, London, on the 11th of July 2012. 
"Caught By The River began in summer 2007 as a website based solely on a handful of passions shared by the people behind it. Angling, music, books, films, nature and pubs to name a few."
Their website can be found here.
Details about the launch are below, in quite tiny writing, for which I apologise but accept no blame. 


Holloway book launch (number two).
We are also and equally pleased to announce that The Bicycle Shop in Norwich, Norfolk, is hosting a second launch for Holloway.

- 20th June 2012 

Saturday, 16 June 2012


The french theorist Roland Barthes was the first critic who talked about a piece of art as a unique potential for presenting a completely real representation of the world. According to Barthes, a picture presents a falsness in the illusion of ''what is'', which swifts to ''what was''. Inside of a piece there is an image, that image is a signifier, inside of it we finds signs which always bring up connotations and associations to the real world, the one we're living in. There is a higher representation of an ''unknown'' which transforms in ''the known''. Now, ''the known'' we talk about, could be better meant as the world as it is seen through our eyes. What we consider reality is. Art places its roots basically in an unconscious level of our minds. We, most of the times, take a trip inside of our minds, passing through our experiences, to understand it the best. We give it a try, and there we are, in the world of art- we can finally reach it. We talked about Barthes to understand the concept of a piece of art. A piece of art is unique, and if repeated it loses its aura- Barthes says.Now this could be relatively true. If we consider the teories of another giant figure of the theories of the history of art- Germano Celant (curator at the Guggenheim New York) we may find his statement and vision of the piece of art in a contradiction with the former of Barthes. It is with the coming out of the Pop Art, the Minimal Art and the Poor Art that art finally cames out from its utopic dimension! It becomes ''democratic''.
 With Warhol's serigaphic pictures, indeed, art gained its division and separation from the uniqueness concept and began repeating itself endlessly. Warhol realises he's living in a society which retains art is useless, futile and insignificant. Instead of rebealing with this general opinion, instead of trying to change people's mind about this, the artist acts very softly and treats the issue, by agreeing and sharing the statement. With his ''futile gesture'' of repeating the same image, picture or frame, Warhol increases the signifier of the same. He doesn't disables the thoughts in the spectator's mind, but he switches off his potential to judge in front of a piece. The art begins to mirror exactly what our society is. The barrier between reality and illusion ceases to exist. Art loses its utopic dimension once and for all. A piece of art begins repeating itself. It is not    a unique piece any more. If everything from now on goes this way, does it really a piece of art loses its aura as Barthes states? Of course not! Even though the image is repeated, the piece has its aura untouched. You can duplicate the shape, but what is unique and unrepeatable here is its idea. This is the main concept of what contemporary art deals with. From warm spectators, we transform in cold but reflective spectators and in a thoughtful audience. The artist requests our partecipation to realize and complete his piece. Our presence becomes fundamental. Sol Le Witt, another great figure of the contemporary art, theorizes the best this final concept. In his Wall drawings it was the spectator, the observer to complete his drawings and his idea of what it has to become the final piece. In a few steps art begins to take more and more place in our everyday's acts. Our thoughts and gestures and acts become an art. 
All these steps are followed truely by Stanley Donwood. He's repetetive, though he doesn't stop being innovative. In the very beginning of what we know about his art, we can find some simple billboard images. Commercials. Example families. Elements from our everyday's routine: signs, indications, advices, etc., things we're perfectly used to see, trapped and surrounded always by those pictures in our life.
Art  as a product. Going on with time, his series, increase in number and repetiotion becomes a  warning. 
Then begin images of fear. Of a doomed world. Of the end of our days.

People escape from their houses which are destroyed or repeated endlessly.
A warning of what we see happen in London Views is the development of what we see here, in Xendless Xurbias.

Our world is swallowed by extreme disasters caused by us and by what our society's done or not, while Stanley was drawing his warnings to help us see better.
The last of the days has come also in Lost Angeles.
And even though inbetween the series we could still find pure colours and harmony- life and cosmos in a perfect connection, resembling what and who we are, we can't still escape from what we've done.
At last, Stanley Donwood gives us a potential option of a redemption by completely returning to our primitive  basics and roots which only Nature could give us as well.
 All this work in progress, represented by warnings and/or advices are absolutely not an utopic dimension for us all. We all know perfectly how are we living and what could expect us in case we bring on like this.  What we have here is a reminder. A reminder's function is to warn an advice as well. In this case we are far further from what could be considered a futile or an insignificant  art.  There are series of works repeating themselves, and they are gaining the lightest of the aura, because of the uniqueness of the ideas. Art here mirrors our dimension split in: past+present+future.
No Utopias. Ideas. Art.

Saturday, 2 June 2012

The latest BOOK by Stanley Donwood!!!

In September of 2011 Robert Macfarlane, Stanley Donwood and Dan Richards travelled to southern Dorset in search of a hollow way.
Moving south a mist lowered itself, wet smoke pooling in valleys and encircling hilltops. Southward was a descent, disorientating gradients rising as they fell. Elbowed hills reared up and the hollow way began to reveal its intentions; it would remove them from the everyday.
In an attempt to escape from the fogs, they climbed to the top of Pilsdon Pen, a sharp-sided hill now inhabited only by depressed cattle, but once some vital part of a vanished civilisation. The hill was indistinct, the fog was thick, the level hilltop seeming to float in the mist like a half-formed green raft. There was silence from the cows and a sense of waiting from the hill.
The three of them stood looking out into the void, gazing in the approximate direction of the valleys of the holloways. But there was nothing there, only wraiths, only shadows. They descended from the hillfort, feeling their way, each yard of country having to be uncovered, and all the while followed, haunted by silence.
Towards the close of the day they perhaps found the hollow way which they had been looking for. The everyday had gone, and night was falling swiftly. Things began to happen secretly around them, and the past conspired with the present, and those that had found the holloway before them were part of that present.

A book by Robert Macfarlane, Stanley Donwood & Dan Richards.
Typeset and letterpress printed in Oxford by Richard Lawrence.
48pp in Royal Octavo format (234 x 156mm).
Five full-page line illustrations by Stanley Donwood.
Typeset in 12pt Monotype Plantin Light.
Printed on 115gsm Somerset Book Wove paper.
277 copies sewn and limp bound; £27.70.
27 specially bound copies in a slipcase; price on application.
Expressions of interest to:
Richard Lawrence
50 Hurst Street
Oxford OX4 1 HD

Some time ago we made the decision to print Holloway using a Monotype caster, which essentially means that we use molten lead and a casting machine to make fresh lead type to print the book.
The font we chose is Plantin, a typeface named after the printer Christophe Plantin. It was first cut in 1913 for the Monotype Corporation, and is based on a face cut in the 16th century by Robert Granjon. Plantin is one of the typefaces that influenced the creation of Times Roman in the 1930s.

The type is made by using a huge keyboard to punch holes in a paper tape about five inches high; the roll of tape looks like something that goes in a player-piano. The text is input 'blind'; that is, the person doing it has only their memory to tell them where they are in the text and whether or not they've made any mistakes. All they have to show for hours of punching keys is a roll of white paper, speckled with small rectangular holes. The guidance for this task is provided by this slowly rotating drum: well as arcane information such as this:

The roll of paper looks like this. In no way does this resemble a book, or text, or a typeface, or, in fact, anything much at all. But it's where the book begins, as it contains all the information that will be needed to cast the type, which is done on an adjacent machine which uses brass dies to impress the typeforms on the molten lead.
And that is something I will leave until the next time I can get round to adding to this dubious and ignorant account of our slow and laborious progress towards the publication of Holloway.