Tuesday 13 December 2011

Lausanne, The Magic Disappearing Library, and Concrete

I can't believe we've been back a week
- it's wonderful to get away and see people working in a different context and everyone gave us such a good time.
Lausanne is a very hilly city on lots of different levels and the exhibition was in Abstract, a gallery in a newly developing area of old warehouses.

It was a wonderfully bizarre event as the 115 books were returned to their artists, or rather randomly distributed, via a machine that operated for 5 minutes every quarter of an hour. You put your token in a slot and various things happened, a photo was taken , a megaphoned voice announced which book was 'disappearing' and a barrier came down and had a good shot at decapitating any unwary bystander and a book emerged out of a slit. It also gave out the new book of the event, 'Kit Mode de Vie demontage'; meanwhile Peter signed his posters in the hallway for those lucky enough to be patrons and receive one - there was almost a riot when others were turned away; and when each 5 minutes was up and the queues had to wait. Much was drunk and it all took quite a long time - plenty of time to actually see some of the books whose titles I had used as my text and meet their artists or new owners,and exercise my execrable french.
setting up....

getting busy....

our work with the other 6 pieces for this exhibition

For lots more pictures and details go to
Art&Fiction and look on their facebook page...there are loads of photos of this event and the previous ones...and they will probably be on their blog at some point....

We also managed trips to Berne to see the new Paul Klee Centrum - a really visionary building built into the hills just on the edge of the city, with an exhibition space, concert hall ,and beautiful children's art workshops where their work is exhibited and taken really seriously.

It was hard to get into a good position to take a good picture of the front and get it all in.
We also saw the bears, now able to roam on the hillside above the river and not confined to their famous bear-pits where I took my children to see them 25 years ago.
(Any other Mary Plain devotees out there? all that lovely picture writing....)

We also got to Fribourg twice, a beautiful old city, a promontary town like Berne with the river again doing a hairpin bend round it ; most of the town very high up with stone walls but a picturesque lower town below, lovely little puppet museum, and a Tinguely and Nikki de St Phalle Museum in an old tram depot, wonderfully crazy; and an interesting Beaux Arts; AND a Gutenburg Museum. The second time we went on the Art & Fiction works outing for the St Nicholas festival - patron saint of the town and cathedral is St Nicholas and on this feast day the best student of the year dresses up and rides through the town on a donkey throwing goodies to the children and makes a speech from the balcony above the cathedral door ( a pretty political one on this occasion); and we visited another print workshop and another amazing soiree after the festivities.

Lausanne has of course the excellent Musee D'Art Brut - always a good visit. The Christmas market was in full swing and there was plenty of vin chaud in the streets. We were very sorry to leave .

This is the view from our wonderful backpacker hotel which overlooks the station - excellent for early get aways on the brilliant trains. Sadly there are rumours it is goiung to be demolished as part of a grand plan to construct a new large City Art Gallery in this part of town - we will miss it.

We had time in Geneva before we left and enjoyed the Beaux Arts and the Carouge particularly. Artists had been invited to decorate the trees in the old town.

There was a marvellous antiquarian bookshop in the old town

and here is the magic disappearing market in the Carouge

and Peter had a wonderful encounter with a headless lady...

Also to the lady at the Robert Walser Centrum in Berne which we visited and who spent a lot of time patently translating and explaining things to us. We DID get the postcard you sent us! thank you so much ( amazing as it was addressed only with our names and our town, England - just as we signed in the book - well done Post Office here too!)...it is very heartening that booklovers and artists are still appreciated, she will know what we mean....

Two days later I was off to Stoke to see my first concrete panel for The Keep; bit of a change of mood but also really exciting. It was fascinating seeing the processes and the workshops where the concrete was poured. The panel was hoisted up on a crane to the elevation it will be on the finished building and the weather obliged with a slide show of rain showers , cloud and sunshine in rapid succession so that we could get an idea of how the images will change according to light, time of day, weather and the position the viewer is in. I think we were all pretty relieved that it looks quite promising and exciting. Many thanks to all at Thorp's for looking after us so well and being so generous with time and discussions.

Pictures of The Keep panels and the day in Stoke will go up soon....

and here they are; thanks to Wendy who took much better quality photos than I did...
first the mould....

and then the panel at projected eye height....

