Breaking Ground is short-listed for William Hill Sports Book of the Year 2017!

Thursday, September 21st, 2017

The journey goes on – having made the long list we’ve made the final ‘magnificent seven’ shortlist, from 131 submissions we made it to the last 7!

Quote from William Hill Press release:

Breaking Ground: Art, Archaeology and Mythology, which uncovers the ‘lost’ place of Bradford Park Avenue football club and, as a collection of essays, marks a first in form for the Award. Crowd-funded by Bradford Park Avenue fans, Neville Gabie, Alan Ward and Jason Wood’s unique book ultimately pays tribute to the passion of football fans, revering the archaeology, art and mythology of the once top-flight club

See the book here


The William Hill Sports Book of the Year Award is the world’s longest established and most valuable literary sports-writing prize. As well as a £29,000 cash prize, this year’s winning author will receive a free £2,500 William Hill bet, and a day at the races.

The judging panel for this year’s Award consists of: journalist and broadcaster Mark Lawson; retired professional footballer and former chairman of the Professional Footballer’s Association, Clarke Carlisle; broadcaster and writer John Inverdale; broadcaster Danny Kelly; award-winning journalist Hugh McIlvanney; and The Times columnist and author, Alyson Rudd. Chair of Judges is Graham Sharpe, co-creator of the Award alongside John Gaustad, founder of the Sportspages bookshop, who retired following the 2015 Award and passed away last year.

The winner will be announced at an afternoon reception at BAFTA, in central London, on Tuesday 28th November.



Breaking Ground book launched

Sunday, October 30th, 2016

See details on our publications page here

See details on our publications page here


Breaking Ground: Art, Archaeology & Mythology

Friday, October 21st, 2016

What started with a world first – the archaeological excavation of a goalpost hole – ended with a trowel as an exhibit in the National Football Museum. It is to all intents and purposes, ground breaking.
In 2013, the Park Avenue football ground, a long-forgotten time capsule of Bradford’s social history, began to be unearthed by archaeologist Jason Wood and artist Neville Gabie.
That first tentative dig convinced them to grab the moment before the ground’s legacy was lost forever. Invigorated by the fans’ enthusiasm, with funding from Arts Council England and the National Football Museum, and with the blessing of Bradford Metropolitan Council, they returned in 2015 with an enlarged team of archaeologists and artists, once again to be embraced by the passionate Avenue fans with their contributions and insights.
It is a publication which uses art and archaeology to celebrate the mythology of this once great club.

Click here to order. All enquiries to



Marcantonio Raimondi, Raphael and the Image Multiplied

Saturday, October 1st, 2016

Published by Manchester University Press and the Whitworth, this extensively illustrated catalogue to accompany the exhibition features the work of one of the radical originators and innovators of the European tradition of printmaking, Marcantonio Raimondi (c. 1480-c. 1534). Marcantonio was one of the leading printmakers of the Italian Renaissance and is best known for his groundbreaking collaboration with the Renaissance artist Raphael. This is the first Marcantonio Raimondi exhibition for thirty-five years and the first ever in the UK.

24opp softback

No. 04 in the Whitworth series of publications



Pillars of Light: Jeremy Gardiner

Monday, September 12th, 2016

This is the accompanying publication to Paisnel Gallery’s new exhibition from Bath-based artist Jeremy Gardiner around the theme of the lighthouse. The artist explores the dramatic south west coastline of Cornwall, Devon and Dorset, travelling from the islands of Lundy to Godrevy and on to the Isle of Wight.

This is reflected in the use of spot varnish details throughout the publication, which glint and catch the eye on the paper surface. The publication is wrapped in an unusual hard dust jacket that houses the DVD.



Yoga workshop publicity material for Lisa Petersen

Wednesday, February 24th, 2016

Not all our jobs are publication-based.

We were recently commissioned to produce new publicity material for the internationally acclaimed ‘Somatics’ yoga practitioner Lisa Petersen.

We designed a new cleaner, clearer typographic approach, emphasising the merits of Somatics and the workshops.


Cambridge Rules 1848 website launched

Monday, February 15th, 2016

Designed in conjunction with Leanda Ryan, this website will be serving as a global archive during and beyond the public art commission of Alan Ward and Neville Gabie in Cambridge.

15 02 16 Press Release

New Cambridge public art project asks football fans to tell their favourite stories
What’s your favourite football story?
Where do you watch – or play – the beautiful game?

These are some of the intriguing questions an exciting new public art project is asking the world to answer, creating a truly global window on how football is experienced and has developed to become the planet’s favourite sport.

Cambridge Rules 1848 this week launches a website at, on which people can leave their cherished stories of what makes the sport so special to them. Already, football fans from Buenos Aires to Preston have begun leaving images of their favourite ground, shirt – or even tattoo. The stories don’t necessarily have to be connected with the team you support – the intention is simply to gather together the world’s first archive of what football means to the masses.

The Cambridge Rules 1848 website is a key part of a new public art commission by Cambridge City Council, supported by the National Football Museum and, shortly, an international partner. It commemorates the seismic moment at which football as we know it had formalised laws. First nailed to the trees surrounding Parker’s Piece in Cambridge by a group of the city’s University students in 1848, from there, the laws of the game spread to encompass every corner of the world.

Artists Alan Ward and Neville Gabie will also mark this moment in physical form on Parker’s Piece with a large stone cut into nine, engraved with the original 1848 laws of the game in different languages. The four cornerstones, installed this autumn, stay on Parker’s Piece, the others travel to five football-loving countries across the planet in a cultural exchange.

As the project continues, there will also be the chance for fans to upload their favourite football songs or chants, memorabilia and images of their local pitches. And in 2017, the football stories, images and sounds gathered from around the world will be displayed on Parker’s Piece – celebrating Cambridge’s role in the story of football – and will also be gathered together in a book.

To upload your story or enjoy the early submissions go to
Twitter: @Parkers1848



The Imation Game: Manchester Art Gallery

Saturday, February 13th, 2016

Design of accompanying publication for the major exhibition The Imitation Game at Manchester Art Gallery.

