The Bodleian Bibliographical Press invited contemporary book artists and printers to create printed works that responded to, and engaged with, black shapes on printed pages. They invited submissions of black rectangles of all kinds, achieved by any means of printing. Contributors were invited to think laterally, in keeping with the diversity of the historical examples of black shapes on the page.

In 1968 the English artist Richard Hamilton was asked to design the cover for a new studio album called ‘The Beatles’. It followed ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’, whose vibrant pop-art cover featured the Beatles with life-sized cardboard cut-outs of famous people. Hamilton’s idea for the new album was to look for the complete opposite, a clean sheet, and he came up with the idea of a plain white cover. The thirty-track double album became better known as the White Album and went on to sell an estimated 30 million copies.

Echoing Hamilton’s wish to produce a conceptual opposite, with Malevich’s square watching me from high in the corner, I responded to the call by hand-printing the obverse of White Album – Black Album – unique, black and silent.

Monotype 1/1
Hawthorn dense black ink on Somerset smooth paper, 408mm square.
With studio help from Maxine Foster. Image by Peter Stone.

I’m delighted to say that my print was awarded first prize. It will be on display with the other submissions in the Old Bodleian Library from 17th September – 6th November 2022, and will then be added to the Bodleian Collection.