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ABCD May 2022

May 15, 2022

Nine members of Artists’ Book Club Dove met IN PERSON in the Dove Print Studio yesterday. Back and front doors were open, letting in air and birdsong. Clare’s flapjacks, which sometimes seem to be our raison d’etre, were as good as we remembered.

Clare showed us her new Herbin (established 1670) fountain pen, whose engineering we all admired. Her three bottles of Herbin ink have delightful names: Corail des tropiques, Bleu myosotis, and my favourite, the delicious Larmes de cassis.

Here are a few glimpes into Clare’s sketchbooks. Click on any image to enlarge it. The fourth shows an exercise in turning numerals into cats.

Janine brought her three Coptic-sewn double-concertina books of family history. The photos and text are printed on artists’ transfer paper and ironed onto silk pasted to Khadi paper.

Here are Janine’s three small square books of abstract painting in oils on Khadi paper offcuts from the project above. They embody her emotional response to a recent bereavement.

Judith has been busy with online and in-person courses. One was on paper-marbling. Marbling the head, foot and foredge of ledger books was a safeguard against pages being removed, added or substituted – a thoroughly analog anti-fraud device! Judith chose her colours to match the covers of these paperbacks.

It was good to see Judith’s big blue book in the flesh.

Three views of Judith’s ‘Leaves of Broadley’ and its slip-case.

Jane has made a batch of lovely-looking Sewn Boards bindings. Photo below. She is researching the far from ordinary life of her father, Loughnan Pendred, wood-carver and sculptor. Affpuddle church in Dorset is full of his work.

Jane Paterson sewn-board bindings

I (Ama) showed some recent books from late last year, and a new one. ‘Broomfield’ is 10.5x15cm, six double pages folded at the foredge. ‘Postcards’ (my life in 50 tercets) is 15cm square and ‘Shining Sister’ is 15x21cm: thirteen poems with full-page titles painted by John Rowlands-Pritchard.

Carol has made two cut and folded books from multi-layered lino-prints; one very precise, lively and surprising in the hand (front and back views shown), and the other more random and unpredictable.

Carol was impressed by a Kurt Jackson exhibition, ‘Biodiversity’, at the Natural History Museum in Oxford. It finished today, but there is plenty to see in this interactive online show, and it will be opening in Southampton City Art Gallery soon (27 May). We talked briefly about a forthcoming exhibition at the Arnolfini in Bristol, ‘Forest’ (9 July-2 October).

Thalia has painted another big banner – the Madonna of Glastonbury – which will be out and about on Jubilee Day.

Bron showed us her big book ‘Essence of Trees’, and an informative sketchbook in which she recorded the various botanical dyes and inks she made to colour the pages, spine and sewing threads. We talked about the many variables, the use of mordants, the importance of the paper’s pH, the need not to over-boil berries (releasing too much tannin and browning the colour).

Kate has spent the last two and a half years visiting, interviewing, drawing and painting thirty local craftspeople for her latest book, ‘Crafts’. She called it “My tribute to people who make things.” A magnificent tribute it is, too, a mistresspiece. She very generously gave each of us a copy. The big charcoal drawings and smaller paintings are on show at the Somerset Museum of Rural Life in Glastonbury until 5th June. More information and photos here. You can meet Kate there on 29th May.

We went out to the tree-house corner of Dove Meadow for our picnic lunch. The meadow was once again knee-deep in buttercups.

Scots pine shadows on the marquee roof

After lunch we went out to admire the progress of the recently-planted wood in Wild Lea.

The next two meetings will be on 25th June and 23rd July. Then before we know it the summer will be over and we’ll be into Somerset Art Weeks. Meanwhile here are some snippets from my notebook:

May Dove droppings

a miniature Central Park
in broccoli and cheese-graters
birds and potatoes

starting with yellow
one colour a day
can elevate a book

I’ve dropped out of castanets
to turn numbers into cats
positivity can be wearing

with hatchet-faced officials
raking up the last brain cells
in reverse order

printing on spoilt paper
I disobeyed all the rules
in a basement in Bloomsbury

I finished the Madonna
that’s the bamboo again
between aluminium plates

little purple mushrooms
chew it a bit
pop it in the undergrowth

talk to the wasps
trapping ideas
hunting for the impossible

Sunday walk

May 8, 2022

May is out
white blossom everywhere
and I’ve cast a layer or two
of winter clout

I came this way a day ago
and thought I heard a flock of angry geese
it was the screech of machinery
a tractor and plough

today harrows
have broken up the clods
and shattered stalks of maize
litter the furrows

white drifts of stitchwort
in the narrow field-margin
vetch and speedwell
buttercup and herb-robert

I pick up a Fanta can
pour out the lurid dregs
whose twelve ingredients
include a source of phenylalanine

Gate Lane
we walked this way to school
new buildings on both sides now
but the queen-anne’s-lace remains

A poet looks at the war

April 24, 2022

… unless you are already dead you need to understand that it is precisely your innocence that makes you a target

Image by Felicia Rice

My friend the indomitable poet Beau Beausoleil has been writing, almost daily, poems about the war in Ukraine. Fierce and prophetic poems full of wit and rage.
Felicia Rice of Moving Parts Press has collected them on her website.

