OBITUARY: Barry Hall

Click to follow
The Independent Online
For almost a decade, Barry Hall was a central figure in British small-press publishing and letterpress printing.

Born in Westminster in 1933, he was educated at Highgate College and St Martin's School of Art, then worked in London as an engraver. In 1961 he moved to the United States for a year, living mostly in San Francisco. There he became friendly with many of the poets and painters of the San Francisco Renaissance, and exhibited his own work at the newly opened Batman Gallery.

Back in London he co-founded the Goliard Press in 1964 in a ramshackle stable in West Hampstead, and hand-set, printed and published books by Elaine Feinstein, Charles Olson, Aram Saroyan and others: many for the first time in Britain. Other small presses benefited from his skills: he printed the first edition of Basil Bunting's Briggflatts for Fulcrum, and produced many volumes for Bernard Stone's Turret Books.

Goliard was so successful that in 1967, through the efforts of Nathaniel Tarn and Tom Maschler, it came under the Jonathan Cape umbrella as Cape Goliard. Hall continued working, producing a list that included Neruda, Ginsberg, Paul Blackburn, J.H. Prynne, Gael Turnbull and Ted Berrigan, until one day, bored, he left the rollers halfway across a page of type, walked out, and went to America.

For many years he was on the move. Breeding quarter-horses and making movies in New Mexico. Writing scripts in London. Filming Dale Herd's Dreamland Court in Los Angeles. Recovering from a severe illness in Newport, Rhode Island. Making a television film on Kerouac. Working again (briefly) as an engraver in London. Then he visited Africa, fell in love with Kenya, and moved there.

For more than 10 years he lived, with Beth Vanderwater, on the edge of the Masai Mara game reserve, and built up a film and television production company in Nairobi. During the last few years he began to paint again, but exhibitions planned this autumn in California and Alaska had to be postponed.

The pictures, films and books mark his passage, but the hole left in the lives of the friends of this remarkable and elegant man is his most obvious trace.

Tom Raworth

Barry Leonard Hall, painter, printer, film-maker: born London 15 January 1933; married 1956 Jackie Hilton (two sons; marriage dissolved 1971), 1973 Kathy Ainsworth (one son; marriage dissolved 1977); died Nairobi 29 October 1995.