Monday, December 30, 2013

Back on the Blog

I managed to get through my childhood with no broken bones but in middle age have broken one ankle, strained a wrist and on Christmas evening on an after-dinner walk, broke the fifth metatarsal of my left foot. (Should I be giving out this many specifics?) It's been so long since I blogged comfortably that I'm no longer sure what constitutes a dangerous level of indiscretion.

One of the reasons I stopped blogging, besides getting very busy with adjunct teaching work, was that I felt too uncomfortable, almost shunned or shunted from the sphere. This emotion, familiar but hard to name, was thanks to the creepy lurking of a former beau from college days. We're talking the Nixon administration here. This man has been in touch off and on since the mid-1980s and the "relationship" shifted from an enjoyable dinner simply catching up with an old friend to a dishonest attempt at further contact (a letter on his employer's letterhead with that address.) An old hand at that game, I demurred.
Several years later another contact, also just this side of dishonest, some long conversations about incipient middle age (the early 90s) where I felt like a dial-a-shrink and was too dishonest myself (i.e., too nice) to demand an end to matters.

There's a point of no return in this sort of relationship where the point is reached without my recognizing it. I think, well, that was creepy or I'm glad I cancelled that dinner and I'll never accept another invite (he would pop up in Atlanta periodically) or that's done without saying too much, etc and up to don't call me and a furiously honest email to finally the trickery of using anonymous comments on a blog to connect.  Oh, no. the last attempt was to purchase my editing expertise for his "writings." When it doubt, pay for it. Hopefully, he has found another hooker.

I'm taking back the blog.

Thursday, December 26, 2013


Some of you are, I think , members of this wonderful group. And some of you may have chanced upon them on Facebook.
But, in case you have not yet dipped your toe in this magical pond... here is their Facebook link:

And, in case you do not "do" Facebook, a link to their blog:

A further teaser...

Happy New Year to all book artists!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

BAO4 on show

Hello all

Apologies for a late update on the exhibition that Terence and I have put together here in Canberra: I have been super busy, plus I've been hoping that the official UNSWC photographer who covered the opening would send me his pictures, but they haven't arrived, and I had a space this morning so I'll just work with what I have!

What I have isn't too shabby. I've just uploaded a stack of photos into Flickr so head over there to see everything. Here's a few shots of the space, which is pretty stunning (they have given it a makeover since my solo show there last year).

I know that I haven't documented every book in the flickr set, apologies. And Sara's book turned up after this photo session, and it got inserted into one of the horizontal cases, so I'll update those images next time I get a chance.

The opening was fabulous, this institution do such a wonderful job. I'll put up photos when they arrive (I was going to take my own, but there was too much to do and a proper photographer walking around!).

Many thanks to Terence, who just loves playing with a space, and who went at those couches like a small boy with Lego:

We had a lot of fun, and I learned a lot about book structures from Terence's excellent structural vocabulary.

And many thanks to the UNSW Canberra team: Lisa Morisset, Rachel Hunter, Yvonna Gruszka, Denise Shepherd, Lyn Christie, and all the nice librarians.

I hope, if you're in the region, you get to see the show, otherwise we will keep adding to the flickr set and make it well-documented!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013


Yesterday, my postman delivered a pretty blue envelope, bearing an English stamp. I must confess that, with so many other things happening this year, I had forgotten that some books are still being finished so I was pleasantly surprised to find Gillian Neish's book "When Memory Fades"  inside.

Gillian's business card, tucked under the elastic closure.

"Faded" typeface.

The cover, with colophon.

Thank you, Gillian.

Monday, October 21, 2013

I am posting this for a friend:

Call for Proposals
2014 Cheng Long Wetlands International Environmental Art Project in Taiwan
“Fishing for a Better Environment”

Artists from all countries are invited to send a proposal for a site-specific outdoor sculpture installation that will celebrate the seafood producers and fishermen of Cheng Long village in Taiwan and raise awareness about environmental issues relating to seafood production, the main livelihood of Cheng Long residents.  The artworks will be created during a 25-day artist-in-residency in Taiwan working with the community and school children from April 10 to May 5, 2014.  Selected artists will receive a stipend (about US$2000), round trip airfare, accommodations and meals, volunteer help and free recycled and natural materials.  For more information and to apply, see the Blog at or contact Curator Jane Ingram Allen at

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

BAO opening in Canberra

Hello all

The exhibition of BAO books that Terence and I are putting together here in Canberra got a bit delayed while we waited for the venue to purchase some new glass vitrines; I'd put an argument forward that if they doubled their cabinets from 3 to 6, they could have many more exhibitions of special books and objects from their own collection, and that worked a treat. Unfortunately they took a couple of months to arrive!

So, finally the new cabinets arrived, as did a number of late works sent by our groups (1, 4, 6, 9) and some others that were swapped with us from other groups, and now we are on the brink of opening on Thursday evening. Here's the invite:

Doesn't it look great! What you are seeing is two sides of a DL card, conflated as one image. We chose Tara Bryan's book for the image because it was just so eye-catching, and had to laugh when we realised that the title is 'Making Bread (Not Bombs)', because the venue is a university for the Defence Forces.