Photographs from the preview evening.

The Imitation Game
Saturday 13 February 2016–Sunday 5 June 2016

IMG_1559-340 IMG_1560-340

Todmorden People: Roger Birch

Tuesday, November 24th, 2015

The book celebrates Todmorden’s unique identity through portraits, taken during the last quarter of the twentieth century, mainly in the subject’s workplace, home and personal environments, and represents a broad cross-section of the local community.

Containing nearly 200 black and white photographs carefully selected from Roger’s personal archive, each portrait is beautifully printed in duotone to give near facsimile reproduction. The images are complimented with a brief description of who, where and when they were taken with the hope they provoke discussion, stimulate interest in photography as a documentary medium and provide a common arts experience for Todmorden.

A sensitive homage to Roger Birch’s photography by his son Daniel, it includes a foreword by Martin Parr.

Available from

Print: Graphius, Ghent, Belgium

web-3795-340web-3809-340 web-3807-340web-3806-340

Mark Titchner – Live the Life that You Imagine

Thursday, June 11th, 2015

Live the Life that You Dream commissioned and published by InSite Arts, documents the contemporary installations by artist Mark Titchner, installed in One St Peters Square, Manchester.

The artworks were commissioned by Argent, Glenn Howell Architects and on-site art consultants InSite Arts, the works employ multi-layered gold and silver acrylic extracts of text, adapted from Henry David Thoreau’s Walden 1984 and a pamphlet published post Peterloo in 1819, The Political House that Jack built.

Design, photography and print management: Axis
Essay: Simon Grennan
Print: De Coker, Antwerp









John Plumb: A Retropspective

Tuesday, June 9th, 2015

Extract from Paisnel Gallery press release:

Counting Mark Rothko and William Turnbull as peers, and enjoying a 50-year career at the centre of abstract British art, the late John Plumb is finally achieving the recognition his work deserves. Paisnel Gallery is delighted to mark the renaissance of one of the most instinctive painters of the 20th century with its forthcoming exhibition, John Plumb a retrospective, his first career-spanning show. The exhibition runs from 10-20 June at Paisnel Gallery and Gallery 8, both in St James’s, London.

After studying at Central Saint Martins, John Plumb had become a distinguished abstract painter by the 1960s. Initially making his name with a series of stunningly rich tachiste paintings, it was Plumb’s inclusion in the epochal Situation exhibitions, alongside artists such as Bridget Riley and John Hoyland, which signalled his rise to prominence. On a large scale, his use of tape, colour and geometric form was emblematic of London’s status as the 1960s capital of cool, with one of the 1962 tape series now featuring in Tate’s collection.

Plumb progressed from there. With Rothko as a contemporary and acquaintance, he began producing colour-fields of dramatic scale, presence and atmosphere, admired across late 1960s Europe. Plumb’s deep interest in American abstract art and jazz subsequently led him to employ the element of chance in his work, randomly picking day-glo colours to create striking improvisational grids and structures throughout the 1970s.

For various reasons the 1980s were unproductive for Plumb and it was not until the 1990s that he captured the public imagination again, with his large-scale hydrastructure series. This energetic, organic series, also shown in the Tate Collection, is further evidence of his dedication to expression. The John Plumb exhibition explores all these distinct phases of his career, from the 1950s right through to the last work displayed from 1995.

According to gallery owner, Stephen Paisnel, “Artists should be measured by their ability to evolve, invent and progress, and you only have to look at Plumb’s work over a 50-year period to see that not only was he diverse and confident, he was courageous. His work is impulsive in colour, scale, energy and power and the volume makes it truly great to behold. People wanted to live with his work in the past and we really hope collectors will view this exhibition and the catalogue and think, ‘I never realised he was this good’”.

Alongside the larger paintings, the gallery will be showing smaller studies and presenting a collection of fascinating archive material, including photographs, press reviews and sketch books.

The exhibition catalogue, with an introductory essay by the late Frank Whitford, will be available from 25 May.







Visiting Minds 2013: Radical Pedagogy, Art as Education

Tuesday, May 5th, 2015

Commissioned from afar by editor Adrienne Samos from Panama, this publication documents the project conceived by artist Humberto Vélez, to explore art and education within the Latin American context. This book collates the outcomes of the international forum held in May of 2103.

Described as a memoir it contains the key note speeches and exchanges of ideas between speakers and audience, with essays and documentation of Vélez’ ‘Miss Education’ intervention.

272pp soft-back publication produced with exposed binding and coloured stitching.

ISBN 978-9962-8974-3-9

















Back in Focus: Jobs, Friends and Houses

Friday, April 24th, 2015

Jobs, Friends and Houses is a property development company that employs ex-offenders and ex-addicts who are in abstinent recovery to renovate derelict houses in the town. The properties are either sold on or rented to the recovery community.

The community interest company provides quality employment, stable accommodation and a hub of people committed to turning their lives around.

Len Grant worked with Bradley, Paul and Terry on a photography project – designed to build self-esteem.

As part of their project, I gave a morning workshop on how to edit, assemble and design a newspaper showing the work of the photographers, it was titled Back in Focus. Distributed as part of the outdoor exhibition in April at the Library and Art Gallery in Blackpool, it was blessed with good weather and created a great deal of interest on the street.

Axis is working with Len on developing a book that will follow the year-long story of Jobs, Friends and Houses through 2015-16. [AW]

The project was supported by LeftCoast.






Frank Henry Mason: Marine Painter and Poster Artist

Sunday, April 5th, 2015

Commissioned by Coley Books Ltd and written by Edward Yardley. This is the first major publication looking at the artist’s output. It was produced to accompany a touring exhibition that opened at Hartlepool Art Gallery in March 2015.

ISBN 978-0-9931892-2-7


“The result of their meeting is a lovely new book about Frank Mason by Edward Yardley and a series of major exhibitions of Frank Henry Mason’s art over the next few months.

The first exhibition opened last night at Hartlepool Art Gallery in Church Square. It opens to the public Saturday 21st March and runs until the 30th May 2015. I went to the preview evening and I have to say, it’s probably the finest exhibition I’ve seen in the North East since the Winslow Homer Exhibition in 1988 at the Northern Centre for Contemporary Art in Sunderland.

