Sunday, February 23, 2014

Fragile gains

I have finished my book! After the many steps and stages of pages and covers and possible bindings, I have managed to finish it and it all comes together.

But to go back a step or two...

Last year I chose to work around the theme of peace, and I used peace to guide me when I was making prints, books, doing calligraphy or whatever. It became the main focus of my body of work for 2013 and formed the basis of my work for Barry's and my joint exhibition.

Towards the end of last year I came across an article in Bound and Lettered Vol. 10 No. 4 by Carol DuBosch, where she shared work her students had undertaken as part of her assignment to them to be "activist scribes". I was awe-struck, stunned, dumfounded and inspired by this work and thought I would work towards something like that in 2014.

It soon became clear that women's rights and issues would be my theme for 2014.  It may be old-fashioned to be a feminist, but a feminist I am and there are so many stories where women are considered lesser, crimes against them are held as nothing, they still get paid less than men for doing similar work in many places and so on. I have a minor outrage button that gets pushed often as I read the newspaper or watch the news…

So this book is my first foray into that realm of work for the year.

It is called Fragile Gains - in my mind, many of the gains we have made remain fragile, and require vigilance to ensure that they are not lost.  In many places, the gains really are fragile and can be lost through a change in government or through less than democratic processes.


And so I worked with book I had bought in Portland (at Powell's, one of THE great bookshops of the world) - Nora Ephron's Crazy Salad. It was all about women's issues and had been written back in 1975. I read it, enjoyed it and then realised it would offer me something in terms of an art-book as well. It also kept the link to Carol and her students beautifully - I met Carol when we visited Portland on our last visit!


The words I found and kept were:

Equality
Choices
Liberation
Education
Safety
Leadership
Feminism





I ended up creating the binding and was pleased with how it worked. The pages are so fragile I needed to ensure they didn't rip, and that there was support for them when they are turned.




An awful lot of planning and thinking and problem-solving went into this book, and in the end…it says what I want to say.

45 comments:

  1. Very interesting concept and problem solving. It looks worth the effort you put into it. I already thought the covers look good when you showed them on the blog on their own but together with the content - brilliant!

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    1. Hello Hilke - thanks you for your kind words - I'm glad the book can still make sense halfway across the world!

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  2. Fragile and strong. A wonderful juxtaposition in this beautiful book Fiona.

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    1. Exactly what I hoped for Susan - so thank you for finding the combination there…shall show you tomorrow I hope!

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  3. fragile gains indeed Fiona.
    The physicality of the book reflects the idea you're working with. Brings to my mind the burning of books; the fragility of words; the censoring of information; the destruction of ancient knowledge when the library at Alexandria was burnt. And yet; and yet; the words, the crucial words, remain. Continue. Go on. As do women's words; women's experiences; women's lives. All bound up in metal. A safe; a box; a container. Bombproof!

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    1. Thank you Jan for sensing all those associations that come together here, it feels as if it is about all of those things in some ways. The strength of those remaining words against all odds...And I love the notion that women's words, work and experiences can be bomb-proof - brilliant!

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  4. I haven't the words right now. Bowing to the master....

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    1. Thank you for loving this book J - means a lot.

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  5. What a wonderful thing this book is! I love the contrast between the delicate pages and the strength of the covers. As I look at it, I see the fragility of the gains but also the inner strength we need to fight for greater equality. If we do not continue to express our outrage (minor or major) the inequalities will never be overcome - so, no, being a feminist is not out-moded - and your book expresses that in a beautifully modern way.

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    1. Thanks Charlton - there is a sense of resilience in those pages I think; yes they are fragile but they survive…we need to continue to find our inner resolve to maintain those gains and encourage them wherever in the world we can. A quiet feminist I am, until I get really riled!

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    1. Thanks Gina - it does have a quiet, understated beauty of sorts I think.

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  7. What a fantastic book and the binding is ingenious

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    1. Thanks Jac - you are an explorer and solver of problems with books, so you can appreciate the journey of working out how to do this. I am pleased it does all I need it to do and doesn't look ugly!

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  8. what a fantastic book and the binding is ingenious

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  9. Wow!! Congratulations. Like Charlton, I love the contrast of the covers with the pages.