Thursday 24 November 2011

post Oxford pre Lausanne

Here's a picture of my stand taken for me by Dmitry whose stand was opposite.
Everyone seemed to think it was a very good year this year and Cock Robin was very well received...so I am back now printing the rest of the edition, plus some extras to play with as cut-outs which will keep me quiet for a while.

Meanwhile next stop Lausanne...

Really looking forward to this show; Peter Chasseaud did this poster which was also used for the invitations, as well as his own letterpress book; I think I showed the cover of my contribution a few posts ago etc...here are a few more pages at random....all my text is constructed using only the titles of the 115 previous books of Mode de Vie. There is more text on the back of the labels too.
You can't see the Ars Longa Vita Brevis graffiti clearly unfortunately.....

Wednesday 26 October 2011

Nearly Oxford Fine Press Book Fair

Margate was wonderful - incredible weather for October, I was so lucky, especially as still had/have my graveyard Whitechapel cough but managed to get through my talk. I was really well looked after.
The Pie Factory is a wonderful space inside, discretely done up to maintain its industrial roots and nice rough surfaces and it was a good exhibition.

It was worth getting up at 5am to hear Phil Abel's talk about Hand and Eye Press and the new interest in letterpress - and the old Thanet printing fraternity's take on the punter's new found passion for deep indentations ( conspicuous printing consumption?) - it was a pity my Peter missed it but he was minding his own p's and q's/shop.
Just my luck there were engineering works after Ashford so I had to go via London - I'd been looking forward to the cross country route through Rye and Appledore, and annoying to have to pay 3X as much for the privilege of going via Victoria and waiting 15 mins at Gatwick for the train doors to open.....hey ho.But dawn rising over the foggy Ouse on the 6.50a.m was pretty good and then the sunshine when it broke through was ravishing.
The new Turner Gallery in Margate was very handsome, nestling behind its own little concrete wall - I quite like looking at the town however tatty - and the views of the harbour from inside are great especially with the sun shining on the shore.

It was humming with people looking at the show on Youth which had some good stuff, old favourites, Hockney's kissing boys, Perlman(?)'s two Jewish boys from the Tate against the graffiti, two early Peter Blake's I've always liked.....loads of interesting photos, couldn't do justice to it in the time....
I also wanted to see the shell grotto - wonderful, loved it....

Then the next day we went off to spend a couple of nights with Old Stile Press just over into Wales up the Wye valley; still glorious weather and Tintern Abbey giving an intimation of how wonderfully sublime it must have looked before the cluster of gift shops and car parks etc ( packeted chocolate raisins, 'Sheeps doo-doos for Ewe' - says it all ...)

Lovely food (outside for lunch, bliss)art and conversation from Nick and Frances and great to see where their books are made at last - other people's work spaces are always fascinating - they were among the first to encourage me when I set off on my first artists books.....

I thought a couple of days away might improve my lungs, but no - watched a magic new-to-me Hungarian 1971 film on dvd tho - 'Szinbad', wow......

Am now just finishing printing a few copies of Cock Robin - last 6 stanzas are done; so come and see me at Oxford
details on www.fpba.com
I must also start doing the 'slides' for my talk on the Sunday afternoon...
the books may be dry by then.....
fingers crossed...

Friday 14 October 2011

Margate and Oxford

Cock Robin is nearly finished and should be ready for the Oxford Fine Press Book Fair at Oxford Brookes Uni on the weekend of 5/6th November. Its really easy to get to this from London using the Oxford Tube bus which stops right outside.
Its a really good fair if you haven't been before - loads of lovely things to see.
I am giving a talk about my work entitled
Who Killed Cock Robin; communications,collaborations and creative thinking - a year in the life of a Book Artist.

I'm also giving a talk in Margate tomorrow - saturday 15th october - at the Pushing Print exhibition at the Pie Factory. A good opportunity to see the new Turner Gallery too.
I am giving up on trying to create a link - can never make it work -
for list of talks and events.

Tuesday 27 September 2011


The fair was great fun as usual - thank you to everyone who came and talked to me, great to see old friends and meet new ones.
Here's my stand....
and here is the whole stand with Peter Chasseaud's work too....

Dmitry Sayenko's work looked wonderful as usual, he was sharing with Valeria Brancaforte, I really enjoyed meeting her too.
Her website and blog have wonderful images with hand cut lettering...

Altogether a good experience ...but exhausting.....
even the woodpecker got tired

my photo of Mark Cockram's 'buried and resurrected book in a birdcage' which I loved.