Frank Henry Mason’s varied artistic skills are clearly evident in his delightful watercolours of sailing ships, fishing vessels, places like Venice, Portugal and the North East Coast. There are also dramatic seascapes depicting World War 1 & 2 navel conflicts, his carefully considered etchings and of course his stunning railway posters.

One of my favourites is this beautifully executed watercolour and gouache painting of Pyramids at Gizza seen in what looks like early evening light. The limited palate has been tastefully chosen to render the fading light. Flicks of red, ultramarine and pink add subtle sparkle to the scene. The crescent moon hanging off centre in the sky, just above the towering palm trees is a small but crisp contrast to the smooth, skilfully rendered washes for the sky.

Make no mistake, Frank Henry Mason was a very fine painter. This exhibition is an absolute must. If that wasn’t enough, another exhibition opens Saturday 21st March at Darlington Railway Museum of Railway Posters and Carriage Prints by Frank Henry Mason. Both exhibitions run until 30th May.”

Extract from







Sensory War 1914–2014: Manchester Art Gallery

Saturday, October 11th, 2014

Accompanying the major group exhibition marking the Centenary of the First World War, Sensory War explores how artists have communicated the impact of military conflict on the body, mind, environment and human senses between 1914 and 2014.

Saturday 11 October 2014 – Sunday 22 February 2015
Manchester Art Gallery  Free





Unreliable Evidence – Mead Gallery

Tuesday, September 23rd, 2014

64pp tabloid newspaper, newspaper dispenser, invite and flyer commisioned to accompany the exhibition.

The Execution of Maximilian
by Edouard Manet
and Other Histories

Edgardo Aragón, Zarina Bhimji, Omer Fast, Rabih Mroué, Santiago Sierra, Hito Steyerl, Luc Tuymans

The Execution of Maximilian depicts the fatal moment when the young Emperor Maximilian of Mexico, abandoned by the French colonial forces that had installed him there some three years earlier, was shot alongside two of his generals, Mejía and Miramón, on 19 June 1867. The left hand section of the canvas was lost during Manet’s lifetime. After his death it was cut into smaller fragments, some of which were sold off separately, eventually to be reassembled by Edgar Degas. The painting has been part of the National Gallery Collection since 1918.

This important painting – presented at the Mead Gallery as part of the National Gallery Masterpiece Tour – forms the centrepiece to a specially curated exhibition of works by some of today’s greatest artists from across the world. Together they speak of the way the past is represented to us, and of the personal stories at the heart of violent events which are either lost or – like the image of Maximilian’s hand clasping Miramón’s – can only be glimpsed. [Mead]

web-0964-UE340 web-0966-UE340 web-0968-UE340web-0967-UE340

Designers in Residence 2014

Tuesday, September 23rd, 2014

Commissioned to deliver the graphic identity for the annual ‘Designers in Residence’ exhibition, in conjunction with 3D designers Hunting & Narud we delivered the publication – a newsprint publication wrapped in a litho, debossed cover and all the information design surrounding the four designers’ work.

web-0946-DM340web-0948-DM340web-0952-DM340web-0950-DM340web-0812-DM340web-0814-DM340 web-0821-DM340 web-0826-DM340 web-0837-DM340

Virgn with a Memory: Sophia Al-Maria

Tuesday, September 16th, 2014

The novelised version of Beretta’s script, Virgin with a Memory: The Exhibition Tie-in, is published to accompany the major new exhibition by Sophia at Cornerhouse, Manchester. This piece is predicated on Al-Maria’s idea that in today’s challenging environment for independent cinema, the only way to achieve an unadulterated director’s cut of a film is to write it as a novel, making it the director’s sole property. Darker and more introspective than the medium of film allows, the novel is written from the perspective of Suad and interspersed with entries from Al-Maria’s production diary. It also features production research, emails, budgets, kit-lists, schedules, sketches, storyboards, headshots and excerpts from the shooting script. [Cornerhouse]

Available here

web-0955-V340 web-0960-V340

Citizen Manchester publication shortlisted for Roses Creative Awards 2014

Tuesday, April 29th, 2014

Pleased to announce our lovely book Citizen Manchester for Laing O’Rourke and Manchester University Press has been shortlisted for the Roses Creative Awards 2014.




Citizen Manchester

Wednesday, March 26th, 2014

Citizen Manchester was an 18 month project, commissioned by Laing O’Rourke in collaboration with Dan Dubowitz to explore the meaning to Manchester of the two civic buildings’ transformation. This has resulted in a large format book of the same title published by Manchester University Press and a major exhibition of 36 site specific interventions in Central Library, the Town Hall Extension and the nearby Manchester Art Gallery.

Citizen Manchester explores the relationship between a city’s civic buildings and its citizens. Through photographs, recording tales and research into the city’s archives, the work captured the moment when the public had been locked out of Central Library and the Town Hall Extension and the spaces had been reduced to the merest shells.

It provides glimpses into the buildings’ souls and reveals unexpected stories. The artwork gives insights into the reciprocal relationship between people and place and reveals how the refurbishment of a building can go far beyond physical refurbishment.

Hardcover: 160 pages
Publisher: Manchester University Press (27 Mar 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-13: 978-0719095733
Dimensions: 37.4 x 30.4 x 2 cm


Season’s Greetings

Friday, December 13th, 2013

Season’s Greetings and a big thank you to all the people we’ve worked with this year old and new.

2014 looks to be equally as interesting.


Contemporary Heritage: A new way of seeing

Wednesday, October 2nd, 2013

“This is Contemporary Heritage. A thoughtful, thought provoking series of commissions across the Pennine area that tell new stories, ask new questions and formulate new answers to its rich, often dark, histories.” 

Laurie Peake, Director of Projects and Programmes, Liverpool Biennial


Axis designed and branded a commission for Mid Pennine Art back in 2004 called Panopticons | Land. After that commission ended five years later, they developed a new series of commissions in some of the wonderful ‘heritage assets’ of the region titled Contemporary Heritage: A new way of seeing.

