Monday, February 6, 2012

Helen Malone - Working on Structure

I had never read Milan Kundera's book The Unbearable Lightness of Being and my first response to the title That Unbearable Lightness was to think of vertigo - the light-headedness, the spinning sensation, the wobbly feeling, losing balance and falling over. After getting hold of the book, I was quite excited to discover a piece about vertigo, not the physical kind, but a psychological vertigo suffered by those whose goal is to attain 'something higher' but who are inevitably tempted and lured to fall into the emptiness below. I liked the idea of combining these physical and psychological aspects of vertigo.

I always love it when the subject matter lends itself to using structure as an integral part of the artwork, in the same way illustration or text contribute to the meaning. I needed a structure that could suggest vertigo - the spinning sensations and falling over - a bit like a spinning top. I remembered a Chinese circular folded hanging structure I'd seen a few years ago which could possibly work. First attempts at making it were rather dismal and it was much more complicated than its simple exterior suggested, but perseverance paid off and after several attempts I worked it out. Paper and weight were an issue and thinner oriental papers were not successful. With all the folds, I couldn't use watercolour paper and printmaking papers have a softness that wasn't really suitable either. I had the best results with a crisp Fabriano paper of 160 gsm.


Now to turn this structure into a book! Parts of it had to be glued, so these became a kind of 'perfect binding' and then I added a soft flexible leather spine that could turn itself 'inside out/outside in'. The covers were added to the spine piece in the manner of a simplified binding....and after two attempts it worked! Now to the illustrations.......

4 comments:

Hollis G. said...

Well done! Looks great and congrats on working through it

rObfOs said...

Wow, you seem to be making huge strides with your work Helen. It sounds extremely interesting. Glad you found the right paper for the job, it's an integral step, isn't it?

Sara Bowen said...

I love that internal dialogue about structure! I get caught on it sometimes (trying to fit content to structure and not succeeding) but I get so INTRIGUED by all the structural possibilities... to be honest, that's probably my favourite part of the whole process: deciding what form my books will take.

Helen M said...

I agree with you, Sara, that imagining possible structures is one of the most enjoyable parts of the process.