Sept. 3, 2009
“Books and More,” an exhibit of watercolors, paintings, prints and books produced over the past 40 years by David Esslemont, will be on display through Oct. 16 in Preus Library on the campus of Luther College.
Esslemont’s exhibit is a featured event in Preus Library’s 40th anniversary celebration.
Luther will host a reception for the artist Wednesday, Sept. 30, 3:30-5:30 p.m. in the library’s Hovde Lounge. Both the exhibit and the reception are open to the public with no charge for admission.
Esslemont is an award-winning British artist, designer, printer, bookbinder and publisher now living in America. He studied fine art at the Central School of Art and Design in London (now The University of the Arts).
After leaving college he established his own press in Newcastle upon Tyne, England, where he hand printed, bound and published a number of books about eighteenth-century wood engraver Thomas Bewick and his contemporaries. These were illustrated with prints from the engraver’s original wood blocks.
From 1985 to 1997 Esslemont was controller of the University of Wales’ Gregynog Press. At Gregynog he designed and printed several prize-winning books including “Giraldus Cambrensis,” for which he won the Felice Feliciano international award for book design in 1991.
He commissioned artists to illustrate the books and many, such as “Wrenching Times,” have become highly sought-after collector’s items. At Gregynog he was also responsible for strategic development, marketing and general management.
As a designer Esslemont has worked on a variety projects from a book stamp for the Bodleian Library in Oxford to a whole new visual identity for the University of Wales Swansea, including design guidelines and the application to signage and marketing. Many smaller commissions such as bookplates were done for private individuals and the design of stationery and logos for associations and small businesses. Digital typesetting and design projects include Parenthesis, the journal of the Fine Press Book Association, and books for the British Library.
Besides printing and binding his own publications Esslemont also undertakes commissions including “All in Good Time,” the autobiography of handmade watchmaker George Daniels, for the Peoples Archive, and “The Prelude” for the Wordsworth Trust. Esslemont binds his books himself and most are issued in leather bindings - full leather, quarter leather and designed fine bindings, often with gold tooling.
In January 2005 he was invited to be an Artist in Residence with the Wordsworth Trust in Grasmere in the English Lake District. This provided a unique opportunity to pursue watercolour painting and work on illustrations for a projected new edition of Wordsworth’s poem, “The Prelude.”
Esslemont has lectured widely in the United Kingdom and the United States, and his work can be found in both private and public collections worldwide. His archive is held at the University of Iowa. His recent work includes illustrated editions of John Keats’ poem “To Autumn,” Wordsworth’s “The Prelude” and Barack Obama’s inaugural address.
Esslemont now lives and works in Iowa as an artist, designer, printer, bookbinder and publisher. “I am passionate about books – my aim is to make books that are not only a pleasure to read, but a delight to all the senses. In my painting I am continuing an exploration of scale: the relationship of detail to the macroscopic.”
For more information about Esslemont, visit his website www.solmentes.com.