Leslie Gerry, “New York Reflections”

On the left is a drop back cloth covered solander box inlaid with printed metal panels and yellow leather circles hot foil stamped with the letters N Y. The box is designed to have an architectural feel. On the right is is the casebound book with a cloth quarter-binding.

Title page. Colour printed with a flat-bed UV digital printer and the text hand set in metal and woodblock type, printed letterpress.

Spread – New York Crossing

Spread – West Broadway

Spread – Red Ladder, SoHo

Leslie Gerry
Dowdeswell, Gloucestershire, UK

New York Reflections
Flat bed UV inkjet, Letterpress
edition of 55
88 pages
22 in x 16 in open
22 in x 32 in closed

New York Reflections

I like to choose a location unfamiliar to me and of architectural interest, although it is often the street life that instills inspiration. I will spend two to three weeks walking around, sketching and taking many reference photographs, recording the colours, light, shadows and patterns. It is that first exposure which is so intense; you see things locals are often unaware of and that you will not notice on subsequent visits. I try to capture this intensity in the paintings I am about to do. On returning home to my studio I will run through the reference material over and over again, absorbing and reflecting on the images, until some sort of narrative develops. This will then become the basis of my book.

Painting on the computer, in Illustrator, I use a tablet and stylus. Working only with flat areas of colour and no tone, I “cut out” the shapes with the stylus, arranging them on different layers, creating a collage. In fact, I first started working this way years ago by cutting into sheets of coloured paper with scissors, similar to the way Matisse created his paper collages. I will start by sketching out a composition in blocks of colour as I would have done painting in oils. Using the reference photos as guidance only, I gradually build up the painting with darker areas first and then lighter shades.

The paintings end up as digital files; vector images which can be reduced or enlarged to any size. New York Reflections was printed with a flat bed UV ink jet printer on Moulin du Gue, a French mould-made paper, 85% cotton and 15% linen. As the ink is sprayed onto the paper, UV lamps harden the ink instantly so that it remains on the surface. With this process it is possible to print onto any substrate without the need for a digital coating.

I like the idea of accompanying the paintings with a text describing the location, either historical or contemporary; a different perspective, through different eyes.

In New York Reflections I have used extracts from Manhattan ’45 by Jan Morris – a reconstruction of life in New York in 1945. The text was keyboarded and cast in 22-point Caslon and printed by the Whittington Press on Zerkall mould-made paper.