Monday, April 27, 2020

My book, let me read it to you

Hi everyone, I don't know about you, but I've been flat out in this coronavirus isolation period, teaching my various university classes, and transitioning them to onlinity has been sooooo time-consuming, especially the visual artist class. At the moment I'm teaching Book as Art for ANU School of Art & Design, and also teaching at the University of Canberra in Typography and Layout for the Design stream, and tutoring in Word and Image for the Creative Writing stream. 

With my Book Art students, I'm giving them weekly challenges. Last week was to make an Edible Book while it was still April, and this week they have to make a digital book to practice building narratives. For those that don't have Adobe software, they're using Canva and Powerpoint, anything that can output as a PDF. I'm really interested to see what they come up with. 

I've also been making them videos that showcase examples from my own personal archive of artist books, which of course includes all the BAO swaps that I've been involved with. They are learning to make books that can be made on the kitchen table, because the whole art school is locked down and there's no access to special equipment. It's actually great training for the post-art school, pre-studio situation that many graduates find themselves in. 

I have no special video equipment, just my iPhone and iPad, and really dodgy editing skills, let along on-screen presence, but I like the opportunity to showcase old work. So I've decided to make one of my videos public -- and it's my own work from Edition 3, Quagmire: IT and Lies.  It felt the most apt for these times. 

Watch with kindness, and I hope you enjoy it. I might share others if I get brave enough and my skills improve! 

I hope you're all coping in this difficult era. I'm looking forward to seeing these times recorded through art and writing. 

Stay well, 

Thursday, March 26, 2020

"in a flap"

"in a flap" is not about my condition due to the current state of the "virussed" world. Even the dark brooding cover would be appropriate but that may be the subject of a future book. You may have noticed that a lot of my books last year were interactive and used little windows or flaps to provide surprise and playfulness for the viewer. 
When making a book I usually try out a lot of new areas on single sheets first. These experiments are usually done to find the best paper or media for the book. Consequently, I end up with a lot of interesting bits of paper that I can't bear to throw away. 
So, "in a flap" is a collection of these papers bound into a book, an artist's proof. You will see where some of the ideas used in many of last year's books came from.

 Woops! I don't know how I ended up on this blog after so many years but will leave it here if that's ok. Meanwhile must see if my own site is still around. 

Thursday, February 13, 2020

BAO5: L OO P ing through the seasons


Hi all, we've put hardly anything on here about Edition 5 work. I thought I'd kickstart us by linking to a post I've just written for my website:

Here's some extra thoughts for this post: I was feeling very pessimistic about the environment when I made this book. It was spring in Canberra, and there were birds chirping all around outside the studio I was working in (the ANU School of Art & Design Printmedia Book Studio), so while I was brooding, the city kept pulling nice things out of its hat to cheer me up. I worked fast, because I don't have my own studio at the moment (I've stored all my equipment) and that means that I can only work in reasonable, official moments.

I had set all the type while my students were working, and once I'd cut all the paper up, I just spent a couple of weekends riffing with the letterpress equipment. I turned large blocks of wood type upside-down and printed the backs of them; I pulled out trays of 20-year-old hell type (things not put away by students for longer than most of my present students have been alive!) and hand-printed snatches of the random texts as white texture on the pages. I've been working like this a lot, it feels like recycling. The thin Chinese paper is like printing on fabric.

Well, whatever pessimism I was feeling then has doubled, tripled, quadrupled now. I spent the summer in a P2 facemask, riding my bike through apocalyptic-feeling bushfire smoke and sweating through 40 degree celsius heatwaves. The studio is now inaccessible because the art school got hit by a huge hailstorm that smashed most of our heritage glass windows, and many of the birds that I'd been listening to are now dead, affected by smoke and bashed to death by huge killer hailstones. When it started raining and cooling down, I wept.

L  OO P now feels like a souvenir of the summer. I certainly won't forget it.

Finally, I want to say that BAO has been a sporadic project, but every time we run it, I make something that I love, that I wouldn't normally make. I'm grateful to Sara for resurrecting it, and putting in the time to organise it. Thank you everyone who played :)