The  UNSW Canberra (ADFA) Library, might be for military purposes, but it has civilian value. It has an amazing collection of Australian literature manuscripts and also a lot of art and maps and rare books. It is a also more public library than people realise, with very generous opening hours:
Monday-Thursday 8am - 9pm
Friday 8am - 5pm
Saturday and Sunday 1pm - 5pm

The opening is at 5pm, if anyone happens to be in the area, but the show runs until 28 November, so if you are in Canberra, drop in and have a look. We are tweaking the space today, and UNSW Canberra Library has mounted a webpage that will continue to develop over the next few weeks as we take more photos and provide links to artists.

I'll be back, with images of the show and the opening, later in the week. Thanks to everyone involved, and to all the artists: your work looks fabulous!

Saturday, August 31, 2013

A quick hello from Impact 8...

... where our Edition Four books are causing quite a stir!  There was a bit of to-ing and fro-ing about whether I had an exhibition or an Open Books session at the conference in addition to my paper, but in the end I was lucky enough to get an exhibition slot (which is what I thought I'd got in the first place!) and laid out a long plinth with a selection of the books we sent to Sarah Bodman.  Sarah kindly brought them up with her in the car from Bristol, saving me the effort of bringing them over in my suitcase.

I think my talk went OK: I did a slideshow of lots of BAO Edition Four photos, plus a more detailed investigation of selected works: thank you to Caren, Helen and Jack for giving me permission to use their work for my talk and for sharing their words with me as I put it together.   I was talking about my journey as a printmaker into artists' books and how they function in my practice.  Anyway, I managed NOT to fluff my words, the technology worked for a change (I turned up with 3 different technological versions of the slide show and 2 printed versions of my talk!) and I had fun.

When I set out I had visions of mobile blogging from the airport onwards, but it hasn't quite turned out that way and I'm finding myself slightly frustrated with not being able to share more with you at the moment.  My guesthouse has a Wi-Fi connection but it's not robust enough for me to be able to do much in the way of uploading photos, and for some reason my phone I mean camera :-) has ceased to connect automatically to my laptop which means it isn't uploading photos to the laptop, which makes everything a bit difficult.  However, don't feel too sorry for me as I am writing this, sitting in the Macmanus Gallery in Dundee with a nice cafĂ© latte, a packet of Scottish tablet (a lovely creamy fudge which I haven't eaten in over 30 years) in my pocket, surrounded by the accents of my childhood.  And in the few days I've been here I've had two brilliant trips into Arbroath, 17 miles up the coast, exploring the sea cliffs where my father took photographs almost 50 years ago, and looking around the town where generations of his family came from. 

Dundee has put on all sorts of print-related activities during the conference and I had a gallery-crawl last night, lubricated with a couple of glasses of Shetland Islands gin and tonic. At Dundee Contemporary Arts I thoroughly enjoyed an exhibition of Sister Carita (must check the name, but I think that's right), a nun in 1960 - 1970s LA who taught art and art history. These are her rules of creativity, and I think I'm going to print them out and stick them on my studio wall, as well as ram them down the throats of my students.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Fiona's Book is on Huffington Post

Fiona Dempster's contribution to Edition 4, A Subversive Stitch, is being featured on the Huffington Post as part of a slide show promoting the upcoming 500 Handmade Books vol. 2. Only 7 books are featured.

From The Huffington Post

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Books ... beyond words

Had the good fortune last weekend to be able to travel to Bairnsdale for the opening of East Gippsland Art Gallery's Books ... beyond words exhibition. The exhibition (which runs until 4 September) features over eighty artists' books from Australia and overseas. There was a real buzz around the opening and a sense of just how important regional galleries are to their communities.

BAO was well represented in the exhibition with works by Rhonda Ayliffe, Fiona Dempster, Lisa Giles, Helen Malone, Gail Stiffe, Terence Uren, Amanda Watson-Will and Sandra Winkworth (and apologies if I've overlooked anyone). More information on the exhibition can be found here.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Last Night -- At Last!

While I've had a blast following everyone's posts here, and watching all of these wonderful book projects unfold, I've been a terrible slacker and have just gotten around to finishing my book for Group Two, "Last Night."

I went around and around with the idea for this book, but got an image in my head months ago that I was never able to shake. I've been doing a lot of work that is fueled by mythology lately, and one that stuck with me was the story of Lailaps and the Teumessian fox: it's a classic tale of an unending chase--one that was destined to last forever. The dog that was destined to always catch his quarry was set on the trail of the infamous fox, who was destined to never be caught...and thus their chase was placed in the constellations to go on as long as the earth turns.

Of course at the time I first came upon this story, I couldn't help but draw a parallel between this pairing and my own attempted pairing with a man that I was just doomed to move in circles with. It wasn't as dramatic as your typical Greek tragedy, but the comparisons were just too fruitful for the making of books, and so several editions were born of that experience. You can see images and excerpts from those books on my website, Firebrand Press. Vixens have appeared in other of my mixed media pieces as well, but even after working on several pieces, this story of the doomed chase still haunted me.

