Here I begin to stretch the accuracy of my heading. The word current is appropriate mostly in that the whole area of making books has been on my mind for many years – making what are described as artist’s books rather than conventionally printed and published books, that is. I am seduced by the form really, but have struggled to find a driving need to manifest a specific idea in this way. I do have one project on the go now, though.
My first acquaintance with the form stretched the definition of book. It was an exchange with a friend who was participating in the same exercise, and who produced a wonderful stitched double-sided large concertina book. I, on the other hand made pillow postcards in a slipcase, the whole being called Five Nights in Chicago.
My husband and I had spent a great holiday in the USA which included five nights in Chicago, and each of my postcards had two sides: the front with a figure sleeping on a background of a snap I’d taken, and the back with a message. The stamp I made up from tourist snaps I’d taken of sculptures. I was trying out various computer collage methods as well as trialling transfer papers. Unfortunately this was a case of the transfer papers not holding their colour – as can be seen!
I played with the book form some years ago in an exercise which surprised me with how much I enjoyed the result. It turned out to fit into my body of work better than I had realised. The exercise took the form of an altered book. In this case a copy of T.S. Eliot’s The Family Reunion, and titled my alteration Three Sisters. I collected the pages together to reduce the openings to three double page spreads.
It was very much an exercise, however, and not only was the execution perfunctory, but it did not satisfy me as adequately needing to be in book form. But it was a useful exercise nonetheless, and I have kept the book.
Following on from that was a kind of book form which took its starting point from my exploration of soft pastels. This is simply a collection of unsewn folios, but it pleased me, and I scanned the individual pages which have subsequently often been used as backgrounds for my work.
Another book exercise done years after the first, but a while ago now arose out of a Batik on Paper workshop I attended. This was a hastily put together maquette which was a vague idea for a much bigger, perhaps quilted book. I did not want to take it any further, however.
The book project which is still current was prompted by my short-lived participation in ALAW a couple of years ago. It was the alphabet which sparked the idea of using some specifically printed pages to make up a kind of memoir for myself.
The pages had been printed as for a book, but speculatively, using the same drypoint plate, but different papers. The image on the prints is of a figure thinking, and so it fits well with the idea of thinking back. My intention is to cut letters from erasers to make this into a red letter memoir, each letter beginning a place which is significant in my past.
The cover had been made before the prints, as part of an idea for a multi-panel quilt. I had abandoned the idea, but kept the panels I had made. They were the real starting point of this book.
I have got as far as working out the text design, making a maquette, and writing most of the text. I still have to cut out the letters, and I must schedule the rest of the work so that I can finish the book this year.
I also want to examine the whole idea of book making more seriously this year, so that I can take it forward – or put it away as interesting, but not for me.