Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Rook's Books - Part 2

As I have already mentioned on this blog, sometimes you have to look beyond the main street frontages to find the treasures of the Triangle. Down various alleys we've already discovered the intricate metalwork of Jonathan Rowlandson, and the beautiful paintings by Joanna Charlotte, and I know there are plenty more creative people out there, hidden away in workshops and studios, whom I'd like to feature. Our current tour of Rook's Books has been particularly inspiring, not least because of the 'magpie' tendencies of owner, Gavin Rookledge. For this group of buildings around Cooper's Yard contains not only the materials and equipment for the running of his business, but also random curiosities, some of which have no apparent connection to bookbinding and leather tooling.

Gargoyles & Finials

Eccentric plumbing?

A clocking-in machine from a Victorian factory

Taxidermy among the industrial presses
Its rather like peering inside someone's brain, and discovering the jumble of thoughts, ideas and dreams therein. Apparently chaotic, but in truth a well oiled machine. 

Gavin's mixture of art and industry is in the great British tradition of eccentric inventors. With his improbable car, assorted contraptions and collections, and an industry with books at its heart, he conjures up an image of Heath Robinson

I've saved the collections until last, as from a photographic perspective they were the most inspiring. Firstly the Aladdin's Cave that houses an extraordinary collection of leather samples. A sample store may not sound particularly interesting, but in the hands of Gavin Rookledge, it takes on the appearance of a prop room at Pinewood Studios.

Across the yard, Corvus Press houses an immense and important collection of phosphor bronze and brass letter tools. Alphabets in countless typefaces, long used in the leather as well as the printing industry. This may look like a museum collection, but they are working tools, still in use today.

And so ends our tour of Rook's Books and its associates. If however you would like to peep inside Gavin's brain, you're in luck. There is an Open Studios weekend coming up over the weekend of April 20th/21st. Opening times: 11.00am - 6.00pm, and during the evening on Friday 19th.


  1. Fantastic pics! Next time I'm in London you must take me there!

  2. I can finally leave comments here on the Triangle pages. Yay!

    What can I say about Gavin's treasure trove? A photographer's and designers dream. Your accompanying writing is really beautiful and tells the story. I love the random curiosities and all this storage.

    As I was looking at the photographs I wondered about the smell of leather in there. Is it overpowering or simply intoxicating?:) love it all... so we still on for a visit on Sat 20th?

  3. The Open studio in Coopers Yard will be Fri 20th April 6-9pm, sat and sun 20th-21st 11am-5pm....we look forward to seeing you and sharing a glass of Pimms with you:-)