And so one day, an idea came to me for "Last Night" in the form of the dog and the vixen. I took some liberties, feeling like drawing a wolf more so than a hunting dog. At left is the sketch on linoleum.

I wanted them to be close, but separated by a barrier that just barely held them apart. I've become quite fond of the boustrophedon structure, one I've used a time or two before. The maze-like quality seems perfect for a book about a chase, or for a tangled love affair. And so I planned to print a single sheet that would have to be unfurled for the whole image to be revealed. 

The final print is shown here, with cuts and folds in place in the 'Z' pattern. I letterpress printed the covers using a couple of wooden typefaces in the shop, and then covered .059" boards to give these a little heft. The book opens to about 12" by 17" and closes to approximately 4" x 4.75".

And finally, here's a close-up of the troubled vixen (it ain't easy being chased):

The last step is to create a simple slipcase for each of these books, and then they are bound for the U.S. Postal Service. 
I'm thrilled to have been a part of this exchange, and have taken great delight in opening the mailbox to discover the books my group members have been sending. Thanks for all the wonderful books! 

Now on to my other piece for Group 10, "Collaborative Dreaming with Dick Turpin"...

Saturday, July 27, 2013


I expect most, if not all, members of this collective will have read about this, but for readers of this blog who may not know about La Plantz' work,  this might be a good introduction.
And perhaps the dishonest person who "borrowed" my own copy then denied  the borrowing realises how lucky she is!

Saturday, July 20, 2013

London calling

I'm trying to get myself vaguely sorted out for going off to the Impact conference, and I'm doing well except for... working out where to stay in London for the last few days before I fly back to Australia, at the end of September.  So I wondered, do any UK-based BAO lovelies have recommendations for cheap accommodation in London?  I'd love to see a few shows before I fly back to the (relative) cultural desert that is Coffs Harbour!  If you have any bright ideas, please drop me an email or leave a comment.  Many thanks indeed :-)

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Things have gone a bit quiet on the  blog so I thought I'd stick my head over the parapet and say hello!

What's happening, I wonder?  So far I've received over 50 contributions to BookArtObject Edition Four, and many authors of those wonderful books have posted about their thinking and their making on this blog and/or given links to posts about the books on their own blogs.  I know how much people have enjoyed reading about the creation of the books, so if you've completed your book and you don't know how to post to the blog let me know! 

Two parcels (well, three if you count the fact that I couldn't fit my own first book into one of the boxes and had to send it separately) have made their way to Sarah Bodman and have been exhibited in the Tom Trusky exhibition cases at the University of the West of England in Bristol, UK.  Sarah and I have written up the exhibitions in recent copies of The Book Arts Newsletter (BAN)which Sarah publishes on-line to an international audience as part of her role as Senior Research Fellow for Artists' Books at UWE.  In the most recent edition of BAN you can also read about the latest al Mutanabbi Street exhibitions in five locations in New York - several BAO members have work in the different exhibitions and you can find a catalogue here, with information about all the participating artists' work and exhibition tour dates.

What happens next?  Some of us - including me! - haven't yet finished their books but are fully intending to do so (gulp - yes - sadly my second title won't leave the studio until I get back from Europe).  I suspect others are secretly worrying about their book title and would like to forget about the whole thing...  Since this year's Impact 8 conference in Dundee marks the second anniversary of the birth of Edition Four it would be good to round off the edition by the end of this year; then we can all recover over Christmas and consider what to do next!  If I haven't received a book from you or heard from you in a while I'm going to email you in the next couple of weeks to find out how things are shaping up, so if you're in that situation don't panic, just have a think about what you would like to do.  If you really don't think you can finish your book you may want to give someone else the option of taking that title over.

In addition to getting in touch with you if I haven't heard from you in a while, I'm also going to try and organize myself to put the rest of the photos I've taken of books received to date up on our Flickr account so that we can admire the wonderful diversity of work that you have produced.  This has been a fantastic project and I know that Sarah has been completely thrilled by the books she's received, so I hope that this post finds you well and that you're enjoying Edition Four just as much as we are.

PERSONAL HISTORIES - exhibition opportunity

At the beginning of 2012 I (rObfOs) held an exhibition of altered book art at
Redland Museum, Cleveland, Queensland, Australia.
Since then the Museum has doubled in size and now boasts
two large gallery spaces perfect for sharing artists works with the community.

I have been given the wonderful opportunity to utilise this space
for an exhibition of artists books.  In order to make the exhibition
relevant to the Museum space we are working with a theme 
and working title of "Personal Histories".

We are still negotiating a final date, 
but it is anticipated to be in the latter half of 2014
to allow time for artists to work on submissions.
Entry of works to the exhibition is free of charge
however any postage costs will be at the artists expense.
Artists are free to place their works for sale
with a small commission going to the Museum.

I warmly invite all fellow BookArtObject
artists to become involved with this project.

