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Access Press

Access Press is an independent Western Australian publisher

Company Profile

A Brief History

In December, 1974 a group of nine journalists and academics formed a non profit distributing arts organisation to publish a monthly arts magazine. The nine journalists registered themselves as "The Nine Club" and published the magazine under the title of Artlook.

Artlook was hatched under the wing of the Cultural Development Council of WA which was presided over by a small committee of people interested in the arts and included John Tinley, Helen Weller, Meg Sheen and others. John Harper-Nelson, who was at that time the theatre critic for the A.B.C wrote articles on the theatre for the CDC Digest, a small in-house newsletter which Helen Weller edited for the organisation. She realised there was a need for a more widely circulating publication and so was born Artlook.

By March 1975 Volume 1 No 3 of Artlook was published by The Nine Club. Two earlier editions No's 1 and 2 had been financed and published by Helen Weller herself which was particularly hard for her brood of children who forwent their supper for several weeks to finance the project. The March, 1975 No 3 edition stated that it was now being produced by The Nine Club which was not affiliated to any government organisation or any institution or political party, as a forum for anyone interested in the arts in Western Australia to express opinions and read news and views of the arts, nationally and internationally. In those days "The West Australian" only reviewed the arts to the extent of four hundred word comments each Saturday - theatre by Donna Sadka, Music by Peter Hellstrom, Art by Murray Mason and Craft by Helen Weller. There was no coverage at all for literature as a forum for anyone interested in the arts not affiliated to any government organisation or institution carrying news and views of the arts in WA.
Members of the original Nine Club were John Harper-Nelson (Chairman), John McIlwraith, Kirwan Ward, Helen Weller Editor (all journalists), Collin O'Brien, theatre critic and lecturer, Tom Gibbons, art critic, writer and lecturer at the University of Western Australia (U.W.A.), Nick Hasluck, barrister & writer, Dr. D'arcy Ryan, lecturer in Anthropology (U.W.A.), Anthony (Tony) Evans, broadcaster, writer and graphic artist. An announcement in the March 1975 edition states "With the co-operation of enough people in this matter we hope to provide what Perth needs - an independent comprehensive and lively monthly critical forum for disseminating information and opinions on the Arts". Subscription for individuals was $5 per annum and for institutions $6 per annum.Subscribers received a copy of the magazine through the post and it was available from such venues as the Perth Concert Hall, the Playhouse, the Hole in the Wall theatre, P.I.F.T , the Octagon Theatre and the University Bookshop all in Western Australia.

Some of the original headers included "Happenings" a notice board listing plays, art exhibitions and other artist endeavours and shows. This concept was later adopted by "The West Australian" and is still used. Later "Broadside - the thunder of the common man' (a section of Artlook where readers were encouraged to have their say, in verse or worse, on contentious subjects and were paid $5 per contribution), Gallery Notes (articles submitted by the Art Gallery of WA) Theatre Art, George Mulgrue pages, Artlooker (which headed up notes, gossip, snippets of news and rumours) and The Midnight Oil Rig (a compendium of reviews and creative writing, which aimed to tap the net work of established writers and newcomers supported by the Literature Board of the Australia Council). Some pages were devoted to articles from the eastern states and country Western Australia.

By the 1980's editions of Artlook had grown to include over 50 pages several of them in full colour. It had become an inclusive, beautifully produced, well written and edited publication and the first of its kind in Australia. It was extremely popular with the arts community and was distributed across Australia and even overseas. From its humble beginnings, this arts magazine had grown into a sophisticated, informative publication which included articles, photographs, paintings, book reviews and stories about all the most famous in the arts fraternity at that time many of whom are now famous world wide.

At the same time as Artlook was being published, The Nine Club also published twenty seven titles. The first book published in 1977 was entitled "Seven Poets" and was sponsored by the Shell Company of Australia. Other titles include "Line on Kalamunda" (1978), "Sawdust Firing" (1978), "Lip Service" (1979) and North of the 26th (1979). The Nine Club ceased publishing the magazine Artlook in December 1983 and was wound up in January, 1985.

