Monday 18 February 2008

Post Work on Paper Fair

Here was the stand at the Work on Paper Fair.
It was over a couple of weeks ago and the year seems to be rushing on and I am still dealing with the backlog from it; still trying to finish the work I failed to finish for it and pick up the threads of my thoughts, while longing to get on with something new - new/old in my case, my Irish book I wrote in Donegal 2 years ago.
Still, the Fair was fun and lots of nice contacts made and I'm sure these fallow periods must have their uses. I've stocked up on lots of wonderful paper. Last week got side tracked by an interview with BBC Scotland for a program about Peggy Angus - very strange to be back at Camden Studios where I was printing wallpapers for her 40 years ago. I also met a very nice architect, David Wild, who had bought a piece of my work - loved his book and collages "Fragments of Utopia ; collage reflections of heroic modernism" - Hyphen Press; and went to see the Rodchenko photographs at the Haywood, and was fascinated by the video of the shamanistic performance in the Liverpool block of flats in the show downstairs.
This week I've been interviewed for a big book on printmaking being published next year and I'm seeing a gallery in Hampstead who is interested in my work.
The Designer Bookbinders have written up a resume of the talk I gave before Christmas, and said I can publish it on my blog. I'm still thinking about the last paragraph and wondering how I can organise a Falcon Bridal Boat Burning ceremony on the river without them sinking like a stone too soon.

"When I asked Carolyn for a copy of her lecture notes for my review there was a pause before she admitted that she didn’t intend to use notes. Her lecture would be ‘off the cuff’, prompted by the images. This turned out to be the underlying theme of Carolyn’s talk; how the artist produces pieces prompted by the images in their heads and shaped by the materials they use.
The images Carolyn showed for inspiration were a mixture of her own work and pieces by other people which she liked. They included work by William Blake, perhaps the first book artist, with his illustrations and hand written text, Dadaist work using found objects and rough paper collages and Dimitry Sayenko prints on 1930s magazines and newspapers.
Having originally studied painting at the Slade, Carolyn began experimenting with egg tempera on gesso, beginning her move away from two dimensional works towards the physical experience of making.
The introduction of hand made papers from India and Nepal began her involvement with artist’s books, the variations in size and surface texture worked well with the large grainy wood cuts she had started to make and her development of simple binding techniques produced tactile and organic books.
The first of these books was ‘Gawain’; a large soft cover binding with hand cut lettering and bold images in black, red and green. As the story takes place in a year and a day, Carolyn completed the book in the same period of time. The book works superbly as a whole and won 1st prize for the complete book in the Society of Bookbinders Competition in 1997.
One of the problems with artist’s books is how to display them to a large audience. Carolyn attempted to address this during a residency in Lewes. The Apocalyptic Book of Lewes was produced with the local community, incorporating their ideas and anecdotes. To enable it to be viewed as a whole, it was displayed as posters hung from a line
From this Carolyn moved on to producing installation pieces, literally stories in boxes. The first of these was Bluebeards Castle, seven solander boxes with constructed tableaux and text in each representing the seven doors to the castle.
Another, Beauty and the Beast, contains a miniature dressing table in a forest with drawers that open revealing tableaux of miniature objects. The text is bound in two small books, which slot in beside the dressing table. The materials too are relevant, found objects have a story, which adds to the text and inspires the design, for example an old biker jacket bought from a charity shop is used for the covering material.
With musicians as parents, music has always been very important in Carolyn’s life and in Winterreise she used the songs of Schubert as inspiration for her own text.
She likens creating artist’s books to performing music; each performance is different, although the score (or text) remains the same. The artist’s text, on transparent Japanese paper, overlays extracts from the Schubert song cycle, to make a palimpsest or dialogue with the past creation. The collagraph images and text were all made from recycled packaging. The cover of the book is made from formed white paper pulp, making a soft and fragile binding.
The final set of images were of Carolyn’s latest and largest project, which took her work as far from the Livre D’Artist concept as possible. The Falcon Bride is a story within a room, ‘a room-sized book’ based on ideas gathered during a visit to Krakow; it incorporates hand-painted books, prints, made and found objects, reworked photographs, model boats and a wicker mannequin ‘Bride’.
It brings together many of the ideas and techniques she has used in previous projects into a theatrical space where the viewer can linger and physically explore the presentation, removing the barriers of the two dimensional page.
During her talk Carolyn encouraged us to think of books outside the normal flat folded sheet format. Her work is tactile, adventurous, inventive and shows that books do not have to be precious, delicate objects hidden in boxes and cases.
As a contentious discussion opener she quoted a Today programme considering whether the climate changes in our planet should affect our view of permanence and posterity. Should we worry about the longevity of artefacts? - might our attitudes to artefacts change, the emphasis shift to embracing decay and enjoying them in the here and now. Carolyn’s view was that as an artist, considering the nature of the materials she was using, and recycling found objects and organic materials, was as important as leaving a record of ideas for the future."

Rachel Ward-Sale for Designer Bookbinders