Peter Knight – The Common Press – Crich
How did you become involved with artist’s books?
I’d always been interested in books and illustrated books in particular. I was developing my work with a strong printmaking approach and discovering historical work by George Cruickshank-( see The Tooth-Ache, 1849) and other historical graphic artists. I was struck by how ‘current’, applicable and entertaining their work was. Artists’ books were a well-established form of practice in my student time, and I collected Xerox work by Andre and Kosuth, and did my own Xerox/photocopying projects. My favourite practitioner was Ed Ruscha who expressed the same recording and listing concepts that I favoured. I enjoyed the combination of printmaking and book structures and crucially in the late ‘80’s I had discovered letterpress.
What is the focus of your practice?
My work is varied in concept and starting point: exploring and recording the existential threat to life in ‘Four Horsemen Approaching’, exploring history and carved archetypes in ‘An Unreliable Derbyshire Bestiary’ and collecting and classifying flotsam and jetsam in ‘a Scottish Rainbow’. The work stems from a love of printing in many forms. My work is at its most basic, essentially focussing on recording and listing. It sometimes involves classification, e.g.’Twigs that say Y’, but my locality and the history, geology and received narratives of ‘place’ are normally the starting point.
What are you working on at the moment?
For public consumption I continue, amongst other things, with my interest in the effects of lead mining in my locality in Derbyshire; mining landscape, mining place names, mining vein names, even the names of wildflowers that thrive on spoil tips are fascinating, see ‘Scrins, Flats and Pipes’.
For my own consumption, I continue with what I call ‘My Mnemosyne Atlas’ project. Started in earnest six years ago, it is a series of ‘perfect bound’ annual volumes that collect all the bits of reference material, drawing, photocopying , ripped out magazine pages, text and found material; essentially, the detritus that accumulates in sketchbooks and falls out when you give them a shake. It is literally the material that falls through the gaps. It is the marginalised supporting material that has no other existence – mainly for copyright reasons.
It has an audience of one.