The Orphaned Spaces: Still Lives

The Orphaned Spaces, still life booklet (c) Dunlin Press
The Orphaned Spaces, Still Lives booklet

Our latest book, The Orphaned Spaces, collates a number of different styles of photography and illustration, in different sections detailing the flora and fauna discovered on real areas of edgeland, brownfield sites and waste ground. Still Lives is one such section.

Botanical still life, The Orphaned Spaces.
Botanical still life, The Orphaned Spaces.

Yarrow, ragwort, plantain, mallow… these are the plants we often overlook, but do much to define the ecology of our wilder spaces. In The Orphaned Spaces, we greet them with photography, fine art, illustration and prose.

Botanical still life, The Orphaned Spaces.
Botanical still life, The Orphaned Spaces.

Taking the form of an A5, 148-page book and/or made-to-order box setThe Orphaned Spaces is an illustrated exploration of overlooked areas of natural beauty – edgelands, ex-industrial, derelict and brownfield sites, and the sometimes rare flora and fauna that is found there.

More than a nature book, it is a rumination on life, loss and time, through the prism of liminal spaces captured in moments between dilapidation and regeneration.

Hand-stitched still lives booklet
Hand-stitched Still Lives booklet, The Orphaned Spaces.
The Orphaned Spaces, still lives section.
The Orphaned Spaces, still lives section.

Originally the botanical still life photography was intended for our own personal research purposes. As part of our artistic process, we often make visual records when putting together our publications. We find visual research very effective in distilling a mood, capturing sometimes overlooked idiosyncrasies of a place or object; it’s generally a good resource to draw from when writing or illustrating.

As we’ve mentioned previously, The Orphaned Spaces started off small and has grown into a larger continuing project, as well as the book and limited edition box set.

Botanical still life, The Orphaned Spaces.
Botanical still life, The Orphaned Spaces.

The botanical photographs were created with plants and flowers gathered in the spring and summer from various edgelands and brownfield sites we visited over the course of our research. Inspired by Japanese ikebana, the plants were arranged starkly (sometimes with the help of wire and tape) on a plain, neutral background, to look like they are growing in isolation, and shot quickly.

Botanical still life, The Orphaned Spaces.
Botanical still life, The Orphaned Spaces.

The book and box set feature an edited selection of these photographs, however we are also amassing a growing library of images, now with various pioneer plants and botanicals gathered in autumn and winter. Perhaps these will lend themselves to an exhibition at some point in the future.

You can buy The Orphaned Spaces book and box set at our Dunlin Press shop.

The Orphaned Spaces Box Set

The Orphaned Spaces Box Set
The Orphaned Spaces Box Set

The Orphaned Spaces box set is one of those wonderful examples of how a very basic idea can grow into a full-blown all-consuming project.

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Dated glass bottle reliquary

Our original idea for The Orphaned Spaces was to have a plain paper bag containing fragments of writing, the odd drawing and some landscape photography, all loosely themed around ‘waste ground’. About a month in to the project, however, it had already started to take on a life of its own. In the end, we spent a year gathering pictures and writing for it – and it still continues.

The Orphaned Spaces: Postcards, fine art prints, seeds and reliquary
Postcards, fine art prints, seeds and reliquary

We’ve often described our Dunlin Press publications as ‘time capsules’, embodying the mood and spirit of a place or region at a particular period of human history – like pressing a pause button or taking a picture. The Orphaned Spaces box set is a physical manifestation of this concept.

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The Orphaned Spaces: Hand-stitched journal

This highly limited edition, made-to-order box set, deconstructs the book The Orphaned Spaces, breaking it down into hand-stitched booklets, postcards, archival prints and a reliquary.