If you are interested I have set up a new blog
where I will post information as it comes to hand.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

More Canberra Puts on a Show for BAO

There are also spare copies of BEMBindery's BAO4 titles. So if you are not part of Groups 1,2, 6 or 9 and have missed out on a swap with Ampersand Duck but would like to be part of our September BAO exhibition at UNSW Canberra Library, perhaps you might consider a swap with me. I have four spare copies of 41: It's beginning to hurt - below and here -

and one spare copy of Curtains - below and here:

If you think that you might be interested in a swap, drop me a line: terence dot uren at bigpond dot com

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Canberra puts on a show for BAO

Hello BAOers

Bembindery and I are both Canberra participants and both in different groups (I'm in groups 1 & 6, and he's in groups 2 & 9).  We're also members of the Canberra Craft Bookbinders' Guild, and in the course of a conversation we agreed that between us we (theoretically) have a pretty good cross-section of BAO edition 4 works, and that it would be wonderful to exhibit them.

So! We have applied for, and received, a place in the UNSW Canberra Library exhibition program for September this year, with a six-week run.

If you are in any of these groups: 1, 2, 6 or 9, and haven't finished or sent your books to us, we would love you to do so by 1 September 2013. If we get all the books, it will be a marvellous exhibition. Even if we don't, it will still be lovely :)

There's another way you can be involved as well: I have a number of leftover books from earlier editions, and if you are not in these groups (or even if you are in groups 2 & 9, but you will already be in the exhibition!) and would like to do a swap of a BAO4 book for one of these, I'd be very keen, and it would supplement what we have from our groups.

I have 6 copies of Paper Wrestling, which was BAO Edition 2:

(more images and details if you click the PW link above)

... and I have 8 copies of It's Raining Still Lives, my BAO 4 work, which is two stories in one book. I didn't give a follow-up from the sneak peek, so maybe now is the time.

I chose to work with two stories because I'd become interested in playing with a way to weave two texts together; with the BAO project I experimented with lots of different structures, like a woven concertina, and sewing into a concertina spine, and a flag book, but of course a large part of editioning for BAO is that you have to pare down your idea to something that is able to be reproduced without a disproportionate amount of labour, time and money, and able to be easily sent around the world. And working with hand-set letterpress means that this consideration and planning is doubly important, so that the process can be streamlined into as few runs of the press as possible.

I also had a subject that had been floating around in my head for a very long time: fertility -- the pressures placed upon women to be fertile, to act upon it, and how the failure to be fertile can impact upon lives. This book does not even begin to touch upon these themes adequately, but it makes a small start, in a way that is quite ambiguous and is loosely informed by my own experiences and feelings.

So I chose the titles 'It's Raining', and 'Stilled Lives', and I held them close in my head for months while I worked on other things, trying to find an inroad that would merge my interests and the book structure ideas I was playing with. I wrote about three different versions over the year, each time simplifying, concentrating, taking away anything judgemental, trying to find the right voice.

I wanted the stories to be very grey inside a grey issue, and I decided one way to do that was to absolutely highlight as many binaries as I could to frame the stories: black and white, sans serif and serif, ink and emboss, hand-cut and cast, matrix and fingerprint, hand-applied and printed, first-person and third-person.

I don't pretend to be an image-maker. My strengths lie in text, so I did the best I could with the images, and had a lot of fun in the process. 

I printed the book as a whole, then cropped it in the middle, and then sewed it in to the cover. One story flows along in one direction, then the book turns, and it flows along in the other direction. There is an order, but it doesn't matter if they are read out of that order. 

In the 'first', a woman is having an ultrasound, and it doesn't go well, but in what way can be interpreted by the reader. In my case, it was a missed miscarriage (I had two), which means that there is nothing thriving in the womb by the time of the ultrasound but the woman has had no idea up to that point and has felt pregnant right up to the moment of the news. This story was inspired by my second experience, when I knew by the look in the technician's eyes (because I'd gone through it before) but no-one would confirm the news until a week later, for whatever bizarre reason. However, my text could also be read in the sense that defects or disorders had been detected as well, which calls for hard decision-making on the part of the mother.

In the 'second' story, a woman, perhaps the same woman, is ordering a 'reborn' doll online. Do you know about reborn dolls? They fascinate me. They are pitched publicly as 'collectables' but there is a whole world of pain, longing and desire underneath the surface, especially when you read the comments and chat of any provider's website. They can be bought ready-made, or as a kit to make yourself, or they can be ordered as a custom purchase, with characteristics of your choice, which means you can have them made to resemble your grown-up children as babies, or the grandchildren you don't get access to, or the baby that you lost or never had. They can be so lifelike that there are news stories about women who buy car seats for them, and police breaking into the parked cars to release the baby from the car after a concerned member of the public has reported it. I tried very hard to write this story from a non-judgemental perspective: there but for my son (who is described by all doctors as a 'miracle'), or my cats, or my art practice, I might be that woman. 

