Monday 30 May 2016

The S. Helmes and W. Gaglione Rubber Stamp Archive

The Minnesota Centre for Book Arts have acquired both Scott Helmes and William “Picasso” Gaglione's extensive Rubber Stamp collections. 

To help establish this magnificent collection, MCBA has opened a Kick Starting Campaign 

Here's the link, please make a donation ! 

The H/G Archive is one of the largest repositories of rubber stamps and stamp-related materials in the world. Comprised of hundreds of commercial and one-of-a-kind boxed sets and over 70,000 individual stamps spanning a period of 120 years, the H/G Archive is both comprehensive and incredibly diverse. In addition to physical stamps, the collection includes original stamp art, artists’ books, limited edition publications, journals, catalogs, reference materials, correspondence art, assemblings, design specifications, posters, and production materials.  

The mission of the H/G Archive is to preserve historical, rare and unique tools of artistic expression while maintaining their accessibility to artists wishing to incorporate them into their creative practice. It is a living archive where use by artists and researchers is encouraged.

An exhibition in Open Book’s second floor Literary Commons presents just a few examples of the H/G Archive’s holdings. It offers a rudimentary history primer and demonstrates rubber stamp use by contemporary artists. From Dada and Fluxus practitioners to concrete poets and correspondence artists, rubber stamps facilitate creativity through their inherent immediacy and operative flexibility. They allow artists to simultaneously reference and critique a range of topics from banal day-to-day life to long established social institutions. 

The S. Helmes and W. Gaglione Rubber Stamp Archive will officially open to the public in mid-2017 after initial documentation and cataloging has been completed. At that time it will begin fulfilling its mission by providing unique resources for art-making to emerging and established artists; serving as an educational collection that demonstrates history and social change; supporting future exhibitions and workshops; preserving and maintaining a traditional creative practices; and enhancing Minnesota Center for Book Art’s programming.



Scott Helmes is a visual poet who began collecting rubber stamp sets in 1974. His poetry stretches the limits of language, explores the multifaceted concepts of meaning, and encompasses all manners of reading. His work also investigates typographic concepts, printing methods, and alternative letter forms within the modern meaning of communication. Helmes’ poetry is realized through a variety of techniques and materials such as rubber stamps, stencils, and collage. He has exhibited internationally and his work is in the collections of some of the world’s leading institutions, including Minneapolis’ Walker Art Center, New York’s Museum of Modern Art, London’s Victoria & Albert Museum, Paris’ Bibliotheque Nationale de France, and Frankfurt’s Museum für Kunsthandwerk.


An avid collector of all things, William “Picasso” Gaglione was the original owner of Stamp Francisco and has been involved with rubber stamp art and rubber stamp manufacturing for decades. He is currently the co-proprietor of Chicago's Stampland. His artistic influence on the world of rubber stamping has been documented extensively through numerous international exhibitions and publications. As a publisher, he has produced multiple boxed exhibition catalogs and assembling periodicals such as Stampzine. Gaglione has created many aliases and identifications during his long career as a conceptual artist (Picasso, Dadaland, etc.) and he continues to prolifically create and perform as a neo-Dadist, Fluxus practitioner, and correspondence artist.

Craft of Medicine at the Welcome Collection Reading Room

The Craft of Medicine at the Welcome Collection's reading room was a great success,
the discussions taking place during the day were inspiring and insightful. I had many a visitor commenting on the links between teaching, patient consultations and how to offer support encouragement during these interactions.

I took part of my rubber stamp archive along, visitors to my table spent time experimenting with them, making all manner of interconnecting print impressions. Its always fascinating to watch people using my stamps and the marriages of colour and stamp subject matter they create.
I also taught several surgeons to carve their own rubber stamps, they found it to be not only a practical and immediate process , but a therapeutic one to boot - of course they were very good at it - all that practice of with sharp scalpels.

Here is a link to another similar event organised by the great Roger Kneebone and the Art Workers Guild - this should give you a flavour of such meetings.

Thinking With Your Hands

And here's a picture of the Reading Room, an inspiring place to work and talk.