The creation of the Alphabet was an epic adventure and labor of love.
For the longest time I had the idea or creating a human alphabet inspired by the wonderful illustrator Erte.
I knew we had the perfect subject in circus performer and physical poet, Erika Lemay whom Douglas had photographed a number of times for various publications and projects.
The stars aligned to get our dream crew together during the summer of 2015 and the production of this project was my 81st birthday present to Douglas. What better gift than working and taking photographs. That’s what he loves best.
Fashion Director Simone Guidarelli flew in from Milan with accessories and costumes and we shot for a week, all living, working and playing together. Element Design Artist William Thoren and I decided on the overall final look of each letter. He photographed the elements in our studio, flowers, personal objects and jewelry of mine and meticulously transformed them, incorporating Erika into the design. Douglas gave the final approval on each creation.
In 2015, I was so drawn to an article about Saul Leiter’s Painted Nudes book, that I contacted Sylph Editions and ordered a few copies of the book for myself and as gifts for special friends. I left a little note on their website to let them know how much I loved the book. To my surprise, I received a long wonderful, friendly email from the publisher, Ornan Rotem, describing in detail the process of making that book. Sometimes being open to the universe, results in perfect encounters.
Sylph Editions, based in London, is the creation of Ornan Rotem and his wife and partner Num Stibbe. They are dedicated to publishing fiction, monographs, theoretical essays, limited-edition art and photography books, as well as different forms of experimental writing. Every work is meticulously produced and curated, from the early stages through to typography, design, editing and finally printing and binding.
Over the years Douglas and I have collected a number of their publications and developed a long distance friendship, fueled by our admiration for their work.
When they decided to publish Physical Poetry Alphabet, we were elated. We could not have found a better home for this whimsical body of work and the attention to detail and care that went into this project reflects on the pages of the book. Ornan, Num and their team contributed immensely in elevating the work and giving it the additional dimension which make this book a jewel.