The Pottery Press

Pottery Press logo

The Pottery Press is a micro-press off-shoot of Potters’ Yard Arts; small, certainly, but with big aims: we are on a mission to publish unusual and exciting writer-and-artist collaborations, fusions of word and image. Sometimes we publish small editions, signed and numbered, of my artist’s books, sometimes other beautifully designed books, always combining text and image in some way.  We have recently begun a new series of Pottery Press pamphlets, with an exciting list of publications in store. The pamphlet form is very exciting for us – and quite liberating, as it allows us to collaborate on unconventional projects: short-form fiction, plays, poetry cycles and shorter themed collections, as well as texts that are not easily categorised. Our first three pamphlets, launched in 2018 were hailed in Tears in the Fence poetry review as

‘a stunning press debut’

and the reviewer continued:

I can’t wait to read what they publish next!’

And here’s what eminent poet and critic Jeremy Hooker wrote to us about the two new books:

I found [Frances Bingham’s London Panopticon] both entertaining and moving, and rich and inventive in language. What it has in common with Maureen Duffy’s Wanderer is its humanity. Maureen is a courageous poet who writes with compassion of human suffering. I especially admire the way in which she brings her knowledge of tradition into the modern world, thus showing the continuity of human experience, as in the title poem. Both pamphlets are beautifully produced, and benefit from your sense of colour, image, and design. They are works of art.

So here they are:

Our most recent title is:

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Wanderer by Maureen Duffy

A new collection of poetry by ‘one of Britain’s foremost writers’ (Guardian), and ‘a unique literary talent’ (Sarah Walters) forms our fifth pamphlet. We travel with the poet on the Wanderer’s terrifying voyage, on exploratory passages to India and Ravenna, on a very English train-ride, to concerts and galleries (and on the journeys of imagination they stimulate), through the gardens and street-markets of London, and to the junkshop of the remembered past. Maureen Duffy describes one of these poems as ‘a kind of elegy to life and love’, the ultimate theme of this brave and passionate collection.

‘Tough poems, made of the rough substance of real lives… a beautiful answering back against the worst.’ (David Constantine)

For more information please see Journeys of imagination

Wanderer

New poems by Maureen Duffy

48 pages with 31 full-colour images by lettering artist Liz Mathews

ISBN 978-0-9930171-5-5

Published London 2020

£9.99 from The Pottery Press and selected bookshops

contact potterypress(at)pottersyard.co.uk

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3B868791-9A27-4E1C-8DBD-077971230311London Panopticon by Frances Bingham

Short-form fiction, lyrical prose-poetry and play-script are all here in London Panopticon, our fourth pamphlet. The narrator Blue makes a pilgrimage through the day and the city, meeting Londoners past and present on the way, in an urban Under Milk Wood, inspired by the city itself. A litany of London voices – irascible Jeremy Bentham, Wose the tree-guardian, Virginia Woolf street-haunting, Fletcher the sacked banker and innumerable others – sing their city incantation: protest song, lament, celebration.

‘London Panopticon is more than a pamphlet. As sparkling and all-encompassing as the city itself, it is a vision, a love song, a pilgrimage, a perfect union of image and word. And it takes one’s breath away!’  Mimi Khalvati

For more information please see Journeys of imagination

London Panopticon

A city incantation by Frances Bingham

80 pages with 28 black and white images by Liz Mathews

ISBN: 978-0-9930171-4-8

Published London 2020

£9.99 from The Pottery Press and selected bookshops

contact potterypress(at)pottersyard.co.uk

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9780993017131

Under the Quarry Woods by Jeremy Hooker

Our third Pottery Press Pamphlet is a collection of new prose poems by the eminent poet, critic, teacher and broadcaster Jeremy Hooker. Quarried from journals written at his home in a Welsh former pit village, the poems are alive with observations, impressions, memory and dream.  And together they become a meditation on a place and its people, revealing an industrially scarred landscape with a deep history, its harshness illuminated by glimpses of natural beauty and possibilities of regeneration for the land and its fractured communities.

For more information please see Under the Quarry Woods.

Under the Quarry Woods

New prose poems by Jeremy Hooker

44 pages, 7 full colour images

ISBN: 978-0-9930171-3-1

Published London 2018

£6.99 from The Pottery Press and selected bookshops

contact studio[at]pottersyard.co.uk

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DSC_0151The Blue Hour of Natalie Barney by Frances Bingham

Our second Pottery Press Pamphlet is a revealing new play by Frances Bingham, published to accompany the world premiere of the play at London’s Arcola Theatre, with Amanda Boxer as Natalie Barney, directed by Kenneth Hoyt. The play opened on 7th November 2017. The book’s cover is Twilight in the Rue Jacob, a watercolour by Liz Mathews, and it includes an introduction about the play by Frances Bingham.

For more information, please see The Blue Hour of Natalie Barney.

The Blue Hour of Natalie Barney

A play by Frances Bingham

40 pages

ISBN 978-0-9930171-2-4

Published London 2017

£5 from The Pottery Press, Arcola Theatre and selected bookshops

contact studio[at]pottersyard.co.uk

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Past Present: Piers Plowless & Sir Orfeo by Maureen Duffy

Past Present book coverPast Present: Piers Plowless & Sir Orfeo by Maureen Duffy is the first Pottery Press Pamphlet, with two exciting long poems by Maureen Duffy. The New Vision of Piers Plowless is Duffy’s contemporary riff on the medieval poem The Vision of Piers Plowman by William Langland, which combines social protest and satire with allegory about the pilgrimage of the soul, and a vision of England transformed. In her Forward, Frances Bingham calls the poem ‘a magnificent rant, addressed to fellow-author Will Langland who wrote his protest song for everyman Piers and ‘the fair field of folk’ so many centuries ago.’ And the introduction continues:

‘Her protest against a so-called austerity which causes suffering to the poorest in society while sparing the richest, and tries to silence the arts and deplete learning and libraries, has never been more relevant. But crucially, like her medieval model, there’s robust humour here too – and a breath of hope; a call to arms.’

Sir Orfeo, the companion poem in this volume, is Maureen Duffy’s translation of another medieval poem, with migrates the Orpheus myth to the England of a folktale, and gives it a happy ending; the classical Underworld becomes Elfland under a green hill, the Arcadian landscape an English orchard.

The coupling of the two poems in this book 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

£6.99 from The Pottery Press and selected bookshops

contact studio[at]pottersyard.co.uk

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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 – contact studio[at]pottersyard.co.uk).

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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 irresistible, 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 chorus-line 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 studio[at]pottersyard.co.uk, or order from any bookshop.

For more information about The Pottery Press click on contact.

2 Responses to “The Pottery Press”


  1. […] There’s an interview about it with me, Amanda and the director Kenneth Hoyt on YouTube –  or on Facebook – and a Facebook event (whatever that may be).  The playscript is published as a Pottery Press pamphlet. […]


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