Monday, 28 April 2014
The Rampant Lions Press at the Fitzwilliam
The Craxton exhibition was not alone. By chance the bf and I discovered in the museum shop that there was a retrospective on the work of The Rampant Lion Press. I suspect that this was more to the bf's liking. And because I came to it fresh, rather than freighted with preconceptions and the like, it was a serendipitous delight. In a quiet self-effacing, English, sort of way. The gallery itself was a small octagon linking two larger spaces. There were six glass cases around the space and in the centre a case containing the Kelmscott Press 'Earthly Paradise' and the Clover Hill Editions 'The Story of Cupid and Psyche' (1974). There had been a previous exhibition of the work of The Rampant Lions Press in 1982 and this current exhibition was a brief survey of the work of the press had undertaken since then.
The Rampant Lions Press was established between the wars by Will Carter, (1912-2001), a cousin of the designer and illustrator Reynolds Stone. The press continued until 2008, under Will's son Sebastian who had joined his father in the 1960s. They produced a series of beautiful books, sometimes experimental, collaborating with a number of writers and illustrated by the likes of John Piper and Michael Ayrton. I particularly like the use of coloured papers, as above. The Dante font illustrated below, I find, is singularly beautiful. In addition Will Carter worked with the Cambridge University Press. The exhibition also reminds us that Cambridge has and continues to be an important centre for craft and art production in Britain.
There are a number of editions still available to buy: www.rampantlionspress.com where you can also read a much fuller history of the press.
The exhibition continues until May 18th.