Thursday, October 27, 2011

Artists, Books and Interviews #1: Gracia & Louise

When I was at Impact 7 I had big ideas of going round, mobile phone in hand, interviewing the great and the good in the world of artists' books and printmaking, uploading live as I went. Of course it didn't turn out quite the way I'd planned because I was shy lazy far too busy soaking up the art, the knowledge and the people. However, when I got home it did occur to me that the wonders of modern technology mean that I can ask nosey intelligent questions by email, thus allowing my interviewees the luxury of answering at their leisure, in the comfort of their own homes!

I am delighted to say that Gracia & Louise graciously consented to be my first interviewees: meeting them was a high spot in the conference because I've admired their collaborative work from afar for years, and it was a pleasure meeting them. I think I should stick my neck out and say what I like about Louise and Gracia's work, and it revolves around layers of fascination: through their collages and watercolours they create a world that is colourful, whimsical and fantastical all in one go, but intelligent and philosophical, not superficial. As they say of their work,
"The animal is ever present and easily detectable, the centre of our paper stage. Hard to miss, over here and over there, the animal runs up hills, scales rooftops and passes through a scene new or more familiar. For us, the animal is there to question our very behaviour, those moral principles one governs the self by, and to explore the relationship with the natural world".
With their playful and unexpected juxtapositions of animals and people in strange situations they gently hold a mirror up to our more familiar world. In the text accompanying their 2009 exhibition A Key to Help Make your own World Visible Gracia and Louise explain that they read Herman Hesse's novel Der Steppenwolf:

Spoken in warm voice by Pablo to Harry: 'I can throw open to you no picture-gallery but your own soul. All I can give you is the opportunity, the impulse, the key. I help you to make your own world visible. That is all.' From such we took impulse and created a series of other worlds that lie hidden, other interior worlds viewed with twin 'gleam of pain and beauty that comes from things past'.

~ ⸗ ⸗ ⸗ ⸗ ⸗ ⸗ ⸗ ⸗ ⸗ ⸗ ⸗ ⸗~

SB I've had fun this evening, looking at your work on your website while partaking of a very civilised scone and jam with a cup of tea! You describe yourselves as 'besotted' with artists' books, and I wonder what they have contributed to your joint (and I guess independent...) arts practice since you stumbled upon them?

G&L One of the things we love most about artists' books is their scale and versatility. They can be anything. They are hard to exhibit. They allow you to play with sequence, to double back on a narrative. They allow you to use found treasure or work with binding something new. Surely, it is the freedom of the book that draws us close.

For us, it lends itself naturally to the collaborative process.

A fortunate leap
Gracia Haby
Postcard collage

SB Please can you describe for me a good day (or evening!) at work in your studio?

G&L Any good day or evening is one where you look up and suddenly discover that several hours have passed quite without your noticing. The same principle applies to working in the studio. Things go well when the clock seems to tick to new rhythm.

A good working day could see us working on a new project that is yet to form legs, or signing in pencil an edition of new prints. As our studio is our home, it is quite feasible that a good working day is varied, and when one project comes to an end there are several others in the wings. That and a horde of pets to feed. (Our home is shared with Omar, Olive, Percy, Misha, goldfish Henny, budgies Agatha and Claude, and a few local blow ins.)

Budgerigar (Melopsittacus undulates)
Louise Jennison
Pencil drawing

SB What is your favourite tool?

G&L For Louise, her favourite tool is her bone folder for its many uses and durability. As for me, my honeybee scissors are my trusty faves. They snip neatly and sharply, and they are comfortable to hold in hand.

SB If you're not feeling very creative, what do you do to get back into the swing of things?

G&L Something else. Always something else. Films are a good way to forget what might not be coming together in the studio or on the computer. A film that is all consuming in tale. A film in the middle of the day, even better. Recently we saw PINA 3D, a film for Pina Bausch by Wim Wenders, and left the cinema believing we could dance. A good film (or performance or exhibition) can make one feel indestructible. And if leaving the home is not an option, a hot shower or a spot of gardening. Perhaps both, but in reverse order. Perhaps not.

SB What did you get out of Impact 7?
G&L We had a great time participating in the Impact7 Sticky Institute mini zine fair at MUMA. Especially for it, we made a foldout zine, An even distribution of weight. It was great to meet new faces and catch-up with those familiar. Of greatest excitement for Louise and me though was getting to meet Sarah Bodman from UWE Bristol UK in person (having only ever conversed by delight of email).

