Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Future Perfect of the Book

I went to a colloquium of this name on Friday; very interesting. The keynote speaker was Prof Elaine Treharne who has a blog I was looking at and thought that this particular post was very interesting. The whole event was organised by the Book History Research Network, who I think do other interesting events....

I think I have used the word 'interesting' a little too much today! 

Another “Art & Lies” edition ready to go


For those members of the “Art & Lies” edition who live outside Australia, your patience is about to be rewarded at last.

I managed to complete enough of the edition for the exhibition at Impact, and to hand-deliver the Australian members their copies, but today I finished the entire edition. At 10 books plus 1 A/P, it is barely large enough, and I think next time I will revert to making a few more.

I will be packing up and posting the ones that are heading overseas this week, so they will be just in time to catch the Christmas package rush!

Once they have arrived, I will write a post with plenty of photos for everyone to see.

In the meantime, I thought I would share a couple of booky links with you. The first is a video of Randi Parkhurst’s work “Patience” on vimeo here: 

If you like Russian Dolls, you will love this. (I just discovered that Carol posted this here nearly 2 years ago, but I thought that it is such a beautiful example, I’d leave it in again).

And for lovers of calligraphy, Yves Letterme has this video posted on youtube. It’s a collaboration between Letterme and harpist, Andrea Voets.


Sunday, November 20, 2011

Artists, Books and Interviews #2: Alicia Bailey

Oooh yes, I have a long list of people I want to interview! And very close to the top of my list is the lovely Alicia Bailey in Denver, Colorado (USA). I "met" Alicia (over internet) last year when I answered a call for artists for an interesting show called One Unit per Increment at her gallery. Not only is Alicia a talented book artist herself, she also runs the very well respected Abecedarian Gallery in Denver which focuses on works on paper, ranging from artists' books to collage and assemblage.

Abecedarian Gallery in Denver

SB: Being a gallerist and an artist gives you insight into both aspects of the art world but also double the workload! How did you get involved in running a gallery, and what does it contribute to your work?

AB: Ten years ago I couldn’t have imagined directing a gallery of my own, but here I am. In 2007, out of a need for distraction (I had a series of challenging personal experiences in a compressed time period) and as a way to engage more with the public (living and working alone can be very isolating) I put my administrative and project management skills to use promoting the field I am most passionate about.

I am not sure that running the gallery contributes to my studio work, outside of it helping me lead a more balanced life. It does take away from studio time, so having the gallery has made me appreciate the time in the studio more. I find that my studio work affects my curatorial and installation decisions though. Curating and installing an exhibition is in many ways similar to designing and producing an artists’ bookwork.

One Unit per Increment: installation view

Mia Semingson solo show 39+ installation view

SB: Why do you think artists’ books are important as an art form?

AB: Primarily because they are interactive, tactile objects typically of a scale that allows an intimate and personal viewing experience. With so much of what we are experiencing coming to us through digital or electronic means, I think there is a growing need to interact more directly with tangible objects.

My work up on the wall as part of One Unit per Increment!

SB: Does it matter if an artists’ book leaves the codex format behind and edges towards sculpture in its form? I wonder if you have an opinion as to whether artists’ books are more or less interesting once they leave the safety of the traditional book format behind?

AB: I think of all books as interactive sculptures, with varying degrees of sculptural emphasis. Quite often books that leave the traditional book format have greater initial appeal, more bells and whistles if you will. An idea existing in a traditional form may be no more or less interesting but might take a different kind of attention to appreciate. Some ideas are better presented in a traditional format. Knowing when to leave that format behind is one of the most critical decisions contemporary book artists need to make when considering a project.

SB: Many BookArtObject participants and readers are outside the USA… are you able to give a view on the state of contemporary book arts practice in the US?

AB: There are few training programs in traditional bookbinding technique. Much of what I see is created using techniques adapted from other fields. As there are few degree programs specific to artists’ books, many artists incorporate book arts into an existing studio practice, resulting in a very eclectic range of approaches. Where I live and work forging ahead with little regard for or interest in formal training is typical of all the arts. That may seem a bit unruly or negative but handled well, it can be a positive.

Euxoa Auxiliaris
Alicia Bailey

Burning Me Open
Alicia Bailey

SB: Who are your favourite book artists, and why do you like their work?

AB: I know that later I will be chagrined that I forgot about some of my favorite artists. My list of favorites has shifted over the course of time and will doubtless shift again.

The following artists not only produce well crafted, thoughtful works but are committed to this field and are passionate about the work they do. Most of them also work outside the studio as educators, mentors, curators or writers in the field. These are artists whose works I know beyond reproductions in books or on the internet.

