Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Book Artisan Gerard Brender a Brandis

Photo via WEN blog
 (the Wood Engraver's Blog)
Local artist, printmaker and bookmaker Gerard Brender a Brandis is a legend. He makes his own paper from plants he grows himself; he does glorious he has a press upon which he makes his prints and produces books of his own and those he creates alongside his sister, also a prolific author; he has an artist's studio which is open to the public for part of the year, and where you can see his artistic process and talk to him directly. 

There's a beautifully in-depth visit and interview with him posted by a visitor to his studio recently - lots of images of his stunning work and his charming self. Check it out!

He also has many books that have been published by various Canadian small presses, highlighting his art in different ways. Porcupine's Quill Press, which is located quite close by, has put out a few titles by Gerard Brender a Brandis, and I'll highlight two that I own and that I've just gone through again. 

A Wood Engraver's Alphabet is a perfect introduction. He's an expert on botany and many of the prints you can buy at his studio are studies of flora in its many guises. (The only print I own is a small lily of the valley which is so delicate and superbly beautiful). This book takes the structure of an abecedarium and illustrates it with multiple floral images - a multitude of options here. 

A brief introduction explains his choices and why he made them, as well as giving a lovely nod to his writer sister, Marianne Brandis. It's a  pretty book which really highlights his skill at this art and rewards close observation. There's not any text besides the intro, so this small book (61 p.) is really just for visual delight.

A Gathering of Flowers From Shakespeare (with quotations selected and interpreted by F. David Hoeniger) (143 p.) is exactly what it sounds like. 

It's the perfect Stratfordian mix, with many images of Shakespearean settings and botany alongside mentions of those flowers in the plays. If you want something that evokes Stratford and its best known arts, try this book! 

Hoeniger gives excerpts of a few lines of play, and then explains the import of the plants that Shakespeare chose to refer to -- why they might be important in context, what the deeper meanings were to each reference -- all in brief companion pages to the images. Most are florals, though as you can see from this cover there are also a few others; houses, sundials, bridges, interiors. It's charming and a must-read for Shakespeare aficionados. 

Stratford really is an artistic place, and I'm fortunate enough to know many artists and authors here. I'm happy to share these two books by an artist whom I admire for his kindness and his skill. 

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