I saw Nick Drake
I saw Nick Drake: photographs by Keith Morris
Our second release, I saw Nick Drake: photographs by Keith Morris is now available. Just 500 individually numbered copies of this ultra-large-format book are being offered worldwide. It's a huge and exciting book - 24 inches x 18 inches ( 60 x 45cm) when closed, opening up to a 24 x 36 inch (60 x 90cm) spread size.
Keith Morris’s archive is the single most important source of photographs of Nick Drake, with Keith photographing Nick Drake for all three of his albums over a two and a half year period from April 1969 to November 1971. Tragically, Keith died in a scuba diving accident in 2005 but his legacy lives on through his incredible archive of photographs.
I Saw Nick Drake costs £395 + shipping. You can order online by selecting the 'Buy it Now' button, or alternatively you can call us at the gallery on the usual contact number, 0207 493 1152, and we can process your order over the phone.
You can read all about this incredible book in the drop down 'accordion' sections below, underneath the picture gallery.
We have tried to anticipate and address all the questions you may want answered about this incredible book, but if you need further information please just ask.
I Saw Nick Drake
A spread from Bryter Layter....
Front cover and slipcase
A spread from the Five Leaves Left chapter
A close up showing the corner of the book/slipcase
The running man book cover, 24 x 36 inches
A spread from Bryter Layter, Regents Park 1970
A ribbon for each Nick Drake album...
A leafy spread from Five Leaves Left
Book and slipcase, side by side
A spread from the Pink Moon chapter
The slipcased book...
In the acrylic display case....
We have been working closely with the estate of the late Keith Morris to create what will be the definitive book of photographs from his outstanding Nick Drake archives. Nick Drake was an enigma, and has never been the focus of a specific photographic study before now. Couple that with the the fact that Keith Morris, a superb photographer, has the definitive Nick Drake photographic archive, and you have a pretty heady cocktail.
This is a book on a spectacular scale. All our books are produced in an epic physical size, with a mammoth 24 x 36 inch spread size when the book is open. I saw Nick Drake includes approximately 200 photographs over 96 pages, and contains the very best work from Keith Morris's Nick Drake archives.
Why is this book important? Because something revelatory happens when a photograph is presented in a very large format like this: hidden details come to light, and the power and impact of the image are magnified exponentially. Unless you go to a gallery and see a large format print on the wall, you can’t experience this. That’s where we come in. Our books package the essence of large format gallery exhibitions, without reducing the impact of scale. Imagine an entire art gallery exhibition that you get to take home and keep forever.
I saw Nick Drake defies the normal 'coffee table' convention. In fact, it is like no book you will have seen before: much larger than a traditional coffee table volume, it is slim and elegant at the same time. It is housed in a beautiful custom slipcase, lined with black suedel, a felt-like material, which cushions and protects the book. The cover of the book and slipcase have been deliberately left free of text so that nothing detracts from the power of the images. As a result, the book looks like a work of art you could hang on your wall. And in fact you can, as we have developed a special slide-in-slide-out frameless acrylic frame that enables you to do just that. More on that later.
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Contains the very best of Keith Morris's photographs of Nick Drake, from all three of their photoshoots, with many previously unpublished photographs
I saw Nick Drake is a 96 page hardcover book, limited to just 500 signed, numbered copies worldwide. Dimensions are 24 inches (height) x 18 inches (width) when closed ( 60cm x 45cm), and 24 x 36 inches when open (60cm x 90cm).
Joe Boyd, who produced Nick Drake's first two albums - and is the author of the accclaimed book, White Bicycles, a memoir of the music business in the late 60s and early 70s - has written the foreword to the book.
I saw Nick Drake contains approximately 200 photographs from Keith Morris's archives, both colour and black and white. While a small number of these images have been published in a piecemeal fashion in CD booklets, Nick Drake biographies and magazines, they have never been presented in this physical scale before, and many are previously unpublished. Alongside you can see one of our favourite double page spreads - of four beautiful images of Nick Drake taken in Regent’s Park in 1970, during the sessions for his second album, Bryter Layter. The exciting thing about this spread is the sheer physical size: because it measures 24 inches high x 36 inches wide when the book is opened up, each of these four images is approximately 11 x 16 inches (29 x 40 cm). That’s a lovely size to appreciate the exquisite detail and nuances in these photographs.
