The Mary Notebook editions
The Mary Notebook
Standard edition red linen (middle)

The Mary Notebook by R.O. Lenkiewicz

A large-format A3 (420 x 300 mm) round-backed hand sewn facsimile of the elephant folio illustrated notebook containing 127 pages. Published in 1998 as a limited edition of 350 copies, The Mary Notebook standard edition was produced in two luxury bindings: Belgian Hessian (at left) and red linen with bonded leather spine and gold lettering.

A small number of artist's proofs were also bound in distinctive Moroccan leather quarter bindings in navy, black or crimson with marbled paper boards (at right). The binding was carried out by The Elephant Press at Port Eliot, Cornwall, to reflect Robert Lenkiewicz's love of fine book bindings. Each Notebook has a matching slipcase and comes with a Certificate of Authenticity signed by the artist.

A few copies of the red linen standard edition (see left) are still available.




The Mary Notebook includes a lithograph print titled 'Study of Mary' taken from one of the book's stunning watercolours (right). The lithograph is 400 x 320 mm and each print is numbered and signed by the artist. (Print and book may be purchased separately).

"Entertaining and original... superbly illustrated. This is a special production indeed."

David Lee, Editor
Art Review Oct 1999

Lithograph: Study of Mary
Lithograph: Study of Mary, 400 x 320 mm

The original elephant folio, entitled 'The Painter With Mary – Aesthetic Notes' collected together a variety of loose drawings, paint sketches, watercolours and 'aesthetic notes', Lenkiewicz's innovative medium of image & text. The contents ranged from folio-sized paintings to A3 watercolours to miscellaneous scraps of paper, such as labels peeled from restaurant wine bottles on which the artist had sketched in a frenzy of inspiration. These elements were then variously glued or tacked into its pages.

'Addictive state serious', 24 Feb 1978
'Addictive state serious', 24 Feb 1978
'Strange sense of loss', 9 March 1978
'Strange sense of loss', 9 March 1978
Magdalena & Mary, 3 June 1978
Magdalena & Mary, 3 June 1978


Robert & Mary - pen & ink
Robert & Mary - pen & ink

The entire assemblage intensively recorded the artist's thoughts and sensations during four years of his relationship with the enigmatic Mary, from its beginnings in 1978 to their honeymoon in Rome.


"Lenkiewicz would record their every encounter in minute detail, meticulously noting each emotional shiver and physical tremor with almost clinical detachment and illustrating each page in hallucinatorily vivid watercolours. The Mary Notebook, as it would become known, is a disturbingly compelling document..."

Mick Brown, Telegraph Magazine, 9 Oct 2004



Taken together, The Mary Notebook is the fullest realisation of the artist's thought-provoking and unconventional ideas about the nature of human relationships: especially what Lenkiewicz termed "the falling in love scenario". Lenkiewicz had previously presented a variety of 'Projects' (exhibitions of paintings and drawings accompanied by research notes) with titles such as Love & Romance, Love & Mediocrity, and Jealousy in which he explored the idea of romance as an aesthetic relationship, as opposed to an emotional or spiritual connection, with overtones of addictive behaviour. He strongly held the view that any erotic relationship did not occur between oneself and the other person, but between oneself and one's own 'aesthetic package' of private fantasies and predilections, indulged in the other's presence. The huge folio was displayed open in a glass cabinet as the centrepiece of the exhibition, The Painter With Mary: a Study of Obsessional Behaviour, presented in 1982.

In 1998, the original folio was completely disassembled and each image carefully facsimiled and digitally restored. Months of painstaking editing produced a definitive chronological and thematic order to the folio's contents. Several key images like "Lovers' Meeting" (illustrated below), which had been removed from the folio over the years and framed as separate pictures, were restored to their rightful place in the narrative. Indeed, after its publication, Robert Lenkiewicz acknowledged that he used The Mary Notebook as a guide to reassemble the original folio in more meaningful order. Bound expertly at The Elephant Press with the round-backed construction so cherished by book collectors such as Lenkiewicz himself, The Mary Notebook limited edition emerged as a publication worthy of a place in Lenkiewicz's own magnificent private library.

The yellow and blue moods
do not meet — both move
within the red passion
She should have jumped
1½ inches higher. Perhaps
he jumped too high?
  The two leap in space —
The space between stiffens
in terror at the prospect
of the lovers' embrace
Joy in the sky will not warm
them after the leap.
Lovers Meeting
Lovers' Meeting

The Mary Notebook is indispensable for collectors of Robert Lenkiewicz's work seeking deeper insight into the ideas which underpin his approach to aesthetics & relationships. Though beautiful watercolour studies and pen & ink drawings abound, the compelling private-language imagery creates an erotic journal of extraordinary sensitivity and power.

Mary - pen & ink
Mary - pen & ink
Mary on the Train to Rome, 1981
Mary on the Train to Rome, 1981
Honeymoon in Rome, 1981
Honeymoon in Rome, 1981


Book details

The Mary Notebook & lithograph print Price £750

Book:  Limited edition of 350 (35 Artist's Proofs). Hand bound in red linen cloth, bonded leather spine with gold lettering. Size:   A3 420 x 300 mm, 128pp. Illustrated. Includes signed Certificate of Authenticity.

Individual book price £500.

Lithograph details

Lithograph print: 400 x 320 mm. Limited edition of 350, numbered and signed by the artist.

Individual print price £350.