Among this year’s selection we found not only a celebration of the book, but also a celebration of colour. That much was clear from a glance at the cover of Colours on the Beach.
This charming and carefully composed book is an account of the creation of graphic designer Karel Martens’s artwork of the same name at the seaside resort of northern France’s port city of Le Havre. It combines historical images with a colour system devised by the artist. Using conversion techniques borrowed from cryptology he created an algorithm that led to a colour composition which was then applied to the resort’s beach cabins. The dust jacket reveals that the hidden message on which the encryption is based is actually the literal text of the original decree creating the port city. There is a practical beauty in the design.
Colours on the Beach is printed with a conventional but extremely fine screen, so that the screen-printed postcards are free of any moiré. It might have been better to make sections of 8 pages instead of 16, since that would have prevented the bulking around the spine which has caused some unsightly and unavoidable mismatches in images that run across the gutter. Perhaps this is a consequence of the thickness of the paper. On the other hand the book lies open nicely thanks to its open spine. In the photography there is a grey cast that one might otherwise wish to avoid with a little extra attention to the lithography, but at the same time it’s a nice rendering of the greyness of this particular Normandy beach.
The cover has been printed twice on card and then cut into vertical strips, one of which is enclosed as a bookmark. There’s no need for it, but it’s still nice.