We have dearly missed the exuberant and stimulating atmosphere of the Small Publisher’s Fair – the publishers, readings, book launches exhibitions and the new books. However, like many of you, we have used the changed circumstances since 2019 to investigate and integrate new methods of capturing and disseminating our book-related research activities into our lives.
To celebrate the resilience of all who were working through these challenging times, we ran an online Summer Print and Book Festival in 2020. #printandbookfest included free talks, readings, Q&A sessions and In Conversations. It featured the following SPF regulars:
- Guy Bigland talked about use of the book as a medium within his practice
- Pat Randle of Nomad Letterpress and Double Dagger discussed and showed us his latest publication: 2020 Vision
- Steven J Fowler held an asemic writing workshop lecture on the potential of poetry that expands beyond the legible and typed
- Jeremy Dixon, Hazard Press read poems from his series, ONE POEM ARTISTS’ BOOKS
- John Bently of Liver & Lights talked about stuff he made in his studio during lockdown
- Sarah introduced three archives for artists’ books in Bristol: Arnolfini, Bower Ashton Library Special Collections and the Centre for Fine Print Research.
Our online Collage Colloquium in August 2020 honoured the art of scissors and glue. There were talks by: Jean McEwan on the community of collage, Jeremy Dixon on using collage in his poetic artists’ books, and Daniel Lehan who walked us through his large-scale lockdown collages. Q&As with artists can be viewed/listened to on our archive page.
With two editions of World Book Night held during UK lockdowns, we made digital exhibitions and mail art exchanges inspired by Nancy Campbell’s The Library of Ice: Readings from a Cold Climate (Scribner) and Olga Tokarczuk’s Flights (Fitzcarraldo Editions), Should we have stayed at home and thought of here? These were organised with book artist Linda Parr.
Following on from our work this summer with poet and artist Steven J Fowler, in May Angie began a collaboration, The Printed Poetry Project which features diary entries by SJ Fowler. The project examines relationships between creative practitioners and the haptic production of the printed word in contemporary publishing activities.
To mark the culmination of the project publication, in October 2021 we held the Printed Poetry Symposium, with events both online and in person at The Letterpress Collective and Arnolfini in Bristol. The event brought together practice-led communities of poetry, printing and the book. Works by featured publishers and artists can be viewed in the online gallery. Online presentations from SPF publishers include:
- keynote by S J Fowler, Letterpress and Poetry
- Pat Randle from Nomad Letterpress and Double Dagger on the creative possibilities of printing by letterpress in current publication projects
- following a residency in Greenland, in Hot Metal and Polar Ice poet and artist Nancy Campbell discusses using letterpress to record an endangered indigenous language in her artists’ books
- Barrie Tullett of The Caseroom Press reveals the origins of the poem A Song For An Art School and its physical iterations
- Leonard McDermid from Stichill Marigold Press shares some of his favourite letterpress printed pamphlets and the stories behind them.
We end this year still bound by travel restrictions, so unfortunately not visiting Bergen in Norway, to enjoy the snow and hold a symposium, supported by the Nordic Culture Point and Research England, for our Scandinavian Artists’ Books Partnership Project. Instead, we hosted the event online, which means that we can share with you the talks by SPF exhibitors:
- Lina Nordenström from GG Studio discusses material-based poetry and the process of making / publishing artists’ books. She asks, Is publishing a relevant term?
- Joakim Norling of Timglaset Editions shows us a selection of artists’ publications and discusses the collaboration between the artist and publisher
- artist Kurt Johannssen shares with us four books, one which is about cake, just in time for Christmas.
Looking ahead to 2022, we are counting the days until the Small Publisher’s Fair next November. Meeting for a weekend’s browsing, buying and discussion seemed a simple wish two years ago, now it will mean the world to us to get together again with our book friends. We will relish every minute of it, and in the meantime will anticipate all the new books that will be waiting for everyone on those tables.
Sarah Bodman and Angie Butler The Centre for Print Research, UWE, Bristol, December 2021