The White Alphabet is an artwork, typographical experiment and a feat of paper engineering. It’s an embossed book containing the letters A-P cut in a pop-up fashion on a continuous piece of paper. The author/artist Ron King came up with this idea when he collaborated with the poet Roy Fisher on ‘Scenes from the Alphabet’ in 1978. This first piece was created using the pop-up letters paired with poems. From this, Fisher encouraged King to develop the work into something more. In 1982, King decided to concentrate on this project. It took months of folding paper before he found the proper way using a square grid.
King is known for more than making books, and he’s also a painter, collagist, and sculptor. His work is abstract and figurative, with the use of bold colors. He’s considered an original all-around artist with his skill and inventiveness in how he works with paper, wood, and metal. He was born in 1932 in Sao Paulo, Brazil and moved to England in 1945 to attend Ardingly College in West Sussex, where he then gained entry into the Chelsea School of Art. In 1956, he immigrated to Canada with his wife and sculptor Willow Legge. He has held many roles within the art communities where he lived, such as the art director in the McLean Hunter Publishing house; a teacher at the Farnham School of Art; and he set up a workshop in Guildford with a group of artists and poets to produce limited edition artist books, posters, and prints. He continues to create in his studio in West Sussex, with a focus on large wooden sculptures.
If you’d like to see Ron Kings, The White Alphabet in person you can always come to visit us in Special Collections, located on the 5th floor of McFarlin Library, Monday through Friday, 8:00 am until 4:30 pm. If you’re a fan of artists books or want to learn more about them, our current exhibit, Artist’s Books: Challenging Norms & Forms showcases 24 unique artist’s books from our collection. The exhibition runs until March 22, 2019.