In alphabetical order by first name, here is a list of favorites:

Alice Austin, Alicia Bailey (yes, I’m one of my own favorites), Angela Lorenz, Bonnie Stahlecker, Claire Van Vliet, Daniel Essig, Daniel Kelm, Dolph Smith, Ed Hutchins, Emily Martin, Genie Shenk, Hedi Kyle, Jana Sim, Joan Lyons, Julie Chen, Julie Leonard, Karen Kunc, Keith Smith, Laura Davidson, Linda Smith, Mary Ellen Long, Maureen Cummins, Melissa Jay Craig, Miriam Schaer, Pati Scobey, Peter Madden, Richard Minsky, Robbin Ami Silverberg, Shanna Leino, Shu-Ju Wang, Sun Young Kang, Susan Collard, Susan E. King, Susan Joy Share, Tim Ely,

What I most appreciate about these artists in particular is that they bring to their work a consistency of vision and intent with material, content and structure.

Wind Water Stone
Alicia Bailey

If you're interested in participating in one of Alicia's shows, you might be interested in the gallery's annual juried artists' book exhibition: Cornucopia III. The exhibition will be held April 20 - June 2, 2012 with an entry deadline of January 31, 2012. Tony White will be jurying this years' entries: Tony is Head of the Fine Arts Library at Indiana University Bloomington, and an independent curator and book artist who has been involved in the field for 20 years. He is a founding board member of the College Book Art Association and founder of the Contemporary Artist's Books Conference that has been held annually in New York City since 2008. He has served on the editorial board of the Journal of Artist's Books and currently is Field Editor for Artist's Books and Books for Artists for the College Art Association's online reviews journal. His research interests include contemporary artist's books, print culture, the intersection of craft and contemporary art, and professional issues in art librarianship. The full prospectus is available via PDF download from Abecedarian Gallery's website or you can email Alicia to request a copy.

Thanks to Alicia for finding the time in her busy schedule to answer my questions! And BookArtObject artists will be interested to know that there is a possibility that Art&Lies might be travelling over to visit a new audience in the Abecedarian Gallery's "Reading Room" exhibition space some time next year! Details and finances are still to be worked out, but it's very exciting...

Friday, November 18, 2011

Áine's Beautiful Book

I had one of those Royal Mail slips through the door to say a parcel was delivered that was too large for my letterbox.  Reluctantly I traipsed to the Post Office on Monday evening. Its a horrible journey by bike and its a 2 buses there 2 buses back journey on public transport, I hate it. But this time it was really worth it. When I got home I had the pleasure of opening a package which contained Áine's beautiful book.  So I just wanted to say thank you to Áine.

Video of me going through the book with the help of my lovely friend Tatiana.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

QR Codes

Machines and Reading
Hi all, just something I was about to post on my own blog but thought as I have not posted here for ages and its book arts related so thought you guys might be interested.

As part of my research I am looking at machines and  reading, especially the future of reading. I am experimenting with QR Codes at the moment as holders of information and text. People generally use them as promotional tools or website links and they are scanned by smartphones and translated by those machines/software into the text and/or webpage link.

I am thinking of building up a narrative using several of these codes and am just at the experimentation stage right now. If any of you have a clever phone please scan this code and let me know how it looks on your phones. Thanks!

Ps. I received Aine's beautiful book in the post the other day; thank you Aine, it is just stunning! 

Saturday, November 12, 2011


This blog was set up to focus on the books we, as a collective, were making to exchange, to exhibit, to discuss.

So I may be a little off-beam with this post, which is not to do with our exchanges, although I think it does relate to many of us. Ronnie, in particular, is a user of rejects!

In the  "Guardian" , the question is posed: what happens to books that are considered unwanted? There is a further link within the article and, no doubt, we all have our favourite artists and our own ideas.

How about writing a post for this blog, detailing some of the ways you (that would be "we" ) have recycled books.

Carol, I know, has great difficulty with the very thought of chopping up a book! I know I could never take a blade to any of my own favourites, but  clunky, outdated text books? Pass the Stanley!

This is not a "set piece" with a deadline and I know  Sara and Jane  still have work to finish for Round 2 and some people have summer holidays looming.

But I would like to see or at least read about what other things the BAO members are doing with or to old books. You can cross-post  to your own blogs, but this is a dedicated artists books platform and I think we could all be a little more active here.

Having "smiled like a grouper" I'd better put my money where my smile is!

Still on my desk and used often, but in a shameful state, this dictionary is about to get a new cover and the old one is slated to become  part of a "new" work.