Sunday, July 17, 2016

Artists' Book fun and discovery

I have done a fair bit of teaching in the last wee while which isn't the usual way things are; but it has all been varied and wonderful.

I taught Black Beauty for the Calligraphers of SE Queensland; I gave a letterpress demonstration as part of the Regional Marks exhibition; I spent a week in Rockhampton teaching Quietly and Gently with white on white as part of Wrapt in Rocky; and I spent a day last week with Sunshine Coast Grammar students teaching artists' books.

I have another teaching gig lined up at the University of the Sunshine Coast then I think the teaching is over for a bit.

Last week I spent the day as the artist in Residence at the Grammar School, as Year 11 students had an 'incursion". Rather than an excursion where they leave the school to go and see and learn something new; with this event they stayed on campus, I came to them and they had a full day of art (no maths, no science, no English...).

I loved so much of the wall art in the art room - I have no idea who did the work but it made the place really come alive.

I spoke a lot about materiality - making you materials part of the story; as well as about narrative and ways to tell a story that aren't obvious. Hint at things, encourage the viewer/reader to want to know what lies ahead and to enjoy discovering things for themselves. Don't be obvious. Don't tell them straight up what is going on - leave a little room for the mystery.

By and large the message got through and interesting approaches emerged.

Whilst this half open page with a cut out shows both a smile and tears; when the page is actually closed you only see the smile - and are then surprised when you see the tears once it is opened.

This fold out is perfect to discover the roots of the tree - as they reach down and down and down...

This deceptively simple yet beautiful book was a real winner I think.  From full foliaged green on the front,

To completely denuded white on the back,

The pages gradually reduce (by virtue of vertical divisions) from full green to partial green with increasing white throughout. You get the message.

Whilst not complete, when I photographed it, the torn and ripped masking tape will guide you through the story as well.

Wondering what to do and how to build a story when you have no inspiration, we started with a dry point print of a giraffe. Where do you take that? How do you take the viewer/reader through a story? Where will they end up? How will they get there? 

And this is one of the gorgeous pages - with a peep hole through to something you can't recognise (until eh final page of course). It was an interesting process to work out how to maintain visual interest with a simple story.

Some of the play with the print.

Not everybody got to stitch their book; nor did I get to photograph them all, but this one is finished. It worked with a mono print (painted onto the plate then printed) - a gestural image of a woman which was quite powerful. It pulled 'her' apart in various ways and made her whole again.

It was a really enjoyable day and I say a big thanks to the Year 11 art students for having me and for working so hard to create artists' books of interest.  I told them I expected more of them than to simply put together a scrapbook of their art; and they certainly delivered!


  1. do you remember that wonderful feeling of making & holding your very first book?

    1. Oh I do Mo! I remain in awe of those moments when I realise I. Have. Just. Made. A. Book.! I don't take it for granted and I love that we can make books. Now ell.

  2. sounds like a great class. inspiring even tho I am not a year 11 student

    1. Thanks! In a way I think it was quite challenging for them; but it did make them think and that is always good!! I enjoyed watching where they went - amazing minds...go well.


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