The Orphaned Spaces: Hand-stitched journal
The Orphaned Spaces: Hand-stitched journal

The box set contains the following elements:

1: Hand-stitched ‘Journal’
Coverstock: G.F SMith, Colorplan, fuchsia pink, 270gsm. Inset pages: G.F SMith, Colorplan, dark grey, 135gsm. Inner pages: ZANDERS ZETA, Unwatermarked Textured Paper, linen 100gsm,
2: Hand-stitched black and white studies booklet
Paper stock: Hahnemühle, Photo Rag, matte smooth, 188gsm
3: Hand-stitched wild flower still lives booklet
Paper stock: Hahnemühle, Photo Rag, matte smooth, 188gsm
4: 10 pressed plants fine art giclée prints
Printed on archival Hahnemühle, Photo Rag, bamboo, 290gsm
5: Six landscape postcards
6: A glass bottle ‘reliquary’
7: Wildflower seeds include a mixture of annual and perennial wildflower species and grasses.
8: Bookmark using G.F SMith, Colorplan, dark grey, 135gsm

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Hand-stitched still lives booklet
Hand-stitched still lives booklet
Hand-stitched still lives booklet

The Orphaned Spaces is an illustrated exploration of overlooked areas of natural beauty – edgelands, ex-industrial, derelict and brownfield sites, and the sometimes rare flora and fauna that is found there. More than a nature book, it is a rumination on life, loss and time, through the prism of liminal spaces captured in moments between dilapidation and regeneration.

Hand-stitched black and white botanical and insect studies booklet
Hand-stitched black and white botanical and insect studies booklet

The Orphaned Spaces book and box-set are released on 27 August 2018 but you can pre-order it now to get it on the day. If you’re a bookshop that wants to stock it, or any of our other titles, please get in touch with us email us at info (at) dunlinpress (dot) com.

The Orphaned Spaces: Limited Edition pressed botanical fine art prints
The Orphaned Spaces: Limited Edition pressed botanical fine art prints

New book: The Orphaned Spaces

Landscape, The Orphaned Spaces (c) Dunlin Press
Landscape, The Orphaned Spaces (c) Dunlin Press

Our beautiful new book, published in August, is The Orphaned Spaces. The book is the latest in a loosely themed series from Dunlin Press that continues our interest in place, time and nature. It is available for pre-order now.

The Orphaned Spaces, MW Bewick and Ella Johnston published by Dunlin Press
The Orphaned Spaces, MW Bewick and Ella Johnston, published by Dunlin Press
Wild flower still life, taken from The Orphaned Spaces (c) Dunlin Press
Wild flower still life, The Orphaned Spaces (c) Dunlin Press

The book is a collaboration between Dunlin Press founders, poet MW Bewick and artist Ella Johnston. It is the culmination of a year of drawing, photographing and writing, making journeys across the UK, walking, gathering, and research.

Scarce Emerald Damsel Fly drawing by Ella Johnston, The Orphaned Spaces (c) Dunlin Press
Scarce Emerald Damsel Fly drawing by Ella Johnston, The Orphaned Spaces (c) Dunlin Press

In diary form, the text records a year in the life of liminal space and is all based on real journals – and conversations with naturalists – made over a 12-month period, summer to summer. The book includes quick brush pen sketches, made in the field, a series of intricately detailed black-and-white drawings, selected ‘waste ground’ landscape and still-life photographs of wild flowers, plus an image collection of pressed ‘relics’.

Relic, The Orphaned Spaces (c) Dunlin Press
Relic, The Orphaned Spaces (c) Dunlin Press

The project is centred on a rumination on life through the prisms of derelict land, brownfield sites and edgelands, all caught between moments of dilapidation and regeneration.

Wild plant still life, taken from The Orphaned Spaces (c) Dunlin Press
Wild plant still life, taken from The Orphaned Spaces (c) Dunlin Press

These often overlooked spaces reveal much beauty: pioneer plants – ruderals – stray species from around the world, brought by boat and train, and rare native fauna and flora. There are profound lessons to be taken from these landscapes, as well as in the plant and insect life that inhabits them – they are orphaned spaces that can come to be loved.

Yarrow drawing by Ella Johnston, The Orphaned Spaces (c) Dunlin Press
Yarrow drawing by Ella Johnston, The Orphaned Spaces (c) Dunlin Press

The Orphaned Spaces is released on 27 August 2018 but you can pre-order it now to get it on the day. If you’re a bookshop that wants to stock it, or any of our other titles, please get in touch with us email us at info (at) dunlinpress (dot) com.

 

The Orphaned Spaces – handmade books

Last week we previewed some black and white sketch imagery for our new project The Orphaned Spaces. Here’s a look at how we’ve put together some of our handmade books for the limited edition box set.

