Certain trees
came separately from the wood

and with no special
thought of returning

Roy Fisher, Epitaph: Lorine Niedecker

In 2008 the V&A hosted the exhibition Certain Trees: The Constructed Book, Poem and Object 1964 – 2008. The exhibition had been organised in collaboration with Centre des Livres d’Artistes, St Yrieix La Perche.

It featured work by David Bellingham, John Bevis, Thomas A Clark and Laurie Clark, Les Coleman, Simon Cutts, Stephen Duncalf, Martin Fidler, Ian Hamilton Finlay, Brian lane, Robert lax, Stuart mills, Martin Rogers, Colin Sackett, Erica Van Horn and Steve Wheatley.

Elizabeth James, Senior Librarian at the National Art Library Collections wrote the gallery guide. Here is an excerpt from the introduction. 

“…they (the artists and poets) act as the editors, and often printers too, for their own short-run, self-funded small presses. Self-publishing is considered ‘not a vanity but a freedom’, a ‘critical alternative’ to the commercial mainstream. In the absence of wealth or patronage, economic constraints are embraced as creative conditions.

Here, the material nature of the book becomes central to its content. Size, colour, the fold of paper, the page and its turn are consciously deployed. The same approach applied to a pamphlet, broadside, postcard or standing card, or other kind of object. The aim is to find the right form for the idea.”

Elizabeth James, Senior Librarian, National Art Library Collections V&A

In July 2006, CDLA published Certain Trees: The Constructed Book, Poem and Object 1964-2006. It is an excellent book and can still be found through Abebooks and similar.

Two pages from the book Certain Trees, showing photos of works by Les Colman.
Certain Trees, RGAP. Images show work by Les Colman