Here is the first of the series:
In Ukraine


at a

February 22, 2022

And here is a very recent one:

Putin is
on a
fly that
has flown
into his

April 22, 2022

A Walk in the Woods on Earth Day

April 22, 2022

It begins with an arrow and a rusty chain

rusty padlocks on the pump-house.

Unseen birds call from high in an old coppice

rivulets and moss-covered walls criss-cross the woodland

trees have fallen across the paths and the brook

ferns unscroll and bluebells reflect the sky.

Ancient oaks shelter spring flowers.

Honeysuckle, moss and ivy clothe a dead stump.

A Laocoön moment!

A stone bridge spans the brook.
A little further down the valley, the water disappears into the ground, leaving a dry stony bed.

Near the bottom of the woodland a derelict lime kiln is almost hidden behind a curtain of ivy.

The Fabulist

April 19, 2022

Ana Silvera is a fabulist – a teller of fables. I heard her first on Radio 3’s The Verb on 28 February 2020 and have been haunted ever since by her song Exile, with her own sruti-box (Indian harmonium) accompaniment. It starts one and a half minutes into the broadcast. Tree seeds carried in the mouth – what a strange and potent image. I carried her song in my mouth, and found myself writing new words to the tune. I sent the words to Brittle Star, a magazine that consistently published excellent poetry and prose until about 18 months ago. I was overjoyed to have my song accepted and published.

I received Ana’s brand-new CD in the post today. Marvellous story-songs, full of mystery, beauty and sadness, accompanied by a handful of outstanding musicians including Ana herself on a variety of instruments. She’s touring these songs soon: in Shoreham-by-Sea May 4th, Basingstoke May 5th, Oxford May 6th, Bury May 7th, Scarborough May 8th, Cambridge May 10th, Reading May 11th, Bristol May 12th, Colchester May 13th, Aldeburgh may 14th and London May 15th. Links on the Bandcamp site.

ABCD April 2022

April 18, 2022

Nine members of Artists’ Book Club Dove met on Zoom on 9th April.

Bron has finished her big book of botanical ink-paintings, Essence of Trees, after being “head down in the studio for six weeks brewing up colours.” She said that holding the book was “like holding a large dog on your lap; it’s all legs!”

Carol has been playing with travel books

… and she has made a book of holes, monoprints and collaged pieces. It folds into an A4 cover, attached by stitching.

Janine has finished some books of family history.

Judith is taking part in a Greenhill Arts exhibition currently open in Moretonhampstead. Mainly small prints and paintings. Her giant book Microseasons of the Dart is on a plinth. Will it stand up for two months?

Judith has also made a very complicated box on a two-day workshop with expert tuition. The photo is a screenshot from a video; I apologise for the poor reproduction. It’s a clever mechanism that lifts the book as you open the box.`

Immersed in The Waste Land centenary, I have been unproductive on the book front. But I hope to show Searching for Stetson next month.
After months of zooming (for which I’m very grateful) I long to hold and read all these books. Maybe next time if I’m well by then and if the infection rate locally has decreased. Our next meetings will be 14th May, 25th June and 23rd July.

April Dove-droppings

you pull this one out
you could easily lose things
where is that thread

wildflower seeds in the post
a little trouser-book
taking a colour for a walk

all the grandchildren
walkers and unexpected people
the most exciting thing

a bigger project than I thought
brimming with ideas
months of rest

fifteen pages of instructions
calculations and millimetres
in a village hall on Exmoor

specialist security advice
plans may have to change
my giant book on its kebab sticks

all afternoon scavenging
a wooden garden gate
rescued from the bonfire pile

symbols in lino
exquisite corpse
I don’t do beautiful

splendor solis
noises off
perpetual choirs in the Abbey

Gog and Magog
and the seven grandmothers
have to blow it up

feed colours into
a splodge of gum Arabic
sloe-berries and walnuts

View from Fjara

April 17, 2022

it could be rain
or a familiar headland
on that dim horizon

a lighthouse
white-washed buildings
low stone walls enclosing green

an iron gate to let you in
never go back
there will be lock and chain

Ama Bolton 17 April 2022

ABCD March 2022

March 27, 2022

Nine members of Artists’ Book Club Dove met on Zoom last weekend.