The first film features our book containing detailed black and white fine line studies of wild flowers, plants and insects. Inspired by botanical drawings seen in antiquarian books, the pieces are printed on archival paper.

The second video showcases our collection of still life photographs. These images are of  plants that we gathered on our explorations of abandoned brownfield sites. Again, as with the black and white drawings, they are printed on archival paper for the handmade element of the project.

Coming soon…. The Orphaned Spaces

The Orphaned Spaces; a new release from Dunlin Press.

Wild clover illustration by Ella Johnston featured in The Orphaned Spaces published by Dunlin Press
Wild clover illustration by Ella Johnston featured in The Orphaned Spaces published by Dunlin Press

The Orphaned Spaces is the culmination of a multimedia collaboration between Dunlin Press founders Martin Bewick and Ella Johnston. The project is centred on a rumination on life through the prism of liminal spaces – derelict land, brownfield sites – caught between moments of dilapidation and regeneration. The project takes the form a paperback book and a highly limited edition box set, featuring hand-stitched booklets, postcards, archival prints and a reliquary.

Here’s a preview of some of the imagery used alongside the prose element of The Orphaned Spaces. These black and white illustrations were created in brush pen by Ella Johnston.

Wild flower illustrations by Ella Johnston featured in The Orphaned Spaces published by Dunlin Press[
Wild flower illustrations by Ella Johnston featured in The Orphaned Spaces published by Dunlin Press
These sketches accompany more detailed fine-liner drawings, still lives and landscape photography elsewhere in the piece. The illustrations seen here are visceral, loose and gestural and have been made on the fly, in the moment.

Wild flower illustrations by Ella Johnston featured in The Orphaned Spaces published by Dunlin Press
Wild flower illustrations by Ella Johnston featured in The Orphaned Spaces published by Dunlin Press

We’ll be revealing more about The Orphaned Spaces on our instagram and here over the next couple of weeks so watch this space…

Wild flower illustrations by Ella Johnston featured in The Orphaned Spaces published by Dunlin Press
Wild flower illustrations by Ella Johnston featured in The Orphaned Spaces published by Dunlin Press

Indie publishing and the joy of small things

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Why? That’s the question. Why would anyone in their right minds set up an independent publishing house and run it from a little office in a little old fishing town in little old Essex, and then decide to publish a book that combines beautiful illustrations of migratory wading birds with descriptions of the geography and habitat of the places where they make their temporary homes – from the Arctic circle to Africa – and then add in some meditations about conservation and human migration, touching on the big issues of refugees and the war-torn parts of this world? Why? Why? Why?

Well, because we can. As a small indie publisher we’re not fighting with the big guys who are looking after their margins, set against huge outlays and large potential audiences. We’re not shouting for virtual shelf space on Amazon or setting out our stall to lure in the readers of blockbuster genre fiction. We know we are niche. It’s nice being niche. It’s the reason we’re called Dunlin Press – we’re the little guys feeding in the margins. We’re not looking to be mainstream.

Est_

Our first book, Est: Collected Reports From East Anglia (£9.99) is an evocation of a region – as its title hopefully suggests. But it’s not a local history book, or a travelogue, or a collection of local poets or other writers – although it includes all of these things. Est is more than the sum of its parts. It doesn’t set out to define East Anglia, in fact a better description, perhaps, is that it ‘dedefines’ the region. East Anglia, by the end of the book, dissolves – crumbles into the sea.

And so our second book, The Migrant Waders (£12.99), was never going to be simply a nature book or an ornithological guide. Alongside contributions from the RSPB and BTO there is poetry; alongside micro-histories of human migrations there is psychogeography and words from the Refugee Council. And those lovely drawings.

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The migrations of humans and wading birds aren’t always entwined, of course. But the reasons that humans and birds take flight are remarkably similar. It’s about finding a safe place to make a home. And, by the way, those beautiful birds really do follow a flight path to locations where human history has often been one of turmoil and war. It really can be quite sobering.

We made The Migrant Waders because we can. There really is no other book quite like it.

