Papers relating to Masks

Scope and Content

This grouping of material relates to the posthumous publication, Masks, which is both a livre d'artiste in itself and a homage to Walter Strachan; it appeared in a limited edition of 100 copies, plus a further 47 copies for contributors which were not for sale. The idea for the volume came from the French artist Mario Avati, who at a meeting with Geoffrey Strachan in Paris in 1997 suggested a homage to Strachan's father in the form of a selection of his poems illustrated by some of the artists who were his friends. Abram Krol immediately supported the idea and offered a frontispiece for the volume, and both French artists suggested that some British artists should also be represented. Aside from Avati and Krol, the artists who contributed to the book by providing illustrations for Strachan's poems were Vincent Guiro, Peter Thursby, Peter Rhoades, Jacques Houplain, Ivor Livi, Louttre B., Jean Peschard, Robert Blanchet, Wendy Taylor, Natalie d'Arbeloff and Geoffrey Clarke. Nicolas and Frances McDowall of the Old Stile Press agreed to plan, design and publish the volume in the style of a French livre d'artiste. Anthony Dyson, a bilingual etching engraver, printed all the plates at Black Star Press, apart from the wood engraving (by Robert Blanchet), which was printed at the Old Stile Press. Geoffrey Strachan provided an afterword. The material relating to this volume includes: a copy of the publication itself (signed by the contributing artists); correspondence files relating to the genesis, progress and completion of the project; sample and proof pages; a full set of page proofs; publicity material; and a series of original New Year cards sent to Geoffrey Strachan by some of the Masks artists. In a letter of 21 October 2002 (in WJS/5/1/2), Nicolas McDowall looks back on the success of the project, telling Geoffrey Strachan that the book "is one that I will always feel pleased with and to have been able to be part of this tribute to Walter makes me proud".