Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Reflections on return

Susan and I have returned from Auckland with our heads still full and buzzing with ideas.  The conference was a remarkable gathering of primarily Australian and New Zealand book workers. I liked the term book workers as it so nicely embraced us all - artists' book makers; conservators; fine press book printers; artisan book binders and probably some other variants as well.

The first keynote speaker was Julie Chen who shared so very openly the processes behind the making of her books - the years of research that go into them and the highly considered ideas and content that form the basis of the books. She also spoke about how structure and content must support each other and it was a really engaging talk.

This a photo from her website of a book called "Invented Landscape" she spoke a length about her research and how she worked so hard to find the right imagery of the grass and how the format indicated that sense of wide open grasslands...

She was a warm and knowledgeable speaker and it was a great talk.

The other keynote speaker was Dominic Reilly, a master book binder if ever I saw one. I was completely and utterly gobsmacked with how beautifully this man could cover a book. The absolute detail and perfection in his covers, and the days and days of work to get there.  I really liked how he read the books and then worked out what he wanted to express on the cover, and how. His use of abstraction was also wonderful - and very helpful to have him explain where the elements were, they were often so cleverly obscured.

This is one of his designer bindings - The Dead (not exactly sure of the title) by Thomas Hardy.
Because of the format of concurrent sessions, it wasn't possible to attend every session, but we did get to hear a lot of different people. I listened to some amazing talks on conservation and preservation as well as some beautiful presentations on binding and letterpress.

Many of them held me spellbound and I kept wondering how I could use and or incorporate some of the ideas in my own work. Caren Florence (aka Ampersand Duck) spoke so wonderfully about text and poetry in book work and Monica Oppen showed us through some of her collection - in details and with the wonder of an owner explaining why the books are so meaningful.

A fragment of a work Caren shared.

It was heaven on a stick for booklovers; with wonderful trade tables of conservation materials, bone-folders, leathers for binding and letterpress broadsides and books.

Susan and I had not managed to book into the studio tour that was held on the Monday; but as serendipity would have it, when we got downstairs to start our own wander of Auckland, the group was assembled in the foyer waiting to be picked-up. They had had a couple of cancellations and we were welcome to go with them! That turned into a wonderful visit to the Museum of Transport and Technology - to the printery and bindery there; a visit to Paul Taylor's Spiral Path Studio filled with conservation and preservation things and books and tools, and a final explore of Elizabeth Steiner's studio.

Here are some snap shots of the day...

Happy days in the printery at MOTAT - ahhh, letterpress.

A fabulous wee binding in the bindery at MOTAT

A book awaiting conservation at Paul's, along with his nipping press and a map waiting to be restored.

A page and a book in Elizabeth's studio.

So much wonder to absorb, and such a great way to spend time - with lovers of books in all their forms. I had never been to a book conference before and will definitely go to more. You learn and absorb so much and meet such great people!

It flowed really well, the food was great, everybody was so welcoming and so generous with their time and knowledge.  Thanks to the organisers of ABCNZ014 - Inside Outside a case for the book - you did a fabulous job.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Quick pics from NZ

This will be the quickest touch base with a few  photos of books and things from our bustling weekend at the Conference here in Auckland.

My mind remains boggled with the amount of information, the skill and the talent that I have observed during our time here. So much to process and consider, so more on that later.

Instead some iPhoto images of things we have seen along the way so far..

This fabulous book-spine piano wall art is in the building we have been in at the Uni - tickled my fancy.


There was no information about the maker though...

On Friday night we went to an exhibition opening, books from the Janus Press in the US with work by Claire van Vliet and some by Elizabeth Steiner as well.

This one, ABC of Bugs and Plants in a Northern Garden Season (2012) uses one of Elizabeth's binding structures, called Gioia.

And as we walked back from the gallery, this beautiful book caught my eye in another gallery window...

We have spent most of each day inside absorbing information and sharing information. My talk went well and we had lots of chats with folk about our work. Sadly that's all for now - this boggled mind needs to rest...

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

A busy weekend ahead

It often seems to be the case that Spring in the hinterland is a very very busy time. For some reason we seem to explode out of winter and every weekend is filled with things to do, places to go, events to attend and activities to participate in.

This weekend is no exception as we are hosting the Maleny Celebration of Books - a weekend of activities and events for people who love books and reading. There is the Big Book Club gathering where the discussion will be all about Dave Eggers' book The Circle - a slightly creepy, too close for comfort look at a world without privacy - where everything we do and say is shared on line.

There is a great Forum with some fabulous authors; 22 of our own local authors will be available to talk about and sign their books; there are two films based on books, book launches and activities for children. AS well s the ever-popular Book Swap Tree for adult sand Book Swap Bush for children, and more I am sure I have forgotten.

I have prepared a small display on the wall at the Library, celebrating books and all the joy they bring. Some details of the work are here.

Which is just as well, because for the first time ever I won't actually be here to do anything else or help out on the day (although Barry has promised to go up the ladder and hang the books in the Book Swap Tree so we're still kind of helping).

I will be in Auckland in NZ, with Susan, attending the ABCNZ2014 Book Arts Conference.

I am really looking forward to hearing the speakers and seeing all the different books; maybe meeting some folk as well. Another part of me is looking forward in a different way to doing a presentation myself - about collaboration, and using Susan's and my work to date as a vehicle for exploring collaboration.

It has been nice to go through our books and remember each of them; and just fabulous to be able to share them with a different audience.