The photographs are presented chronologically, and the chapters for each session include a comprehensive introduction explaining the background to and content of each shoot. Keith's family have paid tribute to Keith with a very personal biography of the photographer that appears towards the end of the book.
The book showcases a carefully curated selection of the very best images from Keith's three sessions to present in this dramatic 24 x 36 inch spread size. That spread size is no accident - it has been deliberately chosen in the same aspect ratio as 35mm film, namely 1 to 1.5 height to width. This is important as it allows some of the photographs to be presented, where appropriate, across an entire double page spread, with no detail cropped out. One such image is actually one of the most famous, the 'running man' photograph that appears on the back cover of Five Leaves Left, and this occupies the entire front and back cover, enlarged to 24 x 36 inches.
The running man theme extends to the special slipcase that houses the book, as this shows the entire enlarged contact sheet from the 'running man' sequence - thirty five individual frames taken in Battersea on 15 April 1969 outside the Morgan Crucible factory showing Nick Drake with an incredible cast of characters, presented here in their original running order.
Details are important. For example, three bookmark ribbons are sewn into the casing of the book, each one chosen to represent the single colour most associated with each one of Nick Drake’s three albums: green for Five Leaves Left, lilac for Bryter Layter, and, well, you can guess the colour we chose for Pink Moon.
Jean Weston was a tiny, five foot one inch brunette who worked in the alterations section of Gamage’s department store in Holborn, central London. She had just been voted Miss Gamage and as a result had made it through to the final of the ‘Miss London Stores’ contest.
Chances are she would never even heard of the six foot three musician who would release Five Leaves Left later that year, but, over 40 years later, as part of the research into this book, we can link her story to Nick Drake in an important way. The shapely Jean, with her 34-23-34 figure, is a vital clue in helping us to date accurately, for the very first time, the precise day of Keith Morris’s Five Leaves Left cover shoot with Nick Drake.
But first, does anyone really care about this kind of stuff? Hell, yes - historical accuracy is important. For me one of the big exercises behind I saw Nick Drake: photographs by Keith Morris, has been to validate as many dates and facts as possible as far as they relate to Keith Morris’s photo-sessions with Nick Drake.
When you read the existing published biographies of Nick Drake, you learn the accepted wisdom that the Five Leaves Left session took place on budget day 1969, as evidenced by the fact that some of Keith Morris’s photographs taken that day show a budget poster on display. Budget Day in 1969 was Tuesday 15 April. You can see an example here.
The problem is that the appearance of that poster doesn’t necessarily mean the Five Leaves Left photo-session must have taken place on Tuesday 15 April 1969. That budget poster could quite possibly have stayed up for a few days after the budget. So as part of the research for our I saw Nick Drake book, could we get some certainty on that date?
Our fact finding challenge generally with I saw Nick Drake was that we were researching a photo-shoot that took place in 1969 where only two people were present, and both Nick Drake and Keith Morris are sadly no longer with us. Nick Drake has never gone on record discussing the Five Leaves Left photo-shoot. Keith Morris has talked about the session, but only many years after the event, and memories can play tricks after the passing of so much time. So on the face of it, our inability to probe directly the principal protagonists might appear to be a very restricting factor. In practice, it actually makes us work harder with the resources that are at our disposal. The trump card we have, the ace in the hole, is that we can subject Keith’s archive of photographs from that session to a much greater degree of scrutiny than has been possible before.
Here’s where it gets interesting. You know that moment in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo when Mikael Blomkvist is going through the newspaper photo-archives and discovers a sequence of images from the Childrens Day Parade in 1966 which helps him unlock the secret of Harriett Vanger’s disappearance? I love that kind of stuff, and as luck would have it, we had one of those goose-bump moments on this project.
One of the photographs taken by Keith Morris that afternoon shows Nick Drake standing next to a group of three men, and one of those men is holding a newspaper. His attention, and that of his colleague peering over his right shoulder, is firmly rooted to the sports section on the back pages. That is very helpful to us because it means that the front of the newspaper is pointing towards the camera.
As soon as I saw that photograph, the challenge became crystal clear. If we could track down a physical copy of that newspaper held by the man in the photograph taken by Keith, then we could date the shoot with a high degree of certainty.