So. There you go: It's Raining Stilled Lives. It's very much a women-centred book; men have responded to it sensitively... they see the subject and the pain, but it leaves them a bit confused. Feedback from the women has been incredible, and I'm so glad it touched them.

If you would like to swap your work for a copy of this, or Paper Wrestling, email me: ampersandduck at gmail dot com. I'll accept offers strictly by order of offer, so don't delay.

And if you are in our groups and want your work to be in our exhibition, please get making/finishing/posting! We would love a full complement of your amazing works.

PS Congrats to Sara, who managed to successfully crowdsource her funding to get overseas, and yay to everyone who pitched in to make that happen! She will certainly make the most of her experience.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Al- Mutanabbi at John Rylands Library: Manchester

I know quite a few of us BAO-ers are also part of the Al-Mutanabbi Street project, and I recently visited the exhibition at the John Rylands Library in Manchester (UK). The building is wonderful and the exhibition looked great in its surroundings so I just thought I'd share a few photos with you of my visit.

Really worth a visit if you can make it there, even just to see the architecture! Was great to see the collection of artists' books too, but also frustrating as most were closed and all behind glass - the eternal struggle with displaying book art!


Thursday, May 30, 2013

Artwork sent to printers!

Finally I sent the Turn Left artwork to the printers today; this means delivery sometime this week, and then I need to trim, fold and turn it into the piece I am envisaging in my head - its evolved from the last time I posted.... and for some might be a little removed from what you expect a book to be, but to me it is a bookwork through and through.

I am also moving forward with the Motorway Services piece; that may take a little longer than this one, but I'll get there soon. Feel guilty I missed the Bristol deadline....

Monday, May 27, 2013

And another one...

I'm not very good at remembering to post opportunities, so sorry about the late arrival of this one.

23 Sandy Gallery is pleased to present EcoEditions, a juried exhibition open to national and international artists.

THEME – EcoEditions asks the question: can books save the world? Can artist books raise consciousness, create awareness or change thinking? Let’s use our powers as stewards of the earth to report on the state of our environment, ecology, sustainability, pollution, climate, recycling and our planet in general.

MEDIA – This exhibit is open to handmade book and paper arts related works created as either edition or one-of-a-kind. Artist books, sculptural books, book objects, altered books, zines, and broadsides are all encouraged. Despite the confusing title, this show is open to both limited edition and unique or one-of-a-kind works.

You can find more information at the gallery's website HERE.  Good luck!

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Second parcel off to Sarah Bodman

Thank you to everyone who posted me their books recently: I have now sent a second parcel to Sarah Bodman, ready for the second part of our BookArtObject Exhibition at the University of the West of England.  Huge thanks also to Sarah for making the exhibition a reality - Sarah's enthusiasm for our project has been a great incentive, and it is down to her generosity of spirit that she's turned Edition Four into a two-part exhibition in the Tom Trusky cases at UWE.  You can also read about the exhibition in this month's Book Arts Newsletter HERE (click on "82.pdf" to get to this issue of the newsletter!).  If you don't already follow the newsletter, it is a great resource for all things related to Book Arts and well worth reading.

As you know, I have great fun receiving your books, photographing and cataloguing them, so thanks to you too for letting me have a sneak peak at them before sending them off to Sarah!  In this parcel I was delighted to wrap up work from the following artists:

Sandra Winkworth, Fiona Dempster, Jac Balmer, Helen Malone, Rhonda Ayliffe, Terence Uren, Dianne Patmore, Aine Scannell, Kathy Boyle, Barbara Millman, Amanda Watson-Will, Anna Mavromatis, Penny Peckham, Gail Stiffe, Victoria Cowan, Momo, and myself.

And if you're in Group 12 and you're wondering where YOUR copy of my book "A Burning Question" is, the answer is ..."coming soon!"  I've almost finished making the edition and hope to get the books out in the post to you within the next week or two.

So what happens if you haven't yet finished your book/s and they weren't included in the first two parcels to Sarah Bodman?  Well the answer is this: a) don't worry - you still have a bit of time let to complete your edition; b) please send it to me as soon as you can so that I can photograph and catalogue it for our BAO records and then send it on to Sarah in the UK; and c) it won't be exhibited at UWE, but there may be other opportunities for exhibition in the future.

If you think that you CAN'T finish your book or that you won't be able to participate in this edition at all, PLEASE LET ME KNOW as there may be someone else who would like to take over your title.  I completely understand that life gets in the way of art most of the time, so please don't feel bad about it, but it would be really good if you could let me know so that I can reorganise the different groups within Edition Four.

Opportunity - the Sheffield International Artists' Book Prize

My brain is a bit fried this weekend, thanks to a sinus infection, and I'm not working at top speed but looking through my emails I realised I haven't shared this artists' book opportunity with you and I should have done it a month ago - sorry!

Bank Street Arts in Sheffield, UK, is holding the 4th International Artists' Book Prize and Exhibition later this year and is inviting entries now.  More information and entry forms can be found HERE, and it's worth considering as it is one of the few FREE TO ENTER exhibitions!  Perhaps your Edition Four book would be worth entering...?  Whatever you decide to put forward, good luck!

