Artist Book – 87 Octane

The Epsom Archive is home to a variety of artists books and I have chosen one to investigate, literally at random, with eyes closed dipping into a box.

I pulled out 87 Octane.


‘87 Octane’ created by Norwegian illustrator Maria Midttun is a risograph printed book comprising of text and drawings.

The book starts with ‘An attempt to make no-sense of the disappearance of Aage Moystad 11th of April 1940. Dedicated to the one he left behind; Anne Marie’

The artists book is in response to conversations with her Grandmother surrounding the disappearance of her father on a fateful day in 1940 following a bombing raid. The artist seeks to create a fantastical story to explain the disappearance.

The story starts with a character, driving in the night through a range of mountains. The character (presumably the father) is curious as he wears a large witch type hat and what appears to be sunglasses, despite the darkness. It’s evident from the gauge that he has nearly run out of petrol but he continues along zig zagging roads through a range of mountains. Then disaster strikes, he’s out of petrol. He takes a can from the boot of the car and starts to walk along the dark road. His sunglasses give a reflection of the road ahead but this could be interpreted as on egg timer, as if his time was running out. As he’s walking, the illustrations take on a more sinister feeling with the mountains having eyes and the darkness seeming to envelope him. After walking some distance, he peers over his sunglasses and sees the welcoming lights of a service station. Upon arrival, he begins to fill his petrol can with ’87 Octane’. Suddenly, the character looks shocked. The following four illustrations (which change to burgundy and pink colours) show the character vaporise and disappear; leaving just the hat. Another car driving along the same road approaches the service station. The driver starts to fill his car with petrol from the same pump where the hat and petrol still mysteriously lie. The final illustrations are of the second driver continuing his journey; the car billowing out fumes which contain the face and sunglasses of the father. Is this what happened that fateful night?

The book is currently on display in the archive room and is just part of an extensive range of artists books.


Tiffany Gregory, Library Adviser.


Fashion education – impact on Industry

by Lorna Harrington, MA fashion Kingston, UCA Volunteer


When commencing my final major project for my masters, it was natural for me, as a volunteer at UCA, to consider the archives as a starting point for my research.

As a fashion student, I have chosen to look at fashion education and how it has changed and how this is affecting industry.

This is a topic of particular interest, due to the recent cuts to both arts and education which have impacted on the study of fashion.  Some of these themes have been explored within the archive itself. For example, Jigsaw, a magazine published by second year communication design students in 1976, discusses grants for foundation students as well as cuts to teaching staff.

I am particularly interested in looking through past prospectuses, minute books and newspaper clippings within the archive.


Epsom Prospectuses

Prospectuses from Epsom

The images I find will not only be used for my written report but also to inspire my own designs for graphics and printed material relating to the topic of fashion and education. Some of my final major project outcomes will be in prospectuses, fashion show invites and branding for a new course.

To start with, I have been looking through material uploaded onto the UCA Archive Explored Flickr, to give me an idea of what material exists and what will be of use to me.

One of the many items of relevance to my project, is an interview with Audrey Cresswell, head of fashion featured in Jigsaw Magazine in 1976, which gives information about course content, number of students and the course’s links to industry.



As part of my research methodology, I will be interviewing key figures within the fields of fashion and education and so this particular piece will be helpful in forming my own questions for my interviewees. It will also give a sense of what has and hasn’t changed within fashion education.

I also hope to spend some of my final major project, becoming more involved in the archives through helping to curate online exhibitions as well as developing research guides.

Women of Africa in UCA Epsom Library

Women of Africa in Epsom Library

Epsom library has a stunning collection of images of women from African countries:…/119688205@N…/sets/72157663258089553.

These images include drawings of women from different tribes, women displaying bridal adornment, various hairstyles and hair accessories, as well as a selection of jewellery and costumes. The images also give an insight into the lives of these women as some are carrying out their daily tasks, such as foraging or carrying milk with their cleverly designed equipment to assist them.  The collection is part of the Diagram Group Archive, which is a cooperative group of graphic designers, writers, artists and editors. This can be found in the archive room at Epsom library along with other interesting material including diagrams, charts, tables, maps and illustrations all contained within the Diagram Group Archive.

