The exhibition curated by Simon Ryder of Liverpool Book Art is moving this week from Liverpool down to Bristol. Work by 50 artists all created in response to Mary Shelley’s ‘Frankenstein’ will be on display at Bower Ashton Library at UWE from 1-28 February. I’m gathering together some of my preparatory materials for my embroidered book to take along to a Show & Tell event at the library on Saturday 2 February, 11am - 12.30pm. I’m really looking forward to seeing all the books and hearing more about the exhibitions in Liverpool.
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.
Pinning out the final trimmed embroideries for photographing...
A rather belated post to show the remaining embroideries for my Frankenstein book.