This publication is the first of two volumes, and is a document of the first three commissions:

Not Forgotten: Geraldine Pilgrim

Taken: Ailís Ní Ríain

No Match: Claire Morgan


ISBN 978-0-9509878-6-6


Volume 2 is currently in production.










1 Angel Square: Len Grant

Wednesday, October 2nd, 2013

1 Angel Square is the new home for one of the UK’s most recognised brands, and one of Manchester’s most valued employers.

This dramatic addition to the city’s skyline is already a multi-award-winning structure, boasting more environmentally-friendly features than any of its size in Europe.

Combining text and photographs, Len Grant has documented this iconic new building throughout its construction. He has interviewed the project team, from clients through to architects, engineers and builders, and created a striking pictorial record of The Co-operative Group’s new head office in Manchester’s new NOMA district.

[back cover text]

Published by Manchester University Press

ISBN: 978 0 7190 9110 0


Axis was also commissioned to produce a special commemorative box for the book, which was then presented to Her Majesty at the official visit and opening of the building on 14 November 2013.

The Queen certainly looks pleased to receive her special Len Grant book. The second in her collection, as she was presented with a previous Axis / Len Grant collaboration at the Commonwealth Games – The Mancunian Way, Clinamen Press.



















Institute of Public Information, Faculty of Provocation, Oldham College

Wednesday, October 2nd, 2013

We’ve been commissioned to work on an intriguing project in Oldham, by the mysterious Institute of Public Information. We can’t tell you who they are or we’d have to kill you. Needless to say an exciting project is about to land and we have been lucky enough to design the logo for the project.

More information will follow in due course as website and social media platforms are launched in late October.

If you do nothing else follow @IofPI and get ready to interact and be provoked.


Field of Play: Neville Gabie

Friday, August 2nd, 2013

It would be fair to say we have completed a lot of projects for Neville Gabie, every collaboration is a pleasure. Last year we designed Great Lengths 2012, after his Olympic Park residency and then we followed that up with his limited edition book The Greatest Distance.

A small piece of print for his Bristol University residency was completed this year and now we’ve just designed a specially commissioned blad for his on-going goalpost photography project called Field of Play, which explores his documentary collection from around the World.

At the same time we have been revamping his website in collaboration with Leanda Ryan.

Neville’s site has been completely restructured for both desktop and mobile devices and can be viewed here
















Citizen Manchester

Tuesday, July 9th, 2013

Thought we’d let you know a little about a project we’ve been working on over the last year and a bit, and which is now nearing completion. A book is soon to be published which we’ve been designing, researching and making new large format photographic works for.

Manchester University Press will be publishing Citizen Manchester at the end of the year. It has been a collaboration with Dan Dubowitz, who we worked with on the critically acclaimed ‘The Peeps, Ancoates: the presence of absence‘.

This time as joint artists in residence, we’ve been lucky enough to have access to the most fantastic building site. Whilst the public await the refurbishment of the Central Library and Town Hall Extension, we’ve watched the buildings reveal themselves to us.

Along side this we’ve trawled new and surprising archival images (care of Manchester Libraries, Information and Archives, Manchester City Council) some of which have informed work others counter it. We’ve also conducted countless interviews with key people involved in the refurbishment, staff and public who have stories to tell. These form the basis for the text in the publication.



‘Citizen Manchester’

Manchester Central Library and Town Hall Extension Transformation

In 2008, Manchester decided to embark on a counter-cyclical project, much as the city father’s had done in the last great recession, and invest significantly in two civic buildings that are a corner stone of the making of the first modern industrialised city, Manchester Town Hall Extension and Manchester Central Library.

Early on in this major redevelopment project artists Dan Dubowitz and Alan Ward were given privileged and open access to witness this transformational period in the life of two of Manchester’s iconic buildings by Laing O’Rourke. Through large-format photographs and interviews over a period of 18 months they captured the moment when the city’s citizens and workers had been locked out and the spaces were being stripped bare; revealing both a glimpse of what they had been and what they might become.

The artwork provides insights on the reciprocal relationship between people and place, and reveals how the refurbishment of a building can go far beyond physical refurbishment, questioning the relationships between a city, its citizens and place.







Monday, July 8th, 2013

Signpost is a new digital-only publication from a-n The Artists Information Company. Aimed at new graduates, it offers support in negotiating the first few years out of higher education. It’s a practical guide that points to all the information and advice new graduates need to get started in their chosen creative profession.

click here to see page turner in new window


DDSBs: John Darwell

Sunday, July 7th, 2013

* discarded dog sh*t bags

Over the past few years I have observed with increasing fascination the growing number of discarded dog sh*t bags (DDSBs – it feels to me that there should be an apostrophe after the b but I’m told this is not the case!) I encounter whilst out walking in open countryside, urban parklands and even suburban streets.

Yes, there are health implications in leaving dog poop around in its natural state, but frankly it’s far less easy to see the stuff (and therefore less offensive) if it isn’t bagged. Yet, is this purely about not wishing to be caught by the ever-watchful dog police? Do we want to be seen to dutifully bag Rover’s poop, but then, surreptitiously, when no one’s looking, we dispose of the offending article in the nearest bush, throw it in the river or hang it on the adjacent fence (in a misplaced belief that once bagged it ceases to be the dog owner’s responsibility)?

Whatever the reasoning, the DDSB has very quickly become a feature of our global environment; well, those environments that don’t have more to worry about than dog poop.

[extract from book introduction by John Darwell]


Axis collaborated with JD in producing this individually numbered limited edition book. Proposing order and rythym of the images and packaging.

Produced for The Photography Festival Les Rencontres d’Arles and now available directly from John Darwell.

Contact us if you are interested in acquiring a copy and we’ll point you in the right direction.




A River Runs Through It

Saturday, July 6th, 2013

We’ve just heard that ‘A River…’ designed last year was runner up in the Lakeland Book of the Year. Well done to Nell Dale the author.

Click here to see the book in our portfolio section.



