Friday, July 30, 2010

Another introduction..

I have really enjoyed observing the progress of the first edition for BAO and then watching with awe and wonder as the full set appeared.  All so beautiful, so thoughtful and so unique and I feel privileged to be involved in the second edition.

I describe myself as a calligraphic and book artist, because I don't really think I can call myself a proper calligrapher, even tho that is where it all began for me.  I really don't have the patience or skill required to be a master of that craft, altho I hold my own generally speaking. And I love books.

I am a self confessed cartaphile (my made up word for paper-lover), graphyophile (my made up word for lover of writing) and bibliophile (lover of books and I didn’t make that one up).

I am not a fan of the arts-crafts divide and arguments that rage in the pages of art journals and in the halls of art schools about what is art and what is craft. Usually suggesting that ‘art’ is better than ‘craft’. I have never felt ‘lesser’ than a painter because I am a designer and a maker.

My work is often quiet, small and intimate. My work doesn’t shout; it is calm and quietly draws you in and asks you to spend some time with it. This is in part why I love artists books - books allow the viewer to be intimate with the work; to have a one on one experience and to be drawn into the artist’s world, often quietly and slowly.

I blog over at paperponderings and am also the coordinator of A Letter a Week 2010 which has been great fun so far. Oh and I love rusty stuff.

A thrill to be part of this...

It's such an exuberant feeling being in the company of similar mind, likes and passion people, a real thrill for me to be writing on this blog! I thank you for welcoming me, for "letting me in" to such wonderful book arts ride!

I visited this blog recently and seeing the amazing books created by you all, feeling the enormous energy spreading through the oceans and reaching all the way Texas, then further exploring your individual blogs, made me wish with all my heart to join. I have been working as a designer of various forms for most of my life; for the last few years I am devoting more and more time to my art, developing themes and stories through a mixed media approach encompassing traditional printmaking techniques and often digitally generated imagery. Samples of my work can be seen on my Artists' Books blog, on my web portfolio, and my more prosaic thoughts and activities on my Ephemera. I enjoy tremendously working along other artists;  my participation in BAO's projects makes this possible and I am grateful!  

So here I am, as excited as it can be to be part of this, to the point of cutting out this "thank you" on a piece of paper last night,  without even realizing it... Until next time we talk... 
All the best to all of you!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Texts for Edition Two

We seem to have chosen the poem Paper Wrestling by Claire Beynon, suggested by Carol, and the extract from Art & Lies by Jeanette Winterson, suggested by Duck. We now have 15 members of the collective and will be splitting into two groups.

Carol has already established that Claire is happy for us to use her poem. I have just emailed Jeanette Winterson to ask if we can use the extract from her book and I'm waiting to hear back. I imagine she is inundated with emails so it may take a while! If our enquiry is refused we can discuss alternative texts then...

By the way, what do you think about offering the authors a set of the resulting books?

I suggest setting a maximum limit for the number of people interested in working on each text, perhaps 9 people maximum per text? Please let me know which text you would like to work on! I'll keep score: once the list is full for one text you may have to work on the other text, or if you like you are welcome to join both groups!

I'm going to kick things off by putting my name against the Jeanette Winterson extract, and I think Angela and Di have expressed a preference for that text too. Which list would you like to be on?

I'm happy to moderate the two groups if you'd like me to, unless anyone else would like to take over the admin for each group? Up to you.

Hello and welcome!

We recently put out a call to artists as we get ready for Edition Two and it's been great to get so much positive feedback. The result is that we are welcoming seven new members to BookArtObject:

Ellen Sheffield
Anna Mavromatis
Guylaine Couture
Abigail Thomas
Louise Best
Fiona Dempster
and Ali, for whom I have no contact details as yet.

I have added Ellen, Anna, Guylaine, Abigail, Louise and Fiona to the blog as co-authors and hope that we'll hear from them soon. Back in the depths of last year when we started BookArtObject I remember that we all put up a post about ourselves and our work, and it would be great to hear from our new colleagues.

Friday, July 23, 2010


Isn't it lovely to have the completed set of our Absences books?

I took my collection across town to show my booky friend, Alison. And I left them in her care so she could have a "jolly good look" and photograph them.

She has sent photos to a sister who has worked in galleries and her sister was delighted with the images and wishes she could see the real thing. Hmmm...a trip in the offing, methinks!

Yesterday, Ali and I had an "art day out" (don't you just love such days!) and drove up to a little whistle-stop hamlet about half an hour from Town where a friend runs a gallery.