Fiona O’Rooke, Advisor, Epsom


Artistic Archival Posters

One of our volunteers, Neda, has been creating some posters out of some of our images! Take a look…

UCA holds various significant animation archives. The Animation Archives house a unique collection of over one million original materials that document British animation from the 1940's to the present day. The collections contain a vast array of internationally significant research material  These images are from the archive of Oscar winning animator, Bob Godfrey.  For Bob Godfrey's Biography see here The archive contains records relating to Bob Godfrey's Animation work. The archive is 2D hand drawn animation. Records include scripts, pre-production, production, post production, publicity, distribution, and exhibitions. These include scripts, storyboards, correspondence, animation cels, pencil drawings, award certificates and photographs. The archive also includes personal drawings from Bob Godfrey and photographs of Bob Godfrey, his animator and scriptwriter colleagues, and his family and friends. The material from the Bob Godfrey Animation archive are under the copyright of the Bob Godfrey Estate and should not be reused for commercial purposes without the permission of the estate. Contact for further information

UCA holds various significant animation archives. The Animation Archives house a unique collection of over one million original materials that document British animation to the present day. 
Records include scripts, pre-production, production, post production, publicity, distribution, and exhibitions. These include scripts, storyboards, correspondence, animation cels, pencil drawings, award certificates and photographs. The archive also includes personal drawings from Bob Godfrey and photographs of Bob Godfrey, his animator and scriptwriter colleagues, and his family and friends.

Neda poster 2 - archive opening Neda poster 3 - archive opening

What’s in the Epsom Archive? Not just a Room of Dusty Old Books.

Not just a Room of Dusty Old Books.

As the archive room is relatively new at Epsom, tucked away near the equipment hire, it might not have surfaced on your radar. I thought I’d share with you some of our finds to entice you to visit us.

Leighton and I are Gateway Advisers by day but have volunteered to help in the Epsom archive room (as Rebekah Taylor the actual archivist is based in Farnham.) We open the room twice a week to students and staff and during that time have come across some real treasures.

For instance, who is this glamorous member of staff photographed on a Fashion Department outing to Ascot in 1962?

Espom School of Fashion staff

This is just one of the photographs and newspaper clippings lovingly preserved in a scrapbook covering 1961 to 1995. It’s a real insight into UCA Epsom through the ages. A brilliant place to start your research as there are examples of fashion through the ages, student unrest, politics, sexism…. It’s all there when you start to read.

Graphic design students may be interested to know that the archive room houses a vast collection of books published by ‘The Diagram Group’. If you are unfamiliar with their work, they specialise in detailed diagrams, charts, maps and illustrations. The group is also responsible for the hilarious ‘Diagram Award’ presented each year to the book with the oddest title. Awards in the past have been given to ‘Living with Crazy Buttocks’ in 2002, ‘Bombproof your Horse’ in 2004 and ‘Managing a Dental Practice: The Genghis Khan Way’ in 2010.

Not only do we have the books but all the original artwork and layouts. From ‘Card Games’ to ‘Early Man’, ‘the Sex Lives of Animals’ to ‘How to be a Success’!

Epsom Diagram Group How to be a Success

We have zines and artists’ books galore, some created by UCA staff, which are marvellous sources for fine art, illustration and graphics. We have student publications like ‘Jigsaw’ from 1976 created by 2nd year Communications Design students. Their brief was to create a newspaper each day for one week and they feature news, interviews, recipes, tips, cartoons and small ads.

For Royal family fans, there are copies of fragile, old newspapers from the 1930’s of King George V’s demise, King Edward’s abdication and the Coronation of King Edward VI. We have the 1953 edition of ‘The Times’ and the ‘Picture Post’ covering Queen Elizabeth’s coronation and the more recent Royal Wedding Souvenir of Charles and Diana.

