Orphan redux

Winston, Sam.
Orphan redux.
London: Arc Artist Editions, 2021. (BRF0458)

No. 1 of 5.

This book was printed on an Epson SureColor SC-P9000 with UltraChrome HDX archival pigment ink. Printed onto Awagami Kozo Thin 70gsm White paper. Design by Sam Winston with additional design assistance from Josh Attwood. Hand binding by Haein Song.

Sam Winston (b. 1978) on Orphan, first edition and artist statement:

“Since 1999 I collated scraps of paper, diary notes and typed word document[s] all pertaining to this one idea I was trying to express through a story. And when in 2010 I finally did reach a final draft, I also realised I had generated a history of documents that said something about the process of writing itself.

For Orphan I wanted to present both my final tale and show the archaeology of that writing process. By cutting out the words from my previous drafts I created clouds of text that I could use as the ‘typeface’ for my final draft. It is a book in which you have both the story and its history presented on the same page.

The second section is comprised of the previous drafts that didn’t make it into the final draft.”

The text of Orphan is collaged from ten years of notebook entries and attempted drafts (1999–2009). Previous drafts contains a selection of these pages and also seminal books read by the author at that time. The missing text from the source material reveals which sentences were not used in the final version. Orphan redux (second edition) includes the word clouds story, minus one edit where the final line was removed. The text ends on “the silence in which it sits,” shown here. Winston felt, after years of readings, that it didn’t need another line; it felt like repetition. In addition, two pages have been added to the source material or the cut-up sheets.

We found a boy in the book – we were so surprised, we decided to take him home with us.
When he spoke he had this to say –
I am a child of books and before that I knew of little else.
I learnt to live by reading and through the words of others I have ended up here in the world.
We invited him to stay which he did for some time and one day we discovered this –
My love has begun to drift away – I’ve lost it in this sea of text.
The more I read the deeper it sinks.
Which is why I must set sail for different shores.
The poets have lent me a raft and upon their rhymes I will float.
I am to travel the sea until I find a land beyond words.
And on that ground I’ll build a home as grand as you can imagine.
The only thing that will match its beauty is the silence in which it sits.

The story is both haunting and poignant in that the boy finds his voice through the words of others.  What is intriguing is that the words that complete sentences are often hard to find within the word clouds, as some words link to other clouds and other words are hidden within the clouds. It forces the reader to slow down as you read once to find the sentence, and again and again to put it within the context of the story. The clouds or word bubbles are also art unto themselves, and the reader becomes a visual explorer and an admirer and advocate for the different ways Winston approaches language. As Winston notes, “I prefer to view my work as a practice and a project is like full stops on that journey.” [An interview with Sam Winston, a typographic artist unlike any other, 15 July 2016.]

Sam Winston is a London based artist known for his typography and artist’s books and for his variety of approaches to his art including drawing, performance, and poetry. His work has been exhibited in Tate Britain, the British Library, the Library of Congress, and MoMA. Installations have been held in the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Courtauld Institute of Art, and the Whitechapel Gallery. All of his art encourages his audience to new ways of thinking about and engaging with language.


"Will match its beauty is the silence in which it sits"


"I am a child of books"

Orphan redux