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Ralph Beyer, shutter-cast concrete lettering, 1961, for the porch at St Paul’s, Bow Common, Tower Hamlets. The complete  Book  of Genesis quotation is ‘Truly this is none other, But the House of God, This is the Gate of Heaven.’  Beyer handcrafted each letter and imprinted them into wet concrete.

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There is a memorial to Edith Sitwell at St Mary’s, Weedon Lois, Northamptonshire and the lettering was by Ralph Beyer.

beyerHoping these words might get us through the day. Quite extraordinary that 6 million people have begged for a people’s vote and our masters calmly ignore us. There was a lecture about Beyer last year, annoyed to have missed it: ‘Ralph Beyer (1921-2008) was an inscriptional carver best known for his huge ‘Tablets of the Word’ in Basil Spence’s Coventry Cathedral, which provoked admiration and criticism in equal measure when they were carved in 1961. Beyer was probably the first lettercarver in twentieth-century Britain to deliberately depart from formal regularity. His approach owed much to his background: a childhood in Weimar Germany, then exile from the Nazis to Eric Gill’s workshop in the Chilterns, and later associations with Henry Moore and Nikolaus Pevsner. John Neilson’s talk (for the C20th Society) will look at some of Beyer’s work in churches and cathedrals, and examine what made him work the way he did’ (more detail here).

 

ralph-beyerRalph Beyer (obituary here) carved inscriptions and we shall have one on the Post every day this week: it’s more crucial than ever to remember that the important things in life are aesthetics, hard work, sensitivity, kindness and so on so forth. ‘Beyer is particularly well known in the UK for his carvings which adorn (are rather a part of the very fabric) of Coventry Cathedral. This illustration is from that place, set into the floor (look closely, adjust your eyes and you’ll see people at the bottom of the image to give scale)’ (from All About Lettering here). (With another terrible week ahead, we feel a calm re-reading of Howards End coming on: it really is one of the great novels, and how extraordinarily percipient that the Wilcoxes are called, well, Wilcox and the Schlegels’ name is – German. Forster was truly a visionary.)

2473On the day we were due to leave the EU (and in fact in the office we feel more European than ever and actually slightly in love with Donald Tusk because of the lovely message he sent the million on Twitter) we want to remind the occasional person who says enough is enough: PUBLISHING IS POLITICAL. Come to the shop, buy our books by mail order, look at the Post and the Letter, READ the books – but never forget that we have not published one book that does not have a political message. And in the case of Persephone Books as a project, an organisation, a small business, the message is this: since 1945 we have had peace in Europe. Being part of the European Union is part of maintaining this peace. That is why we care and that is why we say: Women Writers for Europe! (Btw, we still have some posters, they are free in the shop or if you ring up and twist Lydia’s arm she will post one.) However, all this seems rather disrespectful when the Post this week is meant to be commemorating Rose Hilton. But of course she was as political as they come and would not have wanted things differently. We shall end with today’s Guardian obituary and with one of Rose’s most recent paintings, Afternoon Chat 2014.

Models-in-the-conservatoryRose Hilton painted ‘Model in the Conservatory’ in 1999. ‘”The female model was the sole interest in the paintings of my earlier years,” she says. This painting shows how eventually she started to incorporate the figure into larger scenes. Her models were often fellow artists and old friends, like the writer Molly Parkin, which deepens the intimacy: “I can chat to them and make it seem much more natural.” A German girl comes every Tuesday for three hours and poses in her cottage. Hilton likes painting women, she explains, because “I feel sympathetic to their shape”‘ (taken from The Economist/1843 here).

TELEMMGLPICT000191930135_trans_NvBQzQNjv4BqaRL1kC4G7DT9ZsZm6Pe3PehAFAI_f6ud569StXyOKH0-1A few years ago Rose Hilton gave a fascinating interview to Fiona Clampin in the Guardian here. It was illustrated with this photograph – which has in the background one of Rose’s very characteristic paintings: a woman in a long dress with her head resting on her hand. Rose painted a variant on this many times.

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There was something on the radio about the stress farmers are under because of Brexit (yes, please repress the unkind thoughts) but it’s not just farmers! We go to press with the new Biannually today week and still don’t know if we will be able to print our autumn books. This is all beyond frightful. But we have a new game: with a Schubert Impromptu in the background we watch the numbers shoot up on the Petition. ‘They’ will take no notice but it’s something. Meanwhile, with apologies for the renewed rant, Rose Hilton: this Still Life is a recent work which has just been sold. Let’s all put some daffodils in a blue jug in honour of Rose.

Hilton, Rose, b.1931; Friend in my StudioFinally coming down to earth after the heavenly twentieth birthday celebrations (thank you again for all the messages, flowers, cards, visitors to the shop, friendly remarks), the exhilaration of being with a million like-minded people (we walked/shuffled from Leicester Square to Park Lane, St James’s, Parliament Square and Waterloo for the train home – it took six hours but we wouldn’t have missed a moment), watching the petition top two, three, four and now five million, and yesterday’s glorious weather which allowed us to give the new office dog a proper outing. But now what? We keep one banners particularly in mind: PRIDE AND PREJUDICE 52%/SENSE AND SENSIBILITY 48%. But alas, our masters don’t read books, let alone Jane Austen, so that will make no difference to them at all. Indeed, it was like being in a tin-pot dictatorship to walk/shuffle past Downing Street to realise that SHE WASN’T THERE. Naturally she wasn’t there. But then, at the end of the weekend, looking at our emails last night, we were alerted that our beloved Rose Hilton died in her sleep last Tuesday. So back to art and colour and wonderful women painters and a bit of normality: this week on the Post, Rose Hilton (1931-2019). This is Friend in my Studio 1978 and here is a marvellous film about Rose  (we call her that because we have two of her paintings, and living with them makes her our friend even if she never knew it).

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Here is an original drawing for Miss Pettigrew, kindly given to us by Winifred Watson’s son to mark the ten-year anniversary of the Persephone Books reprint in 2011.

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