There are a plethora of Victorian handwritten letters and postcards regarding Art school business. They are such wonderful examples of Victorian copperplate writing; unfortunately now a dying skill. This memo dates from 1896 and is just one of many acceptances to the opening ceremony of ‘The Epsom Technical Institute and School of Art’ in 24th July and shows beautiful penmanship.

Epsom handwritten

So why not give us a visit? We are open during term time on Tuesdays and Thursdays, 2-3pm or by special request. Ask at the Gateway desk or email

Tiffany Gregory, Advisor, Library & Student Services, Epsom campus

Its Great! Britain’s First Oscar Winning Animation

As our catalogue entry for Great, 1975, Britain’s first Oscar winning animation is up then its a good time to provide background into what makes it so ‘Great’!

This animation is based on the life and times of Isambard Kingdom Brunel, engineer, set in Victorian England.  Great is a 30 minute comic-opera based on the life of Victorian engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel.

This film showcases technical developments within 2D animation, showcasing a combination of animation styles, including real life actions sequences.

The film which was too long for a short and too short for a feature, was not widely seen in cinemas but it did go on to become the first British film to win the Academy Award for Animated Short Film and also won the best animated film at the British Academy of Film and Television Arts.

UCA holds animation Cel artwork, drawings, sketches, and dope sheets, and helps de-mystify the process of creating 2D animation and the different stages involved, and would be ideal for someone exploring how to create a 2D animation, and interested in the history of animation, what use of acetate cels add, the use of colour blocking, what different colours were used and why were they changed?

In terms of social history, this is a fantastic look at how many ways well- known figures are portrayed. This is an irreverent look at key, often respected figures, such as Isambaard Brunel, which could cause offence. Its interesting to compare the images of Brunel to more stately images, such as one’s seen in the Brunel museum.

Likewise we see an excellent image of Queen Victoria, sitting on her ‘throne’, aka the toilet! The power of image to reduce people of ‘power’ such as the royal family, to comedy figures…

Next year, 2015, is Great’s 40th anniversary, so watch this step for events and exhibitions




May Rare Book of the Month: Artist Book remake on Jekyll and Hyde

Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, illustrated and cut by Joanna Robson, Number 14 of 50, 2013.
This is a laser cut artist’s book depicting scenes from Robert Louis Stevenson’s novella of the same name.
The illustrations of buildings are based on the author’s home town of Edinburgh, and the detailed silhouettes she has created evoke the dark atmosphere of late nineteenth century London.

The story of Dr Jekyll, and his sinister alter-ego, Mr Hyde, gained immediate popularity when it was published in 1886. Readers were gripped by the struggle between two opposing forces within the same being. This is perfectly shown in the contrast between dark and light when the book is viewed with backlighting, adding an extra dimension of shadow.

Dr Jekyll and dr hyde

The book would be of particular interest to Graphic Design students, and is available in the Epsom Special Collection.Joanna Robson’s blog is here, She has another example of a laser cut book there, Dracula’s Crossing:
Image used with permission from the author

Reviewed by Gaye Williams, Advisor (Epsom Library)

Access this at UCA Epsom Library

View all our images on our Special Collections Showcase here

Taking a look into Christmas Cards of the Past

December’s Archive of the Month looks at three individual Christmas cards and also R.B. Fishenden (1880 – 1956), the eminent print consultant and editor of the Penrose Annual, the London based review of the graphic arts, for whom they were designed.

The Christmas cards are included in the Guildford School of Art Archive and have an unknown provenance, but perhaps can be attributed to contacts between Fishenden and the noted Surrey School of Printing, formed through the collaboration of the Department of Printing at the Guildford School of Art and the corresponding department at the Reigate and Redhill School of Art.

RB Fishenden Christmas Cards

Richard Bertie Fishenden was born on 6 August 1880 in Kensington, London and was the son of Richard and Louisa Fishenden (née Freestone). His father was an oil and colourman working in London, so he was already familiar with the technical aspects of colour mixing from basic pigments to manufacture coloured paint.

