It’s been a tricky project to work on… lots of unforeseen technical hitches, but my edition of 15 small Frankenstein books is finally complete. Digitally printed versions of my embroidered illustrations, with hand-detailed frames and an accompanying extract from the original text with each one. The books have vintage endpapers and cloth-covered hard covers with laser foiled belly bands. Some are already spoken for, but there are now five available in my online shop. Just £20 each, so snap one up while you can if embroidered dead people are your thing...
Today marks the centenary of the death of my great great uncle, killed in action in the First World War. John Douglas Robertson, known as Dougie, was born in Reedsmouth in Northumberland in 1898, and was just 19 years old when he died on a battlefield in northern France. The middle name Douglas has subsequently been carried by my granny (born just two weeks after he died), my father and my nephew. I visited his grave in 2007, and was touched by an inscription I read in the cemetery: ‘To live in hearts we leave behind is not to die’ (from a poem called Hallowed Ground by Thomas Campbell). I have been gathering material for a small book to commemorate his life... I’m starting work on it today, and I hope to complete it by Armistice Day. Gone but most definitely not forgotten.
Many thanks to everyone who came along to the Make Space at Bristol Museum and Art Gallery yesterday. Cathey Webb and I had a busy and brilliant time teaching, exhibiting, selling and enthusiastically chatting about books all day. A real pleasure! Thanks also to @bristolmuseums for organising the Make Space programme alongside the Woman’s Hour Craft Prize exhibition - it’s been an inspiring showcase of local creative talent... it’s running until 2 Sept, so catch it while you can...
A box of book samples all ready to take along to the Make Space at Bristol Museum and Art Gallery tomorrow (23 August). If you’re in Bristol, come along and join @catheywebb and I for lots of bookish inspiration. We'll be teaching how to make five different single-sheet books, and you can also see (and buy) books we've made. Should be fun... The Make Space programme is running alongside the Woman’s Hour Craft Prize exhibition until 2 September, and is open daily 10.40 - 4.30. Find out more at www.bristolmuseums.org.uk
My book 'Memento mori' has been exhibited in Liverpool Central Library for the past few months (many thanks for the photos above from organiser Simon Ryder, taken by Robin Clewley). The exhibition finished this week, but will be moving to the Kirkby Gallery from 17 September - 26 January 2019. After that my book will be heading back to Bristol as the exhibition will be transferring to Bower Ashton Library at UWE. In the meantime, I'm working on a small edition of digitally printed concertina versions - the first of which is in another Frankenstein-themed exhibition in the US, at Asheville Bookworks in North Carolina which opened this week. As always, my books are more well-travelled than I am!
Having finally tidied my studio a little, I came across a pile of offcuts from my Frankenstein book earlier in the year. The original book they were cut from was The Journal of the Society of Architects from the 1930s... lots of incidental crops of different buildings. I decided to make a small one-off concertina book of these building crops with collaged text from other offcut pages. Inspired by the collage books of Daniel Lehan and the found poetry workshop by Jeremy Dixon I attended earlier this year... think this will fit the brief for ABC’s ‘Found’ book exhibition at UWE this winter.
Have just spent my ideal couple of days on a book making workshop at UWE run by the inimitable Guy Begbie. Snappily titled ‘Book Cartography: Using the Map as an Artistic Strategy Within Book Structures’ it was cutting, glueing and stitching to make books with old maps. Really enjoyable, and I’ve come away with lots of new ideas. Lovely group of fellow book makers too – very inspiring to see what everyone produced.
Miniature, digitally printed version of my embroidered Frankenstein book ‘Memento mori’ finished and posted off to North Carolina to be part of the Asheville BookWorks exhibition ‘It’s Alive: Frankenstein, 200 Years’. An ironic title in my case because the content of this book is most definitely not alive. Flat sheets were printed by printed.com on gesso paper, and I've bound them with bookcloth covered hard covers, vintage endpapers and a laser foiled belly band. I'm planning on making a small edition of these...
There have been a lot of books in production over the past few weeks in preparation for the BS9 Art Trail this weekend (9 and 10 June). I'll be at the Stoke Bishop scout hut again (venue 11) - so come along and say hello if you're in Bristol
A new book created for an exhibition as part of the Athens Print Fest 2018, on the themes of nostalgia and interruptions.
It is a catalogue of the ten places I have called home – the depictions of these houses represent punctuations in my life. The houses are originally illustrated with carbon paper – a transient medium that fades over time – but digitally reproduced for longevity. The concertina format reflects the chronological nature of the content, and the use of cards and pockets is reminiscent of childhood memories of library books: checking in and out of each place. The visible information (house number, road name and date) is factual, with typewritten personal memories of each place hidden within the pockets. I chose to cover the books with woodchip wallpaper – a common feature in all of my childhood and student homes, and a wall covering I have spent many hours scraping off walls of homes I have renovated as an adult.
I've only finished three books so far, but it will be an edition of 20 (once I can carve out a little more time to make them!)
