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.
Starting to work my way through 'Woven and Interlocking Book Structures' by Claire Van Vliet and Elizabeth Steiner. I'm keen to learn some different book structures to get me out of my concertina book comfort zone. These first three are variations on a format called 'Aunt Sallie's Lament'… linking individual pages with a long woven strip. A perfect opportunity for some rubber stamping too, to bring some pattern into the proceedings.
My entry for the Bodleian Library 'Redesigning the Medieval Book' competition – a real labour of love. The planning and thinking for this book have taken almost as long as the actual making, and I feel slightly bereft now it's finally completed.
I attended a workshop at the Bodleian back in March, and was inspired by a discussion about the prestige of book ownership in Medieval times – the time and expense of commissioning an illustrated book made the final product into a status symbol. I usually create small editions of cheap and cheerful books, but I saw this brief as an opportunity to create a one-off, handmade artefact with an unrushed, methodical production process.
I was interested in addressing the challenges of Medieval craftspeople in designing a book, and –influenced by their love of ornamentation – I decided to hand embroider my illustrations. I chose to work with natural materials such as cotton, wool felt and hemp cord which could have been available in centuries past. My nods to the 21st century were the digitising of the Carolingian Miniscule alphabet to create a typeface for the text, and digitally printing this and my original hand-drawn illustrations onto fabric (thanks to excellent fabric digital printers Contrado).
It's been a very enjoyable, and challenging, project to work on, and I'm definitely keen to find ways to combine stitch and books in the future. Just have to wait and see now if it makes the final selection for an exhibition at the Bodleian Library in December - fingers crossed!
Found some monoprints I had digitally printed onto fabric in the second year of my MA, and decided to make a small book cover from one of them. Ironing a sandwich of the fabric, bondaweb and tissue paper makes a passable book cloth to cover a board. The pink spine/endpaper was a colour catcher used in the washing machine (nice colour thanks to a leaky red duvet cover). Needs some refining, but I like the idea of bringing more stitch into my work.
A few sneak peeks at my most ambitious project to date. An embroidered Medieval book for a competition set by the Bodleian Library in Oxford. No such thing as fast hand-embroidery. It takes as long as it takes. But the deadline is the end of August so I'd better get a wiggle on…
Final couple of days of preparation for the Bristol Artists' Book Event (BABE) at the Arnolfini in Bristol this weekend (1 and 2 April). I've been busy making for months but still seem to take it up to the wire and will only just be ready on time. Lots of new books, cards and a fresh batch of hand-stamped notebooks will be on sale, alongside 79 other stalls of bookish loveliness. Hope to see you there!
Photos show the stages of creating a new mini concertina book – 'Bristol Terrace'. I started by drawing the row of colourful terrace houses above the harbour, then made a gouache painting. I scanned this to create digital artwork, which was then printed (3 up on an SRA3 sheet) by printed.com. After chopping the pages down and folding the concertinas, I made covers in four different colourways and then bound the books. After trying a few different options, I finally decided upon plain grey endpapers… my preference is for patterned endpapers but everything I tried distracted from the houses. Also in the production line are some smart wooden bases for these books to stand on… to be unveiled at BABE (Bristol Artists' Book Event) at the Arnolfini on 1 and 2 April, and then available in my online shop soon after.
The collaborative cracker book project with the Artist's Book Club at UWE is finally complete. All packaged up and ready to distribute to the participants. Looking on the bright side, it's taken so long that it's seasonal all over again!
… a new shop in Westbury-on-Trym - We Make Bristol. Featuring the work of local artists and designers (including some of my books and cards). Worth checking out for some early Christmas shopping.
Have been trimming and binding a new book of line drawings of my local shops (Westbury-on-Trym in Bristol). All ready for its launch tomorrow in a brand new shop - We Make Bristol - on the very same High Street. The shop will feature work of local artists and designers (including some of my books and cards)… do pop along and check it out if you're in the area.