We'd gone to look at an exhibition of prints by co-members of Printbank. Neither of us had work in this show (busy on other projects!), but it was good to see what friends are producing.

We were sitting in the sunshine, drinking coffee and talking art...and I remembered that my Absences collection was in the car!

"Oh! Wonderful!" cried Lesley and she and Ali cleared the table, Lesley produced a clean cloth and some cotton gloves and I opened the package. And, again, that little frisson.

It is so helpful to stand aside and judge the reactions of viewers. In a gallery you can often do this anonymously. More difficult with people who know you, of course!

But Lesley, a painter and printmaker, looked with knowing eyes at each piece. And I was surprised and delighted to see even more new "angles" as I looked through her eyes.

I suspect that, over the years, I'll continue to see more in these books.

Jane's book
Lesley and Alison with the collection.

And I feel I should have said more to BAO members about my approach to my own contribution.

It was seeing a close friend begin to "slip away" from everyday things that led to my simple drawings.

Mary, a strong, practical woman who reared four children on a farm in the days of do-it-yourself has suffered several small brain seizures.

As I read the poem I had a vivid image of Mary drawing, free-hand, a border of pansies on a piece of linen which she then embroidered. Now, her hand shakes and writing is difficult and any attempt to draw has a child-like wobbliness.

An alone-ness she has to learn...

Sunday, July 18, 2010

eyries of books

At the moment, my vote for the next project is the Claire Beynon poem... but here's my contribution, anyway. It's an excerpt from the Jeanette Winterson novel Art & Lies, and this particular chunk has haunted me for years. I chose an essay topic at Art School specifically to use this quote and the notion of springboarding from it to make a book some time appeals to me. It might also, if she hasn't encountered it yet, contribute to Ronnie's work. Plus, from the way JW talks about it (in the link above), I don't think we'd have trouble getting permission to use it in an artists' book context.

300BC. The Ptolemies founded the great library at Alexandria.

400,000 volumes in vertiginous glory.

The Alexandrians employed climbing boys much in the same way as the Victorians employed sweeps. Unnamed bipeds, light as dust, gripping with swollen fingers and toes, the nooks and juts of sheer-faced walls.

To begin with, the shelves had been built around wide channels that easily allowed for a ladder, but, as the library expanded, the shelves contracted, until the ladders themselves splintered under the pressure of so much knowledge. Their rungs were driven into the sides of the shelves with such ferocity that all the end-books were speared in place for nine hundred years.

What was to be done? There were scribes and scholars, philosophers and kings, travellers and potentates, none of whom could now take down a book beyond the twentieth shelf. It soon became true that the only books of any interest were to be found above shelf twenty-one.

It was noticed that the marooned rungs still formed a crazy and precarious ascent between the dizzy miles of shelves. Who could climb them? Who would dare?

Every boy-slave in Alexandria was weighed. It was not enough to have limbs like threads, the unlucky few must have brains of vapour too. Each boy had to be a medium through which much must pass and yet nothing be retained.

At the start of the experiment, when a book was required, a boy would be sent up to get it. This could take as long as two weeks, and very often, the boy would fall down dead from hunger and exhaustion.

A cleverer system seemed to be to rack the boys at various levels around the library, so that they could form a human chain, and pass down any volume within a day or so.

Accordingly, the boys built themselves eyries in among the books, and were to be seen squatting and scowling at greater and greater heights around the library.

A contemporary of Pliny the Younger writes of them thus:

[here is a chunk of latin that is never translated. JW at her most scholarly & impenetrable... but would look great in calligraphy, Ronnie!]

There is no system that has not another system concealed within it. [my emphasis] Soon the boys had tunneled behind the huge shelves and thrown up a rookery of strange apartments where beds were books and chairs were books and dinner was eaten off books and all the stuffings, linings, sealings, floorings, openings and closings, were books. Books were put to every use to which a book can be put as long as it is never read.

Jeanette Winterson, Art & Lies (London: Jonathon Cape, 1994), pp. 4-6.

Strikes me that this latter part is getting close to what happens when we stop using books for information... like the time I got a book page for a doily at the SLV cafe :)

Saturday, July 17, 2010

When you are old and grey and full of sleep And nodding by the fire, take down this book,

When You are Old

When you are old and grey and full of sleep
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;

How many loved your moments of glad grace,
And loved your beauty with love false or true;
But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face.

And bending down beside the glowing bars,
Murmur, a little sadly, how love fled
And paced upon the mountains overhead,
And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.

