Hidden Chronicles

The start of the box set of prints of Zigi Sapietis -The Hidden Chronicles.

The first proof of the first panel was unveiled at Graal Press.

The panels are being created as a box set of prints, the first major commission by Curwen Press in association with master printers Graal Press and writer Rosemary Burnett

Note- A publication detailing the story of the hidden chronicles with information on the print process will be also available.



Exhibition – Images in prints that reveal migration, displacement and loss.

Exhibition (planned for 2013-Edinburgh – 2014-Warsaw Print Triennale)

This exhibition presents a unique opportunity to view the work of 4 artists; who through their art works convey responses to the idea of migration, displacement and loss.

Artists Work (selected for the exhibition)

Josef Herman- Song of the Migrant Bird

In 1999 Josef Herman ( Born 1911-2000-Warsaw)completed his great print project – Song the Migrant Bird- 54 lithographs that explore Herman connections with a fishing village on the Suffolk coast. The images were worked on in his London Studio and then hand printed at the Curwen Studio. The images show his fascination with seagulls, but they also reveal through the individual titles a deeper sense of an inner struggle exploring freedom and loss. His relationship with his country of birth Poland and the City of Warsaw, was fraught with complications. He had no desire to return after leaving in 1938. He felt deeply his sense of loss, and possible betrayal. In arriving in Britain, first Glasgow then Ystradgynlais South Wales and finally London, enabled him to flourish as an artist. If he had stayed in Poland he would most likely have perished with the rest of his family following the horrors of the Holocaust in 1943/44

Miroslaw Balka- Entering Paradise

A contemporary response to migration, displacement, loss, was by the contemporary Polish Artist, Miroslaw Balka (Born 1958 Warsaw -) and the master printer Jacob Samuel. They collected footprints of homeless men in Santa Monica 2003 and made a set of prints- Entering Paradise.

Balka explained that he had looked out of his hotel window and saw the Pacific Ocean and thought he was in paradise. Then he noticed the homeless people sleeping on the lawn.

‘I want to do something with the homeless people, I want to collect 12 footprints, like the 12 disciples- it will be like washing the feet.’

He paid 5$ to each man and then got then to stand on the plate, in particular position as if they were springing into the void.

Where these men came from we do not know, or what happens to them following their migration to Santa Monica, to pursue the American dream.

Paula Rego –Jane Eyre

In the Jane Eyre group of images Paula Rego ( Born 1935 Lisbon) explores one of the great narratives of English fiction. It was described by the art writer Marina Warner ( Paula Rego’s Jane Eyre 2002) in the following way. ‘In Paula Rego’s work, in her ‘artists dreamland’ the peculiar and elfish twist and turn with a similar rebellious vitality. And they do so for reasons that Jane Eyre did, mirroring Charlotte Bronte’s, over one hundred and fifty years ago. Rego has explored, in a myriad different sequences of pictures, the condition of her own upbringing in Portugal, her formation as a girl and a woman, and the oscillation between stifling social, expectations and liberating female stratagems’.

Paula Rego departure at an early age from her home in Portugal to a school in England, from a country held in the grip of Salazar’s dictatorship, which was rooted in the Catholic Church and the army, provokes and opens up ideas within Rego’s picture making.

Zigi Sapietis -The Hidden Chronicles

“Empire builders are greedy pirates and self-worshippers who conquer foreign lands – kill, imprison, assimilate and exploit many millions”. With these words, Zigrids Sapietis opens his Hidden Chronicles, his story and the story of his beloved Latvia – Amberlands.

Zigi, spent a year in prison and a concentration camp for his nationalist views. His hatred of empire builders, dictators and fascists stems from his reaction to the exploitation and colonisation of his homeland by Germany and Russia and his treatment at the hands of the German Gestapo for the part he played in the nationalist movement as a young man of 18 and 19.

He was born in 1924 in the Riga district of Latvia. In 1947, whilst he was a refugee in Denmark, embarking on his artistic studies and recovering from his wounds, Zigi began a written record of his time in prison and the concentration camp. At this period, it would have been dangerous to use the real names of his prison friends and fellow nationalists. This feeling has lingered with him ever since, which explains why, even though the panels were made between 1990 and 1994, he has used pseudonyms in The Hidden Chronicle panels. Red Baldhead is Lenin, Red Jo is Stalin, Umbrellaman is Chamberlain, Anglecross Alfie is Hitler.

The panels are being created as a box set of prints, by Curwen Press in association with printers, Graal Press and writer Rosemary Burnett.

Note- The organisers of the Migration, Displacement and Loss project will actively seek to develop an educational program to allow young people to gain insights and access to these ideas.