In 1979 two of the members of the Nine Club, Helen Weller and John Harper-Nelson set up a separate Trust and assisted by fifteen other public spirited Western Australian subscribers commenced publishing books under the imprint of Artlook Books. The typesetting graphic art house responsible for the production of the books was Access Press registered in 1979. The Artlook Books Trust published over 116 titles by local writers before it succumbed to competition from the Government sponsored "rival firm" Fremantle Arts Centrepress, set up in opposition to Artlook Books and other Western Australian private enterprise publishers. The Artlook Books Trust was eventually wound up in July 1987.

Access Press continued to operate as a typesetting and graphic arts house handling all aspects of producing a printed article, from business cards to complicated forms, company reports, booklets, magazines and books. Some time later, two of the foundation members of The Nine Club and Artlook Books Trust Helen Weller and John Harper-Nelson formed a new company Reeve Pty Ltd and purchased all the Trusts assets including the re-print rights and the typesetting division. The typesetting business was later sold but not the name Access Press. Reeve Pty Ltd retained this and trading under that name has produced another 177 titles. Since 1977 therefore a total of 320 titles have been been published by Helen Weller and John Harper-Nelson under the imprints of the Nine Club, the Artlook Books Trust and latterly Access Press the trading name of Reeve Pty Ltd.

Access Press has always been highly selective in its operation. The writing must be of special merit. Only quality paper is used and all books are threadsewn and printed in limited runs (300,500 or maximum of 1000). Thus it is no surprise to find that rare book dealers list a satisfactory number of our titles at high prices.

The authors whom Access Press has published have made a valuable contribution to the literary history of Australia. The following are samples taken from over 320 titles published since 1977.

The Sun is a Ball of Gold by Andrew Lansdown won the inaugural Western Australia Week Award for poetry. Andrew has since had books accepted for publication by Angus & Robertson and others.

Pretend it's Christmas by Lorraine Wheeler, a novel for teenage readers sold well in itself and resulted in the author being approached by Collins for the rights to a sequel.

Full Fathom Five, a history of the pearling industry in Broome by Sister Albertus Bain, was runner up in the Age Book of the Year Award and the reprint/translation rights were later sold to the Japanese Government.

France Australe by Professor Leslie Marchant, a history of the French exploration of Western Australia was runner up in the Age Book of the Year Award the following year. The reprint/translation rights to this book were later purchased by the French government.

Papua New Guinea-Pathways to Independence by Dame Rachel Cleland was published in a split run (some casebound, some soft cover) and the total soft cover run (300 copies) was sold by ourselves to the Papua New Guinea Government.

Pastmaster by Lloyd Davies was the subject of a $200,000 grant in 1997 for a film series.

Sex, Maiming & Murder by Rod Moran (Literary Editor of the West Australian Newspaper) - Short listed for the Margaret Medcalf Award for excellence in archival research.

River of Steel - by Dr. Richard Hartley (who has qualifications in both engineering and history) the 2008 Winner of the Margaret Medcalf Award.


Access Press continues to be a prestigious publishing house. It is an independent Western Australian owned publisher producing around 14 new titles per year. The new managers are David Shelton and Jennifer Walsh whose office is located in Carnarvon Western Australia. David Shelton has had over 30 years experience in the printing and publishing industry and was the owner of two newspapers covering the Gascoyne and the Pilbara. Helen Weller and John Harper-Nelson are retained as assistance editors and advisors. Access Press has a strong base of experienced, professional proof readers, editors and designers with production and marketing expertise.

Access Press focuses on and publishes mostly (but not exclsively) Western Australian works including biographies, local history's, autobiographies, family histories and occasionally fiction. We have published books covering a wide range of general/occasional categories in areas covering education, politics, local history, health, indigenous studies, lifestyle and military histories.