The Wild Pansy Press is a collective art practice and small publishing house. Our most recently-completed project is the “Wild Pansy Press Book of Rainy Day Activities” initially devised for an exhibition in York it is a compilation of instructional projects from an international roster of artists and other contributors, distributed as four A2 sheets to be folded into a 64-page book. Like many of our projects, it was distributed free as part of an exhibition and later through our website.
WPP is based in the School of Fine Art at Leeds University and has built up a considerable catalogue of books and projects, often linking a publication to an exhibition in ways which extend and confound the usual notions of a catalogue. WPP is actively developing partnerships with other groups to build a network of practitioners who explore and advance publication (in its widest sense) as both a distributional strategy and medium of practice.
In the next few years WPP will be developing its role as an originator of new projects. We will be producing individual or themed group publications as before but also, essentially, acting as curators and animateurs both on and off the page through a programme of exhibitions, workshops and related activities.
An important way in which WPP publicises and distributes its products has been through book fairs; generally these involve a simple stand (usually a trestle table) with a display of books. As a development of our work we intend to overcome the limitations of these displays - while retaining the direct and easy encounter they allow - through the device which we have provisionally titled the “Portable Reading Room”.
This will be a flat-pack, easy-assembly enclosed structure incorporating seating, a layout area where books can be displayed and examined, storage space for stock and, on the outside faces, an area for displaying artwork, a notice board and signage.
We have started working on the design of a piece which will be functional but will also be a social sculpture centred on the activity of reading and the book as an expressive medium. Readers will be encouraged to interact with one another in an unfamiliar but welcoming space and to, in a sense, “put themselves into” the imprint.
Once completed the Portable Reading Room will be an exciting and popular outreach device not only at Book Fairs, but as part of exhibitions and in public spaces such as museums, universities, theatre foyers and festivals or as an exhibit in itself in a gallery space. Its physical design will provide acoustic “calming” and allow recording of podcast- and broadcast-quality material as well as providing a comfortable environment for readings and discussions even when set up in acoustically unsympathetic environments.
Simon Lewandowski, Chris Taylor.
Directors, Wild Pansy Press