Rena Gardiner A lifetime spent Illustrating the English Landscape
Rena saw herself essentially as an artist, who chose the medium of book illustration to express herself and her ideas. It was of prime importance to her that, despite the obvious limited edition and fine print potential of her work, she wished to reach wider audiences and was content to keep her production costs at an extremely modest level and sell her books for a few shillings, and later for one or two pounds.
What is fascinating and most significant about her work is that she managed to achieve commercial mass-production while maintaining direct hand control over all the processes involved. Despite printing runs of up to 3000 copies, no two books are exactly the same. Balance of colour and weight of ink vary throughout the run because Rena used her press as a creative tool to develop and evolve her images. The press was not simply a means of reproducing an existing image in an exact and consistent way.
This unorthodox use of a commercial press gave Rena total creative flexibility to allow each image to evolve while achieving long runs. Accidents or effects that fell short of expectations did not mean abandoning the run, as they were exploited or compensated for by adjusting the next printing. The resulting prints have a variety and freshness that can only be achieved by such hands-on involvement. Below are some illustrations she did of the village she lived in and for her local festival magazine.
Her bibliography includes:
Dorset: Isle of Purbeck
Dorset: Tarrant to Blandford.
Dorset: The East Winterborne Valley.
History in St. George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle
History at Salisbury Cathedral
A Journey of Discovery. A Guide to some Properties Belonging to the National Trust in North Cornwall.
A Journey of Discovery: A Guide to Some Properties Belonging to the National Trust in South Cornwall
Look at Canterbury Cathedral
Look at Brixworth Church
Look at Charlecote Park
Look at Chester Cathedral
Look at Cotehele
Look at Hardwick Hall
Look at Lanhydrock
Look at Montacute
Look at Wallington
Look at Wells Cathedral
Looking at Chedworth Roman villa
A Visit to Hadrians Wall
The Country Of Hadrian’s Wall
The Guildhall of Corpus Christi
The Guildhall, Lavenham, Suffolk
The Story of Ely Cathedral
The Story of Magdalen College Oxford
The Story of Saint Bartholomew the Great
The Story of St Richard of Chichester
The Story of Norwich Cathedral
The Story of Rochester Cathedral
The Story of Ely Cathedral
The Story of Tewkesbury Abbey
A Portrait of Arundel
A Portrait of Lacock
Portrait Of Sudbury Hall Derbyshire
Many thanks to Martin Andrews, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Typography & Graphic Communication at Reading University, for the text in this blogposting.