Take Away Poetry booklets

Wednesday, May 8th, 2013

Take Away Poetry is a series of small beautiful poetry booklets being developed by Axis and Oxford Brookes University to introduce poetry into the Cancer Centre at John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust. This is part of a bigger project called Bibliotherapy being co-ordinated by Ruth Charity.

ruth4 ruth1 ruth6 ruth5 ruth7

A-N Degree Shows Guide 2012

Tuesday, May 1st, 2012

Degree Shows guide for A-N magazine. This 24pp supplement went out with the monthly magazine. It was also produced as a hyperlinked page turner for their website.

We worked with guest editor Chris Sharratt to design the editorial content and layout the advertising content.

Retro Week

Wednesday, March 28th, 2012

Bit of a throw back in graphics this week with the menu. And in terms of design, check out the 80s phone currently being used as our digital phones appear to be broken…

studio menu and phone

Emailing Antarctica: drawing a response to emails from the ice shelf

Thursday, March 15th, 2012

Edition of 25 handmade boxes with 95 prints wrapped in cloth, with a limited edition book, each edition signed and numbered by the artists

Joan and Neville Gabie


Introduction extracted from the boxset:


Emailing Antarctica: drawing a response to emails from the ice shelf

I am delighted that a project with Cheltenham Art Gallery & Museum provided the impetus to publish this very special box set.

Early in 2011 the Art Gallery & Museum heard we had been successful in an application for New Expressions 2’s programme of artists’ commissions supported by MLA Renaissance South West and the National Lottery through Grants for the Arts. We wanted to develop a project inspired by our Antarctic collections based around our small gallery dedicated to Cheltenham-born Dr Edward Wilson and extensive Wilson Family Archive. Wilson was a leading member of Captain Scott’s two National Antarctic Expeditions, dying with Scott following their journey to the South Pole in 1912. It seemed appropriate to mark the centenary by adding a significant commissioned work to our collections.

Neville Gabie had been to Antarctica in 2008-9 as part of the British Antarctic Survey/Arts Council England Artists in Antarctica programme and we approached him about the project. He was very interested, especially as he had not shown his Antarctic work in a final form. However one aspect of the collection particularly excited him and his wife Joan. This was the Wilson Family Archive, which includes letters and scrapbooks belonging to Ida Wilson (Edward’s sister) providing an intriguing picture of how people, and in particular Wilson’s family, back in Cheltenham viewed the expedition. It was agreed that while Neville was away he would send Joan a daily email about what he was thinking and experiencing and she would respond with a drawing. The drawings produced sometimes respond to the emails, sometimes take an entirely different tack and sometimes are much more concerned with domestic life back at home. With their potential for mismatching, and awareness of the distance between them these seemed to link to some of the material in the archive and in particular an especially poignant letter and telegram. The letter is an almost complete transcript of the penultimate letter of Edward Wilson to his wife, Oriana, written in March 1912. Wilson writes:

Life has been a struggle for some weeks now on this return journey from the Pole….Today may be the last effort. Birdie and I are going to try and reach the depot 11 miles North of us and return to this tent where Capt Scott is lying with a frozen foot… Our effort today is rather a forlorn hope but I hope this will reach you … I look forward to meeting you after this life is over. I shall simply fall and go to sleep in the snow and I have your little books with me in my breast pocket ….

The telegram also from Oriana, who was staying in New Zealand, gives the latest news of her husband from the Polar Plateau. It is dated 3 April 1912, when Edward had in fact been dead for a month.

Neville and Joan visited to see the collection, the key documents of which filled our vast conference room tables, even we were surprised at how much there is seen en masse. Fairly soon they decided that the best way to present the work would be in some form of limited-edition box set. This is published in two volumes, deliberately to maintain a space between the text and the images, and thus to preserve the distance between them when the work was made.

The work is largely in monochrome and this and Joan’s bold washes and energetic drawing contrast with the colour and precise detail of Wilson’s own. So as Neville describes ‘bruised and purple clouds’ Joan’s bold black watery strokes and drips create the landscape described with powerful economy. Her scenes of an imagined Antarctic contrast with those of life back home with their seemingly small domestic dramas and witty depictions of the everyday.

Neville does not think of himself as a writer but his descriptions of both his surroundings and his feelings enticingly draw the reader in. His words echo the interior landscape described by those who go to the Antarctic: thoughts of family, love, and, most of all, mortality.

Do I feel scared by my vulnerability? No but I am far more aware of mortality and conscious of something much greater than myself and I am comforted by that. What was is it the Bible says – to be ‘in the world but not of it’.

The boxset was shown with an exhibition of the work at the Gardens Gallery, Cheltenham, 17–27 March 2012.


Helen Brown

Collections Manager and Curator of Fine Art

Cheltenham Art Gallery & Museum














Alan Ward: Books

Sunday, March 4th, 2012

Just in case any of you folk missed my email invite.


Exhibition opening for Alan Ward: Books

A collection of our favourite books from the studio

Click here for the pdf invite and here for the pdf poster, my thanks to Paul Morris for the photos, I didn’t have time to do any after installing all the books in the vitrines, I ran out of time.

The A0 photographs of Chorltonians with our books, taken by Len Grant hanging in the windows, are the images we used on an earlier trade advert see here for details.


Newport PR read as follows:

Alan Ward runs Axis Graphic Design in Manchester. For the last twenty years he has been designing publications for galleries individual artists and publishing houses, working for some of the most noteworthy artists around today. The exhibition contains a variety of outstanding examples of modern book design and clearly illustrates the central role a designer plays in the integration of text image and format.

Accompanying the exhibition are a series of tagged videos that show the publications’ content in double time on YOUTUBE


My Introduction panel:

Little did I realise the journey I was embarking on when I graduated from Newport in the late 8os, although all the signs were there in retrospect. I made my first concertina book in my final year. I was really interested in photography and it drove and inspired much of my work. I often gate crashed ‘Doc Phot’ events and lectures, and it was here that I first encountered many of today’s leading British photographic exponents, and it was with some of them that I started my editorial design journey.