WB Yeats [21 October 1891]

This is my contribution to the texts. I've posted a picture (not totally random), its Glencar in County Sligo and Yeats wrote a lot of peoms about Sligo and also a poem about this waterfall (The Stolen Child) I am not really sure why I picked this poem there are so many poems that I love. There is something about the lines "but one man loved the pilgrim soul in you and loved the sorrows of your changing face" that just really gets me.

Yeats based the poem on a 16th Century sonnet by Pierre Ronsard, but he put his own twist on it. The failure of love in Yeats' poem was not due to the haughtiness of the woman who rejected him (!) but the fault of love itself, who abandoned the 2 lovers. Yeats had a belief that emotions (especially very powerful ones) themselves were Gods, not prone to our control.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Group photo!

I've posted a blog entry to Artists Books 3.0, reporting on the fact that Edition One is complete and putting up three photos per artists book and one group photo. I've also invited expressions of interest in Round Two and asked people to email me. I've been reading everyone's comments and I do understand the slight sense of trepidation about expanding the group! But I also think that as long as no single working group has more than 8-ish members it shouldn't be too onerous. Believe me, I don't want to make huge editions either; eleven boxes and books were quite enough for me...

I took several photos of each piece at 300 dpi, so the file size is about 2Mb. The photos that are up on the Artists Books 3.0 website are compressed to less than 100Kb at 70 dpi. If you would like copies of any of the photos email me and I'll send them to you.

Amanda Watson-Will

I'd also be grateful if you could check out the photos I've taken of your work on the Artists Books 3.0 website. To look at the photos either log on to the website, find my blog post on the front page and click on my name OR click on the 'Members' tab at the top of the front page and enter my name in the box under 'All Members' on the left hand side and click on my name when it comes up. Either way you'll be taken to my page on the site and you should be able to locate the photos fairly easily by clicking 'View All' under the heading 'My Photos'. I added the information you included in your books as a comment against each photograph, together with the Edition Number. Let me know if I've made any mistakes by emailing me and I'll correct them as soon as I can.

Jane Aliendi

Diane Patmore

Caren Florance

Angela Callanan

Carol Cantrell

Rhonda Ayliffe

Sara Bowen

From "The Box: Remembering the Gift" by the Terma Collective

what in your life is calling you?
when all the noise is silenced,
the meetings adjourned,
the lists laid aside,
and the wild iris blooms by itself in the dark forest,
what still pulls on your soul?

in the silence between your heartbeats hides a summons.
do you hear it?
name it, if you must,
or leave it nameless,
but why pretend it is not there?

This is my suggestion to consider for project 2. It comes from something called "The Box", which I myself do not own. I came across this excerpt on a blog (thanks Mrs Bird).

On the matter of whether to open the group up etc etc. I will admit to agreeing with Angela that I have some concerns about how the project would be managed if it opened up much. I think the numbers we have are ideal really. Large enough for a wonderful variety of approaches and ideas, but not too big to manage. I think we could handle a couple more members perhaps, say a total of 10 at any time.

I guess it depends on how we want to go forward. I quite like the idea of operating a bit like a collective and I think the smaller size allows us to work in a particular way that a larger group would not. I have been in some of the large Yahoo groups where themed swaps and the like are conducted, and eventually the size of the group necessitates a much less personal feel, and also a lack of direction/control in general. I really like the people we have and dare I say it, "the standard" that we have already set.

Having said that, I do feel that as Sara's idea, her vote should have more value.  Sara, if you envisaged this as a larger looser group then that is probably how it should be.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Paper wrestling, a poem by Claire Beynon

PAPER WRESTLING by Claire Beynon

Pretend you're breaking in a horse
    don't be intimidated
let the paper know who's boss
    acknowledge its memory
encourage it to relax
    if necessary, walk on stockinged feet
tune into its voice
    don't mind its splutters and coughs
treat its fibres with respect
    rein it in, but not too much
    recognize the fact that it's breathing, too
place your wine on a bookcase
    kneel down in anticipation
caress its surfaces
    ask it what secrets it knows
    look at it against the light
take it to the trough
    have an old towel handy
make sure the water's not too cold
    you don't want any shocks
see that it's not too hot either
    lest your best intentions come undone
keep in mind green tea left too long
    lazily served in a wide-brimmed cup
wait for the sign that indicates it's time
    take the plunge and lunge
move fast or the paper will think
    it can get the better of you
handle it firmly, addressing it
    in low and patient tones
trust that with time and persistence
    it will succumb, may even let you in.