Sunday, May 19, 2013


Amanda started this, here                                       and Robyn followed with her selection.

At first, I thought I was too much of a butterfly, flitting around so many that I like and finding choice almost impossible, but I decided to go with Robyn's idea of including paper engineering.

Benja Harney does many stand-out pieces in paper, but I think the leather collaboration pretty much tops it for me.

I saw this on a Tumbler site  last week and thought immediately of  Brian Dettmer

And for almost as long as I've been blogging, I've loved Cecelia Levy's work, whether books or re-interpreted paper, often from books.

Of course, we could also cruise through the list of BAO contributors!

Who's next...?

Friday, May 17, 2013


Rather than put up a lengthy cross-post here I'll just give you a link to my blog, which features work by some of BAO's members. 

Throwing my hat in the ring....favourites :)

Detail Image - Altered Book by rObfOs
I thought I might throw my hat in the ring in response to Amanda's recent post about favourite artist books / book artists.  I must admit picking a favourite artist book, for me, is like picking a favourite child - IMPOSSIBLE.  I am a fickle and inquisitive creature and my loyalties change with each new day and each new book, but I find I tend to vintage and scultpural qualities.

I was interested that the majority of "favourite" books chosen by the SLQ speakers were of a traditional and safe format, I thought they may have chosen books that pushed more boundaries. However, there is beauty in diversity, and I was extremely interested in their choices.

I find I am as unable to pick favourite books as I am to define them, but I would like to list a few book/paper artists whose collections of works have left lasting impressions upon me.

In no particular order (I hope you find something new & exciting to pique your interest):

Artist 1)   Daniel Essig - Beautiful wood and metal sculptural objects as vessels for books
Artist 2)   Julie Shaw Lutts - Collage & ephemera cleverly contained in book form
Artist 3)   Marlis Maehrle - Light and delicate paper vessels

PS:  Great idea, Amanda :)

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Helen Cole talks about the Libris Awards

Helen Cole, the judge of the Libris Awards, has written a post about the awards as a guest blogger on Doug Spowart and Victoria Cooper's blog.
You can read it here

and she has also blogged about some of the books in the awards on the SLQ Australian Library of Art blog here

The webcast of the SLQ Siganto Seminar, The Trouble with Artists Books is now available on the State Library's website here

Wednesday, May 15, 2013


I'm almost ready to send off the second box of books to Sarah Bodman at UWE for "BookArtObject Edition Four, Part II" - the exhibition!  Perhaps we need a more catchy title for our shows - something to consider in future! - but it is GREAT to have our books out and about and to be able to share what we're doing.

Sarah's asked me for photos of more of the books and I've had a "slight network problem" which, in simple terms, means all the photos I've taken are there but not currently accessible... luckily I'm married to an IT whizz, who is in the process of fixing things.

Meanwhile, thank you to everyone who has supported my Pozible crowdfunding campaign!  It is a little unsettling to put yourself on public display and ask for monetary assistance, but so far it has also been a very positive and humbling experience.  To everyone who has texted and emailed me, sent me a message on Pozible and pledged a donation to my project, thank you.  It gives me a very warm and fuzzy feeling inside.  Even if you don't want to make a donation, feel free to go on over to the site and watch the video my friends Shane and Jo made of me in my studio!  From far away you'll get a little glimpse into my world.

SLQ Follow-Up Fun!

As you've seen below in Helen's post and also over at Double Elephant , Sara Bowen's blog, a number of us were lucky enough to attend a seminar on artists' books at the State Library of Queensland.

I thought that as there are a few reports on the seminar floating around the blogosphere (see Helen and Sara's posts) and the talk itself will be available soon on the SLQ website to download, that I might propose something a little different.

The second part of the talk was most interesting I found, as two of the speakers shared a short list (four or five) of their favourite artists' books from the SLQ collection. They spoke a bit about what they felt made the book so successful and of course showed us some pictures.

It was fascinating to be introduced to some new books, some by artists who were also new to me, to see some "old favourites" appear, and afterwards to think of some books which did not appear that may have been expected. Of course, it doesn't really mean much, as there are some 400+ artists' books in the collection and only nine were presented by the two speakers. Nevertheless, it has occupied my thoughts quite a bit since the afternoon.

So I thought that it might be fun to ask BAO blog readers to offer up a choice or two (or as many as you like really) to share with one another. In doing this, we need to observe good netiquette, so here are a couple of guidelines.

1) PLEASE no downloading images from peoples sites or blogs to post here.
2) Instead, just provide the name of the artist, and the book, and a link to their work.
3) Please do tell us why you really love the book.
4) It's just for fun, so don't feel as if you absolutely have to work out your absolutely most favouritest AB in the world before you can join in.

And to kick things off , I thought I would share two of my favourites.

1) Cell Memory by Macy Chadwick which you can see at Abecedarian Gallery. I actually own a copy of this book, so now I can read the text which is beautiful. Initially I was drawn to it because of the interaction of the pages with light, the sense of fragility and the idea conveyed by the title. It speaks of the wonder of nature, of cells, and the body.

