We hope you are well and finding things to do. It seems to me that thinking imaginatively and enjoying looking closely are at the basis of art making.
Your committee feels that fortnightly newsletters will help us to keep in touch and encourage us to stay adventurous within the confines of our required isolation. With help, as things currently are, we can achieve that, I believe. Our thanks to Kevin and Damien for this number’s articles. We hope to include illustrations as well.
Please could you let me know by email or phone if you have some news, a joke, story, poem, favourite art work, thought, illustration, that you’d like to share with our readers, and we will find a way and time of using it.
Speaking of news, Zoe Ainsworth-Smith has been accepted for an MA in Illustration at Falmouth University, which could start this June. Congratulations Zoe! She reports that CICCIC are shortly to start running online art courses.
Here’s one thing that made me laugh. There was someone in these social distancing times who wanted to visit her manicurist. What did she do? She put her hand through the letter box and was treated like that!
Stay well and strong. Keep smiling and thinking of others, and join in with our online fun. We hope to send out Newsletter 66 the week after Easter. Happy Easter,
Jeremy (Harvey) 01823 276421 firstname.lastname@example.org
Notes on Bookplates
When I retired, over 20 years ago, I had a list of things that I wanted to do. Today that list is longer! However one little goal was achieved early on. It was to design and print my own bookplate.
I could of course purchased a ready-made sticker and simply written my name at the end of the line that said “This book belongs to …” and today it is possible,(for some), to create and print almost anything at the touch of a computer key. But I wanted to do my own thing.
Going into Taunton library and reading the first chapter of a book about printing, I decided that a lino print would suit me fine. I then walked across the road to the art shop and purchased a small square of lino, a cutting tool, a roller and a little tube of printer’s ink. I already had tracing paper and carbon paper – two things needed to get a reverse image. Now all I needed was a design.
I wanted my bookplate to not only show ownership of a book, but also to convey the pleasure one gets when one really gets into a good book and leaves the world behind. I then outlined my design with a picture frame, patterned with police dicing, to reference former career and my continued interest in art.
Any task that involves head, hand and heart gives joy and I really enjoyed the processes of making my bookplate in enthusiastic ignorance. As I was doing so, my neighbour called in and after looking at my effort in silence, he said kindly, “You ought to speak to Ray Cooney. He does that sort of thing, only better”. That is how I met Ray Cooney.
Ray Cooney (1936-2018), was one of the finest copperplate engravers in the country. He was also one of the last craftsman to serve full six year apprenticeship which he did in the UK Hydrographic Office in Taunton. The skill he acquired in chart making gave him quiet pleasure and satisfaction. Moreover he was able to continue engraving all his life. Whilst still at work he studied painting and drawing at Somerset College of Art and in retirement used his graphic talent to produce pictorial copperplate engravings, many as commissions for heraldic and illustrative ex-libris bookplates. He did all his work from home in a small printing studio.
Ray was a member of the Royal Society of Miniature Painters, Sculptures and Gravers, the Hilliard Society of Miniaturists, and the Somerset Guild of Crafters. He won many awards for his engravings, including a Gold Medal from the Royal Horticultural Society. It is little wonder that he received commissions from all over and many of his engravings are held in galleries and private collections around the world.
It was a privilege to meet Ray. He was a modest man who took time to explain patiently to me some me some of intricacies of his craft and for us to happily discuss his approach to art which involved much thought and discussion with clients when necessary. As I was leaving he pulled off some of examples of his work and gave them to me. An act of kindness. Two of his bookplates are illustrated here.
If you fancy having a go at making your own bookplate, there is plenty of information on YouTube. After all some books are like old friends that we would not want to lose.
Finally, do remember, that whilst it may be true that you cannot judge a book by its cover, you are likely to be judged by your own bookmark !
‘Forgotten Masters’. Indian Painting for the East India Company
Many rich British officers of the Company commissioned Indian artists to illustrate Indian life and natural history. They produced exquisite pictures in the traditional techniques of Indian miniatures.
Some albums were made for Indian Courts too.
The Wallace Collection in London now has a large exhibition space in the basement, with many small spaces leading into each other, and recently they showed here a delightful exhibition of these Indian paintings, of plants and animals and human life, many delectable pictures, against walls painted in similar colours, reds, green, golds etc.
Large portraits of birds, mammals, reptiles and fish are without background scenes (though smaller birds have branches to perch on), unlike Audubon’s prints of the birds of America.
These wonderful albums were the last stage in a long tradition of Indian techniques and styles, and I am very glad not to have missed seeing them before the current closure of art galleries.