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"Cooking the Books: Ron King and Circle Press"
2002-06-13 until 2002-09-08
Yale Center for British Art
New Haven, CT,
Ron King and his Circle Press have been making beautiful and creatively significant books for the past thirty-five years. Since 1967, when he formed the Press to "draw together a circle of like-minded people" to make books, King has worked with over one hundred artists, writers and poets, including John Christie, Ian Tyson, Julia Farrer, Birgit Skiöld, Roy Fisher, Kenneth White, and John Berger.
The Yale Center for British Art now holds a complete set of the works of Circle Press and is celebrating that event with the exhibition Cooking the Books: Ron King and Circle Press. The retrospective has been organized by Elisabeth Fairman, Curator of Rare Books & Archives at the Center. According to Fairman "At the same time we are also commemorating a wonderful gift. In a remarkably generous gesture, Ron and his wife (the sculptor Willow Legge) have donated archival material that relates to the projects created by or for the Press. The extraordinary collection includes drawings, plans, experiments, prototypes, texts, correspondence, posters, blocks, plates, cutting and creasing forms and some wood and metal type—and much of it will be in the exhibition."
The archive has been given by Ron King and Willow Legge in memory of their son Daniel, who died of cancer at the age of fifteen in 1972, and it will be known as The Daniel King Circle Press Archive. Ron King describes Daniel as "an extremely bright, intelligent young man with a highly developed social conscience, a good draughtsman, and a keen stamp collector. . . . as we have no headstone or plaque for him, an archive in his name, made available mainly to young people, seems a fitting alternative and one of which he would approve."
Elisabeth Fairman adds that "the archive offers
an opportunity to catch a glimpse of the creative process. We can trace King’s idea for a production from his first doodle in a spiral-bound notebook, through its various permutations and to its eventual emergence as a work of art. We see how he ‘cooks the books,’ carefully working out
the details of every publication before production begins."
As Ron King says, ‘My mind is like a cauldron. There’s a great stew of things going round and round. In the end I serve up a dish.’
The books and archive together make the Center’s holdings the most comprehensive collection of Circle Press in the world. King says that "our most ardent support has always come from the U.S., without which we never would have been able to survive as an independent self-supporting ‘workshop’ ...all this, as it were, under a British roof in a very fine building on American soil, couldn’t be more appropriate or gratifying."
The fully illustrated catalogue serves as a comprehensive record of the work of Circle Press since its start in 1967. It includes an insightful essay by Andrew Lambirth and fascinating commentary on the individual works by Ron King himself. Handsomely designed by Thomas Manss and Kathrin Jacobsen of Thomas Manss &Company, London, the catalogue, limited to 1,000 copies, includes a cover and special inserts designed by King. It will be available for sale in the Center’s Museum Shop.
The exhibition is made possible with assistance from the British Council.
Left-handed Punch, 1986
screenprint and collage
Yale Center for British Art