Wednesday, 25 February 2015

continuing with burning .....

Way back in September, Fiona and I began work on our next collaborative book and since then life has intervened with my creativity in this direction and it is only now that I am back working on this project.  You can see the exchange Fiona and I made in my post of 24th September 2014 and will notice that I received beautifully handwritten pages from Fiona when I handed over some ragged burnt paper to her. There was a slight misunderstanding in how we both conceived our exchange which was quite rare for us.  However, with these beginnings we have been challenged to make our books and last week I set to deconstructing some of Fiona's pages.  It is always a challenge to take apart someone else's work and make it look more like your own, and yet, because you are working collaboratively and want to see the other's work in each piece, leave enough of the work to recognise.

I have been getting some interesting results in burning away at Fiona's pages - always having plenty of water and wet cloths close by to put out flames as they occur.  I am looking forward to taking my own burnt pages in a few different directions now that I have a sense of where I am heading with these ones.  Although I haven't moved on with the artwork, I have solved a number of the technical problems I foresaw  in the construction of this book.

Each page is quite large - approximately 54 cms x 19 cms and there will be seven pages forming a concertina book within perspex.  I have sewn large perspex books before and am not really looking forward to that stage of this book.  The deconstruction and burning is appealing to me so much more.  I hope all the ideas I am am juggling around in my head will be able to be realised and that this book will be ready to meet Fiona's next Wednesday when we have our 'bookmeet'.

These photographs were taken in fairly dull light and are bit fuzzy .....

Playing around with the idea of engraving on the perspex - both inside and on the outer side as well.
I will have to think about what to write so that it looks more effective than these scribbles but I do like the effect.

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

retake on WW1 'Pieces for Peace' .....

Many of you would have followed my journey last year in the making of my book for the Exhibition 'Pieces for Peace' in Belgium.  Fiona, Barry, Helen and I, have been given the opportunity to show these books again as and adjunct to the Personal Histories Exhibition which will open in March at the Redland Art Gallery.  Simultaneously, and opening a day earlier, Caloundra Regional Gallery has asked if we could make an edition, in my case a variant, of our books to show as part of their Exhibition 'Of Peace and War'.

Fiona asked us each just before Christmas if this was possible as she has been organising with Saffron Drew and I very bravely nodded - keeping in mind just how long the book took me to make.  I decided to make two more books thinking that it would not take that much more time than making just the one.  I think it may be a little like childbirth ..... you forget the details otherwise why would you opt to go through it again!

I have finished one book and the other has parts done, and will just have to wait a little while till I can get back to it.  There seems to be no way to get around the fact that all the little marks of x's/+'s and ='s that form the background of my last page, take somewhere between five and six hours to make.  It is a very good thing to do in front of television, remembering that you are listening more than watching.  I could do something else, or make the marks much bigger but really, I like the overall effect and I would really feel like I had cheated.  Hence one book for the moment, and the other to come. And when a book takes a few days to make even when you have already prepared the embossing and printing plates, five hours isn't that long - it is really just that it messes with my hands.

The only real change to the original work, is that I have paid more attention to the cover/binding.  I have been think on this quite a bit of late .... really since being in New Zealand with Fiona in October last year when she spoke on our collaboration.  Someone at a later stage said to her, when looking at our books, 'where are your covers, don't you think the cover is important?'.  As predominantly bookbinders and letterpress people were at the Conference, it pulled me up a little to realised how little attention I pay to the 'covers' of any book I make - in fact very often the cover is just made up of my first page, or a perspex slip case is made to hold the artist's book.  For me, it is all about the artwork and not the binding which matters.  Having said that, I was totally enthralled with the bookbinding we saw whilst we were at the conference - and briefly I played with the idea of starting my life again and becoming a binder and conservator of books.  Then reality settled in and I realised that I do what I do, and even then there is not enough time to do that.  I am an artist, not a bookbinder and though I am completely envious of the skill of those who bind beautifully, it is not something of which I will make an 'art'.  However, I will certainly be trying to make more of an effort!

Preparing the pages.
This book has embossed leather covers, and as you can see below, an engraving on the front, recessed.
Still an hour or two of marks to complete.

The old and the new. The glue is still wet and white.
I have named the two books 'Beyond War' and the inside cover page differs from the first book.
The Japanese paper I used for the engraved prints reacted quite differently with the ink.
Although I was initially disappointed with the lack of intensity of the covering black ink, I ended up quite liking the way the underneath marks were still visible.  I think it adds interest to the image.
I think having the pages inverted if the books is in a cabinet will allow for easier viewing.

Saturday, 14 February 2015

brussels and ypres .....

Catching up with a few posts about my trip to Belgium and UK last November/December.  Sometimes though when your head is buzzing with the present, it is really hard to go backwards in time to record happy travelling times.  I think these memories cement in the mind but are harder to extricate and record verbally as time passes. This post is about the couple of days in Belgium.

