Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Nearly there

I am a straggling Group 7 artistwho is much farther behind than she would likebut the finish line finally appears to be in sight. I thought I would motivate myself by posting a hint of what is shortly to come...it is only a composite test print, which does not reveal the final format or structure. There are a few more images in my latest Arzigogolare entry, but I will save the proper unveiling, both here & there, until the other artists in my group receive their copies. (I will be emailing Group 7 this week to double-check addresses.)

Many thanks for the opportunity (& patience, as I see my piece to its meandering conclusion)—but, most of all, for the inspiring work that has been created for BAO Edition #4.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Roni Gross - I See You Everywhere

I don't like double posting but its been a bit quiet on here :-) Just thought I'd share a little about a lovely exhibiton I saw today.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Not the Great Library of Alexandria.....

If you followed or took part in Edition 3 of BAO, you will know that we were inspired by a piece of writing by Jeanette Winterson describing her vision of the Great Library of Alexandria.

"400,000 volumes in vertiginous glory.
The Alexandrians employed climbing boys much in the same way as the Victorians employed sweeps. Unnamed bipeds, light as dust, gripping with swollen fingers and toes, the nooks and juts of sheer-faced walls." 

Well, I could not resist sharing this link to Erik Kwakkel's wonderful blog post, showing the library at Sakya Monastery in Tibet. I'm amazed how closely it resembled the image I had in my mind after reading Winterson's words. Thankfully no climbing boys to be seen!

Monday, December 30, 2013

Back on the Blog

I managed to get through my childhood with no broken bones but in middle age have broken one ankle, strained a wrist and on Christmas evening on an after-dinner walk, broke the fifth metatarsal of my left foot. (Should I be giving out this many specifics?) It's been so long since I blogged comfortably that I'm no longer sure what constitutes a dangerous level of indiscretion.

One of the reasons I stopped blogging, besides getting very busy with adjunct teaching work, was that I felt too uncomfortable, almost shunned or shunted from the sphere. This emotion, familiar but hard to name, was thanks to the creepy lurking of a former beau from college days. We're talking the Nixon administration here. This man has been in touch off and on since the mid-1980s and the "relationship" shifted from an enjoyable dinner simply catching up with an old friend to a dishonest attempt at further contact (a letter on his employer's letterhead with that address.) An old hand at that game, I demurred.
Several years later another contact, also just this side of dishonest, some long conversations about incipient middle age (the early 90s) where I felt like a dial-a-shrink and was too dishonest myself (i.e., too nice) to demand an end to matters.

There's a point of no return in this sort of relationship where the point is reached without my recognizing it. I think, well, that was creepy or I'm glad I cancelled that dinner and I'll never accept another invite (he would pop up in Atlanta periodically) or that's done without saying too much, etc and up to don't call me and a furiously honest email to finally the trickery of using anonymous comments on a blog to connect.  Oh, no. the last attempt was to purchase my editing expertise for his "writings." When it doubt, pay for it. Hopefully, he has found another hooker.

I'm taking back the blog.

Thursday, December 26, 2013


Some of you are, I think , members of this wonderful group. And some of you may have chanced upon them on Facebook.
But, in case you have not yet dipped your toe in this magical pond... here is their Facebook link:  https://www.facebook.com/libraryoflostbooks

And, in case you do not "do" Facebook, a link to their blog: http://thelibraryoflostbooks.blogspot.com.au/

A further teaser...

Happy New Year to all book artists!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

BAO4 on show

Hello all

Apologies for a late update on the exhibition that Terence and I have put together here in Canberra: I have been super busy, plus I've been hoping that the official UNSWC photographer who covered the opening would send me his pictures, but they haven't arrived, and I had a space this morning so I'll just work with what I have!

What I have isn't too shabby. I've just uploaded a stack of photos into Flickr so head over there to see everything. Here's a few shots of the space, which is pretty stunning (they have given it a makeover since my solo show there last year).

I know that I haven't documented every book in the flickr set, apologies. And Sara's book turned up after this photo session, and it got inserted into one of the horizontal cases, so I'll update those images next time I get a chance.

The opening was fabulous, this institution do such a wonderful job. I'll put up photos when they arrive (I was going to take my own, but there was too much to do and a proper photographer walking around!).

Many thanks to Terence, who just loves playing with a space, and who went at those couches like a small boy with Lego:

We had a lot of fun, and I learned a lot about book structures from Terence's excellent structural vocabulary.

And many thanks to the UNSW Canberra team: Lisa Morisset, Rachel Hunter, Yvonna Gruszka, Denise Shepherd, Lyn Christie, and all the nice librarians.

