Thursday, 9 April 2020

Maundering Thursday

I am showing you these pages from what I called 'The Artist's Book'( for the Millenium) for a reason I will get to in a minute.  
 This one was made as part of an exhibition to celebrate and record the Millennium in 2000 – each of twenty centuries illustrated by a piece of art especially commissioned by the Star Gallery in Lewes : I was allotted the Twentieth Century ( sods law when I was really hoping for a medieval sort of one...)
Here is the text I put about it on my archive - ( where you will find much of my old work in Artists Books...).
… “The Twentieth Century is the most difficult to encapsulate because change has accelerated so rapidly and there has been no time for the dust to settle. I decided I had to subdivide it into decades, which suggested a sequential format and as a maker of Bookworks , a large, faux, ‘coffee-table’ art book seemed appropriate.
I took on the challenge of reproducing or illustrating the work of ten artists as woodcuts… Artists have always copied each other’s work and still do – Picasso for example reworked Velasquez and Manet – so I was working within a tradition as well as commenting on a new phenomenon, the Art Book. I had to work at great speed.
My choice of ten artists was bound to controversial – how could such a choice possibly be made? I went for an autobiographical one that reflected my life and influences. I represented a variety of the arts, not just painting, Unlike other books I have made, the text is handwritten.
The pages were encased in a binding of burnt ephemera and rubbish; in 2000, photographs from the war in Kosovo as well as those showing how large numbers of people scratch a living from gigantic rubbish tips around the world, made this seems a fitting image for our extraordinary polarised and fractured century.”
The book sold and is somewhere in the USA and sadly I have no photo of the cover.....This is the relevant bit - as I am now thinking about the covers for the concertina Ship of Fools and wanting to recreate something like I did for the Millenium one....

partly because it is about flooding, which mashes up everyone's possessions and leaves a tidal wave of destroyed 'stuff'', and partly again about the ecological consequences of stuff and haves and have nots - not much change in 20 years then.....
I really had fun making the very 3dimensional cover for the big Millenium book (I can't remember how big, between A2 and A3 I think)-- and embedded stuff in 'no-nails' sticky stuff on top of wooden boards which I singed to charcoal edges on the gas cooker ( don't tell the fire brigade - I was very careful). When dry I painted the whole covers with slatey black paint so they they looked burnt. I don't know why I didn't take a photograph - I have always been hopeless and lost loads of my work across my meandering life after a few wrong turns, and it still hasn't taught me to keep proper records - which is why doing this blog is quite useful.
I did write an email to the USA University collection the Millenium book ended up in asking for a photo but got no reply - they probably thought I was a crazy woman if it ever got past the spam box....
anyway -  now I will make some more smaller versions using my vast collection of inspiring rubbish - some of which is unfortunately in my studio but there is probably enough billowing around the house....

a tableful here for a start, which I did rather anally try and sort into wood, organic, metal and plastic bits - don't look too closely if squeamish, there's a dried dead bluetit and a very dessicated decomposed mouse in there somewhere
and how did these escape the grandsons eagle eyes - a wonderful skeleton horse in medieval armour and a bird of prey on a motor byke - brilliant inspiration for something soon, and look at that caduceus of a nail, I don't remember where I got that.....
I am still fooling around with fools but I will really start these new covers soon...

and if you want to know the significance of the pages above - there are lots of my heroes and heroines there ...
starting with Picasso - the Demoiselles for a new century; 
Nijinsky, looking a bit like a Fool, maybe as Petruschka, with some photographers from the 1WW - I read a book called the Rites of Spring about how the images of bodies killed during the 1WW that finally evaded censorship made a huge difference on imagery, destroying the classical ideas about the body;
a small wood engraving of the Deluge by David Jones re-cut by me as a large woodcut;
a woodcut page from a book about Lorca's Sonnets of Dark Love which I was working on around 2000 ( see my archive website); 
a copy of a film poster for Mogambo, which I thought might have been done by John Minton, and was the first film I was ever taken to at a very tender age because my mother really wanted to see it - it was in the days when you didn't wait but went into the auditorium in the middle of the film and I can still remember the scene - of a bird flying up into an exotic African sky.....;
the next woodcut is of a Paul Nash painting of Autumnal fungi - I loved his paintings and particularly  Urne Burial the Artists Book he made of Thomas Browne's seminal essay; 
next a wallpaper by Peggy Angus - I used to print her wallpapers for her in the late sixties, early seventies; 
a woodcut of a painting by Andrew Wyeth - I used to be a tempera painter myself for about 20 years, and it was fascinating to see how the tempera brushstrokes translated into the rough wood grain of the woodcut - I was using very rough cheap plywood which I could get in huge sheets back then until I got allergic to the formaldehyde in the glue used to bond the layers together...: 
this takes us up the 80's and Anselm Kiefer, still one of my major heroes, perhaps even more so - his last exhibition at White Cube Bermondsey at the beginning of this year was completely extraordinary I thought, mind blowing in the best possible way; 
the red Autmnal 'head' is from my first Artists Book - Gawain made in the mid 90's I think: Harrison Birtwistle united the medieval and the contemporary in a wonderful way in his opera of the same name which inspired me, together with the libretto by David Harsent; 
and the last is an image to go with a poem by another poet I have worked with - Peter Abbs, which we included in the book.

Well apologies - this has been a very meandering, maundering post, but I will return to the plot very soon when I have more new stuff to show; and maybe isolation is a good time to look back and take stock, just for a minute or two.....before beavering on....

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