Spring 2023

John Randle and his 26 soldiers of lead

As Matrix comes to a full stop, its doughty founder talks to Eye. Photographs by Philip Sayer [EXTRACT]

First published in 1981, Matrix is unique, writes Simon Esterson. The product of John Randle’s publishing enthusiasms and printing skills, 36 issues have emerged from his and Rosalind Randle’s Whittington Press print shop just outside Cheltenham in the Cotswolds area of England. But now Matrix has run its natural course and there will be no issue 37.

Typeset in metal on the Whittington’s Monotype keyboards and casters and printed letterpress on its Wharfedale and Heidelberg presses, Matrix combines John Randle’s passions for form and content in a physical object. Book-like in its single column layout, but with specially printed sections bound in, pictures tipped (stuck) in and folded-down posters exploding out of the restrained format, Matrix has a look and binding scheme like no other publication …

Eye: Do you like Matrix to be called a magazine or a book? How do you think of it?

John Randle: I think we call it a review. Ever since number one we have printed under the title ‘a review for printers and bibliophiles’. That seems to describe it pretty accurately over a 40-year period. We’ve never deviated very much from that.

Here’s number 1 and 40 years later here’s 36. The only revolutionary change was this horizontal rule … I thought it wasn’t quite right so I increased that from a 3pt rule to a 6pt rule. The ‘and’ in the subtitle has changed to an ampersand, but that’s about it. Things have hardly changed …

Simon Esterson, art director of Eye, London

Read the full version in Eye no. 104 vol. 26, 2023

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