Clare is pleased with her new refillable fountain pen (no more plastic cartridges!) This raised memories of school inkwells and scratchy dip-pens. She has made a loop-stitch book on one of Rachel Hazell’s online courses. She has been drawing during her Flamenco classes, has made a skirt in which to dance, and will soon be embarking on the creation of jackets.

Due to recent events, Thalia’s painted peace banners have taken on a life of their own.

Bron has made a glorious book using inks obtained from trees. No trees were damaged in the making of this book!

Judith has used her passport!. She has been to Brussels for cultural activities, including a Korean exhibition and to Spa for – what else? – a spa-break.
She has finished the big blue book that she started on a course with Massimo Pollelo.

Caroline has made a beautiful three-section book on a course with Guy Begbie.

Judy currently has a mokuhanga print and some books in Take 5 Artists’ exhibition at Upton House Gallery Upstairs, Poole. It is open till end of Monday 28th (tomorrow).

Judy Warbey mokuhanga print

Jane is looking forward to starting a new indigo vat when the weather is warmer. I foresee more blue books!

Janine has completed a second book of historical family photos.

Carol could not be with us but she has sent photos of this book of lively and exciting lino prints with 3 colours. Book cloth cover. ‘Syncopation’: An irregular beat as pages do not always open as expected and the print is ‘off -beat’.

Ama’s new book is a collaboration with John Rowlands-Pritchard, whose beautiful lettering of the poem titles illuminates the text. 15x21cm, edition of 26 A-Z. 32 pages. Recycled paper sewn with blue waxed linen thread. The fly-leaves are blue handmade banana-fibre paper.

My other recent book is Broomfield, October, a record of the Desire Lines group visit last autumn to Fyne Court. The lettering on the back cover was a surprise gift from John Rowlands-Pritchard. The book is printed on Elliepoo recycled paper and card, and sewn with brown waxed linen thread. 12 pages, folded at fore-edge. 10.5x15cm. Edition of 25.

Ama Bolton, Broomfield October

Our April meeting will be, we hope, in real life at the Dove on Saturday 9th.
Finally, a selection of fragments from my record of the meeting.

March Dove-droppings

back view of the cat
see the fluff
filling the screen

old sarong
upside-down teeshirt
loop-stitch binding

a whizzy line
sucks up ink
retrograde progress

Madonna of Glastonbury
with all that chaos
peace and war and art

I boiled a book
a brown book
mapping the overload

escape from Brexitland
underwater currents
the battle of the squirrels

what is hidden
and what is revealed
art in the jungle

memories of Kashmir
enormous pages
how I love silk

steam rising
wintry trees
long blue skies

Compiled by Ama Bolton

The Waste Land Revisited

March 19, 2022

How differently we might respond to TS Eliot’s groundbreaking poem if he had stayed with his first title, ‘He do the police in different voices.’ And how different our experience would have been if Ezra Pound hadn’t encouraged Eliot to thin the first draft by almost half. Twenty seven writers have been meeting regularly on zoom to unravel Eliot’s notoriously ‘difficult’ poem and prepare a day of readings and discussion for the centenary of its publication in 1922. Sue Boyle traces their challenging journey and talks about the exciting multi-media performance piece which has evolved from their collaborative work.Sue Boyle

As one of those twenty seven writers, I have been immersed in Eliot’s poem and in our responses to it for months. Much of my recent writing relates to it, directly or indirectly.

The calypso singers are still laughing but the fishermen have thrown down their flowers

And in the captain’s tower
are the poets still at war
Eliot and Pound
turning a line around
deleting a stanza here
adding a fragment there
fine-tuning the sound 
while the great ship goes down?

Ama Bolton

Lines from my Twitter feed #2

March 13, 2022

(9th March 2022)

Are you ready for a pizza party?
Only a monster targets pregnant women.
Our country has gone mad
it’s demoralising.
Invest in stocks and crypto!
Easyjet could owe you compensation.
Find a healthier balance
increase the vegetable patch
make things right
buy my new collection.
Women cannot send their sons to die
every day is a memorial day.
Exclusive member deals!
Solar panel output 43%
(see the parallel universe.)

Of course, it’s not a poem. Just a few lines I copied into my notebook because I was struck by the absurd incongruities.  The solar panel line was tweeted by a robot from the otherwise uninhabited North Atlantic island of Rockall. Its usual tweet (which I enjoy immoderately) is “It’s pissing down again on #rockall.”