2) Vessels by Adele Outteridge, seen on the Uni of Melbourne site. I think this book really speaks to me because I used to be a potter, so the vessel form really hits a chord. Also, I am drawn to the delicate ephemeral effect of the transparent pages and the metaphor of the book as a container for knowledge. To me, this work has a lot of power because it is both beautiful and very strong

As you can see, I tend to rave on a bit, so please don't let me put you off. I think it could be terrific if a number of you do jump in and share your favourite ABs for others to see.

Sunday, May 12, 2013


I've been having an email exchange with some of the members who had work accepted for  the Libris  Awards and it occurs to me that perhaps I should post some of this here. Particularly since both Ronnie and Sara entered their BAO  works.

At any exhibition, of anything, there are always some who are delighted and feel that it's a vindication of their own "good taste and intelligence" and always those who feel somehow slighted that the one they liked  was passed by. I think it's one of the best markers of human differences !

So, I've had a chance to see these up close and personal, as they say.

And,personally, I like "Wave Form." I also like that the tumbling "wave" can be scrunched back into its box, looking more like a book. (That should please the woman who has difficulty with the concept of artists' books!)

Kelvin's piece is interesting, but I'd call it an installation, not a book. However, all the discs came in and can be returned to a box. In this case, not a hand-built container, tailored to the work, but a big old Kodachrome  [I think] cardboard film box. So, just as much "a book" as the first one?

And the Youth Award is, by all interpretations and popular perception, a book. A book-ish book, read left to right. And quite lovely in its simplicity.


Friday, May 10, 2013


Yes, I am still working on my final BAO title.

By now, you should all have received "Silent Wolves."  Thank you to those who have let me know it arrived.

And for the Group 10 people,  here are some progress pics. As you can see, much progress has been made... in the filling of waste paper baskets!

I am afraid I may have damaged my poor printer, but I simply don't have the time or money to haul it to a repair man (if there is such a chap around here!) right now.

So, once again, I re-jigged things, which I'll write about  later. For now, have a sneak peek and a laugh. Go on, I did. Well, no, actually, it wasn't very funny.
brimming basket

A brief summary of "Wolves" is here 

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Sara's Pozible Project

A week or so ago two fantastic friends, Shane and Jo, came around and spent a couple of hours of their precious time videoing me in my studio.  No, I'm definitely not famous but I have set up a Pozible fundraising project, which is what this post is about.

I feel slightly embarrassed about posting information about my project here since it has never been my intention to tie BookArtObject to money in any way, but I am hoping that you might consider supporting my fundraising effort as I try to raise the money to go to Europe later this year.

I'm taking part of BookArtObject to the Impact 8 international interdisciplinary printmaking conference in Dundee, Scotland, at the end of August.  We've been saving our air miles for my plane tickets so I can get to Europe and back.  But while I'm there I've been offered a two week artists' residency at the Scuola Internationale di Grafica in Venice, Italy.  I've applied unsuccessfully for several residencies over the years but I guess no-one has trusted me with one because I don't have a track record!  After all, they're not holidays, they're a chance to immerse yourself somewhere new and work VERY hard on your own particular art project without all the usual interruptions you'd have at home.  It feels very special to have finally been invited to do a residency and it would be great to have the chance to do it while I'm already in Europe.

But.  There's always a 'but'!  It's quite simple: I can't afford it.  The residency isn't free, and I will need to feed myself while I'm there, as well as buy a few art supplies.  So I'm hoping to raise $2,000 Australian dollars to fund the project and I've put together a Pozible crowd-funding campaign to help.  If you've never heard of 'crowd funding' you're not alone - it certainly isn't big in Australia yet.  The basic premise is that asking your friends to help you find $2,000 is unlikely to succeed, but if you can ask 200 people for $10 each and offer them something in return you might have a better chance of raising the money.  Pozible is an on-line platform that enables me to put together the campaign and show people something about what I do.  If I don't raise the whole $2,000 I get nothing at all - I only get the money if I meet my target.  There's a good reason for this: I need to present potential donors with a good case for my fundraising, and a sensible budget.  We all know there's no point in having half the money you need to do something because you still can't afford to do it, so instead of risking everyone's money on something that is bound to fail, the "all or nothing" approach means I only get the money if I can raise what I realistically need to undertake my residency.  The sweetner is that donors do get something in return and in this case the 'rewards' range from hand-written postcards from Venice to a limited edition artists' book, invitations to a private drinks party in Coffs Harbour before my solo show next year and vouchers for workshops at my studio. 

The bottom line is, I suppose, that crowd funding works.  A couple of years ago I helped to support an American-Korean artist who wanted to spend time in Korea learning traditional papermaking techniques.  She was great at keeping her supporters updated with her progress and I received some beautiful sheets of handmade Korean paper in return for my support.  Since then she's gone on to do bigger and better things, and I feel good about having helped her on her way.

