Tuesday, 28 February 2012

If you go down to the woods today ...

In a previous post, I wrote that the starting point for my contribution to BAO4 would be the possibility that one of Sarah's stories had been recovered from the forest.
To put myself in the right frame of mind for this possibility, I've decided that the production phase of the edition should happen in a forest. I'm afraid the project budget doesn't allow for a trip to a forest in northern Denmark, so I've settled on a spotted gum forest on the south coast of New South Wales, a couple of hours drive from home. I've set up a small work table with a cutting mat and a tray of hand tools and have been hard at it for almost a week now. With only kangaroos for company, my one distraction is a nearby beach when the weather is sunny or the surf is up. The edition is progressing well.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Sixe Idillia

Sixe Idillia is another of my works from the days of the Berkelouw exhibitions and the Delmar Gallery retrospective. Its last 'outing' was at The Powerhouse Museum in 2008, as part of the Sydney Writers' Festival. It is a rebinding of a selection of poems by Theocritus, published as a limited edition by Duckworth and Co in 1922. Printed on handmade paper, the book features a series of magnificent woodcuts by the artist Vivien Gribble. The book came to me bound in the publishers original temporary paper boards - boards that were highly acidic and had caused significant damage to the book's endpapers. The full leather binding is in the French Simplified style, with oasis spine piece and natural kangaroo boards with black-line kangaroo onlay. The red chevron, also kangaroo, is a later addition that hides a grease spot picked up in one of the galleries in which it was exhibited!

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Pieces: A Graffiti Alphabet

Great session last night with local binders and book artists and printmaker Lee Bratt. Lee generously shared her work and working methods with us, including the use of a pasta machine as a printing press.
Over the years, I've dabbled in various forms of print making (monoprint, linocut, etching, dry point, screen printing) but never with enough commitment or diligence to develop the sort of skills I envy in others. Lee's enthusiasm might just be enough to set me trying again.
Pieces: A Graffiti Alphabet is a series of 26 solvent release images of graffiti letters that I made some time ago and bound in the French simplified style. Releasing the images with artist's turpentine was not a pleasant experience and I was interested to learn from Lee that eucalyptus oil works just as well. The cover is a lino cut image printed using the standing press in my bindery. The work was first shown in one of Australian Bookbinders' Inc's early exhibitions at Messrs Berkelouw's Leichhardt Bookshop. It's subsequently been shown in a 2008 retrospective exhibition at Sydney's Delmar Gallery and in the Canberra Craft Bookbinders' Guild's 2012 Showcase exhibition.

Tuesday, 7 February 2012


Well, BAO4 is really taking off. At last count there were 65 artists working on 78 titles with more to come - wouldn't it be great if the edition could run to a book for each of the 100 titles! Participating artists have been invited to take on a second title and I've put my hand up for this. My second title is #78 Curtains and, while my other commitments mean that I won't get started in earnest until the second half of 2012, I cannot help but think about it. The word association games have started - draw the curtains, bamboo curtain, curtain call, curtain raiser, curtain wall, it's curtains. Who knows where they will lead?

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

It's beginning to hurt

Have begun working on a response to my BookArtObject Edition 4 title, It's beginning to hurt. I started with a reflection on the nature of hurt, both physical (trauma, illness, aging) and emotional (separation, alienation, grief, remorse, embarrassment). This led to a bit of a dead end as I realised that the hurt I've suffered is either too raw or too personal to share and that the hurt of others is not mine to draw upon.
I stepped back and thought more broadly about the edition as a whole; about the conceit of producing a-book-about-a-book-about-a-book; and about how this conceit could be manipulated in a way that brought the title into play. The end result is a decision to take as my starting point the possibility that one of Sarah Bodman's stories has been recovered from the forest. The task I have now set myself is to document this recovery in some way. I've done a few sketches, made a couple of prototypes and am now at the point where I feel that I'm just about ready to commit!