Day 4: If you're like me, whenever you're at the beginning of a new infatuation you look for books on the subject. There's not a lot of publications covering manholes but here are a few. I have the three, and the bright one is on the way from England. I have to say while I appreciate the colored covers from Japan, they don't really interest me. (We will talk about those another day). I'm sure I'd flip out if I came across one, but I tend to prefer the rusty, corroded covers found on streets and sidewalks plus the surrounding environment like gravel, cobblestone, or pavement.
I wish the top two were in color. The black and white photos don't take away from the content as we are mainly looking at patterns and shapes, but the colored versions would so much more interesting, as in the cover above.
There is a book "Manhole Covers of Los Angeles", a rare find, and out of my budget, but was one of the first to glorify street hardware. Text/Photos by Robert and Mimi Melnick, it was a limited edition print run and is now a collectors's item. In 1994 Mimi Melnick released the follow-up, Manhole Covers. I love this book. Nice big photos, in black and white, and the story behind their crusade to find a lid to hang over their sofa, which started their obsession. The cover is embossed - a clever detail for a wonderful book and the story of the Melnicks.
Designs Underfoot is another great resource. It separates the different style covers and provides locations of where to find them in New York City. The photos are small, in black and white, but it offers the opportunity to compare similar styles with the choice of chapters.
Mandalas from the Streets, by Kim Christiansen is a ninety page book, single sided images as they are intended as a coloring book. I would never! I just like seeing how his selection of covers appear as rubbings. Check out his website for more wonderful examples of his art.
Just this week I found this: Overlooked by Marina Willer. It features twenty-two rubbings in neon colors. In addition to the book there are posters (swoon!! GO SEE THEM - two different shaped covers silk screened together). These were featured at the London Design Festival last month. From the shop page: Overlooked is the 45th Pentagram Paper, the self-published series shining a spotlight on quirky or vernacular design, produced by design studio Pentagram. In it, London partner Marina Willer wanted to “celebrate the gatekeepers” to the subterranean world beneath London’s streets – the street or ‘manhole’ cover.
Gatekeepers. Cool description.
And host of other books I don't have but found on Amazon. Love the title: Drainspotting. There are two of them - one from Japan, one from Sheffield. Several more volumes on the colored Japanese hatches, one is ebook only. And how about the one that takes the Japanese covers to a new level, turning them into quilts? Who knew.
I'm finding that there are so many online resources if you just want to look at manhole covers. Some really wonderful and dedicated photographers who have put together specific albums. One connection leads to another and all you keep thinking is "I wish all of these were in a book - like all of them from everyone around the world". I will share links soon - still compiling as I find more every day. Warning: it becomes addictive.
This is only day four of Manhole Madness, and I can't tell you how exciting it has been. I've met so many generous folks. You write an email, asking a question or seeking permission, and you get one back. That doesn't always happen. And the enthusiasm multiplies. Can't wait to introduce you to some of my new friends. Stay tuned.