Luckily Keith’s original negative of this photograph survived, and we were able to make a high resolution scan of that image, blowing up the headlines and images. That certainly helped. As you can see from the close up extract, the detail is not sufficiently clear for us to read the date of the newspaper directly, but we do get a tantalising view of a section of the front of the newspaper, and part of a left hand and a right hand interior page.
These are details that have never been put under the microscope before. If you look at this close up section, you can make out a headline featuring Tesco on the left hand page - the words ‘All the joys of…’ and then ‘at Tesco’ are legible. You can also just make out an article on the right hand page, featuring what looks like a picture of a lady with a sash around her torso and a headline which seems to refer to ‘ginger beer toast’.
Further research confirmed that the newspaper in the photograph was too large to be the Evening Standard, and was in fact the Evening Post. We were getting closer. We just needed to find the physical example of that newspaper so that we could match it up.
Jean Weston - and her ginger beer toast
A session at the British Library’s newspaper archives struck gold. On microfiche we discovered what we were looking for. That is where Jean Weston comes in, and gives us the evidence that the photograph was not actually taken on Tuesday 15 April 1969 after all. Let me introduce you to the lovely Jean. It’s the same picture that appears in the article held by the man in the Keith Morris photograph - but you can’t see all of it because of the way the paper is folded.
The article in the paper is titled “IT’S A GINGER BEER TOAST FOR STORES GIRL JEAN’.
I had been really intrigued by the reference to ‘ginger beer toast’ - it reminded me of ‘Lucy in the sky with Diamonds’, with its tangerine trees and marmalade skies. So here’s what it is all about, straight from the April 1969 article:
Pretty 22-year-old Jean Weston drank a toast to herself in ginger beer when she heard she had been voted Miss Gamage. “I needed it - I never thought I would be the one,” said Jean, a tiny 5ft 1in brunette with a 34-23-34 figure. Jean, who was picked from several other girls at the Holborn store, is a fashion alteration hand with the fashion department. She chose a carefully tailored dress in white French lace for the contest.
A bride of five months, she said, “My husband will be delighted when he hears the news-though I can’t imagine his reaction if I was lucky enough to go to Tokyo!” She joins the other stores’ beauties in the finals of the Miss London Stores contest to be televised in May. The contest-with a trip to Tokyo and £600 of gift vouchers as first prize-is part of the second Festival of London Stores, jointly sponsored by the Evening News and Evening Standard. Fulham born Jean has already travelled abroad, but she said: “I really think London stores are the best.” Jean and her husband live in West Hampstead but they have an ambition to open a music shop somewhere and live on the premises.
The same newspaper also has the Tesco piece that appeared on the left hand page in Keith Morris’s photograph, with the title ‘ALL THE JOYS OF SPRING ARE AT TESCO’
So we had it. And so to the all important question, the date of the Five Leaves Left photo-shoot, printed in top corner of the newspaper?
So let me say a big thank you to the lovely Jean. I don’t know if she won the competition, or opened her music shop, but it is down to her that we were inspired to follow this research through to its conclusion and add some certainty to one small but important aspect of the Keith Morris / Nick Drake story.
Just 500 signed numbered books are being offered to collectors worldwide.
Each book in the edition is signed by Clare Morris on behalf of the Keith Morris estate.
In the limited edition book world, this is a small edition and we expect demand to be high.
Are you going to become one of the fortunate 500 ?
“A Coke is a Coke and no amount of money can get you a better Coke than the one the bum on the corner is drinking. All the Cokes are the same and all the Cokes are good. Liz Taylor knows it, the President knows it, the bum knows it, and you know it.”
So said Andy Warhol.
We could have gone down the track of carving out a special edition of the books we publish. You know the kind of thing - an edition with a print, a special binding etc etc. A lot of publishers do this, and although we did consider it, it wasn't for us. Why? Simply because we are focused on making them all special. When you look at your copy of I Saw Nick Drake, you know that no-one has a better version. They are all the best.
The signed limited edition book, in its slipcase and a sturdy external shipping box, costs £ 395 + shipping
Books are ready to ship. What are you waiting for ?
Given the size and weight (approx 9 kg /20 lbs) of the slipcased book in its external shipping box, we recommend that you have us deliver it to you.
The delivery charge depends on location as follows:
UK: next day signed for courier - £25
Europe and USA: 4/5 working days, signed for courier service £65
Rest of world: 4/5 working days, signed for courier service £75
If you wish to collect the book from the gallery, then there is no delivery charge, and we will refund any delivery charge if you want to collect.