He was apprenticed at the age of 14 to Gee and Watson Ltd, and at 20 became the Works Manager of this firm of process engravers in London. In 1902 he became a Lecturer in the Printing Department of the Manchester College of Technology, becoming Head of Printing and during his time there conducted formative experiments in the new technique of rotogravure, a type of intaglio printing process. He effectively reinvented the process and devised all his own equipment in order to achieve it. The processes were fully revealed in a paper he delivered on 16 March 1915 before the Royal Photographic Society. His findings were widely reprinted in the Society’s journal and the British Journal of Photography.

In the same year he married Margaret White, later to become the eminent industrial researcher, Margaret Fishenden (1889 – 1977). They had one son, Richard Martin Fishenden, in 1917, and he later went on to be a noted physicist at the Atomic Energy Research Establishment at Harwell. The family moved to London in 1921 and he re-entered the commercial branch of the industry. During these years his interests broadened, becoming an authority on the often ignored subjects of ink and paper. At one end of the process of printed reproduction he was skilled in all applications of photography; at the other, he was expert in the arts of typography.

However the conflicts of a career and marriage and motherhood were too much for that era and Richard and Margaret divorced in 1932. R.B. Fishenden married Marjorie Hodder (1902 – 1988) shortly afterwards in 1933, and she became his personal assistant throughout the remainder of his career.

In 1935 he was appointed editor of the Penrose Annual, and he remained active in this capacity until his death. Under his vigorous direction the annual was divided into two parts, the first devoted to the arts, the second to techniques. In 1942 he joined the Penguin staff as technical editor of the “King Penguin” books. For this series he devised the finest possible colour printing, and secured it at a cost that to the trade seemed impossibly low. After 1943 he was adviser to Messrs. Spicers, the papermakers. His continued interest in new processes and new material, his willingness to encourage research were invaluable in the establishment of the Printing and Allied Trades Research Association at Leatherhead in 1930.

R.B. Fishenden’s life and career synchronized with one of the most momentous periods of change and development which had ever been known in the history of graphic arts. By the time of his death on 7 October 1956 the graphic arts had evolved into today’s specialist practices.

These simple Christmas cards give us a window into the early 20th-century and remind us of a pioneer in the graphic arts.


Fishenden, Richard Bertie, Who Was Who, A & C Black, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing plc, 1920 – 2008; online edition, Oxford University Press, Dec 2007.

Mertle, Joseph S. (1957). Evolution of Rotogravure. Ohio: J.S. Mertle.

Mr. R.B. Fishenden. (1956). The Times [London, England], 9 October 1956, p.13. The Times Digital Archive [, accesses 1 March 2013]

Stevenson, Julie. (2004). Fishenden , Margaret (1889-1977). In: Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 [, accessed 4 April 2013]

The National Archives, RG11/25/22 page 38. Extract from the 1881 Census for High Row, Kensington, London.

Warde, Beatrice. (1957). In Memoriam Richard Bertram Fishenden. In: The Penrose Annual: A Review of the Graphic Arts. Vol. 51, 1957. London: Lund Humphries.

Reviewed by Frances Teasdale, Head of Collections and Discovery

Explore Your Archive: 1950s Graphic Design

This Explore Your Archive posting brings exhibition images of the educational feature of the IPEX (the international printing and allied trade) exhibition held at Olympia in 1955. The 3,500 ft stand was designed by R.A Richardson from the Maidstone College of Art and carried out by staff and students at Canterbury and Maidstone Colleges of Art.

Follow the whole story of UCA’s creative art history here

Search the art school archives on our online archives catalogue

School of Printing, Canterbury, 1950s

School of Printing, Canterbury, 1950s

School of Printing, Canterbury, 1950s

School of Printing, Canterbury, 1950s

School of Printing, Canterbury, 1950s

August’s Rare Book and Archive of the Month

August’s Archive of the Month is Canterbury’s 1905-1931 Visitors’ Book.

This is of interest to paleography (study of old handwriting),typography, local history, materials, and to the history of exhibitions/sculpture at Canterbury.

Visitors' Book Canterbury 1905-1931

August’s Rare Book of the Month is an in-house printing press 1949 book from Canterbury, produced by a student at Canterbury School of Art. It is of particular interest for Graphic Design

The Selfish Giant, 1949