We’re very excited at Of Cabbages and Kings, to be hosting the launch of the latest edition from Factory Press Kingdom Under A Hat on Thursday 5th March, and last week I cycled over to Clapton to meet the creator – artist, designer and printmaker Liz Loveless. The book is the 9th published by Factory Press and I visited Liz at her studio and shop on the site of a disused ice cream factory just off Chatsworth Road to discuss the story behind it.
A few years ago Liz had been asked to do some illustrations based upon the story of The Rock Garden of Chandigarh in India: A secret world built entirely from rubbish scavenged by it’s creator Nek Chand. This ‘Kingdom’ as Chand liked to refer to it, consisted of man-made interlinked waterfalls and other sculptures made of scrap and waste (bottles, glasses, bangles, tiles, ceramic pots, sinks, electrical waste, etc.) which were placed in walled paths.
The hidden garden had been built in a gorge Chand believed to be wasteland outside the city and no one found it for 19 years. It was discovered by the authorities in 1975, by which time, it had grown into a 12-acre complex of interlinked courtyards, each filled with hundreds of pottery-covered concrete sculptures of dancers, musicians, and animals. A battle then commenced to save the garden from demolition and it was finally granted public space status in 1976.
In January 2014 Liz had the opportunity to visit the garden herself and once again felt inspired by the story of Nek Chand and his secret rock garden. She started gathering discarded wrappers and other paper scraps from the pathways around the garden itself, which she bought back home to use and interweave into her own expression of the rock garden story. These collaged, enlarged sweet wrappers now decorate the end papers of her book.
Liz often combines collage techniques with hand-pulled silkscreen to create the illusion of texture over a flat surface. Her books start life as A1 sheets of paper screen printed in 3 colours on both sides and finish as limited editions hand bound in cloth or card. Kingdom Under A Hat will be an edition of 650. These large sheets are then guillotined into double pages, arranged in order, folded with the bone folder, measured, hole punched and hand sewn to form the body of the book.
As I watched Liz at each step in the book making process I began to truly understand the love and craftsmanship that goes into constructing each and every one. The next stage was the nipping press. I’d been eying up this beautiful object since I’d entered the studio and couldn’t wait to see Liz put it into action. Liz cases the books in grey card, glues the end papers and covers the spine with bright coral book cloth. The nipping press will only hold 4 books at a time. Cellophane is placed between the pages to prevent the ink from sticking and the books are left overnight, sealing the endpapers to the cover and pressing the pages completely flat. By morning the new books are ready to be numbered and added to the edition.
On Thursday 5th March we’ll be hosting a very special evening to launch the new book. Liz will be at the shop with so please join us on a journey to the magical rock garden of Chandigarh, see Liz’s photo collage installation including a life size bicycle and watch a short supporting animation as well as grab your copy of this beautiful limited edition, hand-pulled silk screen printed, hardback, hand-bound book. There’ll probably be drink or two going round too!