I hope, if you're in the region, you get to see the show, otherwise we will keep adding to the flickr set and make it well-documented!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013


Yesterday, my postman delivered a pretty blue envelope, bearing an English stamp. I must confess that, with so many other things happening this year, I had forgotten that some books are still being finished so I was pleasantly surprised to find Gillian Neish's book "When Memory Fades"  inside.

Gillian's business card, tucked under the elastic closure.

"Faded" typeface.

The cover, with colophon.

Thank you, Gillian.

Monday, October 21, 2013

I am posting this for a friend:

Call for Proposals
2014 Cheng Long Wetlands International Environmental Art Project in Taiwan
“Fishing for a Better Environment”

Artists from all countries are invited to send a proposal for a site-specific outdoor sculpture installation that will celebrate the seafood producers and fishermen of Cheng Long village in Taiwan and raise awareness about environmental issues relating to seafood production, the main livelihood of Cheng Long residents.  The artworks will be created during a 25-day artist-in-residency in Taiwan working with the community and school children from April 10 to May 5, 2014.  Selected artists will receive a stipend (about US$2000), round trip airfare, accommodations and meals, volunteer help and free recycled and natural materials.  For more information and to apply, see the Blog at http://artproject4wetland.wordpress.com or contact Curator Jane Ingram Allen at allenrebeccanjanei@gmail.com

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

BAO opening in Canberra

Hello all

The exhibition of BAO books that Terence and I are putting together here in Canberra got a bit delayed while we waited for the venue to purchase some new glass vitrines; I'd put an argument forward that if they doubled their cabinets from 3 to 6, they could have many more exhibitions of special books and objects from their own collection, and that worked a treat. Unfortunately they took a couple of months to arrive!

So, finally the new cabinets arrived, as did a number of late works sent by our groups (1, 4, 6, 9) and some others that were swapped with us from other groups, and now we are on the brink of opening on Thursday evening. Here's the invite:

Doesn't it look great! What you are seeing is two sides of a DL card, conflated as one image. We chose Tara Bryan's book for the image because it was just so eye-catching, and had to laugh when we realised that the title is 'Making Bread (Not Bombs)', because the venue is a university for the Defence Forces.

The  UNSW Canberra (ADFA) Library, might be for military purposes, but it has civilian value. It has an amazing collection of Australian literature manuscripts and also a lot of art and maps and rare books. It is a also more public library than people realise, with very generous opening hours:
Monday-Thursday 8am - 9pm
Friday 8am - 5pm
Saturday and Sunday 1pm - 5pm

The opening is at 5pm, if anyone happens to be in the area, but the show runs until 28 November, so if you are in Canberra, drop in and have a look. We are tweaking the space today, and UNSW Canberra Library has mounted a webpage that will continue to develop over the next few weeks as we take more photos and provide links to artists.

I'll be back, with images of the show and the opening, later in the week. Thanks to everyone involved, and to all the artists: your work looks fabulous!

Saturday, August 31, 2013

A quick hello from Impact 8...

... where our Edition Four books are causing quite a stir!  There was a bit of to-ing and fro-ing about whether I had an exhibition or an Open Books session at the conference in addition to my paper, but in the end I was lucky enough to get an exhibition slot (which is what I thought I'd got in the first place!) and laid out a long plinth with a selection of the books we sent to Sarah Bodman.  Sarah kindly brought them up with her in the car from Bristol, saving me the effort of bringing them over in my suitcase.

I think my talk went OK: I did a slideshow of lots of BAO Edition Four photos, plus a more detailed investigation of selected works: thank you to Caren, Helen and Jack for giving me permission to use their work for my talk and for sharing their words with me as I put it together.   I was talking about my journey as a printmaker into artists' books and how they function in my practice.  Anyway, I managed NOT to fluff my words, the technology worked for a change (I turned up with 3 different technological versions of the slide show and 2 printed versions of my talk!) and I had fun.

When I set out I had visions of mobile blogging from the airport onwards, but it hasn't quite turned out that way and I'm finding myself slightly frustrated with not being able to share more with you at the moment.  My guesthouse has a Wi-Fi connection but it's not robust enough for me to be able to do much in the way of uploading photos, and for some reason my phone I mean camera :-) has ceased to connect automatically to my laptop which means it isn't uploading photos to the laptop, which makes everything a bit difficult.  However, don't feel too sorry for me as I am writing this, sitting in the Macmanus Gallery in Dundee with a nice cafĂ© latte, a packet of Scottish tablet (a lovely creamy fudge which I haven't eaten in over 30 years) in my pocket, surrounded by the accents of my childhood.  And in the few days I've been here I've had two brilliant trips into Arbroath, 17 miles up the coast, exploring the sea cliffs where my father took photographs almost 50 years ago, and looking around the town where generations of his family came from. 

