Text from TM to PW 18.31 – 15 October 2017
Drawing upon the oratory brilliance of Windham himself, convey the contents of each section of the Windham papers with image or anecdote.
At this stage in the project, with seven out of ten instructions already completed, it is easy to reflect on what has been successful, and what has been less so. With a relatively open instruction like this, I am reminded of Instruction 4 – the decoration of recipient illustrations – I consider this my weakest response; on reflection, a system should have been used to offer a sense of unity and cohesion, therefore this will be the main aim and focus for this task. I continue to be impressed by T’s level of research, so I will also endeavor to engage with more in-depth research and testing of ideas rather than my usual reactionary approach.
The first task is to analyse the meaning of the instruction by referring to key words – convey/section/anecdote. I start by trying to define the difference between a section and a chapter, however it would seem that the Windham Papers are an exception to the usual rule which is that a section is a topic area within a chapter, this is not the case with our editions where chapters are part of sections. However within the section content pages of Windham, short sentences are used to précis the chapters; when I explore the meaning of anecdote, one definition a short, obscure historical or biographical account resonated with that of the contents pages and seemed an appropriate starting point. I looked at the work of the RSC – Reduced Shakespeare Company who deliver condensed versions of the historical plays in a humorous way, whilst making the plot easier to understand. I have to confess that I find the political content of WP difficult to navigate, and with the definition of convey being to express a thought, feeling, or idea so that it is understood by other people, it seemed a similar approach to RSC could be used to translate and convey meaning in a simplistic way; this became the basis of the idea.
The first task was to translate the chapter descriptors into something that defined and summarized Windham, this became a list of bullet points which I then categorized using five headings – political position, political action, personal life, factual info and location. I became influenced by the work of Morag Myerscough and through the development of ideas and defining the space to be used within the book, I produced a system that uses colour and pattern to express Windham, supported by typed labels of the bullet points, which act as a key.
With no margin marks at all within Volume 1 of the Windham papers, I was initially unclear about how to respond to Instruction 7. Reading around the notion of markings in books led to articles in celebration of marginalia, claiming that this process enables a heightened form of engagement in which the reader can collaborate with the text and mingle with the author on some primary textural plane (O’Connell, M; The Marginal Obsession with Marginalia 2012). Whilst previous readers had not engaged with the process of making marks, I had observed occasional thin strips of additional paper within the inner page margins dotted throughout the book. These presented a contrast to the printed page of text and I began to consider that these could be the margin marks which I identify in some way. I think that these strips are connected to the insertion of illustrations within the book which seemed to link to standpoint O’Connell presents in which margin marks retain something of the former owner’s presence, in this case the former owner may have made the book! In order to identify these strips of paper, I inserted sequential numbers in the top left and right page corners to highlight the quantity and positioning throughout the book and then marked up each strip in black. I contrasted these with blank white self-adhesive labels in the corners of all of the pages which contain no additional papers. Interestingly the addition of so many labels has increased the thickness of the book and produced a slight tonal change to the colouring of the page edges.
The examination of dictionary definitions and their accompanying synonyms once again framed my visual response to instruction 6. Processes of working emerged through this initial research around how to select, organise and present text decoratively to include both the voice of the author of the introduction and provide clues to the life and times of William Windham.
Some research into endpapers provided information about their placement and early methods claiming that endpapers were originally made within anything to hand including manuscript off cuts. This seemed to suggest making use of sections of the introduction in some way.
Returning to a system of colour coding established within Instruction 2 to catalogue Windham’s personal and professional life, I introduced a new colour to include the voice of the Earl of Rosebery, the introduction author and golden boy of the early 20th century. Reading through the introduction I searched for the essence of the texts – clues to the successes and failures within Windham’s life and the standpoints made by Rosebery. The process of highlighting these added decoration to the introduction and provided a starting point to build upon. These selections were copied and over-printed with scale increased through the use of the copier machine in an attempt to visualise the charm of conversation which is what Rosebery claims to be the ‘real reputation of Windham’. Decorative and non-functional text sections emerged and I considered drawing attention to punctuation markings and key phrases. A selection of words which‘survived’ the numerous copier machine overprinting are still functional, in that they can be read. These have been embellished with text removed from the introduction to add additional decorative elements exploring scale and placement.