I designed many of the early Cornerhouse photographic books, progressively broadening my field into gallery and contemporary art spheres, where I have ultimately established the studio’s practice. Almost all my work is based in the cultural sector and my role is often as collaborator, editor, researcher as well as designer and in some cases publisher too. I feel genuinely lucky to work closely with artists and curators on a daily basis.

It’s always difficult to encapsulate the sum of a book when it’s being displayed in a vitrine. Much of which I pride myself on is buried and not immediately visible in design terms. Books for me are a very personal, often quiet, tactile experience. You can mulled it over, flick through it and revisit many times, discovering new elements. It’s not just the cover but the feel of the paper stock, the smell of the ink, the binding, or the white space on the page. All these elements and more add up to the whole. For me a successful design process is one where you appreciate and enjoy the work first and then notice that the design is actually quite good too.

Selecting just a few representative spreads from a small selection of books has been almost impossible. I’ve QR tagged several of the books on display to a set of modest little videos on YouTube of me leafing through them at speed, should you wish to explore them a little more.

Acknowledgements: My thanks to Len Grant for use of these portraits, Martin Stockley and Manchester University Press for the extra supplies of their respective publications. To Seb my son for making the little videos in our back room at home and to Paul Morris for inviting me back. And finally to Mikey, Martyn and Paul for those enduring Newport memories!

Le Grimpeur

Tuesday, February 14th, 2012

For all you cycling peeps, here is a pdf of the piece I made for the Newport Alumni exhibition at the end of 2011.

It’s a data poster of five rides in the Northern Alps of France.

Caption Comp Winner: @WEACREATIVE

Friday, December 16th, 2011

The marks are in and I’m pleased to announce after much debate and several glasses of wine…

“Two members of the Ski Chair Lift Phobia Society practise sitting close to the edge!” is the winner


Thanks to all the entries, we had a lot of fun. As no one guessed the location exactly, a spot prize, was awarded to @spalmerama, for his attempt to ‘tempt’ the judges with a topical MCFC joke about Tevez – however my team being Norwich meant it was still a tad too painful after the football lesson the other week. Still we beat Newcastle comfortably enough!

Alan Ward



Christmas Caption Competition

Tuesday, December 6th, 2011

As it’s that time of year to have a little fun, opposite is our christmas card image.

We are looking for the best caption to go with this image and will be giving away a small selection of publications from the Axis archive as a reward.

Click on the image for a larger version.

Open only to UK submissions, you may email us or tweet a direct message to enter.

The winner will be selected by ourselves and Len Grant, ‘photographer extraordinaire’ on Dec 15, so we can send the winner their christmas package.

image © Axis


Roadtrip to Llandudno to see David Nash

Tuesday, November 15th, 2011

On Tuesday 8th myself and Mark Doyle took a roadtrip over to Llandudno to catch ‘Red Black Other’ by David Nash before it finished. Mark, the Head of Collector Development for the Contemporary Art Society in the North West (quite a mouthful) hadn’t been to see the new look Mostyn Gallery since it had reopened with its fabulous new extension, and was interested in researching the possibility of a CAS trip there next year. So I’d suggested we pop over for a day by the seaside, and I’d treat us to fish and chips afterwards. Sadly the weather wasn’t quite as I’d planned as we headed off to a wet Wales.

Having designed the exhibition publication and been there on the opening night I was keen to catch it again in a quieter moment – its always hard looking at work at previews, there’s people in the way!

Here are a few pictures I took on the trip.

Mr Doyle not happy about the weather.

Mostyn’s beautiful facade through the rain spattered windscreen.

The ‘Red Mountains’ with the wood engrained concrete interior  of the new build in the background. Just loved that juxtaposition, intentional or not, I don’t know.

A close-up of the ‘Redwood Cut Ups’ from which I took details for the screen-printed cover.

The giant pencil stubs, well that’s what they remind me of – ‘Red Dome’ and a detail.

‘Blue Ring’ made of blue bell seeds scattered on a plinth with a luminous pastel canvas seemingly reflecting on the wall.

‘Encased Cross’, my little iphone couldn’t get the colour right at all but loved this piece.

Detail from ‘Millennium Door’.

The Black room with ‘Husk’ in foreground, ‘Torso’ left and ‘King and Queen’ right – and some bloke walking through shot.

Detail for ‘Queen’ which I found fascinating as from the front they both looked quite robust and balanced but from close up and at a particular angle they became very delicate and tall, looking quite unstable. Quite a skill judging the overall balance and effect.

It had stopped raining by the time we walked along the impressive victorian promenade, the sea and sky meeting in a Lowryesque blur on the horizon. Mark declared he didn’t fancy full-blown fish and chips as he was on a diet, so we ate fishfinger sandwiches (the food of Kings) and soup in The Fat Cat – worth a visit if you are in town – discussed the state of the artworld and then headed home.

The seagull on the chippy van looked like he’d have mugged anyone who went near him.



To see the book in detail [click here]




Domini Canes – Hounds of God: Simon Patterson

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2011

Axis Projects is delighted to announce the launch of a new publication.

This book is the definitive reference on the Domini Canes commission from Lowood Gallery and Kennels, Cumbria that Simon Patterson undertook nearly 10 years ago. Not until now has it been properly documented.

Available in a standard and special edition. For more details click here


Simon Patterson Domini CanesSimon Patterson Domini Canes

20th Century British Art: Paisnel Gallery, London

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2011

The latest catalogue to accompany Paisnel Gallery’s upcoming show for November, features the lovely Wilhelmina Barns-Graham work Eight Lines, Wave Rhythms on the cover with the title writ large in beautiful Jenson small caps.

Axis is delighted to continue building this series of catalogues for Paisnel Gallery, each having a different typeface featured, but at the same time a clear housestyle being evident. The importance of colour reproduction continues to challenge us and the colour experts we work with, especially as some of the paint pigments and inks need very careful conversion from RGB to CMYK. We think the results speak for themselves however, beautiful staccato printing faithfully reproducing the work.

Softback, 72pp with 8pp cover.