Modifications in Pictorial Education (i)
Gracia Haby and Louise Jennison
Foldout artists' book, unique state, featuring collage elements and pencil

Modifications in Pictorial Education (ii)
Gracia Haby and Louise Jennison
Foldout artists' book, unique state, featuring collage elements and pencil

You can see more of Louise's work at her blog Elsewhere, and more of Gracia's work at her blog High up in the Trees. You can also follow Gracia and Louise on Twitter, and buy from their shop!
I hope to bring more interviews to the blog every now and again; I hope you enjoyed this one and thank you to Gracia and Louise!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Still in the charts

Another plug for "Paper Wrestling". Doesn't this give you a little buzz?  Read more on Guylaine's blog.

(You can see the full article at Vamp & Tramp's website - click HERE - thanks for sharing this, Di!, Sara)

Sunday, October 16, 2011

More on Little Free Libraries...

I had been reading about these elsewhere this week...

Here is their home page...

and here is the first article I read about them.

It's a wonderful idea!!


Are you all following Guylaine's blog? (If you don't read French, there's a Google translator)

Anyway, do pop across and see her latest post. I think this is a brilliant idea, especially at a time when so many libraries are being closed. Kudos to Guylaine for highlighting this.

Friday, October 14, 2011

ronnie does 'art and lies'

I've shared pics and bits of this previously herehere and here...

but never on this blog... so here goes...

a devious hint of finished folded booklet

discharge dyeing black cloth  

 to form bookcloth

  four of the twelve completed concertina booklets
sporting their discharge dyed covers 
(and my front verandah steps!)

and finally - inside the concertina....

 Rhonda Ayliffe
'Lies and Misdemeanours'
archival inkjet print on TH Saunders
handcrafted distress-dyed book cloth by the artist
satin ribbon 

I've shared all the vitals


Thursday, October 6, 2011

zines at Impact

It's taken me a bit to get back to write this up - I wanted to tell a little about the last day at Impact (as for me it was perhaps the most interesting)

I attended the panel discussion 'Reifying zines: a roundtable discussion of the relationship between ephemera and institutions'.... upon entering the room the Anna Poletti (chair for the discussion) handed everyone a special Impact zine created by Gracia Haby and Louise Jennison ... so even before anyone opened their mouths I figured this talk was off to a great start!

(you can see the whole zine beautifully here and read GH and LJ's Impact account here)

Despite making some of my own small 'zine-like' creatures in the past, I'm not all that versed in the ways of zines and zine culture, so I was interested, then intrigued by the round table discussion that followed. Teal Triggs spoke from her academic position of her take on zine culture (Triggs has published 'fanzines'  which we later quite abruptly discovered has not been embraced by all in the zine world...).

Sasha Grishin gave a marvelously entertaining account of how he's been secretly seduced by the zine (I've not heard Prof. Grishin speak before - he is highly entertaining, engaging and knowledgeable - a wonderful public speaker whose passion for his subject matter is clearly evident.... and talk about quotable quotes!) I loved when Grishin explained that 'zines gravitated toward me' but how he thought that having zines in a gallery/institution was akin to 'a crowd of eunuchs at an orgy'.... snort!) At the end of his account Grishin let us know how he has been subversively adding his personal zine collection to the National Library via the archiving of his personal papers (currently being undertaken for posterity by the Library). Onya SG!

And then it was time for the young guns.... John Stevens (archivist and zine advocate - State Library of Vic) and Luke Sinclair (zinester - and primary force behind Sticky Institute) ..... now I must say I got a tad distracted by what I'll call 'the-urban-young-guy-posturing-for-place' thang (and I'm no doubt now showing my ignorance, age and rural heritage) but I think I missed the thrust of both John and then Luke's chats as I increasingly felt alienated by what I increasingly perceived to be a cloistered zine community.  One thing I DID notice was the apparent dichotomy of opposing forces at play in zine-land  - as zinesters seemingly simultaneous craved and abhorred recognition, loved and loathed renumeration..... hmmmmmmmmm - these zine makers are picky little buggers!

At the end of the chat, now feeling like a distinct outsider, I headed downstairs to the very well attended mini zine fair...

I fell into a chat with one zine maker after another and (shock! horror!) actually really liked the guys and gals!

I bought home a few interesting creations...


I might not 'get' zine culture and thus feel
purposely excluded from zine-central.... 

but I do like some of the things the ARTISTS are making....

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Made it!

I made it! Although I nearly didn't make it... my super-smart smartphone woke me at 3:00am to tell me it had re-set itself for daylight saving, but it then automatically adjusted my 6:00am alarm to 7:00am which meant I woke in a panic at 6:36am and missed out on breakfast. Nevermind, I made it home (22 hours after I should have arrived yesterday...) and I've unpacked my bags and tidied up the studio.