Positioning the end papers within the book, I made use of the markings already in place so that the words wrap around the book plate, Christ Church library bar code, and date of entry to the original library collection.
Text from PW to TM 12.07 – 6 September 2017
Identify and/or highlight any margin marks within the WP.
The first action was to identify each page within my edition that had a note or mark in the margin. With the exception of one page, all marginalia takes the form of a vertical pencil line to select a specific passage of text. I started to develop ideas based around the idea of book-marking and finally settled on the simple idea of folding the corner of each designated page. Each fold conforms to a system, its depth is dependent on where the marked line appears on the page. To further highlight the pencil marks I wanted to show the number of lines per page that the reader had selected. I developed a scale system based on the number of lines in relation to type size of the overprinted numeral.
This is the first time that an instruction and my subsequent response has started to affect previous workings and adaptations of the book; I was initially quite concerned about this but quickly realized that this is the notion of the project – I could have re-worked my idea to avoid affecting the work already carried out, but this seemed too controlling, so instead I applied the idea and accepted that it would have a cause and effect on the book.
Progress on this instruction has been relatively slow considering it was first set in July. I have now got to the stage of using cellulose thinners and cutting rubber stamps for block colours. The texture of the laid paper has had an effect on the success of the images, similarly working on bound pages within such a large volume sometimes makes it difficult to get a flat surface. However I like the immediacy of the process and having only one chance to get it right, this means having to accept imperfections and mistakes!
Text from TM to PW 07.24 – 30 July 2017
With reference to the contents of the Introduction or Epitaph construct decorative end papers to embellish and inform.
I find working on the instructions from T far more challenging and interesting than my own, this is because we don’t tend to question or discuss the meaning of the task so there is naturally a certain amount of ambiguity involved. Our responses are a personal interpretation – and I enjoy the fact that I may not interpret the instruction as it was intended. This is the case with instruction 6. At the back of my book, beyond the index is a blank page, which would be classed as the endpaper – I am assuming that this is where T intended the response to be placed – and do I use the same blank page at the beginning of the book, even though I have no introduction to interpret? Whatever the case, there is no right or wrong and it will be interesting to compare the books when we eventually see them side by side.
My starting point to interpret the Epitaph was to research into Georgian death notices; whilst I was familiar with Victorian mourning cards that were sent in envelopes edged with black borders, it was difficult to establish if this was a custom during the early 19th century, however I did find some interesting imagery that had similar qualities to a rubber stamp or lino-print and this was perceived as a potential visual style. Similarly decorative borders in various styles were also a familiar feature.
Naturally the epitaph itself offered lots of plaudits and a list of adjectives to describe Windham’s character – ‘pious’ was one visual starting point; as well as the epitaph within the diary I found testimonies from friends and colleagues of Windham – one from the writer Samuel Johnson used the latin phrase ‘inter stellas Luna minores’ – the moon among the lesser fires – this also resonated as a possible visual starting point. I looked at the repetitive nature of decorative endpapers and developed ideas for a step and repeat pattern based on visual connections with Windham.
Completion of Instruction 2 enabled first investigation of the locations from which Windham wrote his letters within Volume 1. Of the 49 letters he wrote, 25 included listed addresses from 10 different locations, 4 of which were from his home of Felbrigg Hall in Norwich. Taking the idea that Windham would have departed and returned from his home at Felbrigg Hall, I used this as the starting point, and began by listing the distance of each town recorded from the Hall. When only streets were listed, I used known information about the life of Windham to determine which town the street may be from the list of options provided on Google Maps! This resulted in addresses in Glasgow, where Windham was a student, the Netherlands, and a further 2 in London, including one of the oldest Gentleman clubs in London!
Utalising this system of distance, I constructed a network of lines radiating from and back to the library windows at Felbrigg Hall to catalogue additional places of writing. The original library stamp from Christ Church, Oxford provided an opportunity to present a key to each location and record the number of times that a letter was written from each address.
