Today is the centenary of the birth of Canterbury artist Leo Bensemann and Peter Simpson, Leo's biographer, has contributed an insightful article on the Christchurch Art Gallery's collection of Leo Bensmann's work which you can read here.
Bensemann has many fans among the staff here at the Christchurch Art Gallery and we, along with many of our visitors, were saddened when it was realised mid way through last year that Leo's retrospective exhibition, Leo Bensemann: A Fantastic Art Venture (co-curated by Peter Simpson and Noel Waite) would not be re-opening due to the on-going earthquakes.
I was lucky enough to visit the exhibition on most of the 12 days that it was open and seeing the grouping of Bensemann's work as a typographer and printer was as much a highlight as the paintings, drawings and wood-engravings on display. As a letterpress printer I can't go past his opening page for The Rime of the Ancient Mariner which Leo designed and printed at Christchurch's Caxton Press in 1952. The page layout, featuring a wonderfully designed captital 'T' printed in red, affects me every time I open this book while the impression and inking of the italic and roman metal type is pure perfection.