Here's the link to my Pozible project!

Thank you for allowing me to post news of my Pozible project on here, and thank you for being great supporters of BookArtObject in all sorts of ways.

SLQ Seminar: The trouble with Artists Books

A huge crowd attended this seminar at the State Library of Queensland last Saturday afternoon.
  It was lovely to catch up with fellow Book Art Object members Sara Bowen, Amanda Watson-Will, Jack Oudyn and Robyn Foster, and so many fellow book artists and friends from Brisbane, country Queensland and interstate.  Unfortunately I decided to relax and enjoy the event and didn't take notes or photos to write a proper post about the seminar, but for those unable to attend these blog posts will give you some idea of the great afternoon we enjoyed.

Doug Spowart and Victoria Cooper

Judy Barrass

Sara Bowen

Helen Malone

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Deadlines, deadlines!

A quick reminder to those of you currently finishing work: I will shortly (i.e. in the next week to ten days!) be sending off the next parcel to Sarah Bodman, which will contain everything I've received so far that didn't make it into the first parcel.  This is so that Sarah can put them into the second BAO exhibition at the University of the West of England.

So far over 40 of the 100 titles have been finished, which is fantastic!  Hopefully many more will arrive before I leave Australia to attend the Impact 8 Interdisciplinary Printmaking Conference in Dundee: the ideal situation would be for August to be the cut off date for the Edition as I will take any books that don't arrive in time for me to post off in this parcel with me on the plane on August 25th.

That doesn't mean you can't keep working on your books if you haven't finished by August!  That would be terrible!  It just means that I don't have any exhibition opportunities lined up for them after my trip to the UK.

Any questions, leave a comment.

Monday, April 29, 2013

SLQ on Sunday?

A query for Australian BAO-ers... Are any of you going to the State Library of Queensland artists' books seminar on Saturday?  If so, I may see you there!

Throwaway, Group 5

Hello everybody!
I am wishing that I could follow the same format that I have noticed in your posts, where documentation appears when an edition is done. My edition is not done but the second one has made it's way out into the world at this point, so it behooves me to write and show, even though it may spoil a bit of the surprise (however, the more I attempt to show pictures of artist's books, the more I realize they are inadequate to encompass the experience.) As for where this one is now, I was thrilled that it was selected for Artist's Book Cornucopia IV at Abecedarian Gallery.

Having made the second box and worked out a few more design improvements, I hope to have some jigs set up to make the rest of the edition go smoother. Members of my group, thank you so much for the the wonderful books I have received so far, and do not fear, Throwaway will be coming to you in the future.

The box enclosure aspect is a collaboration with my husband, the first of many, I hope.
I told him I would like the fold book to stand up inside in the shape of an “X.”  I’m pleased with what we came up with, although each one is very time consuming to make.  I think this structure would be called a cradle, since it keeps the book in a certain shape. The X is an important repeating motif.

Throwaway has been on a long journey of nearly a year. There were so many potential directions it could have gone in, some which I have vowed to explore in the future. I became less interested in the photographs of trash and recycled items I had taken, and more driven to explore a number of different ways things, people, the environment are part of the "thrown away." The amount of information I found was quite overwhelming, and I could have easily written a paper or two. But that would not be an experience, would it? I kept returning to the idea of crumpling up the paper. After trying a few different papers and having it tear, I settled on tyvek, which I had been using in other work to reinforce and join. Originally I had intended to print photographs on tyvek with my inkjet printer, but found it slowly bleeding and becoming blurry, not to mention how it could be ruined if water got on the surface. It became a letterpress project. It seemed to follow naturally to make plates using materials you might find recycled or thrown away, even though I might have  done photographic plates. Frankly, my budget would not allow for that.

The fold book inside, after printing, has been crumpled up like a thrown away piece of paper: symbolically representing every subject touched on within the folds. It has also been smoothed out and carefully refolded, and ensconced in this container, which seems far sturdier than the contents. The container also sets it apart as an object of importance.

How and when the contents (metaphorical or not) were salvaged cannot be answered. As an artist, perhaps I look into the future and imagine this. 

On the inside of the fold book is a map of sorts, as well as a “key” or map legend, which is a short poem, a plea, to reconsider, to alter the “mindset” of what is “thrown away.”

 BookArtObject Edition Four, Group Five,
Title #99 of 100 taken from An Exercise for Kurt Johannessen (2010), by permission of the author,
Sarah Bodman.
Throwaway (2013) by Julie Russell-Steuart explores ways in which our culture/economy tosses aside things.
With permission from, two people’s stories have been adapted poetically.  “Throwaway” materials like cereal boxes and string were used to make pressure prints on hand-painted DuPont Tyvek, a spun polyester material that is 100% recyclable and safe for landfills. The format is an accordion style booklet that opens up on the other side to a map style folding. The text is letterpress printed with hand-set types in English Caslon Oldstyle 37, Century Bold, Della Robbia, and Style Script. The box enclosure was constructed with the design and engineering skills of David Steuart, and is made from boards covered in hand-painted Tyvek.