Sunday, 17 July 2011

Of the making of books

I spent a couple of hours yesterday with a man who sent me some writing from prison a few months ago; he has been locked up for over two decades but will, if things go well, later this year re-enter the world as a free man. This is not a simple thing. There is the reason why he was put away; there is also his writing and his present way of dealing with the disaster of his life with a maturity I can only respect.

And on Friday I met in the street, by chance, Ken Garland, whom I haven’t seen for maybe a year. If you’re in the graphic design world, you may already know about him. If you’re not, start now: his website is here. I don’t think I know anyone who marries better, more seamlessly, seriousness about the things that matter and a sense of play. He designed the posters for the first CND Aldermaston march in 1962; in the late 60s and early 70s he designed wooden toys and board games for Galt Toys. He once told me of a speech he gave to a conference on play in education at the ICA: he took his children with him, and on the way there they gathered fallen leaves in bags, which during his speech were released and tossed around among the assembled academics.

For the past three years Ken has been putting out a continuing series of small books (three a year) of photographs: leaves (again), the stuff that washes up on beaches, graffiti in Brighton, fire hydrants, Mexican windows, Bangladeshi rickshaws . . . This year’s books will be mostly work by others, and there’ll be text as well as images. So far, these books have been sold from flyers mailed to his personal address list. I think something more can be done.

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