Merlin James: River
Published to accompany the exhibition Merlin James: River at Sikkema Jenkins & Co., New York, 2020
Interview by Louis Block, The Brooklyn Rail
Photography by Jack McCombe
Designed by James Brook
Soft cover | 165 x 240 mm | 80 pages | Printed by Allander, Edinburgh on Galerie Art Matt
Merlin James: River is a book I designed for the Glasgow-based artist, Merlin James. The book accompanied a solo exhibition of new paintings by the artist, at Sikkema Jenkins & Co. contemporary art gallery in New York, which ran from 21 November 2020 to 23 January 2021.
I have worked with Merlin before: firstly, in 2013, on the book that Merlin wrote about the work of the Franco-Russian painter Serge Charchoune, published to coincide with an exhibition of Charchoune’s work that was shown at Talbot Rice Gallery in Edinburgh and the Smart Art Museum Chicago; and, more recently on the monograph about the work of Merlin’s late partner, the painter Carol Rhodes, that was published by Skira, Milan in 2018.
This is a wonderful body of work of paintings and drawings, mainly of the view from Merlin’s home and studio on Carlton Place, overlooking the River Clyde in Glasgow. It was a pleasure to work with these images that became very familiar to me as the book took shape. The book is printed on Galerie Art Matt 170 gsm with a cover of Galerie Art Matt 300 gsm, a coated matt paper with a tactile quality that has allowed the detail in the works to shine through. The book is typeset in a combination of Meta Serif Pro and Meta Pro with pared back typography and layout that prioritises the artist’s paintings and drawings.
Merlin James: James Brook is a terrific book designer and a pleasure to work with. I have been involved with three publications with him, of different kinds, one with a major international publisher. He’s rigorous but intuitive, flexible and versatile. He always listens closely to the client’s ideas and prioritises them. Nothing is too much trouble. He understands and communicates well with printers. I look forward to collaborating with him in future.