In 2017 the Library received a research request regarding works in the Talwin Morris Collection by sculptor Marion Smith, a freelance artist and educator and a former technician in the department of Sculpture and Environmental Art at Glasgow School of Art. Marion approached us while working on a commission for arts and heritage learning programme Trails and Tales, which deployed artists across 11 towns and villages throughout East Dunbartonshire to explore their local heritage. In collaboration with local communities these artists undertook extensive research to create a series of site-specific outdoor sculptures and heritage trails inspired and informed by residents socio-cultural histories. Alongside these physical outcomes, these projects aimed to generate and encourage dialogue and knowledge exchange.
Working in Bishopbriggs, Marion was exploring the creative legacy of The Villafield Press, a printing house which was part of the publishing firm Blackie and Son. The GSA Library holds a large collection of works by this press in our Talwin Morris Collection, named for the press’ influential Art Director. Marion utilised a number of books in this collection for research, looking not only at Morris’s characteristic Glasgow Style but also the production techniques behind the books themselves. This resulted in two works, which draw on Morris’ distinctive aesthetic while applying them to radically divergent mediums. The first, Imprint, is a work in bronze which will be situated at Bishopbriggs Library. Designed after Morris’ cover for Blackie’s Infant Reader, the different levels and patinated surface on the finished work are designed to replicate the process which would imprint Morris’s designs on book cloth. The second is a larger sculptural work (currently still in progress) which will be located beside the Forth & Clyde Canal adjacent to the pathway close to Cadder. Drawing on Morris’ cover for A Very Odd Girl, it adapts the same colour scheme and elements of the design onto a granite sculptural form.
Marion also led a workshop in Meadowburn Primary School, which stands on the site of what was once Villafield Press. Each of the pupils had the opportunity to design and make their own books, complete with Talwin Morris inspired jacket designs.