Extraordinary artist to be celebrated at literary festival in Leicester

Posted by ap507 at Nov 11, 2015 02:42 PM |
Event reflects on Rigby Graham’s contribution to British art

Issued by University of Leicester Press Office on 11 November 2015

A festival of literature is to celebrate the ‘extraordinary contribution to British art’ of a Leicester artist and writer.

The University of Leicester’s eighth Literary Leicester festival is a vibrant celebration of the written and spoken word featuring a distinguished selection of authors, poets and performers.

Organised by the University of Leicester’s College of Social Sciences, Arts and Humanities it includes a discussion by Mike Goldmark of the life and work of Leicester artist and writer Rigby Graham.

The event takes place in the David Wilson Library Seminar Room, University of Leicester, on Saturday 14 November, 2-3pm. A display of Rigby Graham’s work will be open from 1pm. Booking required but tickets free: https://www2.le.ac.uk/institution/literary-leicester/ticket-bookings

Mike Goldmark, owner of the Goldmark Gallery, Uppingham, said:In May of this year with the passing of Rigby Graham, at 84, we lost a man who had made an extraordinary contribution to British art and the world of Private Press books - a man with whom I had worked through thick, thin and thinner for nearly three decades.

“Graham was multi-talented; teacher, writer, painter in oils and watercolours, printmaker, a master of technique whether working on etchings, lithographs, linocuts or the wood cuts where he pushed the boundaries as never before. He also designed the most amazing stained glass windows.

“Rigby Graham was unlike any man I had ever encountered. Malcome Yorke’s biography which I published shortly before Graham’s death was entitled Against the Grain. This made specific reference to his woodcutting skills but also summed up the way in which he had lived his life.”

Mr Goldmark added that Rigby Graham had taught education until his mid-fifties, a subject about which he said he knew little and cared even less. Yet for years after his retirement ex-students visiting the gallery in Uppingham would ask after him with great fondness and he remembered every one of them. But Graham was not one to suffer fools, once describing someone’s art as having the structure of ‘a pissed-on digestive biscuit’. His letters could be so cutting that recipients were unsure whether to bin them or frame them. 

Mr Goldmark said: “Graham’s capacity for work was extraordinary. During the ‘60s and ‘70s he illustrated well over three hundred Private Press books. Many of these he also wrote and in some instances even made the paper. They ranged from broad sheets to the magnificent Leicestershire book for which he dictated some seventy thousand words to his wife, Patricia, who was involved with much of the publishing. I think that the Leicestershire book ranks with the great topographicals of the nineteenth century. I once worked out that Graham had produced a book every three weeks for two decades while holding down a full time teaching job and still finding space to paint and make prints.

"Rigby Graham was unstinting in his help to me often assisting with catalogues design. Nothing was ever rushed. There was no compromise. It could be three in the morning and there would be no let up until the work was completed.  Nor did he ever cost his time. The equating of financial return with the time and effort required to complete a task was wholly irrelevant to him. He once worked for six months to complete a commission for a mural for which the fee only covered four weeks. And never once during all the years that I worked with him did he ask what I got for a painting. He would be more likely to ask the colour of the buyer’s socks.

“Rigby Graham left us with a legacy of very special work which the art establishment will come to recognize. For my part, I miss the talk and the letters and the laughter without which the struggle would at times have seemed intolerable.”

  • Mike Goldmark, owner of the Goldmark Gallery, Uppingham, will be speaking about the life and work of Leicester artist and writer Rigby Graham at Literary Leicester, David Wilson Library Seminar Room, University of Leicester, 14 November, 2-3pm. A display of Rigby Graham’s work will be open from 1pm. Booking required but tickets free: https://www2.le.ac.uk/institution/literary-leicester/ticket-bookings

Festival running order:

Wednesday 11 November 2015

  • Jamie Mollart: A Reading and Conversation with Henderson Mullin: Attenborough Arts, 12pm.
  • David Almond (Schools-only Event): English Martyrs' School, 12.50pm
  • James Joyce: Apocalypse and Exile: Quaker Meeting House, 2.30pm
  • Writing Women in the Midlands: Workshop: Leicestershire Records Office, 3.30pm
  • Raving Beauties - 'Hallelujah for 50 Foot Women': Attenborough Arts, 8pm

Thursday 12 November 2015

  • First Story: Young Writers' Showcase: Attenborough Arts, 1.30pm
  • Remembering G.S. Fraser: David Wilson Library, 3.30pm
  • Literary Salon: "Unlearning Childhoods" with novelists Caryl Phillips and Elleke Boehmer: Attenborough Arts, 4pm
  • Linton Kwesi Johnson and Caryl Phillips in Conversation: Peter Williams Lecture Theatre, 6.30pm
  • Louis de Bernières: Peter Williams Lecture Theatre, 8pm

Friday 13 November 2015

  • 'Does it Make a Difference if a Writer is Male or Female?' A panel discussion with authors, publishers and local students: Peter Williams Lecture Theatre, 1.15pm
  • Why did Samuel Pepys Keep his Diary? Attenborough Arts, 2pm
  • 'Who Loves Jack the Ripper?' with Bruce Robinson: Phoenix, 6.30pm
  • Withnail and I: screening with an introduction by its director, Bruce Robinson: Phoenix, 8pm

Saturday 14 November 2015 - 'Fantasy Fiction Saturday'

  • Emily Gravett: Letterbox Club Event (children aged 6 and up): Peter Williams Lecture Theatre, 11am
  • Rigby Graham: Artist and Writer: David Wilson Library Seminar Room, 1pm
  • Stuart Hill: “BLOOD, BLAST AND FIRE!" The Icemark Chronicles (for 10-15 year olds and readers of all ages): Peter Williams Lecture Theatre, 3pm
  • The Kingdom of Dreams: The Uncanny Worlds of Graham Joyce: Ogden Lewis Suite, 4.30pm
  • The Story of Alice: Lewis Carroll and the Secret History of Wonderland, with Robert Douglas-Fairhurst: Peter Williams Lecture Theatre, 6.30pm
  • 60 Years of The Lord of the Rings, followed by panel discussion: 'What's the Point of Fantasy Fiction?' with leading authors Robert Douglas-Fairhurst, Stuart Lee Juliet E. McKenna & Farah Mendlesohn: Peter Williams Lecture Theatre, 8pm

All events are free, but some are ticketed, so please check the University of Leicester website, or venue, for more information.


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