The book is packaged securely and anonymously. We have gone to town on packaging, as we don't want to take any risks of the book being damaged in transit. It comes in an extra thick unbranded shipping box, with void areas to absorb any knocks in transit.
At the chime of a city clock
Please bear in mid that the clock on the edition is ticking.
The practical timing issue is simply when we run out and sell all 500 copies in the edition.
So our advice is, if you want one, get your order in now and avoid any chance of disappointment.
Payments in non sterling currencies - Euros, USD etc
If you purchase through the website, you can choose to pay in USD or Euros.
Actual USD/Euro prices will depend on the rate at the transaction date if purchasing online in USD or Euros or the rate applied by your credit card company if purchasing in GBP.
If you wish to use Amex, you will need to get in touch with us at the gallery rather than purchase online.
We can only process payments in GBP through the physical card terminal at the gallery.
Special acrylic slide in slide out wall display case
Make no mistake, this is a big book, and we wanted to give you some different display options. Of course you can put it on your coffee table or (big) bookshelf, but we felt it deserved something a bit special. At the design stage of the book/slipcase we took a conscious decision to keep the cover free of text, so that nothing detracts from the power of the chosen front and back cover images. That notion gave rise to the idea of this display unit - because it means you can, should you choose to, display your book just like a piece of art on the wall - which is what it is, after all.
It means that you can get up close to, and enjoy the incredible variety and detail in the individual frames from Keith Morris's 'running man' film, presented in its entirety as an enlarged contact sheet on the front of the slipcase.
Constructed from 5mm clear acrylic, this is a solid, simple and practical way to display your book on your wall in its slipcase. It measures 18.5 inches (w) x 25 inches (h) x 1.5 inches (d). That's approximately 47cm x 64cm x 4cm.
It is open sided on the left and right, allowing you to slide your book (and please read 'book' as 'book and slipcase' here) in and out whenever you want to look at the contents. You also have the flexibility to show the front or the back of the book and flip it over if you feel like a change of view.
It has curved edges, and a split baton hanging system on the reverse. Special acrylic 'feet' at the bottom ensure that it hangs parallel to the wall. It is a nice, elegant, solid piece of work.
Maybe you don't know much about Nick Drake - or maybe you do. Don't worry if you don't because you can make up for lost time. Nick Drake was a brilliant musician who died too young, but who made three perfect albums during his lifetime: the lush orchestral debut Five Leaves Left, the jazz tinged follow up, Bryter Layter and the stripped-back acoustic Pink Moon. Those records deserve to reach your ears, if they haven’t already. If you have Spotify, put them on. They are all on there.
Drake’s music was for the most part ignored while he was alive, but his body of work is now, quite rightly, acclaimed and revered. Acclaim came late, many years after his death, but he is regularly name-checked by a renowned group of musicians too lengthy to list out even in a book of this size.
Nick Drake’s story is a fascinating one, and it’s a story that appears completely incongruous by todays standards. There is no known filmed footage of him as an adult at all – and so nothing of him performing has ever seen the light of day. This means that we don’t know how he moved, we can’t see his complicated finger picking guitar technique, how he held himself, his facial expressions – all the things that we take for granted with performers now.
I’m a late comer to Nick Drake, but like most people who first stumble across his music, I found myself sucked in quickly. He makes it easy, actually. Drake left a small, concise and perfectly formed body of recorded work that repays repeated listening. It is ‘grown up’ music. It takes a level of maturity for a 20 year old, still at University, to decide that he wants to include complicated string arrangements on many of the tracks on his first album.
The guitar was the backbone to his sound - clean, spare and regular. A six foot three inch product of the English public school system and Cambridge University, Nick Drake spoke with a cut glass accent and his innate Englishness pervades his music. Drake’s is not the England of bacon and eggs or fish and chips: his is the England of strawberries and cream, of tea at The Ritz.
When you listen to Five Leaves Left, Bryter Layter or Pink Moon, you need to put all other distractions aside, slow down, lean in, and really listen. A couple of spins is all it takes and you are hooked. Thirty one songs, spread over three perfect and yet very different albums. Also worth seeking out are the five studio recordings made in 1974 and released posthumously. That is pretty much all you need to hear of the officially released material. It is comforting music, and for me, intensely uplifting.