 

Book launch: The Migrant Waders

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We will be launching our second book, The Migrant Waders, at Church Street Tavern, Colchester, Essex, on Thursday 21 April, at 7pm. It’s a free event, so please do come and join us to help celebrate. The evening will include readings from contributing authors, discussion with Ella Johnston about the wonderful illustrations that appear throughout the book and, of course, the chance to get your hands on the book itself.

We hope to see you and your friends there.

The Migrant Waders is a collection of illustration, evocative prose, poetry and reportage that follows the migration routes of wading and shore birds from the high arctic to the tropics. Taking in the histories of the people and places where the birds make their temporary homes, the book includes 21 ink and watercolour illustrations by Ella Johnston and contributions from nature and landscape writers, as well as leading ecologists and environmentalists.

Dunlin Press, April 2016.

 

Migrant Waders

watercolour14It’s true that we first saw the dunlins at night, scurrying along the oozing mud of the Colne at Wivenhoe as the tide receded. Their shapes were indistinct, spectral, shades. Were they voles or vermin of some sort? They moved along the shore unlike any birds we had ever seen. 
 
Our eyes, adjusting to the low light, said they were birds. Research suggested dunlins, or sanderling maybe. And there were other birds, too: turnstone, sandpiper, redshank, ringed plover. So soon out of the city we had stumbled into a new vocabulary, brought to us by the birds at our new doorstep, birds that had been absent during that first hot summer in Wivenhoe, that had arrived at some point as winter had stilled and greyed the estuary.
 
The birds understood this territory more than us. They were overwintering here, or in passage on their way to southern France, the Iberian peninsula or west Africa. They had come from the far north as part of their incredible annual migratory circuit, seeking food and a temporary home – a safe environment in which they could, for a time at least, continue to exist. Food and shelter are the most basic of urges. 
 
But we were migrants too. We had also lived temporarily in Wivenhoe before, more than a decade earlier. The paths of our own migratory stories took in locations from the north to the south of England, east and west. Before us, our families had moved from Ireland, Scotland, France and Scandinavia. Our own family folk histories told of us having followed the migratory paths of Celts, Saxons, Vikings. Go back far enough and, like so many families, we were not from here or there, we were from everywhere. The migratory paths of our own lifetimes told of economic migration: of moving home to find work, build a better life, feel safe. This is the essential tale of so many migrations.
 
The dunlins of the Colne disappeared, it seemed, as soon as they had arrived. We caught them once or twice in daylight, on the wide silted river banks near the Ferrymarsh, pecking at the mud between black- and bar-tailed godwits, and the redshanks flitting past, low over the water – their mournful, beautiful, ‘tyu-tyu’ call piercing the near-silent afternoon.
 
It was a year before we discovered that the dunlins would return. And they are still the most secretive of the waders we see on the river near our home that now, for us, is not quite so new. We still see them mostly at night when the black-headed gulls have flown back out to sea. And while the overwintering godwits linger here for months, the dunlins’ stay here is just as fleeting as ever. It’s easy to miss them and almost heartbreaking if we do.

Out of the blue they arrive. Into the blue they go. Crossing oceans and continents on their way without any notion of borders, always to plan, as necessity dictates, and always welcomed here.
 
A new book from Dunlin Press, The Migrant Waders, will be published in Spring 2016.
 

Our authors for Est

Est manuscript

This is our manuscript for Est: Collected Reports from East Anglia, and in it we’ve laid out the submissions that have made it into the final publication, due for publication in February 2015.

But who’s in it? Well, we have an amazing selection of poets, fiction and travel writers, journalists and the occasional academic and we’ll be revealing the names during the course of this week via our Twitter feed. You are following us, aren’t you? We’re very pleasant company. No? Look, we’re here: @dunlinpress.

It’s getting exciting now, so do make sure you check back for updates.

Ella and Martin

Who’s in our little black book?

Black Book

It might just look like a slightly blurry phone photo of a Leuchtterm 1917 notebook, but inside our little black book are the names of all the contributors who have successfully made it into Est, or upcoming volume of reports from East Anglia. They know. We know. But you don’t know – unless our dossier here is as leaky as a Whitehall briefing system.

In any case, we’ll be revealing all the names via Twitter over the coming few weeks, so do follow us on @dunlinpress – it’s all getting rather exciting.

Ella and Martin x