Project Description

I Saw Nick Drake – photographs by Keith Morris.

The limited edition book from Ormond Yard Press. 

Ormond Yard Press: Bringing You The Bigger Picture.

I Saw Nick Drake: photographs by Keith Morris, the second book from our publishing arm, Ormond Yard Press, features the very best from Keith Morris’s Nick Drake archives.

As with all Ormond Yard Press volumes, it is a book on a spectacular scale: a hardcover volume housed in its own printed slipcase and measuring 24 inches high x 18 inches wide (60x45cm) when closed, 24 x 36 inches (60 x 90cm) when open, with 96 pages of photographs. The physical scale may be large, but the edition size is reassuringly small – just 500 individually numbered copies are available to collectors worldwide.

I Saw Nick Drake is available now

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£ 395

(plus shipping if required.)

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Why should you buy this book ?

This is the definitive book of photographs from Keith Morris’ 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. Tragically, Keith Morris died in a scuba diving accident in 2005 but his legacy lives on through his incredible archive of photographs.

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 display unit that enables you to do just that. More on that later.

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Sample pages from I Saw Nick Drake

Take a look at some of the double page spreads from I Saw Nick Drake in the slideshow. In the book each of these spreads measures 24 x 36 inches (60 x 90cm.)

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Contents of the book

I saw Nick Drake contains the very best of Keith Morris’s photographs of Nick Drake, from all three of their photoshoots, with many previously unpublished.

I saw Nick Drake is a 96 page hardcover book, limited to just 500 individually 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. The book has been designed by David Costa, the renowned graphic designer responsible for The Beatles’ Anthology.

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. 

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 in 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.

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Product images from I Saw Nick Drake

Take a look at some close-up pictures of some of the product details from I Saw Nick Drake in the slideshow.

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On Nick Drake

The subjects of our first two books could not be more different. Bruce Springsteen is one of the most well known musicians in the history of rock and roll, with a recorded output that spans decades and a prolific and energized live performer. Nick Drake is an introverted British singer songwriter who died young, released just three albums during his lifetime, who never toured and rarely performed live.

Not surprisingly, Drake is nowhere near as well known as Springsteen. But that doesn’t mean that his legacy isn’t worth celebrating in a book like this.  He was a brilliant musician who made three perfect albums, and those records deserve to reach your ears, if they haven’t already. Drake’s music was for the most part ignored during his lifetime 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. He only ever did one interview. He did not tour to support his albums. He was uncomfortable performing live, and his complex tunings made it impossible for him to move effortlessly from song to song.

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.

Drake was a brilliant guitar player. He practiced all the time. 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. He has no discernible influences, and no one else really sounds like him. That makes his music timeless, unique.

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, and then five individual songs, 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 intensely uplifting.

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I Saw Nick Drake facts and figures

This ultra-large-format book measures a staggering 18 x 24 inches (45 x 60cm) when closed, and 36 x 24 inches (90 x 60cm) when open.

I Saw Nick Drake has 96 large format pages, with approximately 200 stunning black and white and colour photographs, reproduced in sizes up to 24×36 inches (60x90cm), together with an introduction by Joe Boyd, chapter intros that set out the background to each of their three photo-shoots, and a biography of the photographer. It is limited to 500 individually numbered copies worldwide.

I Saw Nick Drake is housed in a custom protective slipcase, which reproduces the entire Running Man contact sheet from Five Leaves Left on the front. The famous running man frame occupies the entire front and back cover of the book.

An optional acrylic slide-in slide-out wall unit allows you to display I Saw Nick Drake on your wall.

Ormond Yard Press: Bringing You The Bigger Picture

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Keith Morris and Nick Drake: the photo-sessions

Keith Morris photographed Nick Drake for all three of his albums over a two and a half year period from April 1969 to November 1971.All the photographs were taken in London, and they are presented in chronological order in the book.

Keith Morris 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 I Saw Nick Drake 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.

 

 

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Hang your book on your wall

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. With each of our books, we took a conscious decision to keep the covers free of text, so that nothing would detract 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.

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 has curved edges, and a split baton hanging system on the reverse. Acrylic feet at the bottom ensures that it hangs parallel to the wall. It is a nice, elegant, simple, solid piece of work.

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.

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They cost £ 195 (plus shipping if required.)

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Producing I Saw Nick Drake

It struck me in everything I read, that there had never been a comprehensive photographic study of Nick Drake. It also became clear that there was only one place to start. You could count the number of professional photographers who had worked with Nick Drake on one hand, and the late Keith Morris’ archive was by far the single most important source.

I first met with Clare Morris to discuss her late husband’s archive in January 2012. As I sat in her kitchen, we chatted as she made coffee. All the time, I was incredibly aware of four grey boxes sitting on the edge of the table. The labels on the boxes told me that they contained Keith Morris’ Nick Drake archives – negatives, transparencies, contact sheets,  and more.

With Clare’s coffee coursing through my veins, my excitement was growing, and at one point, I just couldn’t wait any longer. I remember saying, “Clare, you know, I’ve got to get into these boxes! ” What I saw amazed me. Around 500 images, mostly black and white but some colour, most previously unpublished.

Some of Keith Morris’ photographs had appeared, in a piecemeal fashion, over the years in magazine articles or on the liner notes of CD reissues, and in the picture sections of Nick Drake biographies.  But not many. It appeared that most of Keith’s photographs of Nick Drake had never been published, and certainly never in the large format presentation that this book allows.

Once I started digging through the material with Clare, I knew, with complete certainty, that this was a body of work that deserved an incredible book, and one that I knew we could do absolute justice to in our ultra large 24 x 36 inch format. What a great moment. Happily, Clare felt the same way, and we formed a close-knit team, along with Keith and Clare’s daughter Sevrin, and renowned designer David Costa.

Helpfully, the archives also contained prints made by Keith during his lifetime. Keith was a master printer, working in his own darkroom to produce exquisite silver gelatin photographs directly from his original negatives. That was important, as it meant that we had something to match to when printing the images in the book, and it meant we could produce something as close as possible to how Keith made his prints.

In this book we present approximately 200 photographs. Not everything – because less is more, and we wanted to ensure the finished product represents the very best work from Keith Morris’ Nick Drake sessions.

I hope we can tempt you.

Guy White, publisher, Ormond Yard Press.

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Testimonials

I ordered the Nick Drake book for my father’s birthday, and I just want to let you know that he is very happy with it. Every time he looks at it, tears come to his eyes because he finds the stories and pictures in it so beautiful…So do I by the way – we are both huge Nick Drake fans. Thanks again for the fast responses/handling the order, it’s very much appreciated!
Daan B from the Netherlands
What can I say? This is not only a book. It’s a work of art, a masterpiece. And I don’t use these words in vain. It’s so beautiful! To go through these pages is like listening to each song of Pink Moon, Berlin or Blood on the Tracks. It’s very emotional and a unique experience. You’ve created something very special and thank you for that.
Nuno R from Spain
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Questions?

If you have any questions at all about I Saw Nick Drake please just ask – we are here to help.