The Northern Hemisphere really knows how 'to do' Christmas.  Brussels and Ypres were awash with Christmas spirit and cheer.  And of course Belgium knows how to do CHOCOLATE.  Yum.  Funnily enough, chocolate addict that I am, it hadn't occurred to me until we were feasting on chocolate  visually through shop window decorations that the penny dropped that I was in Belgium - home of my favourite Belgium chocolate.  Oh gosh all the windows were beautiful .....
and the streets full of shoppers (and no doubt other chocolate lovers) 

decorations and rooftop golds gleaming in the evening light
would love to have some of these Paul Klee cushions - especially that bottom right hand one
We had the two nights in Brussels but our one day in between was spent in Ypres to visit the WW1 14 x 18 Pieces for Peace Exhibition. We arrived mid morning by train from Brussels and the light was still glowing low.  An amazing though very cold time to be visiting the Menin Gate Memorial - dedicated to the British and Commonwealth soldiers killed in the area around Ypres in WW1 and whose graves are unknown.

This was a very sobering experience as we realised that each of these names on the wall represented the death of a soldier.   Someone's husband or son, brother or father.  We were both very heavy hearted as we wandered about.  Of the approximately 300,000 soldiers killed in and around Ypres, 90,000 have no known grave.

Ypres is surrounded by city walls - a beautiful way to see the town especially with this extraordinary light.

Before heading to the Exhibition we met up with Saskia Maeyaert who is the lady responsible for the idea of this Exhibition and with a small group, its organisation.  I think meeting Saskia was the highlight of my trip to Belgium - only wish we had more time though she gave up much of hers having lunch and the afternoon with us.  The exhibition was marvellous - beautifully set up as you can see from these photographs and the work of a really high calibre.  We all received very comprehensive catalogues which we will treasure.  There is so much talent out there.

This was my absolute favourite piece and was one of the winners of the bookbinding section of the exhibition.  The work is by Ile Declerck from Belgium.  It is a lead book with transfers of images and texts and I really really want to know how to do this as it is sublime.    I will be writing to her.....

There were dozens and dozens of books to admire and covet, though knowing we had a catalogue, I didn't photograph many,  besides which I was way too entranced.  Some of the calligraphy however led me that dream space where you think that 'if in another life .... you could/should/want to be ...'  Anyway, a calligrapher I am not but these images come pretty close to my ideals of a combination of painting and calligraphy.

Another artist from Belgium - Yves Leterme.

Inge Vos from the Nederlands
And another Belgium artist - Veerle Missiaen.  This, another winning piece,  stretched a few metres across the wall when open and was presented that way. 

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

a busy wet week .....

What a week ........ we have had some rain but the big wet has come not from the skies but from tap water. Just after doing my last posting Steve and I had a few days up at Noosa finishing off some bits and pieces in the house and came home to find my studio floor flooded.  Not a good thing in a studio as you can imagine and all the water had pooled towards two large Ikea bookcases which store much of my work and lots of books and precious things.

I was surprised that only three or four pages of my drawing a day type work on the bottom shelf got wet and thought I had had a lucky escape.  Steve said I needed to get everything out of the bookcases - not the easiest thing in a studio as floor space is sparse.  Within a couple more hours the water had soaked almost half way up the shelves and had my artwork and books still been in the shelves there would have been so much damage.   The two bookcases were then cut in two and rebuilt to make one, and a couple of days ago another one was bought so my studio is now reorganised and I can find work space, and floor space, again.

We did a quick return to our Noosa home for maintenance on Monday - or that is what we thought, and I found the master bathroom flooded.  Seriously .... what is going on!  Hours later and a new tap installed, we managed to get home again.  The first two week rental begins tomorrow so we are crossing fingers that all is now well in our new home.

In between all the wetness I managed, under the pressure of time lines, to finish off a few books for the upcoming Cairns/Brisbane exhibition '4 x 4'.   How thrilled I was until I re read the forms and saw that it was to be an exhibition of books as sculptural forms.  Two of my books I view as sculptural (or one I then made into a sculptural form) but 'Downstream' which I had just finished did certainly not present in that manner as it needs pages turned to be viewed and seen properly.  Panic.  Then I remembered my play time with the paper looking bark and decided to finish that book.  I went back to my friends garden and rescued some more of this delicious bark from the woodshed, enough to make another 5 or 6 I hope.  I have had numerous bits and pieces outside rusting and many of those will now be able to be used in these books sculptures.  One will suffice for this exhibition and I am quite pleased with the results.  All three books will be packed and posted this week.  Yay - tick.  Then onto my edition of the WW1 books that those of us who sent work to Belgium are showing in the Caloundra Regional Gallery.  Fiona and Barry have both been posting on their additional books.

I took photos of my studio flooded but haven't included them here - just some photos of 'Downstream' and some of a little book I re made and turned into sculptural form  'Finding my Place'. I am not all that happy with 'Downstream' and when open it is 84cm x 13cm so very difficult to photograph, but have always like my little mapping book about finding my place.  And one photo of by 'bark book' - yet to be named.

and then this beauty from a wander around my friend Sue's garden yesterday morning