Paisnel Gallery catalogue  November 2011 - AxisPaisnel Gallery catalogue  November 2011 - AxisPaisnel Gallery catalogue  November 2011 - AxisPaisnel Gallery catalogue  November 2011 - Axis

Jamie Shovlin: Thy Will Be Done

Thursday, October 20th, 2011

Lo-fi meets luxury in these two versions of the catalogue for ‘Thy Will Be Done’ at Tullie House Museum and Art Gallery Trust in Carlisle.

For more details [click here]

Thy Will Be Done, free mass produced magazine - Jamie ShovlinThy Will Be Done Limited edition book - Jamie Shovlin


Sunday, October 16th, 2011

This ticket for an evening service with Arthur E Lickey – - He makes the Bible plain



Sunday Nov 26 at 8.00pm FREE


came with a second hand book bought in Washington State. Its part of a little collection of stuff sitting on a bookcase in the studio

an inspirational pile of beautiful things that include:

a discount ticket

a 45rpm Thomas the Tank Engine story single

a Monotype type specimen for Gill

a postcard from Lindisfarne

2 pamphlets from Budapest, with hand-written notes

a machine parts catalogue for The Singer Company

and a fancy chocolate bar wrapper

The Devil in Chains

100 Years in the Making

Friday, October 14th, 2011

Recently completed project for Cargill, Manchester

Added to portfolio [here]

Cargill - 100 years in the Making, book and slipcase

Coch Du Arall : David Nash

Friday, October 14th, 2011

Recently completed project for Mostyn Gallery, Llandudno

Added to portfolio [here]

Coch Du Arall : Red Black Other : David Nash


Sneak preview of A0 poster detail for upcoming exhibition

Tuesday, October 11th, 2011

A sign of the times in the arts.

Sadly my old college and its design course are closing after 45 years. There is to be an Alumni show (horrid americanism) of former students. We’ve been given the brief of ‘my favourite word’ so I’ve been busy creating a rather large, but intensely small piece of work for it, here’s a detail, more to be revealed soon.

Can you tell what it is yet!


“Excuse me, we’re doing some portraits for a trade directory. Have you got 30 seconds?”

Tuesday, October 11th, 2011

On a fine sunny day in Manchester, we loaded up a bag full of books we’d designed and set off with photographer Len Grant in tow, to find some friendly souls in Chorlton.

I think everyone enjoyed it. Many thanks to all involved and especially Len for his ability to make great pictures.


The people of Chorlton with Axis books, Thursday 29 September 2011.

“Excuse me, we’re doing some portraits for a trade directory. Have you got 30 seconds?”


“You know I’ve been famous before, I’ve been on a calendar.”

“The Midland Hotel in Morecombe? Before they did it up there was a brilliant rave in the car park.”

“Can I hold that one? It won’t clash with my top as much.”

“Let me check what I’m holding… it’s not full of porn is it?”

Fascismo Abbandonato




The Peeps: The Presence of Absence is short listed for the Roses Design Awards

Monday, August 15th, 2011

We are pleased to announce that the book we designed for Dan Dubowitz and Manchester University Press has been shortlisted for the 2011 Roses Design Awards, organised by The Drum.

The winners will be announced on 13th October at the awards dinner in Manchester, which is great we can get the tram to the awards…


Axis books feature at Photography Festival Les Rencontres d’Arles

Wednesday, July 20th, 2011

Thanks to Dan Dubowitz for sending these images of ‘The Peeps’ and ‘Wastelands’ featured and sitting on the top two tables in the ‘best of photographic books from the world’ at The Photography Festival Les Rencontres d’Arles, a few weeks ago. Both were produced by Axis within the last year. It’s great that they are receiving wide-spread recognition.

Definitely No Rubbish Here

Wednesday, June 8th, 2011

I have just posted a comment on the DNRH blog, part of a project we are currently working on for the launch of the Peeps book we recently designed. Click here to see the blog and website both designed by Axis.

More details of the book here

As designer of the Peeps book, Ancoats has held a special place in my Manchester make-up since arriving 20 years ago in this city. As I felt my way into the arts and cultural set up here, I used to head to a basement printers, who typeset and produced artwork for me before I had my first mac, often a scary dark and forbidding place, visited early before the rush of a day’s work to get my stuff sorted, or getting my fly-posters done old school style down a dark alley, cash only…

A forgotten hinterland, rotting away, this part of town was always of fascination for the suggestion of a latent energy, of past glories, the street names nail it for me, so evocative of global places and endevour. I think that is why my chance meeting with Dan, in Italy oddly, drew me to the project he discussed there, about what he was doing in my adopted city. And so I then got the opportunity to sift through the archival material and draw on it, become immersed in it, read his rough notes, work with his photography and collected ephemera, to make a bookwork – a joyful process.

Now I often detour on my road bike through the streets of pavé on my way back from the Velodrome, enjoying the feel of the cobbles under the wheels (its a european cycle thing), the place less ominous, but equally as fascinating, buildings of beautiful past industrial power reclaimed saved and reinvigorated.

June 7, 2011 at 4:58 pm


The Vital Years: Frank Avray Wilson

Friday, May 27th, 2011

Gallery catalogue for Paisnel in London, published to coincide with the major exhibition of Frank Avary Wilson’s ‘The Vital Years’. With an essay by Peter Davis, this publication reappraises this artist’s creative output from the 50s and 60s. Cloth bound with a 2 colour foil block to cover. It has 72 pages of full colour reproductions printed with a stuccato screen to enable the detail of the work to really lift off the page.

Redeye membership scheme publicity material

Wednesday, May 18th, 2011

Promotional posters and flyers commissioned to promote the new Redeye membership scheme. Part of our on-going development of publicity material for Redeye, the photography network that started with the redesign of their logo. Working in conjunction with Words & Fixtures to develop the straplines and text this campaign was launched at Look 11 in Liverpool.

Chorlton Arts Festival Newspaper

Monday, May 16th, 2011

The art newspaper for the 2011 Chorlton Arts Festival has arrived and looks just great. With the new identity driving the change in format, for the first time we have been able to allow the content to breath on the page, making the reading experience significantly better.

