Sunday, February 27, 2011

Southern Cross University Acquisitive Artists' Book Awards

Blogger's playing funny buggers today and I can't edit things the way I usually do, nor can I post photos so I'm a bit limited. I decided to report on the SCU Artists' Book Awards on my Double Elephant blog (which, since I can't put the hyperlink into this post is at

Sadly, as you will read on the other blog, we didn't make the cut for acquiring work, but the reasons why are quite interesting and raised several questions in my mind about artists' books generally as well as selection processes, personal preference and 'value'!

Contrary to appearances (given my rant over on Double Elephant) I really enjoyed our trip up to Lismore. Not only did I get several hours' worth of uninterrupted conversation with my husband, I also got to see lots of lovely artists' books. Once Blogger is playing ball again I'll post the photos! Meanwhile, a big hello to Fiona whom I met at the opening, and also a hello to the several people I also met who are ardent fans of what we're doing in BAO. I started the project as a purely selfish way of making connections - artistic, literal and literary - and it's exceeded my expectations all the way around! It seems we have created something of value in the world of artists' books: something that is being talked about and examined. If only I'd known we were being watched I'd have tried more ways to get us involved at the Impact conference in Melbourne in September. As it is, neither Ronnie nor I have heard anything about the paper/exhibition we applied for, so we'll just have to keep on crossing our fingers. A little bird told me yesterday that Monash staff hope to have it all sorted out in a week or two.

Since this is a blog about making artists' books by book artists from around the world, I'd love to see more conversation here about what an artists' book IS. Have a read of my post over at Double Elephant and chip in! I look forward to finding out what you think...


Anonymous said...

It's a little after 4pm, local time, Sunday and I have just read Sara's interesting observation (see her personal blog at of her trip to SCU.

I am sure others will have something (a lot?) to say about this and I will certainly come back to re-read and cogitate.

But I do urge all members of this group and interested readers to pop over to the Elephant and find out what ONE man thinks of artists books. And how such a high-profile judge can affect others' perceptions of an accepted art form.

It seems to me (and I am a minnow in these waters!)that it would have been easier for us to review our work, collective and individual, if there had been greater participation by other "established" artists.

Perhaps a large part of the (perceived) problem lies in the very short notice of this event.

That said, credit to you, Sara, for getting us into this spotlight, even if the glare hurt a little!

ronnie said...

well first things first - major thanks sara (I know we said it at the time you carted everything to lismore - but it's worth repeating) thanks for EVERYTHING

you know - it's very interesting.... no I'm not referring to the strange subjective decisions of arty judges (one can never take these things to heart.... it's nice if it's your turn, but honestly, its soooooo superficial, that it hardly bears worrying one second over) - what's really interesting is how the internet (and our bloggy collectiveness in particular) kind of blows one profs ideas out of the water really (talk about soooooo 20th century...)

heee hee hee (oops I'm hiccup laughing again)

alison said...

Well first I must comment on your dedication to this whole project Sara.You show a very passionate attitude to something you believe in. It was interesting to read about your feelings re the judges' decision. Like Di I will re read it and think about it again.At present it appears to be the ususal politics in the art world and it happens here too.

I also agree with Ronie in her comments and try not to take it to heart,artist's whatever their medium will never agree with judges decisions as we all have different viewpoints about any one thing. I prefer to enjoy my own satisfaction of having accepted a challenge and to see it to the end.

As Di said thanks for getting us into the spotlight and who knows where it will take us...


Abigail Thomas said...

I have read your post Sara; thanks for it by the way. It just goes to show he really was one man with a rigid idea of what books arts is and what it should be for his university, sounds like almost everyone there disagreed with him. its a shame that it affects the collection etc.. but he cannot really expect to get very far with an attitude like that can he?! he has probably put off alot of people from applying next time and has made himself appear very shallow. I would be outraged if one of my pieces was not picked simply for the reason that it was not booky enough but then if its only "established artists" that will win anyway then whats the point? The whole thing is outrageous.

I have come across someone in the UK who decided what goes into a prominent collection and they have very rigid ideas of what book art is and what they will collect; which I think is a real shame. Especially if that collection sparks ideas in young artists/artists who are just starting down the artists' books path.
That was my not very formulated rant; sorry!