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    1. Thanks so much Annie - the contrast works well I think, yet they somehow seem gently made for each other as well? The aluminium is actually quite light so the book still feels delicate even tho you know it is protected. Lots of little things going on with this one it seems. Go well.

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    1. Thanks Anna - there was a sense of satisfaction on completion I must say.

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  11. Absolutely beautiful, Fiona! The perfect combination of fragility and strength...

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    1. Thank you Carol - it feels like one of those pieces that works it way outwards from inside you and you are hoping that it looks beautiful when it finally gets out - and it has done all that I hoped it would do...

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  12. Fiona, this is a magnificent book. It is a perfect marriage of content and structure...it is what it says. I can hardly wait to share this with my pack of Activist Scribes here in Portland. We will stay tuned for whatever comes next. Brava, girl!

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    1. Thank you so much Carol - for your words and the inspiration. I struggled for a while to think how I would present my feminist views and strident didn't feel quite right; nor did anger, so this one still has a message, but is more gently spoken. Please give my thanks to the Activist Scribes - it is wonderful to 'join in' from away over here...

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  13. A tour de force Fiona. One glance and you can tell how much thought has gone into the delivery of such a powerful piece. Absolutely beautiful. Enough said.

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    1. Lesley - thank you so much. I'm glad you can feel its strength across the miles, it is so nice to share it with folk who appreciate and understand...

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  14. Oh my...I can see you during the long nights, burning, burning, burning. How you kept those pages from falling apart is beyond me. You are a totally focussed ...and perhaps marginally driven...artist, Fiona.

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    1. Lots of care and attention Jo - and a few dizzy moments!! I love the meditative nature of it, but yes at times obsessive comes to mind doesn't it? Laugh. Go well.

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  15. F- each page and cover is a piece of art in its own right; but together they tell such a fragile and strong story. B

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    1. Thanks you B - for your help along the way cutting brass rods (and offering up your stash!) as well as for listening as I tried to work out the best way to tell my story...

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  16. What an incredible book... so much thought into the fragile gains women have gained.. you are right.. very fragile and easily lost and found depending on what is going on around us... your book is so beautiful... very powerful and a reminder as to how much we must stay diligent.

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    1. Thank you Donna for reading into this book so well - it seems to me we do need to remain strong to maintain our gains, and often we fight on many fronts. The strength and the fragility are part of our daily work..go well.

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  17. Incredibly beautiful problem solving with such a sensitive and meaningful exploration of materials.

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    1. Thank you Jack - so very kind. In the end, I kind of enjoyed knowing I had resolved all these issues and solved some problems, and I am pleased that it still hold together well, and that the solutions don't detract. The materials are sympathetic and encourage associations I think…go well.

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  18. well wrought Fiona & I hope to see this book in real life one day, perhaps you would consider exhibiting it with Wayne Stock's Australian Bookbinders Exhibition here in Sydney later in the year?

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    1. Thanks Mo! I would love you to get to see it in real life - thank you for the suggestion regarding the Exhibition. I would very much like to see if that was possible - will be in touch.

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  19. what a very wonderful work, rich with meaning and beauty... would love to see it in person.

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    1. Thank you for spending some time here Sharmon, I just popped over to 'meet' you at yours! It always fascinates me how much more vibrant and expressive pieces are when you see them in the flesh, when you can hold them, touch them, put your nose right up to them…maybe one day it will male its way across the world…go well.

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  20. How exciting to see your book fully revealed, Fiona! I love the many contrasts - between the fragile pages & their durable bindings, the "laciness" of each page versus the solid covers, the burnt-through words surrounding those that remain. It's so satisfying to see a book that follows through so beautifully on every detail from concept to content & structure - bravissima!

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    1. Thanks Lisa - it is a book of contrasts isn't it? And yet it those very contrasts that seem to make it work. As a lover of process, I'm pleased you enjoyed seeing how all the bits came together - thanks!

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  21. This is a fantastic book and binding Fiona, and I agree with Mo, it would be wonderful to see this in the ABE - great to see something so modern and original.

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    1. Thanks Helen - I am flattered you think so! I do like the book, its story and its resolution and would be happy to share it further afield if possible.

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I appreciate your thoughts and comments; thanks for taking the time.