Watch out in south Manchester for your copy, it will be available in all local bars and shops and there will be a house to house mail drop over the next few days.

The website also produced by us is here

Liverpool Biennial Launch

Saturday, May 14th, 2011

Light Night Launch for Touched – The Book

Liverpool Biennial @ News from Nowhere – Liverpool’s Radical & Community Bookshop, 96 Bold Street

Readings from the book took place on Friday 13 May by Victoria Allington, Esther Dix and Aimee Jeffery from LIPA, the Liverpool Institute For Performing Arts.

Lovely marginal notes made in the books they read from. 

See here for more details of the book.

Peter Fraser

Monday, May 9th, 2011

Sometimes the smallest jobs bring immense satisfaction. Approached by Peter Fraser to review and update his stationery, Axis designed a suitably reserved and elegant new business card with electronic templates for correspondence.

Anyone who has read American Psycho would want this card to be swapped in the boardroom scene.

In these days of fast turnaround digital print, its great to find companies that still deliver the age old craft of edge gilding. 

Minimalist ‘bling’ factor 10.

Friday, April 15th, 2011

A website and identity for, a private psychotherapy and counselling practice in Didsbury, Manchester, run by Paul Melia.

View website here logo

Touched: Liverpool Biennial

Friday, April 15th, 2011

Post-biennial publication documenting all of the ‘Touched’ exhibition and ‘Touched Talks’ is now printed and delivered!

Available from Liverpool Biennial online here

Read and see more here

Liverpool Biennial ‘Touched’ publication on press

Friday, April 1st, 2011

Liverpool Biennial publication “Touched” printing in Antwerp at DeckersSnoeck, filmed by Alan Ward of Axis Graphic Design whilst colour press passing. The book is now in the bindery where it will be OTA bound, and then shortly thereafter delivered to Liverpool.

352 pages plus cover, it is printed on arctic volume 150gsm in 4 colour throughout with spot varnish to the images. It will be available through the Liverpool Biennial and Cornerhouse Publications distribution.


Liverpool Biennial publication “Touched” printing in Antwerp from Axis Graphic Design on Vimeo.

Peeps is in the building!

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2011

This book documents the artist-in residency of Dan Dubowitz within the former industrial suburb of Ancoats, Manchester – the birthplace of the industrial revolution.

Read and see more here

The Reclaim Book

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2011

Reclaim, a Manchester-based youth project commissioned Axis and Len Grant to tell the story of their groundbreaking outreach work with young people from deprived communities.

Read and see more here

Three stages, three moments

Thursday, February 17th, 2011

This started out as a video project but ended up as a book of video stills.

An artist book by Alan Ward, which visits 3 stages of the Tour de France in 2010. This publication is not just about the cyclists, it explores the strange, the unusual, the abstract and the random that surrounds the beautiful madness of the grand tour.

Limited to an edition of 22 – the number of Pro teams in the Tour in 2010 – each book is individually numbered and signed and wrapped in one of each of the 22 team musette feedbags with 2 limited edition postcards and an edition card.

For more details see its entry under ap publishing.

Videogame Nation: Woodhorn opening

Saturday, February 12th, 2011

Photographs from the opening of Videogame Nation for Woodhorn in Ashington, nr Newcastle.

Having completely redesigned the show from its original incarnation at Urbis for the gallery space at Woodhorn, it was great to see it insitu, rather than in 3d mode on the computer.

Printing Peeps: Antwerp

Thursday, February 10th, 2011

Some photos of ‘The Peeps’ book for Dan Dubowitz on press at DeckersSnoeck in Antwerp. Also the lovely B&B I stayed at called Boulevard Leopold – it looked like a Mark Dion installation. [AW]

Review – Malcolm Lowry: From the Mersey to The World

Thursday, December 30th, 2010

Came across this nice little review of a book we designed recently. We worked with Liverpool University Press and close friend Helen Tookey (see also Telling The Fractures)


This is a compelling and beautiful book, both to read and to look at. Published in conjunction with the festival and exhibition held at the Bluecoat in Liverpool in the fall of 2009 to celebrate the centenary of Lowry’s birth, Malcolm Lowry: From the Mersey to the World is a suggestively hybrid collection of personal reminiscences, scholarly pieces, fiction and photographic reproductions of visual works. As Bryan Biggs and Helen Tookey point out in their editors’ introduction, the volume addresses the geographical, psychological and creative ‘voyaging’ undertaken by Lowry throughout his life, from his notorious first voyage out to sea in 1927 as a young, middle-class Liverpool schoolboy looking for adventure, to the reluctant return to East Sussex from the squatter’s beachfront paradise he left behind in Dollarton, British Columbia, in 1954, now as the famous author of Under the Volcano. Throughout, the focus is on place and on journeys-not only Lowry’s, but also often the contributors’ own, inspired in each case by illuminating, occasionally life-changing, encounters with Lowry and his writing.

Season’s Greetings from all at Axis!

Friday, December 24th, 2010

Photograph by Bethan Ward

Chorlton Arts Festival rebrand

Wednesday, November 10th, 2010

The morning after the night before! Graphics panels tossed aside after the successful presentation of the new branding for Chorlton Arts Festival.

Over the next few months we will roll out the design across print and web-based media in preparation for 2011.

The Presence of Absence

Thursday, October 14th, 2010

A sneak peep at the new billboards surrounding the Ancoats site for Dan Dubowitz’s ‘Peeps’ artworks and the Cutting Room public square. The billboards are a trailer for the forthcoming website and book about the artworks and the area.

Printing of Lady Lever

Monday, October 4th, 2010

On press at the printing of Lady Lever publication for Liverpool University Press and National Museums Liverpool.

Also photographed the huge ink tanks that feed all the presses. Glorious colour!

Chorlton Arts Festival Flashlight event

Saturday, May 22nd, 2010

Chorlton Arts Festival

RT @RedeyeNetwork: NEW JOB ALERT: Come work with us at Redeye - we're looking for a Marketing Officer to join our small team. DEADLINE 10th…
- Tuesday Apr 24 - 9:56pm