Lodz Book Museum

Lodz Book Museum

On a recent trip to Lodz I came across a fascinating project- Book Art Museum Lodz. The project housed in a Villa on Tymieniecki Street is filled with a collection of 19- 20 century printing equipment. The centre is still in use and provides inspiration to visiting artists creating art books. The complex position over the ownership of the Villa, once the home of an important Jewish textile owner, is creating range of challenges for the committed volunteers that run the building.

I detail some of the history from their web site and some of my photographs from the trip.

BOOK ART MUSEUM in Lodz was established in 1993 but its history dates back to 1980, when a group of artists named Correspondance Des Arts published its first book: a portfolio with 13 prints and a selection of 13 Polish poems – titled ROK POLSKI (Polish Year). The members of the group were: Zdzislaw Jaskula, Andrzej Graczykowski, Zbigniew Janeczek and Janusz Tryzno. They published five books more and after the exhibition in The British Library stopped to work together. In those days the CdA books were made at loft on 14 Sterling Street

Since 1986 Jadwiga and Janusz Tryzno went on publishing CdA books at Zgierska Street 142 –on the eleventh floor of a block of flats. They made paper, type setting, embossing and binding, used for printing a half-format typographic machine. They exhibited their books in Poland and Germany. The equipment they had was the embryo of BOOK ART MUSEUM.

In 1990 Janusz Tryzno established CORRESPONDENCE DES ARTS foundation; its main aim was to support all kinds of book activities. Next year the CdA press moved to the MUSEUM OF ARTISTS at Tylna Street 14 and for two years was cooperating with artists assembled in the foundation CONSTRUCTION IN PROCESS. This is when the idea of establishing BOOK ART MUSEUM sited at KSIEZY MLYN (an old ruined block of factories and villas) was born.

In May 1993 CdA Foundation took HENRYK GROHMAN'S villa at Tymieniecki Street 24 on a 10-year lease to run there the BOOK ART MUSEUM. On October 1st 1993 Zbigniew Brzezinski opened both the museum and the exhibition of an artist's book – a bibliography of his works and a collection of his doodles made during different meetings and conferences. Since then the museum has been very active in many ways: renovating the building, collecting and renovating old printing equipment, making exhibitions, promoting Polish book art in Poland and abroad, educating (making workshops and lectures), gathering book knowledge, protecting the historical character of Ksiezy Mlyn.

Since 1997 BOOK ART MUSEUM has been fighting desperately to keep the Grohman's villa as its abode. BOOK ART MUSEUM will stay at Tymienieckiego 24 until the cessation of the sentence by the Supreme Court. Obeys the rules and regulations given to it in 1999 by the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage, counts on a Town Council resolution confirming its great contribution to the culture of Lodz. Lately has also been looking for help from outside – its allies are: Polskie Bractwo Kawalerów Gutenberga, Paryski Komitet Obrony Muzeum, Polski Komitet UNESCO, organizers of international exhibitions inviting BOOK ART MUSEUM to take part in them . The museum has also been looking for sponsors for its daily activity.




Art Everywhere- Exhibition of Art and Design Warsaw Aug 2012

Art Everywhere. The Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw 1904–1944

Zacheta  Gallery Warsaw 05.06.2012 - 26.08.2012

The exhibition  Art Everywhere. The Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw 1904–1944 constitutes the first such extensive presentation of the interweaving of art and everyday life during the period of the Second Polish Republic. It is a large scale project of historical research conceived in a very contemporary way. The exhibition asks a question: is it possible to restore healthy relations between the world or art and that of industrial production, and if so how? Then, as now, voices criticizing the level and quality of the surroundings in which we live were widespread. The remedy to this situation was seen in the widespread introduction of good, original, Polish design projects.

Somewhere where art was not divided between “pure” and “applied” was the Warsaw School of Fine Arts, founded in 1904 as a private school and, from 1923, functioning under the auspices of the reborn state: an institution that was the direct antecedent of the current Academy of Fine Arts. In its founding documents, as well as in its first courses, the institution devoted special attention to the applied arts, the teaching of which was to accompany the introduction of forms developed into production. This led to the academy being something of an institute of experimentation or a “showroom” – something unknown in the artistic higher education of the time.

A special place in the exhibition is occupied by projects and works to this day present in the space of the city, such as the Airmen Monument, or of contemporary significance, such as the construction of the Temple of Divine Providence. The image is complemented by advertising understood in a wide sense (posters, fliers, signs and window decorations) as well as by book illustrations. A very striking point in the exhibition is the reconstruction of the atrium of the Polish Pavilion of the Paris exhibition of 1925, and also the presentation of selected fragments of the interiors of Polish Trans-Atlantic ships.

