The Studio in 2020

For March the Oxford Fine Press Book Fair is scheduled. A table at the fair is booked, equally so are flight and accomodation. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, British Airlines canceles the flight early on, and as a result I have to pull out of the fair entirely. I am lucky in that this happens early enough so I can get a full refund. The fair is postponed twice and eventually does not go ahead at all in 2020. The organizers at the Fine Press Book Association (FPBA) react quickly: if visitors cannot come to the fair, the fair will go to the visitors. Within the shortest of time the Marketplace Newsletter is launched. Every few days an email is sent out presenting, so to speak, one aisle of the fair with five tables. This way books and art work that would have been on the tables at the fair for real, can still be showcased even though only on the screen.

In some 12 newsletters all exhibitors are able to put on show at least a selection of their new works. This Marketplace-Newsletter develops into a staple that will, every now and then, present to all who registered new works of members of the FPBA. My new works are the two artist‘s books „Earliest Spring“, a poem by William Dean Howells, and „Three Sonnets“ by William Wordsworth.

Artist’s book with three sonnets by William Wordsworth

The lockdown, that is set up as a first measure against the spreading infections, limits any physical contact between people as far as possible, and in response to this I give my website Manufaktur Papiergebunden a makeover and turn it into an Open Studio on the Internet. Now whoever wishes to, can visit the shelves and plinths, can browse the books and prints as they feel and from their homes and can even place orders. Also, the website bleikloetzle is turned into a place for metal type, giving information on letterpress printing and metal type including a reading list.

Artist’s book with poem by William Dean Howells

The second Printmakers‘ Day has to be contact-free, resulting in a presentation of my new art work on the studio‘s website. The current limitations due to the lockdown, make exhibitions, open studio events or fairs inside buildings impossible. There is no way of knowing just how long this will all last. As long as there is neither a vaccine nor any kind of medication to treat a COVID-19 infection, our only weapon is, to prevent the virus from spreading by cutting down the number of people who get themselves infected.

Broadside with a poem by Thomas Nashe, contribution for the 2021 deluxe edition of Parenthesis

Keeping to the motto „If you cannot do anything about that lockdown, make the most of it!“, I spend the mornings researching for my next artist‘s book and the afternoons doing work in the garden. The rhododendrons currently sit on a site that proved too dry and sunny for them. So an alternative spot has to be found. At the back of the old pig stable the site is well shaded and moist. I start digging , unearthing some 5 tonnes of building rubble, that will have to be disposed of.

For a long time my thoughts have kept coming back to a very special theme of interest: the philosophy of Henri Bergson. An indeterminate and probably elongated period of time with no exhibitions, no fairs and no packing boxes and my small van, looks like the ideal time for immersing myself into such a complex subject. At the University of Keele (UK), where I was staying at as a one-year-overseas student in the 1980s, I took a course in Philosophy of Science. For me this was a once-in-a-lifetime offer I took instantly and enjoyed immensly. Ever since philosophy is a field that has a pull on me. The French philosopher Bergson, lived and worked at the turn of the 19th to the 20th century, and he developed a totally new idea and understanding of time and duration. His writings were well known within the Parisian avant-garde, amongst them Georges Braque, Pablo Picasso and many others of the artists known as cubists.

Even a year, that turned much of what we thought was a given upside down, will eventually come to an end. The Open Studio on the Internet is turned into an Advent Calendar. From 1 December right up until Christmas Eve, every day another door opens to reveal a new story about work in the studio, about printing techiques and working with metal type. All posts remain online and can be found in the category „Advent“ to this very day (the texts are in German).

Lotta approves of the new furniture.

And just before Christmas a new piece of furniture is delivered: a type cabinet with a rotating stool. My dear colleague Karl Kretschmer had a spare one and asked whether I still had space for it. And with a little reshuffling – well, you know by now. Lotta needed to have a close look and to sniff at it thoroughly, but then could approve of it.

Briefly noted:

The transition period for Brexit proper ends this year, and the UK will at last be no longer part of the European Union.

Published in 2020:

Earliest Spring“artist‘s book, poem by William Dean Howells (English) artist‘s book with linocuts

Three Sonnets“, artist‘s book, poems by William Wordsworth (English), Hardcover with dust jacket


To register for FPBA Marketplace Newsletter go to:

Open Studio on the Internet (German)

A Place for Metal Type (mostly German)

Excavations in our garden

To be continued on 10 June 2024


  1. Hello Annette, how well I remember 2020. That was a very strange time, but also a time to begin some very long term foreign language and sculptural crochet projects. Great posting and a gorgeous photo of Lotta.

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