Dundee has put on all sorts of print-related activities during the conference and I had a gallery-crawl last night, lubricated with a couple of glasses of Shetland Islands gin and tonic. At Dundee Contemporary Arts I thoroughly enjoyed an exhibition of Sister Carita (must check the name, but I think that's right), a nun in 1960 - 1970s LA who taught art and art history. These are her rules of creativity, and I think I'm going to print them out and stick them on my studio wall, as well as ram them down the throats of my students.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Fiona's Book is on Huffington Post

Fiona Dempster's contribution to Edition 4, A Subversive Stitch, is being featured on the Huffington Post as part of a slide show promoting the upcoming 500 Handmade Books vol. 2. Only 7 books are featured.

From The Huffington Post

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Books ... beyond words

Had the good fortune last weekend to be able to travel to Bairnsdale for the opening of East Gippsland Art Gallery's Books ... beyond words exhibition. The exhibition (which runs until 4 September) features over eighty artists' books from Australia and overseas. There was a real buzz around the opening and a sense of just how important regional galleries are to their communities.

BAO was well represented in the exhibition with works by Rhonda Ayliffe, Fiona Dempster, Lisa Giles, Helen Malone, Gail Stiffe, Terence Uren, Amanda Watson-Will and Sandra Winkworth (and apologies if I've overlooked anyone). More information on the exhibition can be found here.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Last Night -- At Last!

While I've had a blast following everyone's posts here, and watching all of these wonderful book projects unfold, I've been a terrible slacker and have just gotten around to finishing my book for Group Two, "Last Night."

I went around and around with the idea for this book, but got an image in my head months ago that I was never able to shake. I've been doing a lot of work that is fueled by mythology lately, and one that stuck with me was the story of Lailaps and the Teumessian fox: it's a classic tale of an unending chase--one that was destined to last forever. The dog that was destined to always catch his quarry was set on the trail of the infamous fox, who was destined to never be caught...and thus their chase was placed in the constellations to go on as long as the earth turns.

Of course at the time I first came upon this story, I couldn't help but draw a parallel between this pairing and my own attempted pairing with a man that I was just doomed to move in circles with. It wasn't as dramatic as your typical Greek tragedy, but the comparisons were just too fruitful for the making of books, and so several editions were born of that experience. You can see images and excerpts from those books on my website, Firebrand Press. Vixens have appeared in other of my mixed media pieces as well, but even after working on several pieces, this story of the doomed chase still haunted me.

And so one day, an idea came to me for "Last Night" in the form of the dog and the vixen. I took some liberties, feeling like drawing a wolf more so than a hunting dog. At left is the sketch on linoleum.

I wanted them to be close, but separated by a barrier that just barely held them apart. I've become quite fond of the boustrophedon structure, one I've used a time or two before. The maze-like quality seems perfect for a book about a chase, or for a tangled love affair. And so I planned to print a single sheet that would have to be unfurled for the whole image to be revealed. 

The final print is shown here, with cuts and folds in place in the 'Z' pattern. I letterpress printed the covers using a couple of wooden typefaces in the shop, and then covered .059" boards to give these a little heft. The book opens to about 12" by 17" and closes to approximately 4" x 4.75".

And finally, here's a close-up of the troubled vixen (it ain't easy being chased):

The last step is to create a simple slipcase for each of these books, and then they are bound for the U.S. Postal Service. 
I'm thrilled to have been a part of this exchange, and have taken great delight in opening the mailbox to discover the books my group members have been sending. Thanks for all the wonderful books! 

Now on to my other piece for Group 10, "Collaborative Dreaming with Dick Turpin"...

Saturday, July 27, 2013


I expect most, if not all, members of this collective will have read about this  http://23sandy.com/works/blog-postings/shereen-laplantz-innovative-bookbinding-book-now-available, but for readers of this blog who may not know about La Plantz' work,  this might be a good introduction.
And perhaps the dishonest person who "borrowed" my own copy then denied  the borrowing realises how lucky she is!

Saturday, July 20, 2013

London calling

I'm trying to get myself vaguely sorted out for going off to the Impact conference, and I'm doing well except for... working out where to stay in London for the last few days before I fly back to Australia, at the end of September.  So I wondered, do any UK-based BAO lovelies have recommendations for cheap accommodation in London?  I'd love to see a few shows before I fly back to the (relative) cultural desert that is Coffs Harbour!  If you have any bright ideas, please drop me an email or leave a comment.  Many thanks indeed :-)