Saturday 3 March 2007

Hunting the Wren

Three images from my next book - 'Bloodties', 'Chanctonbury Ring in december' and 'Hunting the Wren.'
Hunting the Wren is the overall title - two volumes of poetry by James Simpson that will come in a solander box( special ) or slipcase ( regular ) made with lots of natural materials. The second volume is called Love Poems and Curses - I sometimes think of them as a male and female volume nestling side by side but I don't whether James does; but there are 8 poems in each book.

I'm printing at the moment, after days of tearing paper to size. Jane at BIP ( Brighton Independent Printmaking ) is silkscreening each poem onto the paper for me first and they are looking good.

There is a certain amount of pressure because the book is going to be exhibited in the bookshop at an exhibition at Pallant House , Chichester, called 'Poets in the Landscape: The Romantic Spirit in British Art' - to mark the 250th anniverary of the birth of William Blake.
so this feel a really good and inportant thing to be part of - but it starts on 31st March so it is a bit panicky, but that is how most things get done...

I can only go as fast as Jane gives me the texts - we were late starting because the last batch of paper came in half an inch smaller than my previous one and upset all my measurements - I ended up only getting 2 pages out of a sheet instead of 4; this sort of problem is where it all begins with making books, it seems to take for ever to get started and after that the printing should be a doddle, except that that always takes longer than you think as well.

Then pages have to dry - can take days to be safe to fold and bind; and I can't start on the boxes until I have made the first book and see what size it ends up. All very frustrating but its also an impetus to keep going - just to find out what will happen, and of course it could be a disaster...and meanwhile the repetitive printing and folding etc gives one's brain time to wander and come up with some new ideas that start clamouring for attention; it's certainly the doing- things-with-my-hands that gets my inspiration going.

The last few days printing have been full of agonising decisions - printing collagraphs is like a series of monoprints; the blocks are made from recycled cardboard and other natural materials glued on and varnished and the ink is dabbed on with dollies of rag ( very time consuming) - you get into a rhythm so that they come out more or less tha same, but the block is changing all the time with the accumulation of ink, changes of temperature throughout the day alter the way the ink behaves - its a constant process of being aware and reacting to what is going on.

I was taught that there is always the ideal print one is working to where everything is correct, but this doesn't really apply to these - that way madness lies; quality control rejects some but others just vary interestingly ( bit of a metaphor for life really ) and one has to be philosophical - but it is hard after you have spent hours doing the same thing - peering closely - IS that worse than the others or am I just seeing more and more detail? How will someone else see it who hasn't seen the rest? Will it look different when it is dry - I've begun to notice that the infinitesimal shrinkage as the paper dries tightens up the image sometimes and the paper grain smoothes out all gets very obsessive.

There is a tempatation to just keep on going - it becomes addictive;

pros - if it is going well stick with it, you have got into a rhythm, you have mixed the right colour ink ( this can take up quite a while ), if you stop and clean the block too many times the bits of natural materials will drop off, you have got used to remembering what you are doing, just one more, never mind that it's really needs a bedtime . mealtime or complete powercut to stop sometimes;

cons - its not working well but it can only get better ( can be a false premiss - maybe you should stop and start again fresh tomorrow); you may think it's going well but when you see them tomorrow..... and you think it is going to save time to have them all done - but not if you have to do them all over again.

To think I gave up tempera painting because it took too long to get my ideas out! this impulse to multiples is torture when I have so many more ideas coming at me - but if you think you have come up with a good idea there is a sort of compulsion to spread them around a bit, especially if a lot effort has gone into getting the first one up and running.

Well it won't be ready for the Leeds Book fair next week, but I suppose I may be able to take some pages to show if they are dry enough.

It is 11- 6 in the main Parkinson Building on Friday and Saturday 9th/10th March.

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