A really fun Show and Tell session for the 'Redesigning the Medieval Book' exhibition at UWE Bower Ashton last Saturday. Twelve participating book artists came along to talk about the inspiration and production processes behind their book. It was also an opportunity to see the books up close and to handle them – always a treat. Still amazed by the diversity of responses to the same brief, and it was so interesting to meet other artists who have been inspired by the same subject matter. Many thanks to everyone who came along, especially Professor Daniel Wakelin who came over from Oxford to join us. Photos by Sarah Bodman, who also helped to organise the session… I'm very grateful to her and the library at Bower Ashton for offering the opportunity for this exhibition to take shape.
Very pleased to announce the opening of the 'Redesigning the Medieval Book' exhibition at UWE Bower Ashton Library in Bristol. The display is an extension of the original exhibition at the Bodleian Library in Oxford earlier this year, and features 40 new books and artworks created in response to the Bodelian's collection of medieval books and manuscripts. I'm very grateful to Professor Daniel Wakelin and all the team at the Bodleian Library for their help in facilitating this extended exhibition, and to Sarah Bodman at UWE and fellow book artist Kate Bernstein for their help and support in setting up the exhibition. It will run from 19 April - 29 June, and there will be an informal 'show and tell' event on Saturday 12 May, 12-2pm, where you can hear some of the artists talking about their books and working process. If you can't visit the exhibition, you can download or view a pdf of the catalogue here.
Pretty blimmin’ excited to receive my latest copy of the always-excellent Uppercase magazine... the theme of this issue is CMYK, and features my Riso Birds book! Many thanks to editor Janine Vangool for including these chaps... a real treat to see them on the printed page.
The grand unveiling of my Frankenstein book ‘Memento mori' in all its morbid glory... packaged and sent off to Liverpool Book Art for their exhibition at Liverpool Central Library. Met the deadline by the skin of my teeth. Here's my statement, which hopefully goes some way to explain why I've spent the past three months stitching dead people...
Memento Mori is inspired by the theme of art as a means of remembrance: a recurring motif in Frankenstein. William was carrying a Miniature of his mother, Caroline, before he was murdered, and this then became a defining piece of evidence in implicating Justine. When Victor returns home from university, he is moved by the Miniature of William on their father’s mantelpiece, under a painting of his mother kneeling by the coffin of her dead father. The death of Victor’s mother acts as a powerful catalyst for his experimentation with creating new life, and the memories of his loved ones lost at the hands of the resultant creature lead to his desire to avenge their deaths.
I have altered an existing hardback book and transformed it into a ‘memento mori’ for all the characters who lose their lives. The book has a new cloth hard cover with a foiled title, and opens as a case in two sections. These contain eight framed oval cut-aways featuring embroideries of all of the expired characters (Caroline, William, Justine, Henry, Elizabeth, Alphonse, Victor, and the monster). The embroideries are vignettes of each individual death, each labelled with the character’s name.
I chose to hand embroider the illustrations as the process forms a symbolic act of remembrance, and embroidery was a popular handicraft of the time. The morbid fascination with death in Victorian times, along with the themes of grief, memory and loss in Frankenstein, are reflected in this new work.
A few final hurdles and technical hitches in binding my Frankenstein book. The perils of making it up as you go along. Very grateful to advice in Keith A Smith’s wonderful book ‘Bookbinding for Book Artists’ and help from my partner, Ian, who is blessed with a technical brain. Saved the day, and the final book is now being pressed. This has been quite a learning curve!
Finally ready to mount my Frankenstein embroideries into the altered book. Some things just can’t be rushed (even with a looming deadline!)
Carving up the book to frame my Frankenstein embroideries. It was bought from the Book Barn for a total of one whole pound, which salves my guilty conscience at cutting up a book. Bit nerve-wracking as I'm not entirely sure if this will work (and I don't have a Plan B) but it’s slowly coming together.
Recovering an old book cover to make a case for my Frankenstein embroideries. I added an inset panel for the title block, covered the boards in grey bookcloth, then added the laser foil-blocked title.
A bit more in my comfort zone this week with the e-course PaperLove's theme of 'book'. Starting with making single sheet 'trouser books' from envelope patterned papers (combined with last week's folded cover to make them more robust). Quite addictive once you get folding. Then moving onto a mobile of tiny map books (photographed on a particularly gloomy day)… not totally happy with the end result of this one so I may re-visit it at a later date. I like the idea, just not my execution. The larger project this week was making a multi-section book. I'd done this before so I wanted to use it as an opportunity to try a few new techniques: using deckle edged paper (cut with a clip point knife), embroidering bookcloth, leaving longer knot ties on the outside of the book, and also bringing the stitching over the top and bottom of the spine. Really pleased with how this one turned out, and I'm using it as a sketchbook already - hurray!
The second book structure from 'Woven and Interlocking Book Structures' by Claire Van Vliet and Elizabeth Steiner - this one is called 'Moeraki Boulders'. Six individual pages are held together with binding strips and a series of slots and tabs. It took me a while to work out the correct sequence for the binding, but after a bit of trial and error I finally got there. The original version of this book was apparently made with circular pages and circular tabs, hence the name.