Private View: Good Press
The List's visual art editor speaks to Good Press founders, Matthew Walkerdine and Jessica Susan Higgins
Good Press was founded in 2011 to provide a platform for the most innovative and exciting independent art publishing. Alongside zines, prints, artists’ books and newspapers, the space also hosts ‘table-top’ exhibitions, showing the work of local and international artists, organises regular reading events and has a lively programme of external projects, participating in independent art publishing events around the world.
How has Good Press developed over the last three years?
An obvious progression would be the number of independently published titles we have here, the growth has surprised even us. We have an open submission policy in the hope that what is here is a fair cross section and representation of the breadth of independent art publishing. While we also endeavour to seek out the most interesting publications that are being produced around the world.
We’ve learnt so much since opening and that has determined how the activity has developed. When we first opened, the majority of publications were focused on visual art, now there is a huge growth in art writing and fiction from artists. It’s such an exciting thing to experience; the changing focuses of art publishing.
We’ll always change, we’ll always be flexible to change and we’ll always be busy, and Good Press will always be an interesting space to visit!
How do you programme your exhibitions and decide which artists you’ll show?
In terms of programming, the people and projects we show are always linked to a publication somehow – it’s a natural and unconsidered tendency, almost subliminal. Table tops are a space for an artist to do as they wish. They’ll come up with a project idea which may be something small or something huge, whatever works! We believe in absolute freedom for these things.
A perfect example of the kind of project we like to have in the space is one that has just passed; Freedom Isa Bonfire by Suzanna Zak. Suzanna is a photographer, writer and all-round collector based in Los Angeles, California. She had heard on the radio that the local council was trying to ban bonfires on the beach in LA and then became obsessed with this, collecting ephemera, linking her photos to this somehow, taping from the radio anything that came up. We just gave Suzanna the space to show this idea and this collection of found and original material. Suzanna has a great sense of style, aesthetic, intelligence and is incredibly talented, and she makes books, so she is a perfect candidate for a project at Good Press.
Can you tell me a little more about Museums Press and its relationship to Good Press?
Museums Press is the publishing precursor to Good Press. We have been working under the banner of ‘Museums Press’ since 2009 and we still continue to publish a varied output of zines, books and what we call ‘compilation-style-packages’. In terms of its relationship to Good Press, it’s definitely what drove us to start. Our existing relationships to galleries, organisations and bookshops informed how we facilitate projects and how we stock publications now. Museums Press is known within an independent publishing community and we wanted to do more for that community, and so Good Press was born.
What upcoming projects, exhibitions or new artist books are you most looking forward to?
Where to start? Looking backwards slightly, we continue to be excited about a publication we produced around a month ago called Museums Six. It’s a text-based publication containing booklets, comics and more, wrapped carefully and beautifully by Lucy Jones, one of our favourite artists. The whole work is based on interpretations of ‘Art for Leisure’ and features more than 25 artists from all over the world as well as some local and much loved people. We're really proud of this and feel it’s one of our greatest achievements to date.
We're enthused by our new artists’ book working group, ‘Work is a Four Letter Word and so is Book’. It’s a fortnightly meeting to discuss artists’ books and to share and present our own ideas. It’s been really beneficial for all so far and it has got us all wanting to make new publications. We’re going to continue running this, and a new group will be formed each time – the next in January.
What are the ‘must reads’ in the shop just now?
We recently published a book to accompany Suzanna Zak’s Freedom Isa Bonfire installation which, for photography and ephemera fans alike, is a wonderful thing.
A book we’ve had in recently which I’m still going back to is The Big Fig by Johanna Jackson, which documents her exhibition at Portland Museum of Modern Art. It’s a great book from new publisher J&C Arts and has a lovely tone and sentiment.
Manchester-based artists Faye Coral Johnson and Mike Redmond have a new book in called Behind the Wild Heart. It’s in their oddball drawing style with multiple colours and it’s small but really thick. We like things in strange formats!