Unbound has landed Feather, Leaf, Bark & Stone, a book of poems and meditations by Jackie Morris typed onto squares of goldleaf, bark and feathers.
The new book emerged from a difficult time in the author’s life. Her father passed away shortly before lockdown and the pieces emerged in the spaces between her paintings, during moments when she was struggling to deal with her grief. Morris’ father was a policeman who typed his reports on the same typewriter and she believes that using a typewriter hones her writing,
Describing why she has ventured from the natural world to work with typewriters, she said: "Each square of a gold transfer leaf acted as a limit for my words – they pushed me to choose the right words and to fill the space in a way that was pleasing. Because words are images. Every piece of writing is made from images called letters, which when put in a certain order on paper create other images and stories in our minds. It’s alchemy at its most pure."
Unbound and Morris are planning to "honour" the bookshops that have supported the book by leaving gifts of gilded stones in independent shops for readers to discover.
Morris was shortlisted for the Kate Greenaway Medal in 2016, and won it in 2019 for her illustration of The Lost Words (Hamish Hamilton), which she co-authored with Robert Macfarlane. Alison O’ Toole, the designer behind The Lost Words and The Unwinding is set to design Feather, Leaf, Bark & Stone.
The Unwinding and The Silent Unwinding, published by Unbound last year, sold close to 15,000 copies across all editions, according to the publisher, racking up a high number of direct sales through the Unbound site. Both books are published in the US next month.
Unbound is now Morris’ exclusive UK and North American publisher for her solo work. As well as The Unwindings, Unbound has released Song of the Golden Hare and the reimagined and redesigned special editions, with some new illustrations, of both East of the Sun, West of the Moon and The Wild Swans which are published next month.
The feminist fairytale retellings were launched at the Cheltenham Festival over the weekend, when Morris was joined by her publisher John Mitchinson for an evening of live drawing and conversation about art, dreams, and fairytales.
Morris recently launched an Unbound funding campaign for Accordion Books, due for publication next autumn, a new series of folding gifts books featuring her paintings of foxes, otters, hares and owls using antique watercolours, some from boxes which haven’t been opened for over 150 years.
Mitchinson said of the new book: "If I’m ever asked what keeps me in publishing, it’s the all-too-rare chance to be a midwife to beauty. Jackie Morris is a creative artist in her prime, a maker and a storyteller like no other. Publishing her is a collaboration that just gets richer and more rewarding."
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