Formist release David Lancashire’s Roos

Published:  June 6, 2014
Bonnie Abbott

Mark Gowing’s independent publishing initiative Formist has released its third title since launching in 2013. Following the considered delicacy of Simon Barney: Screen Fade and the weighty 20/200 Sarah Cottier Gallery 1994 – 2014 comes David Lancashire’s Roos. The release also represents the first Search Volume — a series of books documenting the personal avenues of inquiry of significant artists.

Lancashire is a recognised as a graphic designer in his own right, practicing for over 40 years. He is also recognised for his visual art practice, something that has always run concurrently throughout his career. “David has fostered a long-standing personal interest and collaboration with Australia’s Indigenous people,” Formist explains. “His resulting kangaroo works are about spirit and country.”

Lancashire’s Roos have seen several iterations over the years, forged into something of an iconic mark of line, fill and space — appearing again an again, repetition and little variance reflective of an artist— and designer — finding beauty and meaning in each of the Roo’s drawn lines. Some filled with ‘swatches’ and collage of symbols and icons of Australiana reject what is twee, and embrace instead what is simply the character of a diverse country with a disconnection (or rejection) of a naturalistic identity.

“David sees Australia as a great and mythical place,” the Formist blurb explains. “His collages transform the familiar into rich abstractions of living forms, loaded with feeling and irony.”

Originally from the UK, Lancashire has lived in Australia most of his life, and sold his design business to work more closely with Indigenous communities. In his insightful interview with desktop last year, Lancashire advised “Working with Indigenous people gave me a precious insight into this country. It was life changing, and gave me a sense of place and an appreciation of country that helps me see Australia in ways that I don’t believe you can come to grips with in the city. I would encourage every young designer to go bush, roll your swag out, and soak it up. Reconnect regularly with the environment, then see what happens to your work.”

The book encompasses a detailed study into David‘s working materials and process, with reproductions of every Roo piece created to date. The visuals are accompanied by an essay from Andrew Ashton.

As a product of Formist (and Gowing), the book is undoubtedly meticulous in design and production. The layout, Gowing explains, is “in service of the content”, and an addition to his growing library of releases dedicated to the variety of visual output of Australia.

The book is currently available through the Formist site for $30AU (free AU shipping, too!)

The release coincides with David Lancashire’s Roos currently on show at the Cyclone Gallery in Melbourne from June 4, 2014.

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