Sunday, March 8, 2015

The burning book 'Endure'

As Susan has mentioned, these books evolved with loads of angst and a fair bit of confusion.  I had thought about this book as a burning book - in that we would give each other pages and then we would burn the pages we received in whatever way worked best for us.  Susan had thought we would burn the pages beforehand and hand them over! So the handover was pretty funny - she gave me burnt paper; I gave her pristine pages ready for burning!

Still, we wangled our way through.


I worked with the idea of book-burnings and how even tho people have burnt books throughout the ages, you just can't stop the ideas being transmitted and shared.

The quotes I worked with were:

Books can not be killed by fire. People die, but books never die. No man and no force can abolish memory... In this war, we know, books are weapons. And it is a part of your dedication always to make them weapons for man's freedom.” Franklin D. Roosevelt

Books won't stay banned. They won't burn. Ideas won't go to jail. In the long run of history, the censor and the inquisitor have always lost. The only sure weapon against bad ideas is better ideas. The source of better ideas is wisdom. The surest path to wisdom is a liberal education.” Alfred Whitney Griswold, Essays on Education

"Every burned book enlightens the world."
 Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Burning is no answer."
 Camille Desmoulines
reply to Robespierre, January 7, 1794,
 on burning his newspaper Vieux Cordelier

The paper burns, but the words fly away.” Akiba ben Joseph

You can burn my books and the books of the best minds in Europe, but the ideas in them have seeped through a million channels, and will continue to quicken other minds.” Helen Keller

My pages were large - we had agreed on the size - and I wrote in walnut ink using a syringe. An interesting tool which reduces your control as you form letters. It helped that I wanted the words to be there but somewhat indecipherable, so the tool was a good one to use.


Incorporating Susan's paper was hard, so I stained it with walnut ink and burnt it some more, trying to make the colour tones closer to the pages.

Unsure how to bring the burning into my pages - it could be as minimal as simply using incense sticks to burn in each O - or I could really destroy them - I ended up in the middle, with a gradual decrease in size of the page, burnt edges and with remnants of burning at the base of each page.  I was able to use Susan's paper for this and added some of my own burnt paper.


Detail of the base of a page.


Page 1 before riveting. I used three layers of perplex (as we do for the QLA books) with the inside piece having a cut-out to contain the elements.  We drill holes from a template and then together, Barry and I hand-rivet the perspex together.  This time I chose copper rivets to tone in with the book more. Once the 'sandwich pages' are each done, I then sew the book up.


I stepped the pages down as I moved throughout he book, which meant I had to fill the void above somehow.  I chose the words from one of the quotes "The paper burns, but the words fly away" and wrote them separately, then burnt around their edges and placed them within the perspex., floating, flying away...


The two covers are more solid, with edges burned and the Os on the other side of the pages burnt through and their remnants captured at the bottom.


You can get a sense of the scale of the book from these shots. Firstly laid out ready for stitching.


 Then me stitching, with some of the pages folded up.


And so to photographing the final book - I will get a professional to do this for sure as I really can't do it justice here, with my made up dark sheets over windows and table... but I hope you get a sense of what it might look like.



There are one or two things to fix before the work will be shown publicly, but I know now what I need to do and have the time to do it.  I think the books will be proud centrepieces for our exhibition of Pas de Deux at Noosa Regional Gallery in October-November this year.

14 comments:

  1. wow! WOW! you have outdone yourselves!

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    1. Thanks Mo - glad they got you excited! Sometimes after you've struggled so much you can hardly tell anymore if it is any good, so thank you.

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  2. I am in awe ... "powerful" doesn't begin to describe this

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    1. Thank you so much Liz - what a wonderful response to the work; I am glad it can move you from far away...go well.

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  3. Oh my goodness! This is magnificent, Fiona! You are so generous with your descriptions of your process, and I always love seeing process. I hope someday to see this book exhibited - it really is amazing!

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    1. Thank you Carol! I'm so glad you enjoyed the process descriptions and thought behind it; as well as the book itself. I am pleased, and confident it will 'stand up well' when needed! Would be lovely if you got to see it 'live' so to speak...

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  4. A wonderful book Fiona. I think this is one of your best collaborations and it should look stunning in the Noosa exhibition.

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    1. Thanks Helen - each collaboration is so different and the results continue to surprise us both. I am pleased with where I got to in the end with this and am hoping I can finish it off beautifully.

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  5. Any words I might have to describe this are superfluous to the images and your own description. It is stunning.

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    1. Thank you Lesley - that's just so lovely.

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  6. I am the lucky one .... to have seen it in the flesh. No tricky photography needed :-)
    And it is a beautiful thing indeed. A very fine resolution of our strange beginning. love that we don't get stumped by eachother but just bend or change direction .... or was that a push I felt? x

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    1. How fortunate are we? Our eyes can see just what we need to see, and ignore the reflections! Nudging has been one of our words, so perhaps we were both just nudged!

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  7. the photographs just make me want to see them in person. so fine, fiona.

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    1. Thank you Velma - it is a strong and solid (altho airy) book and it feels good. It would be great to have you visit one day and be able to show you - until then we shall have to depend upon the inter web and our imaginations...go well.

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