PAPYRONAUT JUL - 23 - 2019
"THE ENGLISH MODERNISTS"
NOTEBOOKS
These artists were not just neighbours but close friends and artistic allies for a new, bold approach to art. They formed the "The nest of gentle artists"
Set with 3 notebookspaper-bound12,5 x 17,8 cm4.9" x 7"64 pages each
A collaboration between "The School of Life" and "Polite Company", these minimalist notebooks scream at you in a delicately modest and sophisticated way to "think big thoughts". It seems impossible to doodle in a notebook like this that carries the name of a legendary artist on the cover, like a memorial stone. I'm not sure if I was able to draw a single line in them. To me, these notebooks are at the opposite end of "Field Notes" where "not" being serious is the artform. I confess, I'm madly in love with the design of these notebooks, but feel completely inadequate to own them because I have no idea who these people on the cover are. Homework time.
Okay, Barbara Hepworth was a sculptor. So was Henry Moore. And I think they added Ben Nicholson simply to confuse culturally untouched people like me, because he's a painter. Just kidding. These artists formed the artistic Avant Garde in a 1930s London, right before the second world war. Critic and historian Herbert Read called their group "a nest of gentle artists" because Hepworth, Moore and Nicholson lived in spitting distance from each other in Hampstead, which is a bit north of the London city center, today an area where an artist wouldn't even be able to afford a toothbrush.  Nicholson said "I do like these sorts of free creative people. They are alive and vital". They would vacation to together and publish a manifesto called "Circle", the International Survey of Constructive Art".
The notebook jacket says "It is possible to love the simpler, authentic habits of provincial life and to be a modernist". So I guess this is giving me permission to embody the same kind of controversy. To own these notebooks and madly admire their sophisticated beauty, while simultaneously thinking the English Modernists were writers. I still have no real clue about their art. But I like it. How do they call that again? Not AI (Artificial Intelligence), ah, I know. IS (Intelligent Stupidity)
I couldn't find any images of this notebook in action so these beautiful studio shots  will have to do.
Size
The most widely known notebook size is the "Field Notes" size, 3.5 by 5.5 inches. A bit smaller than A6. This notebook is the larger version that won't fit into your pants pocket any more. At 12,5x17,8 cm or 4,9x7", it sits between A5 and A6. Calendar size. Small enough to fit into a regular bag, yet large enough so it doesn't feel like all you can do is scribble a shopping list.
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