Archive Update - John Piper

Jun 12, 2023

We are well into the cataloguing of the archive print collection, which holds over 700 lithographs. There is still a long way to go as we build our master database and cross reference material to build up a full picture of each artist and their work with the Curwen. The large archive plan chests purchased after the Make Your Mark campaign are a fantastic display space to view and store prints safely, and we have purchased new archival boxes for the items not on display, and are organising them by artist.

We have also begun cataloguing the document archive, which is proving a fascinating insight into the daily workings of the Curwen Studio and a daily challenge to catalogue as the material is so unique.
Diaries and notebooks contain colour swatches and instructions from artists,  how colours changed and even the mood desired by the artist. This gives us a rare insight into how editions progressed and the stages it went through before the final edition was made.  As we work on this project we are discussing how to make such a unique resource readily available online for artists, researchers and anybody interested in printmaking history.

In the archive today we found notes from one of the studio diaries in 1966 relating to the printing of John Piper’s Dylwyn Church lithograph and others from his experimental collage and photographic churches series. One of them, Newgate Church, Stanley Jones noted, was to be printed in strong black ‘as dramatic as possible’.

Stanley Jones and John Piper worked together on many experimental lithographs, both with radical approaches to lithography, combining mark making, collage and photography using stone and transfer film in the 1960s and 70s.

We have a working proof of Dylwyn Church in the Curwen Archive, before green was added in the final edition. The Tate holds one of the final edition in their prints and drawings collection, gifted by the Curwen in 1975.