Circle Press Collection

Ref: Special Collection
Title: Circle Press Collection

Scope: A developing collection of artist and sculptor Ronald King’s works from his own private press.
Dates: c. 1967-2005
Extent: over 50 vols

Administrative/biographical history:

The formation of Ronald King’s Circle Press Collection happened more or less simultaneously with that of Ian Tyson’s Tetrad Press. Indeed, before the founding of Tetrad, Tyson worked closely with Ron King at Circle. Circle Press, as the name suggests, was founded in 1967 in a spirit of collaboration which gave artists and writers a unique chance to work on all aspects of the creative process of book making, culminating in the production of works of art in their own right. These works did not go to press until they were as perfect as they could be, which is why Circle Press artists’ books and pamphlets are examples of colour and printing technique of the highest order and are some of the most beautiful and striking works of art from any private press operating at the time. Ron King’s later works, especially those in collaboration with poet Roy Fisher, such as Anansi Company (1996) and Tabernacle (2001), are on a large and complex scale, demonstrating King’s perfect colour pitch and heightened sense of composition with text and image in perfect harmony.

Other Circle Press titles included in the collection are items as dissimilar from each other as Ronald King’s edition of Macbeth (1970); Dante Gabrielle Rosetti’s Chimes (1969) with relief etchings by Birgit Skiöld and hand-bound in vellum and morocco by Sylvia Rennie; George Szirtes’ poem Mirror (2005); and Elastic Membrane (1979), by the sometimes-called systems artist Michael Kidner, who was inspired by mathematics, chaos theory and the big bang. Ron King’s sculptural work is represented in the form of the cut and creased iconic poster Alphabet II. Circle Press also published contemporary word artist Sam Winston’s A Made Up True Story (2005), in which Winston examines the structure and syntax of three different types of literature, a timetable, a fairy story and a newspaper column, and reorganises how they tell their stories by changing their visual rules; for example, Snow White is retold using the structure and language of a tabloid newspaper.

It is thanks to the generosity and support of Ron King that the Circle Press Collection continues to grow.

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  • Related collections: The Ron & Willow King Collection of Ian Tyson Editions and Artwork, Tetrad Press Collection, Private Presses Collection, Small Press Poetry Collection, The Ruth and Ken Campbell Collection
  • Source: By donation and purchase from various sources
  • System of arrangement: Numerical
  • Subjects: Artists’ Books; Poetry – 20th century
  • Conditions of access: Available to all researchers, by appointment
  • Restrictions: No restrictions
  • Copyright: According to document
  • Finding aids: Listed and catalogued