Written note from PW to TM posted 10.15am – 12 July 2017
Develop a system to catalogue the known addresses from where Windham wrote his letters.
Having identified each page where an address was in evidence – 89 in total with 14 different locations, my first task was to work out the percentage of letters sent from each particular place. I researched into each location and in many instances was able to pinpoint the actual number of the street where Windham lived, however this information was incomplete as sometimes he listed just a place name not a full address, so this was sadly not a route I could develop further. Instead I considered how each place could be categorized; whilst colour-coding seemed an obvious starting point, I quickly realized that this may be confused with the system adopted in instruction 2. Next I started to explore the potential of using actual maps, and by reflecting on the methodology adopted in instruction 4 – which had been relatively successful – began to examine how I could use a similar system to depict the hierarchical nature of the addresses.
Using a modern road atlas I highlighted each place name within approximately a 2.5cm square section; the number of times that the location appeared within the book determined the percentage by which the square section was then enlarged. The colour copies of the map were then wrapped around the edge of each relevant page using a system of alignment. What is perhaps less successful than the way this process worked in the previous instruction, is the fact that incrementally the difference between each place name is at times limited, therefore it doesn’t allow a real sense of scale to be established.
Having used the covers of the book for a previous instruction, I wanted to use the spine as a vehicle for cataloguing each place, the numeric value of each location is represented by a small roundel punched from the same map section used within the book pages.
Taking an idea from the given word connection, I began by exploring potential links with previous responses and reflected upon the similarities and differences within this instruction and the last. I considered how I might draw upon making practices employed within my response to instruction 3 to undertake instruction 4. The similarity of scale and placement of the portraits enabled a returning to the idea of the Oxford frame. Within this response I chose to remove the shape of the frame to amplify a lack of connection to Windham. I also returned to the idea of printing multiple initials to decorate the back of the portrait pages embellishing these with gold leaf to further illuminate the gaps in between the individual letters which I had previously filled with the initials of William Windham in instruction 3. With a further reference to the notion of illuminating, and historical illuminated letters, I made use of the paper removed from the book in cutting out the Oxford frame and embellished these with emerging connections with Windham’s life, loves and letters. These are placed decoratively within the original portrait and will be made use of again to embellish the list of illustrations at the front of Vol.1
Text message from TM to PW 15.24 – 19 June 2017
Using the portraits of non-recipients, illuminate/amplify their connection to the life, loves and letters of William Windham.
I viewed this instruction as an opportunity to develop a set of more unified illustrations than those produced for instruction 3 which lacked cohesion and identity; this was a chance to
revert to previous (more successful) practice by putting in place a series of systems to develop a visual style.
The first action was to identify the non-recipient portraits and how many letters each person had sent to Windham – surprisingly three people had sent no correspondence to WW at all, therefore it was decided to deal with these portraits in a separate manner. This left 4 portraits to work with. To get an understanding of their relationship with Windham, I read each letter several times to determine its tone of voice – one major problem with this was that some of the letters had been heavily obliterated in response to instruction 1, so working with what was still readable I identified those correspondents who I considered friends and those who were considered foes. Having ascertained how many letters each correspondent had sent, I was able to work with this information to develop a system. The portraits were photocopied onto either blue (friend) or pink (foe) paper, at the same time each image was enlarged by a percentage that correlated with the number of sent correspondence; for example Canning sent 8 letters to Windham, so his portrait was enlarged to 180%, whilst the Duke of Gloucester only sent 1 letter so was enlarged to 110%, and so forth.
This system helps to communicate the direct relationship each person had with Windham. I also wanted to portray the relationship each person had with others within the book by
using the hierarchy of the British peerage system in some way. By identifying all the names (that again were readable) within each letter, I typed each one onto a colour-coded piece of paper to represent their rank/title. Using a system of placement, each name was sewn onto the illustration in a position that represented its place on the book page; the thread colour was defined by the same hierarchical system of rank. Working on copies then attaching them into the book enabled me to avoid some of the problems encountered with the previous illustrations and opened up opportunities to work with machine stitching. A key to identify the
system hierarchy was placed on the page opposite the first non-correspondent portrait.