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John Petts (1914-1991) is one of the outstanding wood-engravers of the twentieth century. His stunning prints featuring Welsh mountains and the people who live amongst them reflect his deep concern for the history of the land and are distinguished by his profound understanding of the physical and psychological properties of light. Extensively illustrated, John Petts and the Caseg Press spans the entire career of this reclusive artist and offers the first account of the private press he founded in Snowdonia in 1937. In 1935, John Petts and Brenda Chamberlain abandoned their studentships at the Royal Academy Schools, London for a rundown farmhouse in the rugged terrain of Snowdonia. They started the Caseg Press in 1937 in the hope that it might finance their freedom to work. At first dedicated to saleable ephemera such as Christmas cards and bookplates, the press later became involved in the broader Welsh cultural scene, providing illustrations for the Welsh Review, a monthly literary periodical. In 1941, with the writer Alun Lewis, the Caseg press produced a series of broadsheets designed to express continuity and identification with the life of rural Wales in the face of social change precipitated by the second world war. John Petts and the Caseg Press is the first monograph on this artist. It covers both his work for the Caseg Press and for other publishers such as the Golden Cockerel Press. The volume offers a unique insight into an important chapter in the history of private presses in Britain and the development of neo-romanticism in art and literature during the inter-war period.
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A history of the Caseg Press. A small isolated venture, it was very much an artist's press, drawing on the dramatic landscape of Snowdonia for its inspiration. The Press owed its origins to the youthful idealism of John Petts and Brenda Chamberlain who met as students at the Royal Academy Schools before abandoning the metropolitan scene for a simple existence among the mountains. The Press was started in 1937 at Llanllechid, Caenarvonshire, in the hope that it might provide enough remuneration to support two artists living off the land. By focusing on the engravings produced under the Caseg heading, as well as the illustrations Petts produced for other publishers such as the Golden Cockerel Press, this book traces the precarious history of the Press from its inception, through the difficulties of the war years, to its re-establishment at Llanstumdwy in 1947, up to its demise in 1951.
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