The Mystery of Edwin Drood, Charles Dickens
 Clarendon Editions, Oxford University Press
 
A celebration of the last unfinished manuscript with a backdrop of ecclesiastical architecture playing a strong part in my visual response. Interpreting the themes that both Dickens and Drood disappear, the mystery of the unfinished novel compounded by Dickens’ own death which ties author and character in such a way that they can never be separated.

Charles Dickens did readings of his work right up to his death and his silhouette, a life force created in red with an encroaching darkness is placed on the back board.  On the front Drood fades out of the book, standing on steps created from an image of a pile of book sections - the part works of the original publication.  Unusually in my bindings the title, with the author’s name, is in gold, placed on a headstone as though by a monumental mason.  The sketchy representation of the architecture reflects the physical and the metaphysical, the immediate as opposed to the accuracy of a finished work.   Although the overall tenor is subdued I used the idea of stained glass and landscape to link with the outside world and therefore allow me to lift the mood with colour.  Most of Dickens’ novels contain mysteries, intricate but eventually revealed, but in this, his final unfinished tale, will that mystery never be resolved.

Charles Dickens’ death leaves us with the mystery of ‘The Mystery of Edwin Drood’.


 
 
 

The Rings of Saturn by W.G.Sebald

First American edition

 

A figure walks the crumbling coastline of Suffolk and reflects on the landscape. Thoughts move to other landscapes and characters in history, different times and places of decay. The narrative is a stream of consciousness, made up of fragments as the title suggests, the rings appearing solid but made up of particles. Illustrating the text are a number of faded photographs.

 

Bound using goatskin for the spine and reverse pigskin for the sides, transfer printed with images from watercolour paintings. The front board is recessed with subsequent chamfered layers, an inlay of vellum and a central disc of pigskin. This central disc has lines of landscape that also echo the edges of early books, brought together to form the possibility of figuration, not imposed on the landscape but in and of it. The front and back are scribe-tooled for texture, the spine is lettered in gold. The doublures are reversed Brazillian goatskin, the endpapers are marbled designs by Jill Sellars, edges  a meld of coloured pencil and transfer print.

 

 


 
 
The Romantics in Wales
one of ten 'Specials' of the Gregynog Press edition
 
 
The two coloured panels in the design allude to both the Welsh lanadscape and the spirit of the words of the text which are the passionate response to it. 
 
They are executed in colours inspired by that landscape and the feature colour of the edition. The front panel is overlaid with suminagashi.

The 'view' is framed by reference to rock, stones, slate, castles etc and one looks through this into the essential spirit of place. The specially marbled endpapers were inspired by the lichens and geological landscape textures of Wales.
 
The book is titled at the bottom of the spine in bronze and flanked with free-drawn black tooling.

 

 

Samuel Palmer, ‘A Vision Recaptured: The Complete Etchings and the Paintings for Milton and for Virgil’

Published by Triannon Press Facsimiles for the William Blake Trust

The book is covered in dyed goatskin inlaid with circular features of resist dyed goatskin and coloured vellum.  The lozenges formed by the overlapping circles are onlaid with vellum scraps with insubstantial tooling rising above.  Figuration in high relief is developed from suminagashi marbling and is quite explicit, crossing each board and just going onto the bark doublures.

Palmer dissolves mankind into the landscape, becoming the spiritual, thereby making us part of the whole, through life and death we are part of that whole.

Visually it is the light in his work which I found most powerful - it is all to do with light and how that irradiates the landscape within which he places his characters.

In this binding I wanted to create the landscape around us, the life- giving sun flooding across the landscape; mankind, in high relief, boldly crosses this landscape. The design addresses the physical nature of man within echoing insubstantial nature of what we are and what we become in spirit.