Monday, February 17, 2014

Toni Savage of Leicester


Agnes Guano is the proprietor of The Downstairs Lounge and scours charity shops for "chewy vinyl nuggets of the very choicest British comedy records" so you don't have to.

But what caught my attention here was not the thought of Bernard Bresslaw as a poet, but the publisher. Who was Toni Savage of Leicester?

The answer can be found in the Incline Press book A Paper Snowstorm: Toni Savage & the Leicester Broadsheets by Rigby Graham and Derek Deadman:
Rigby Graham, whose drew this evocative sketch of Toni Savage, describes Toni's broadsheet production as a 'paper snowstorm' -- his rate of production only matched by his inventiveness and sheer sense of fun. 
A former opera singer, and a folk-club enthusiast, Savage was at the heart of a revival of broadsheet printing in Leicester in the early 1960s. Transfixed by the creative possibilities of letterpress printing, he and his friends produced hundreds of letterpress-printed broadsheets and pamphlets for free distribution to friends and strangers alike in the clubs and streets of Leicestershire. 
Toni's story is a story of the energies and enthusiasms of the sixties, but it is also a case study in the transformation of letterpress printing from its commercial hegemony to its role as a tool of the artist/craftsman that it holds today.
Rigby Graham is a Leicestershire artist who is still active and is one of the people interviewed on An Empty Stage - a DVD about John Piper. (I suspect his own style owes something to Piper's influence.)

I met him when I was 17 or so because he used to come into the secondhand bookshop where I had my Saturday job. On one occasion the proprietor had poured me a tiny whisky, which Rigby Graham said was "just a dirty glass".

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