Book design, Box of goodies, Poetry

Over the hills and far away

Notebook: 1 January 2016 | BOOK DESIGN | POETRY

As a child I dreamt of being an architect but I was never good enough at maths and physics and so instead I drifted off to art college with the vague idea that I’d be an artist or designer. I took up a one year Foundation course at Winchester School of Art. Most of the tutors were from a fine art background and consequently graphic design or ‘Commercial Art’ was frowned upon and discouraged in favour of the fine arts. Luckily I had one tutor, a quiet and unassuming chap called Steve Wheatley, who opened my eyes to the world of graphics. I’d been aware of graphic design – I’d had it bubbling away in my blood – but he was the first person who’d put a name to it for me and he made me realise that people did graphic design for a living and that this was what I really wanted to do. Steve was actually an artist/poet rather than a designer and he published his own ‘illustrated’ art books one of which was entitled Over the hills and far away. It was a simple but very clever booklet that combined sheets of coloured paper with lines of poetry and the paper was cut in such a way that when it was folded and bound, different ‘scenes’ were depicted which Steve then described with verse. As each page was turned, a new scene was revealed with its accompanying description. I was so taken with the design of the booklet and its descriptive and attractive poetry that I bought a copy from my tutor which I still have and which I’ve reproduced here:

All words and images ©Steve Wheatley

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Winchester School of Art library have a collection of Steve Wheatley’s work as part of their collection of ‘artists’ books’. The collection concentrates on books made either by hand or in limited editions – by a whole assortment of artists. They can be viewed by appointment by contacting WSA which is part of Southampton University at wsaenqs@soton.ac.uk.

Sadly, Steve Wheatley died back in 2005.