- 10th Jan 2013
Trolley books is an unusually informal publishing house, like a house in a gallery where artists, photographers, writers and friends drop in to talk, plan and work at fulfilling dreams. It was founded by Luigi Giannuzzi, a brilliant, mischievous maverick known everywhere as “Gigi” and who lived between Venice, New York and London. Having founded Trolley Books in Venice, he moved it to East then Central London with his business partner, Hannah Watson. He died from pancreatic cancer, on Christmas Eve, 2012.
Gigi arrived in London in 1986 to escape military service, and then entered banking. In the 90s he began publishing and in 1997, set up his first independent imprint, Westzone with books by Nan Goldin and Guido Costa. In 2001, he launched Trolley and his determination to do what he wanted to do and do it in style, resulted in a truly original vision.
© Cristina Vatielli
Within a few years, he was gathering prestigious awards such as the 2004 Krazsna Kraus prize for outstanding contribution to photography book publishing. ‘Trolley’ was named after the shopping trolleys Gigi loaded with books and pushed around The Frankfurt Book Fair.
Brave, radical, inspiring and fun, was how Hannah Watson described him, and says that he never chose easy options but fought and stood up for what he believed in. Of the many lasting, deep friendships he developed, that with the late Philip Jones Griffiths was one of the strongest. Jones Griffiths, who died in 2008, recalled the time he was told that his book dummy (for “Agent Orange”) wasn’t good enough because it needed to have more photos in it. His shocking and poignant documentary of the effects of the Vietnam war sits appropriately amongst titles such as “Delta Nigeria – The Rape of Paradise” by George Osodi, and Tom Hurndall’s posthumous book of photographs, diaries and memorabilia, “The Only House left Standing,” set in Palestine and Jerusalem where he was shot dead by an Israeli soldier. On a far lighter note, Daniele Tamagni‘s “Gentlemen of Bacongo,” documents the dazzling Congolese sapeurs who pose in expensive, dashing, customized outfits which clash purposely the traditional with the Western clothes in incongruously impoverished communities.
© Philip Jones Griffiths
© Philip Jones Griffiths
Trolley will carry on with Hannah Watson at the helm; on January 17th, she launches Trolleyology, the book planned and designed with Gigi at the end of his life, an illustrated celebration of a decade of Trolley’s works.
Gigi leaves a palpable mark on the industry. With thanks for inspriation to Hannah Watson.
©2013 Chien-Chi Chang/Magnum Photos
To learn more about Trolley Books, please visit their website here at www.trolleybooks.com
Author: Sue Steward