The Pottery Press

Pottery Press logo

The Pottery Press is our in-house imprint where we occasionally publish printed versions of my artist’s books in a small signed edition, as well as other limited edition and beautifully designed books, usually combining text and image in some way.  We at Potters’ Yard Arts (writer Frances Bingham and artist Liz Mathews) established The Pottery Press in 1999, and published our first title that year: MOTHERTONGUE, with text by Frances Bingham and images by Liz Mathews, in a limited edition of 100, signed by writer and artist.

Our most recent title is Past Present: Piers Plowless & Sir Orfeo by Maureen Duffy. This beautiful book is the first in our new series of Pottery Press Pamphlets, with two long poems by Maureen Duffy. Their coupling makes a weird and powerful statement about England on the edge; a land with an imagined mythic past, a millennial present and perhaps apocalyptic future.

Maureen Duffy has inspired many other writers and proved that the English novel… can be fantastical, experimental and political.  Perhaps it is her poetry, though, that most fully captures her range as she presses on like a medieval troubadour across barriers of genre, gender, space and time.   TLS

The book also has lettered title pages and 9 full-page colour images by Liz Mathews, a Forward by Frances Bingham and an introduction by Maureen Duffy.  For more information please see Past Present at The Pottery Press.

Past Present: Piers Plowless & Sir Orfeo

Poems by Maureen Duffy; images by Liz Mathews

46 pages  9 full-colour images  2 lettered title pages

ISBN 978-0-9930171-1-7

Published London 2017

£5 from The Pottery Press

contact thepotterypress[at]pottersyard.co.uk

Paper Wings

Paper Wings is a half-size digital facsimile of my artist’s book/installation setting to paper a new love song cycle by Maureen Duffy.

Paper Wings limited edition book

Paper Wings  Text by Maureen Duffy  Images by Liz Mathews

57 pages  57 images  ISBN 978-0-9930171-0-0

Published London 2014

£15 from The Pottery Press

On first reading Songs for Sappho, Maureen Duffy’s new love-poem cycle, I immediately saw the poems as flying messages like smoke signals or paper darts, the words lifted into the breeze like the beneficent mantras of prayer-flags. The cycle also suggested a concertina book where the last page can join the first in a circle of continuity, like the turning year.  From these two imaginings I envisaged a flying installation that would become an unending artist’s book.

I set each poem on a large (42cm x 30cm) handmade paper sheet, lettering the text with unconventional tools – sticks of Thames driftwood, goose-feather quills, reed pens, wooden clothes-pegs – and mixed paint with blood, honey, snowmelt, earth or wine as the poem demanded, to make each page reflect the material qualities of the text, and inhabit the poems rather than illustrate them.

The installation was shown at Enitharmon Press’s London gallery (Sept-Oct 2014) with the pages fluttering overhead, before construction into the 23m-long artist’s book. The half-size facsimile book published by The Pottery Press (signed limited first edition of 100) combines aspects of the artist’s book and the installation, with each page photographed by the artist and reproduced in full colour, strung from a length of washing line with a couple of wooden pegs.  It can stand upright so that you can turn the pages day-by-day, reflecting the turning seasons in the poems.

And an artist’s film on dvd:

Paper Wings DVD

Here in the studio at Potters’ Yard we have also made an artist’s film of Paper Wings, in which Maureen Duffy reads each poem as the pages turn and the complete song cycle unfolds to a background soundscape of birdsong, London buses and the weather evoked by the poems. (DVD £10 + VAT available from The Pottery Press).

MOTHERTONGUE

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MOTHERTONGUE  Text by Frances Bingham  Images by Liz Mathews

99 pages  18 images   ISBN 0 9537016 0 3  Published London 1999

Signed limited edition – low stock – a few copies still for sale £25 +P&P

This artist’s book was another joint text/image project: a limited edition artist’s book with original artwork by Liz Mathews inspired by Frances Bingham’s text, a narrative poem which explores time and memory, gender and identity, inheritance and creation, through the voices of women performers whose different lives are linked by their birthright, a common language.

Here in the theatre, my heart- and home-land

where every step I take is seven leagues

nearer to my improbable desires,

I am indeed, a lad unparallel’d.

The stories – told in irresistable, readable verse – are those of Thea Buckingham, ‘King of the Boys’ – a music hall male impersonator ‘Sartorially more elegant, refined,/ more gentlemanly, indefinably,/ than any specimen of masculinity/ likely to be met with in these sad days…’; and then Pen, child of the English Revolution, and woman actor-writer of the Restoration: ‘I was the first. I proclaim it’; and lastly Macheath, the ‘uppish highway-youth player/ who wears the glamorous fashion of their grandparents’ and who sweeps her Polly off her feet in time-honoured fashion – and woven through these stories is that of the Narrator and Fen, recognising their forebears

Booted and suited, cropped and monocled,

they swagger with their innocent bravado,

lending us small change, giving us a light,

knowing our names and speaking the same language,

perversely practising our one religion,

and coming from the same part of the country.

The relation of image to text in the book is subtle; the eighteen images reflect aspects of the text, rather than illustrate scenes. One is a ceramic sculpture in low relief of a theatre stage and highly ornate proscenium arch, complete with ‘ashtrays’ or boxes – with a spotlit chorusline of text on stage.

MOTHERTONGUE Chorus line (stoneware low relief made by Liz Mathews)

Another, A box of tricks, is a photomontage of the Globe Theatre ‘in the round’, with the Narrator as MC/Wizard/Conductor wielding driftwood baton, under a handprint made with raw clay slip. Pollock’s Toy Theatre shows ‘our players down the wrong end of the telescope, they suddenly diminish’ – revealing the interweaving of the stories, and some games with costume.

To buy any title, contact thepotterypress[at]pottersyard.co.uk, or order from any bookshop.

For more information about The Pottery Press click on contact.

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