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Here we'll keep you up to date with news of our design activities - but also with details of exhibitions, events and artists who we're being inspired by.

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Rena Gardiner at MMU October 15 2016

Manchester Metropolitan University's Special Collections are currently hosting an exhibition dedicated to the work of Rena Gardiner.

Rena Gardiner (1929-1999) spent her life entirely devoted to her art, creating books, prints and paintings. She is best known for a series of guidebooks to historic places, buildings and the countryside, each of which she wrote, printed and illustrated herself. This exhibition will include some of these guidebooks alongside paintings, pastels, linocuts and sketch-books and a display of work by some of the artists who influenced Rena including Eric Ravilious, John Piper and Edward Bawden.

The exhibition is based upon the book Rena Gardiner: Artist and Printmaker by Julian Francis and Martin Andrew, published by Little Toller Books in association with the Dovecote Press, 2015.

Rena Gardiner: Artist and Printmaker at MMU Special Collections runs until 18th November 2016. Visit their website for full details






Score Tae The Toor May 22 2016

Many thanks to everyone who joined us at Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop yesterday for the launch of Score Tae The Toor, a handmade book and remix CD inspired by the Concrete Antenna sound installation at Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop created by Simon Kirby, Tommy Perman and Rob St John and developed from our previous Concrete Antenna 12" vinyl/print package.

The trio gave a set of musicians access to their sound archive, tower instruments and compositions, and asked them to re-imagine the sited material created for the installation. Seven writers were asked to write pieces inspired by the tower and the installation, with pieces covering architecture, memory, archives, urban ecology and public art, written as essays, poetry and morse code.

Named after a phrase used by fishermen in the Firth of Forth using tall buildings on the Edinburgh skyline to orientate their sailing, Score Tae The Toor is a limited edition publication printed using a variety of techniques including risography, lithography, letterpress and computer controlled pen and knife plotters. Each cover features a unique numbered frame from an animation created by Tommy Perman.

Find out more and order a copy of Score Tae The Toor via our Random Spectacular website

Many thanks to Andy Catlin for his photos of the opening event. You can view more via Andy's Facebook page.

Score Tae The Toor

Score Tae The Toor

Score Tae The Toor

Score Tae The Toor

Score Tae The Toor

Score Tae The Toor

Score Tae The Toor     Score Tae The Toor

Edward Bawden at Christmas December 20 2015

Edward Bawden worked with London luxury provisions store Fortnum & Mason for a number years either side of World War II, designing many catalogues, menu cards, brochures and other ephemera.

Bawden's work for the store was captured in Mainstone Press' wonderful Entertaining À La Carte. Unfortunately this limited edition book sold out some time ago but copies can still be found online from time to time.

Here are a few seasonal images of Bawden's work for Fortnum & Mason.

Edward Bawden for Fortnum and Mason

Edward Bawden for Fortnum and Mason

Edward Bawden for Fortnum and Mason

Edward Bawden for Fortnum and Mason

Edward Bawden for Fortnum and Mason

Baddeley Brothers October 28 2015

The Gentle Author, creator of the Spitalfields Life journal, has just published a book dedicated to the work of specialist printers, Baddeley Brothers.

This book is embellished with fine tipped-in samples illustrating the range of Baddeley Brothers’ print techniques, an anatomy of envelope design, a glossary of printing terminology, typographic designs by David Pearson, drawings by Lucinda Rogers and a fold-out map by Adam Dant.

Find our more about purchasing a copy of this wonderful publication.










From The Page to The Wall August 17 2015

Based in Edinburgh, publishers Birlinn work with Scottish writers such as Robin Jenkins, George Mackay Brown and the author of the No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series, Alexander McCall Smith and international writers including Jan-Philipp Sendker, Rita Monaldi and Francesco Sorti.

During the Edinburgh Festival, the Doubtfire Gallery are hosting an exhibition of original illustrations and printed work by some of the artists that Birlinn commission for their covers. The featured artists are Tim Archbold, Jill Calder, Bob Dewar, Debi Gliori, James Hutcheson, Owain Kirby and Iain McIntosh.

The exhibition runs until 29th August at the Doubtfire Gallery, 3 South East Circus Place, Edinburgh EH3 6TJ. View the gallery website

Find can out more about Birlinn via their website.

Reekie Jim Hutcheson B

'Reekie' by James Hutcheson


'Bruce and DeBohun' by Jill Calder

THE BRUCE Jill CalderB

'The Bruce' by Jill Calder


'Bertie Plays Blues' by Iain McIntosh

Allotments Bob Dewar B

'Allotments' by Bob Dewar

Great Wood Owain Kirby B

'The Great Wood' by Owain Kirby

Rena Gardiner March 24 2015

Our friends at Little Toller are soon to publish the first book about the artist and printmaker Rena Gardiner (1929-1999).

"Rena Gardiner dedicated her life to her art, doing so alone in a thatched cottage in the heart of Dorset. Combining the great tradition of British topographic artists with the rich era of autolithography of the 1940s and 1950s, she created her own very personal and individual visual style. An unsung heroine of printmaking, uninterested in publicity or fame, she created an artistic legacy that is instantly recognisable for its exuberant use of colour and texture."

Find out more about Rena Gardiner and the book from the Little Toller website.








Surface Tension March 04 2015

Writer, artist and musician Rob St. John (who contributed to our Random Spectacular No. 2 journal) has announced details of his latest project, Surface Tension.

In summer 2014, Ben Fenton, project manager of the ‘Fixing Broken Rivers’ campaign run by London freshwater conservation charity Thames 21, got in touch with Rob. Ben had an unusual commission in mind: could Rob design a project drawing from both art and science to creatively explore and document pollution along London’s River Lea?

Almost a year later, and the project – Surface Tension – is finished, resulting in an album of new music and field recordings taken along the Lea; a book of writing and photographs documenting the Lea Valley and the creative processes in Surface Tension; and an exhibition of film photographs from the project at Stour Space, Hackney Wick, London (E3 2PA) throughout April 2015.

In late summer, Rob walked most of the length of the Lea – one of Britain’s most polluted rivers – wearing holes into the soles of his shoes as he made field recordings with binaural microphones (which look like cheap headphones, but capture a 360 degree soundscape around your head), underwater hydrophones and contact mics. At the same time, he took film photographs on both a vintage 120 camera and a 35mm pinhole camera made from a Lesney toy matchbox (the Lesney factory was on the river at Hackney Wick).

Rob’s work has always had a foot in both art and science: working with sound, photography and natural processes in ways that are both experimental and accessible. In 2011 he released a critically acclaimed LP ‘Weald’; in 2013 the Water of Life collaboration with Tommy Perman; in 2014 the Bastard Mountain LP; and in 2015 Surface Tension and a sound installation Concrete Antenna at Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop.

Surface Tension is released in April on limited edition CD, housed in a beautiful book of Rob’s photographs and writing, designed by Tommy Perman.

Find out more about the project and order a copy of the limited edition CD.





Ashley Script January 26 2015

We're off to North Uist for the first time later this year. Was rummaging in a second hand bookshop and came across this, with a cover featuring designer Ashley Havinden's 'Ashley Script' typeface which is still available digitally.