From: "Open book: poetry & images" by Claire Beynon
© Claire Beynon, 2007, Steele Roberts Publishers, Wellington NZ
ISBN 978-1-877448-15-7

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Round Two

As per my earlier post, I think it's time to gather ourselves up and start looking at the possibilities for Round Two. Ding, ding!

With that in mind, what to do current BAO members think of me putting out a call for members to the Book Arts Listserve?

And if anyone's reading this or knows someone who might be interested, please do email me!

More text please, I'm a book artist

OK, OK, I think perhaps we're going round in circles just a little bit? Well I am, at least. I think we need more text options sooo... how about we all come up with at least one suggestion and post it to this blog with a separate blog entry for each piece of text so that we don't have to trawl through comments to find things. And if anyone is reading this with interest and wasn't part of the first BAO edition, please feel free either to suggest a text or find out about joining up by emailing me. I'll post any suggested texts as I receive them. While I liked the previous suggestion I think it would be great to have several options for us to consider.

Ready... steady... GO!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Watch your letterbox!

A very quick post to let you know that my books are in the mail - posted yesterday, so keep an eye out!

So BAO Project 1 is drawing to a close.....

Work vs. Exhibitions

I was busy replying to Ronnie's post, pointing out that the SCU Artists' Book Awards aren't until Feb 2011, when something else occurred to me. A few years ago, when I joined the Artists' Book 3.0 Ning community I asked for some words of wisdom from other book artists: did they, I wonder, work in response to forthcoming exhibitions, or did they just work to their own timetable? This question has exercised my mind for years mainly because my pace of work is fairly slow and I always seemed to be rushing round the last corner and dashing towards an exhibition finishing line... Anyway, my new, slightly more mindful, tiny bit calmer self has kicked the habit. Hooray! These days I work to my own schedule (well, if I'm completely honest I do have a rolling timetable of exhibition dates in the back of my mind but these days I'm usually waving them goodbye as they pass...). If that schedule happens to fit in with an up-coming exhibition then great, otherwise I'm not fussed.

Why am I boring on about this? Only because I don't think anyone in the group should be getting stressed about BAO projects: the whole thing is supposed to be for enjoyment's sake, not a chore. I don't care if it takes a year to finish a project or an individual piece! There are no prizes for finishing anyway apart from self-satisfaction, another line on your CV and hopefully some happy comments from the lucky recipients... The production of a great body of collaborative work and the joys of new friendships will all happen as the time passes. I have really enjoyed our first edition and am itching to start the second, and I'm very excited about the prospects of showing our work at Monash next year - but in a very calm, no pressure sort of way.

Monday, July 5, 2010


ok present BAO makers - time for a group huddle...... go get a cuppa and get your brain cells into gear

(don't mind me -
this is an old collage thingy of mine - here only for decorative purposes only!
Sara was right - random pics DO make a post more jazzy!)

I've just returned from my annual jaunt to uni (wheee - made it back in one piece!) and I have Impact 7 exhibition proposal preparations firmly in my sights...... If memory serves, Impact proposal deadlines are rapidly approaching so I'd really like to get some extra info from all you lovely makers to assist in the preparation of a proposal.

In chatting with some Monash peoples I gather that Monash Uni organisers of Impact 7 are hoping to have a range of small (very short duration - eg only for the time of the conference) exhibitions on campus at Caulfield (I think we should be able to write a strong proposal to be involved) and that they also are hoping to branch out to other sites/institutions etc so that print making, artists books and all the good things Impact 7 is interested in will be spread out over a longer time and have greater geographic reach...... sooooooo I'm getting my thinking cap on on a variety of fronts.....

I really could do with your input - how about your thoughts on the following:

* do you think we should to aim for another completed project in time for Impact? (then there are a myriad of other things to chat about regards this - including if there are other folk out there who are simply DYING to be a part of the BAO-making revolution......)

* do you want us to put in for just a simple exhibition on campus - and/or something else?

and irrespective of both those points - I could really do with some extra support info/documentation (like personal bio or c/v or whatever else you think useful) - which would be best emailed to me I expect..... and by all means email any thoughts regards Impact 7 or other exhibition ideas rather than post a reply (but posting makes it a whole lot easy to follow a conversation.....)

and it should go without saying - any and all advice and feedback will be gratefully accepted!

***** updated july 7 (thought I'd put the Impact 7 dates up here for all to contemplate.... its sept 27-30 2011) *******