Given to me by my Paul Peter Piech as I left for the Welsh School of Architecture in 1990.
My Dad found it and gave it back to me last time I went home to Porthcawl. Honoured that he chose to sign it “Uncle Paul” – he was a great friend to my father and a great influence on me.
“Some remarkable individuals keep on believing, throughout their lives, that the world could change for the better. The artist and printer Paul Peter Piech was one such man. He was born in Brooklyn in 1920, the son of Ukrainian immigrants looking for a new way of life in America. From their tough example Piech learnt both to work hard and to speak out when it mattered. His books and posters confront the viewer with the need for global responsibility and co-operation. One piece borrows the words of John Donne, “Any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind.”
It goes on to describe the way he worked – which I remember well. Prolific doesn’t begin to describe it. He spent most of his time in his studio working, but he often visited my dad in his framing workshop, or the printers where I worked. He would come in to get enlargements on the photocopier, copies from books – art, design, philosophy, politics, and he would always explain to me what he was doing with them, even though I was just a spotty 15 year-old printer’s devil.
“Piech did not crave the perfect studio. He was happy to work in garages. In his series of suburban homes, in Middlesex, Herefordshire and Wales, he would spend evenings cutting his lettering direct on to the lino, whilst keeping one eye on Coronation Street. It was a family joke that Christmas Day ended at 10 in the morning. Once the presents were open Piech went back to his proofs.
His fellow printer and writer Kenneth Hardacre once described the urgency of Piech’s output as that of “a man whose need to communicate his faith and his fears was so pressing that it often appeared to be impatient with the very means he had chosen for expressing that need”.