With several wood engravings and linocuts by Howard Phipps
Whittington Press, 2007
Designed and printed by John Randle at the Whittington Press.
Published in an edition of 300 copies, of which 230 are standard copies, 45 copies are half leather bound ‘specials’, and 25 are full leather bound ‘specials’.
My preferred medium for illustration in fine press is wood engraving and throughout my collection there are examples from a broad selection of artists in the field. There are many wood engravers whose work I am really taken by, but my favourite is Howard Phipps, and this choice in my list makes an exceptional showcase for his truly exquisite work.
The book, also written by Phipps, is a journey through the Ebble Valley, an area of outstanding beauty in the English county of Wiltshire. I’m a rural chap at heart, so a publication like this is always going to be right up my street (or perhaps I should say ‘country lane’).
For several years I’ve enjoyed reading the nature writings of Ian Niall, Claire Leighton, Richard Jefferies and the like. Ebble Valley sits very well among these, especially with the added dimension of the lush treatment of the edition. The Whittington Press have consistently produced a wide range of beautiful, interesting and worthwhile books for many years now, and I own a fair few. This one, with its multitude of evocative illustrations, is the most special. The highly detailed wood engravings and linocuts that depict the idyllic landscape of the area are truly remarkable and among some of the finest I’ve seen. As for the typography and materials, the book is exceptionally well judged. The rough-cut forms of the Poliphilus and Blado types, and the textured velvety Losin handmade paper they are printed on, lend just that extra touch of ‘rustic’ to the book.
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