Monday, 29 October 2012

It's Curtains

Curtains, my second work for BookArtObject Edition 4, is done! It is a reflection on the nature of BookArtObject, shaped by four questions I set myself at the start of the project:
1. The logistics (and cost) of posting parcels around the world means that BAO works are mostly small in size. Is this inevitable or is it possible to produce a larger scaled work?
2. The splitting of a large number of BAO artists into sub-groups means that the work produced is mostly shared only with the others in the sub-group. Is it possible to produce a work that is equally accessible to all?
3. One of the defining features of Sarah Bodman's An Exercise for Kurt Johannessen (the starting point for Edition 4) was its ephemeral nature - it ceased to exist almost as soon as it was created. Should (and if so how should) this be acknowledged?
4. Editioning can be tedious. Is there a way of making the end point seem more than the satisfactory execution of a multitude of repetitive tasks?
The result is an installation that existed for the time it took for a record to be made of its existence. Its component parts are now in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, the Australian Capital Territory, the United Kingdom and the United States.
More photographs can be found here.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

The Gathering

In November 2011, around seventy bookbinders gathered in Canberra for three days to share their work, wit, tips, techniques and ideas. The event was a great success and a few months later the conference notes arrived in sheet form - beautifully prepared on quality stock, with thin sections, generous margins and the paper grain running in the right direction! With my second BAO4 edition now out of the way, it's time for a new project and I've decided that it should be a fine binding of these notes. The afternoon has been spent trimming the sheets and folding and assembling the sections. The next task is to settle on a design. No decisions made at this stage except that I will probably use one of the lush hand made Tibetan papers (above) that I picked up from US binder and conservator Jim Canary at the event. Watch this space!

Friday, 19 October 2012

Handwritten Handbound

Spent a few days this week helping bump-in an exhibition that opened last night at Belconnen Arts Centre - a fabulous lakeside venue in Canberra's north. The exhibition is a mix of works by local bookbinders, book artists and calligraphers with the calligraphers taking the walls and the bookies the plinths. Two of my works are featured in the exhibition - Little Bit Long Way (left) and Tinted Undercoat Required. The latter was designed as a wall work and the bump-in was the first time I had seen it hanging. I must admit that it was a thrill to see that it worked as I had intended. For those who might be interested, Handwritten Handbound runs until 11 November.

Friday, 12 October 2012

On concertina bindings

A couple of years ago, it occurred to me that the poor quality of many concertina bindings that turn up at book arts exhibitions was perhaps a result of the need for them to be constructed of material that is both flexible (for hinging) and inflexible (for structural support) at the same time. I wondered if making the panels and hinges of different materials might be a way around this problem? After a bit of experimentation, I made three concertina bindings - Cartographica, Little Bit Long Way and Tinted Undercoat Required - using covered box board for the leaves and gros grain ribbon for the hinges. I had a chance this week to talk with local binders and book artists about some of the techniques I developed for producing what I believe are reasonably elegant works. I also spoke about some of the more traditional concertinas that have peppered my binding life, including one (above) made jointly with a recent four year old visitor to BEMBindery. It seemed to go well but, as is always the way with such talks, I came away feeling that there were things I forgot to say, things that could have been better expressed and a resolve to be a bit sharper next time.

Sunday, 7 October 2012


After fuming a couple of weeks ago about exhibition red tape, in the end I meekly surrendered, filled in the forms and sent the books off. The exhibition, Cover to Cover, opened last Thursday at Bribie Island Seaside Museum and runs until early December. Hopefully my two books arrived safely.
I've written elsewhere about the first of these (41: It's beginning to hurt) and included a photo of the second (Cartographica) in an earlier post. The photo above is a detail of this latter work. Cartographica grew from a realisation that paper maps are fast disappearing, with the information they contain either being lost or made available only in digital form. The work is a concertina binding, consisting of 162 fragments of maps and charts, arranged in random sequence. At just over four metres in length, it is the 'longest' book I have produced to date. It was great fun to make and I've since fantasised about what it would be like to make a concertina binding with a length of, say, 20 metres or even 50 metres. Perhaps a project for a community workshop?