BTW, plans are afoot for Talking Tuesdays (unless you can think of a more entertaining title!), a series of conversations with book artists (including some of our own!)... More soon.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

And so it goes

Yes, things haven't quite finished for me yet because I didn't make it home!  I got to the airport bright and early but first there was a security scare 'cos someone or something wasn't scanned and then all the flights were delayed. I spoke to the service desk and was assured I'd be booked on the next flight to Coffs Harbour as I was definitely going to miss my connection AND there were free seats on the last afternoon flight ... But when I got to Sydney I wasn't booked on the flight and there weren't any seats left! So I was waitlisted but some bloke got a seat instead of me even though I was before him on the standby list, and after waiting 4 hours at the airport I had to find and retrieve my bag and Qantas have put me up at the Stamford Hotel at the airport .

I have a nice room and vouchers for dinner, breakfast and the shuttle bus.  I paid for the Caipirowska myself!  But I'd rather be home with my family.

Sarah Bodman talk at SLV

One of the many print exhibitions held to coincide with Impact7 is Fine impressions: printmaking and artists' books in Melbourne 1999–2010 at the State Library of Victoria. You can see a little more about the show here.

On Monday night, just before the conference started, Sarah Bodman from UWE, Bristol gave a talk about 21st century artists books. Her notes about the artists mentioned plus a pdf of her slideshow are accessible from this page.

I didn't make it to the talk as I was conserving energy for the next day, so I am thrilled to find these online. Hope you enjoy them too!

and then there were none...

I arrived (bags and all) home at my creek at 4.30am this morn....

ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh (sigh) HOME!

I had a marvelous time in Melbourne (and at Impact)... so what were the highlights of my trip?

*meeting BAO gals Sara and Amanda for the first time (and sharing a yum Sri Lankan meal in Caulfield  with Caren and others) * coffee from Degraves street in the city  * Sarah Bodman's talk at the State Library of Vic  * meeting folk like Robert Heather and Des Cowley of the State Library of Vic and booky arty 'names' - like Angela Cavalieri and Peter Lyssiotis

(a sneakily snaffled piccie of Angela's work on display in the faculty gallery....
this pic doesn't give you any indication of size - so let me tell you -
this is quite a BIG concertina book construction..... very nice)

* the trams (I developed quite a 'thing' for melbourne's trams...) * the keynote address by Brook Andrew and Trent Walker (Friday morning... talking about collaboration - and doing the talk in a collaborative manner) * the zine fair (friday again) and the roundtable discussion "reifying zines" (I'll tell more about this when I recover my senses - it was a terrif discussion) * realising I actually knew more people than I thought I did (who knew???) - there wasn't a day, not even a few hours of any day at the conference where I didn't bump into a familiar face....   * 'Unfolding projects: Afghan and Australian Artists books collaborations' - aesthetically yummy and poignant

* Susan Purdy's photograms exhibited as part of 'carbon copy' (on campus... I forgot to take a piccie but one of the BAO gals posted one already) * the opening night small performance/dance work from Rebecca Mayo (very moving)  * Beautiful Silks  (oh and Artisan Books, Cottage Industry and so much more..) in Fitzroy * the wrought ironwork that seemed to be EVERYWHERE (so pretty)

 (this pretty ironwork was directly opposite my temporary bedroom.... me like)

things not so liked?

* getting caught in the scary as thunderstorm complete with drenching rain (and no umbrella) * the architecture of Monash Uni (I mean who the hell put the god-awful mish-mash of brutal concrete and coloured steel together...... yuck! blah! me no likey!) * the waste -- there were so many disposable cups in the bin... and I was one of those guilty consumers...  * not having enough hours in the day or days in my visit to do everything I want to..... mostly though - it was missing my kidlets and my creek (my sinuses go into melt down with the city pollution.... I get sooooo homesick)

.... its time for me to have a little nap now - my head has one of those thumping headaches that you usually get after a night of late partying -- mine is courtesy of the long bus trip home and dozing awkwardly with my neck all crooked... ahhh the sacrifices we make....


Thankyou, from afar.

Well, everyone has packed up and headed home and some of us(that would be me-Alison) are still wondering why stupid Blogger keeps eating my comments!
I have followed all your posts and pics from Melbourne and wanted to say that it has been inspiring and encouraging and looked like a lot of fun (with chocolate!).
Seriously, girls, I do appreciate your efforts. Thank you.