I've also really enjoying pondering collaboration and the many ways in which you can do it, coming up with a schema of sorts and just spending time exploring it and thinking about it.

It is a great opportunity and I am thrilled to be heading off, even to I miss the Celebration of Books.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

A little bit of whimsy

I began a little whimsical journey the other day - sparked by an old rusty tin, I started thinking about buried treasure, lost libraries, lost words...and before I knew it, I was preparing pages for a new 'book'.

I wondered if there was a record of lost words; words that had been in use, but which were now considered extinct in a way. I discovered the website Phrontistery and trawled through all those beautiful lost words.

I tore some paper, painted it front and back with black tea.

Sat down with walnut ink and in a deliberately unimpressive handwriting style wrote out the words onto the wee pages.

I made seven bundles, wrapped them with crochet cotton and went out to the vegetable garden.

I dug a smallish hole, not too deep, and buried them.


I will see what they are like in a few months - but Barry warns me I probably should check them a few times before Christmas as we have loads of worms in there and they might devour the pages, rather than just nibble them.

I'm not sure what creative muse struck me or why, but the deed is done. Lost words have been buried, to be resurrected later and maybe if I'm lucky, to form a book of sorts.  No idea if it will work, but it's been a little path I couldn't not go down, once I'd started thinking about it.

Whimsy indeed.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

The Lightning Jobber

And what a great name that is!  I had never heard of a Lightning Jobber until a month or so ago,when on a random interweb wander I found myself looking at the Letterpress Classifieds at Australia New Zealand first ever visit to their site.

My breath was taken away when I saw they had a press for sale.  This may not be very exciting to those in the US where letterpress presses are all over, and in the UK and Europe where there are also probably many; but here in Australia we just don't have a lot. We seemed to toss them out when they were done with; and we didn't have many to begin!

So... I took the plunge and approached the fellow who was selling, and after much convolution and stress (organising to move a very very heavy 1897 press from Melbourne to Maleny is no task for the faint-hearted) my Lightning Jobber has arrived.

The box of tricks that accompanied it - I will have fun familiarising myself with them all!

On one of our recent quick trips to Melbourne we had about 15 minutes to visit the fellow and see the press before rushing off to a meeting.  Here it was in its garage home in Melbourne.

And here it is in its new studio home in Maleny - I think it looks like it belongs.

I have occasionally mentioned my love of letterpress and dreams of owning such a press, here on my blog, and I can hardly believe I've made a start!  I don't know when I'll get a moment to spend time playing, but it is wonderful to think about all of the opportunities that now lie ahead. Big happy sigh.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Layouts, drafts and doodles

I am in amongst a couple of calligraphy commissions which really means I am in the studio for various lengths of time writing and re-writing the same words! Measuring up some lines, then working out nib sizes, writing them out, checking the layout, adding emphasis here or there, changing nib sizes to see what happens.

I think, I hope, I might have just found the right layout for both of them for now.

So I have ruled up the paper once again, and during the week I will hopefully write them out properly.

Some close-ups of the working drafts.

Different nib size and a few words I think I can delete.

Quite like this of, if only the f was somewhat straighter!

And my table as it appears at the end of another day...

But then I just had to go play for a bit, burning more beautiful tengucho paper.  Despite the fact these probably look like fish scales, I am thinking about clouds and how to express clouds...

It is quite a lovely, drifty, exploration and every now and again I catch an idea, a thought or a possible expression and have to get it down or try it out. Fortunately there is no looming deadline on clouds and I am free to meander through them for a bit longer.

To finish - one of the best parts of this weekend, was to head down to Redland Museum today to attend the opening of Personal Histories - a remarkable international book arts exhibition, conceived of and curated by Robyn Foster.  It was wonderful to meet Robyn in person and see what a gorgeous job she has down with these books; and to meet fellow book artist Terence Uren for the first time, and to catch up with Helen Malone.

Barry, Susan and I were there so it was a great little gathering. In amongst all the excitement, I failed to take any shots which could be shared here, but do pop over to the Personal Histories blog - lots of loveliness. And if you get the chance - the show is absolutely worth a visit.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Around the place...

Work-work and bathroom repair/renovations have certainly kept me from the studio for what seems aeons.   I have nothing new to show or share, but took this photo yesterday afternoon as the sun set. The light beamed through one window, across the dining room and onto this wall, perfectly illuminating this painting. I walked out of the office and this is what I saw.

Moments like that remind you that nature does art even if you don't.

So I wandered around and photographed a few more moments around the place - quite a mixed bag. It is Spring time and definitely warming up, and the orchids in the book wall are blooming.

We found a nest down the back and brought it inside. I can never look at a nest without awe and wonder at how beautifully crafted they are.

As I look out the kitchen window (you get loads of reflections from the back windows) I see how well the wall is rusting, and I glimpse the peace flag weather grams still blowing in the breeze at the top of the driveway.

I mentioned renovations. Barry asked the builders to keep an eye out for something or somebody in the wall cavity. I had heard scrabbling noises in there a while ago and knew that somebody was making a life in there. The builders found this desiccated water dragon lizard.  Sadly it must have run out of food in there, and not been able to work out how it got in and therefore how to get out.  It looks very much like a wee Tyrannosaurus I thought.

And this one is from a week or so ago. Our Pace rainbow flag was hung on the wall of the shed/studio carport, and as I walked to the car I saw this great reflection.

 I like the random rainbow of peace...

Hopefully we'll be back to normal art-making transmission soon!