David Frazer – Love Letter artist book

In News August 11, 2021

Image above: David Frazer  Love Letter  linocut, wood engraving, letter press, typeset, hand bound book
edition 20  29 x 20 cm

In anticipation of David Frazer’s upcoming exhibition at Australian Galleries in Melbourne, we are delighted to launch his latest artist book, Love Letter, which beautifully interprets Nick Cave’s song, ‘Love Letter’.

David Frazer’s Love Letter is a limited edition hand printed book, signed by the artist and Nick Cave; printed using typeset and wood engraved blocks on Zerkal 145gsm paper, hand bound in a limited edition of 20. The 21 illustrations in this artist book are engraved by David Frazer on English boxwood, printed with typeset on a Columbian platen press built in the 1850s. Each book is bound by hand and stitched with a needle and thread. The front cover features an original linocut print. Also included in each book is a loose, signed original wood engraving Love Letter.

Image above: David Frazer  Love letter  2018  wood engraving  edition 60  7 x 6.5 cm

Every page is hand printed by me on my old 1850s iron hand press,’ Frazer said. ‘It is all old school and no computers are involved. You can feel the text embossed in the paper. I love the fact that it is all old school. The presses are old, the skills and technology I am using are the same as what they were doing 250 years ago.’

Frazer has been an artist and printmaker for 30 years, but says he is a songwriter at heart. ‘[Printmaking] suited a song’s narrative because it was small and intricate . . . When I bind them into a book, it’s almost like an album.’

This is Frazer’s ninth artist book of its kind, having previously created works with Martin Flanagan, Paul Kelly and Don Walker of Cold Chisel. ‘Nick Cave is such a good wordsmith. His visual imagery [and] all his stories are heartbroken love stories about confused men reminiscing about when they had a girlfriend. Most of my artwork is about bewildered men.’

David Frazer discovered wood engraving in 1996 and it was love at first sight. After not realising his ambition to become a songwriter or a rock star, he describes wood engraving as being as close as he would get to writing a song in order to connect with people and to stir some emotion. Substituting classic heartbreaking ballads for narrative illustrations and poetic text, his chosen medium displays empathy for the misfits and the lost man.

Frazer’s latest body of work revisits his love of song as a medium for storytelling, with his ‘lost man’ finding a voice in Nick Cave’s lyrics to ‘Love Letter’ from the album ‘No More Shall We Part’. Cave’s evocative text “a plea”, “a petition”, “a kind of prayer” set the scene for Frazer’s dramatic images. Here, the lost man is faced with the loss of love and makes an impassioned plea for its return.

Frazer’s handmade book, also titled ‘Love Letter’ offers a material interpretation of the lyrics in a series of 21 wood engravings bound by artisan George Matoulas. The images have been reworked and enlarged into individual linocuts, describing the same cutting with broader strokes, simplifying and reducing detail. Seeking the essence of a subject, Frazer desires to remove the peripheral through this demanding and physically unforgiving process that requires an affinity for the woodblock medium.

While not drawn to create pretty scenes, favouring a mundane and stark landscape to focus on a strong graphic narrative, Frazer’s imagery invokes a pronounced sense of nostalgia with a noble beauty.’  – Excerpts from the essay by Caroline Field, 6 June 2021.

Image above: David Frazer pictured with his printing press and artist book, Love Letter. Image courtesy of Noni Hyett, and The Bendigo Advertiser.

Australian Galleries is delighted to launch this artist book in advance of David Frazer’s upcoming exhibition in Melbourne, ‘A Kind of Prayer’.

For book orders contact:
(03) 9417 2422