The slogan Art Everywhere is thus one that is full of content. Today, as several decades ago, it is a call for a culture of everyday life – in our closest surroundings, in objects of everyday use, in public and private spaces. This is a concern for artists, but no less so one for ordinary people, the audience and users of their art.

curator Maryla Sitkowska
curatorial co-operation: Agnieszka Szewczyk, Jola Gola
curatorial co-operation on the part of Zachęta Joanna Kordjak



Curwen Press



The Homecoming- by Pinter, with lithographs by Harold Cohen

Illustrated with nine original single and double page colour lithographs by Harold Cohen. Published by H.Karnac, and printed at the Curwen Press, London, 1968. This edition was designed entirely by the artist, Harold Cohen, and produced by him in collaboration with Robert Simon of Curwen Press. It is folio in size and bound in woven green terylene and decorated with black clutching hands decoration to the top foredge corner of the front cover . The binding, by Mansell, London, forms an integral part of the artist’s design and its colouring and processing were supervised by him. The half title and title are printed on heavy, translucent, drawing film, such as is used by draughtsmen and architects. The text is printed on heavy paper made by J Barcham Green especially for this edition. This is number 198 of 200 copies, signed in pencil by Pinter and Cohen.

Harold Cohen
British 1928-

Painter born in London. After serving in RAF he studied at Slade School of Art, 1948-52. In 1952 he spent six months in Italy on an Abbey minor Travelling Scholarship. After two years teaching at Camberwell School of Art, opened small furniture workshop, 1955. In 1951 he had his first solo exhibition in Oxford, followed by three London shows with Gimpel Fils. During the 'sixties he represented Great Britain in the Venice Biennale, Documenta 3, the Paris Biennale, the Carnegie International and many other important international shows. He exhibited regularly at the Robert Fraser Gallery in London and the Alan Stone Gallery in New York. He has continued to design furniture and textiles. His work is in the Arts Council collection and the Tate Gallery.

However, after moving to San Diego, Cohen became interested in computer programming and particularly in the field of artificial intelligence. On the basis of his early research he was invited, in 1971, to spend two years at the Artificial Intelligence Laboratory of Stanford University as a Guest Scholar. Much of his work since that time has been concerned with building a machine-based simulation of the cognitive processes underlying the human act of drawing. The resulting on-going program, AARON, has by now been seen producing original "freehand" drawings in museums and science centres in the US, Europe and Japan: the Los Angeles County Museum, Documenta-6, The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, the Brooklyn Museum, the Tate Gallery in London and the IBM Gallery in New York among others. He has also exhibited in a number of science centres, including the Ontario Science Centre, Pittsburgh's Buhl Centre, the Science Museum in Boston and the California Museum of Science and Technology. He has a permanent exhibit in the Computer Museum in Boston, and he represented the US in the Japan World Fair in Tsukuba in 1985.

Elsie and the Child- Printed by the Curwen Press 1929- Drawings by Edward McKnight Kauffer

Elsie and the Child by Arnold Bennett, illustrated by Edward McKnight Kauffer.

Elsie and the Child published in 1929, when Edward McKnight Kauffer was at the height of his artistic powers. An American artist who developed a close working relationship with the Curwen Press, well known for designing posters for London Transport, book jackets and textile labels. His drawings for this book were printed using the pochoir stencil method. Pochoir is a refined stencil-based technique employed to create prints or to add colour to pre-existing prints. It was most popular from the late 19th century through the 1930's with its centre of activity in Paris. Pochoir was primarily used to create prints devoted to fashion, patterns, and architectural design and is most often associated with Art Nouveau and Art Deco.

Pochoir begins with the analysis of the composition, including colour tones and densities, of a colour image. Numerous stencils were designed as a means of reproducing an image. A craftsman known as adécoupeur would cut stencils with a straight-edged knife. The stencils were originally made of aluminium, copper, or zinc but eventually the material of choice was either celluloid or plastic. Along with this transition of stencil materials, there was a shift away from the use of watercolour towards the broad, soft, opaque layers of gouache. The technique was further refined in an effort to create the most vivid, accurately coloured reproductions. Stencils created by the découpeur would be passed on to the coloristes. The coloristes applied the pigments using a variety of different brushes and methods of paint application to create the finished pochoir print. Pochoir is both labour-and time-intensive, making it an expensive and slow process of printmaking. As a result, techniques such as lithography and serigraphy, mechanized in nature, have replaced pochoir as a method of reproduction. Pochoir has been used in conjunction with other medium such as engraving, lithography, or photography as a means of adding colour to a print. Each print is unique because it is done by hand; each remains vivid in both a tactile and visual sense.