Once you fall in love with Drake’s music, then, inevitably you want to find out more about the man. Three essential but very different biographies by Gorm Henrik Rasmussen, Patrick Humphries and Trevor Dann tell the story, and are definitely required reading on the journey.
I saw Nick Drake fits in to the space that is left, adding the images that go with the words and the music.
Keith Morris and Nick Drake - the photo sessions
The late Keith Morris’s archive is by far the single most important source of photographs of Nick Drake. Keith photographed him for all three of his albums over a two and a half year period from April 1969 to November 1971. All his photographs of Nick Drake were taken in London, and they are presented in chronological order in the book. He photographed Nick Drake in a variety of settings in April 1969 for Five Leaves Left. This was Keith's first album cover shoot (an important rite of passage for any young photographer) and his preparations, planning and scouting showed that it was clearly important to him. He produced a combination of location and studio portraits of Nick Drake, including an accomplished set of studio shots around what would later become Keith's kitchen table, dramatic in their use of light and shade. Also of note from the Five Leaves Left session are the portraits taken against the wall by the Morgan Crucible Factory in Battersea. The ‘running man’ image from this series appeared on the back cover of Fives Leaves Left, but thirty three other frames, presented in their entirety in the book, capture a fascinating cast of characters sharing the scene with Nick Drake.
The second shoot, for Bryter Layter, took place in 1970, and again he photographed Nick Drake in a number of locations around London, starting at his flat on Haverstock Hill, then Regents Park, and then south of the river Thames to New Cross.
The optimism of the first shoot for Five Leaves Left in 1969 is a polar opposite to the withdrawn Nick Drake photographed by Keith on Hampstead Heath for Pink Moon in 1971. The transformation in his appearance over this period is telling and dramatic. This was their final shoot and took place a full three years before Nick Drake’s death in November 1974.
In this book we present approximately 200 photographs from these three sessions. Not everything - because in putting together a book like this, sensitive and careful curating is key.
Less is definitely more.
We have a blog. The purpose is to to go behind the scenes and share our experiences in bringing our fantastic projects from idea to reality. You can read our posts on Tumblr .
It's an opportunity for us to go into specific details on a whole range of areas, and we try and make it interesting plus have a bit of fun.
Here's a link to one of the posts where we run through the cover design process for I Saw Nick Drake: photographs by Keith Morris
Ormond Yard Press™ : Dedicated to bringing you the bigger picture
Our mission is a simple one - to create incredible books that we, our artists and our clients can be proud of. That's a heavy burden but one which we embrace. Behind everything we do is the goal of producing elegant and brilliant books; books that celebrate classic moments in the history of popular culture, in a physical scale that mainstream publishers can't deliver.
Layouts and presentations are designed to let images shine across double page spreads, in a clean, uncluttered style. Less is more. The book is the boss, and forces you to look at what is in front of you. When was the last time you really looked at a picture properly?
We know that collecting precious things is addictive. So we plan to help you with your addiction in a number of ways.
Timing. We don’t want to bombard you. We are planning no more than one or two titles in each calendar year. We will be releasing details of new titles every six months.
Consistency. We want you to be able to build up a collection that works together, where the individual components can be stored and displayed together. So we will ensure consistency with all future titles in the series. A consistent look and feel, a consistent size (24 x 18 inches when closed, 24 x 36 inches spread size), and each book housed in a bespoke slipcase. This means that serial collectors can build up a handsome set of volumes over time. Of course the contents will vary, but they will be consistently brilliant.
Loyalty. We reward loyalty. Existing owners of our books will always have the first opportunity to order new titles. So when we offer pre-launch incentives, these will be made to existing owners first.
Naming a brand is always difficult. You get one shot at it, and it has to work on a whole number of levels. A number of different threads led us to the name Ormond Yard Press™ .
First, the books we publish are a yard wide – three feet – when opened up.
Second, Ormond Yard is the name of a relatively unknown street in the heart of St James’s, just a stone’s throw from our Piccadilly gallery. Ormond Yard has played an important role in contemporary popular culture as it has been the location for many photoshoots over the years – most famously it was the location of the cover session for The Rolling Stones’ 1965 album Out of Our Heads (December’s Children in the U.S). That image, by British photographer Gered Mankowitz, has always resonated as a perfect early piece of pop iconography.
Third, the topography: Ormond Yard is itself tall and slim – proportions that echo the books that are now being produced in its name.