Victoria Cooper+Doug Spowart Blog

PERSONAL HISTORIES–Artists Books @ Uni of NSW–ADFA, Canberra

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'Personal Histories' invite

‘Personal Histories’ invite


To survive and work as an artist is a big enough challenge in this day and age–but for some that’s not enough. A few have dreams for fantastic extravaganzas and then commit themselves to the necessary problem solving and planning to bring these wild ideas into fruition. One such inspired individual is Robyn Foster who curated an international exhibition of artists books that was first shown at the Redland Museum, then Redlands Art Gallery. The show, Personal Histories was then traveled as a self funded initiative for the third exhibition at the University of NSW Library at ADFA in Canberra.


Ms Selena Griffith, Senior Lecturer in Design, UNSW Art & Design, officially launched the exhibition on the 1st October in Canberra and was attended by members of the local artists book community. We also attended the Canberra opening, viewed the exhibition and met some of the artists.

The exhibition is a curatorial masterpiece, the like of which is usually only undertaken by an institutional team! The works shown represent a wide gamut of practice from books that look and operate like books, to books as sculptural object. The books presented were made by every conceivable process and materials. Represented in the exhibition was every form of container for stories from codices, to concertinas and prosaic ‘ready-mades’. There is no resolution to the question ‘what is an artists book?’ as it continues to be challenged by the diversity and inventiveness of the works in this exhibition.

The stories in Personal Histories came from each artist’s life and experiences expressed through their creative art process. Through the intimacy of the book and the visual and haptic experience of reading, these personal narratives have the potential to be shared with those encountering these books in the future.

Congratulations Robyn Foster for curating and presenting this wonderful opportunity for us to experience the diversity of books by artists and the opportunity for these books to be seen.


Doug Spowart



Judy Bourke taking about her book 'Born to life' 2014. A tribute to Anne Murray.

Judy Bourke talking about her book ‘Born to life’ 2014. A tribute to Anne Murray.


A video of the exhibition showing a ‘fly through’ of some of the works as well as the opening address from Ms Selena Griffith and Robyn Foster’s response is available HERE:





Bringing together artists from around the globe to share their own stories in artist book form.
Sharing similarities, diversities and individual perspectives.
Highlighting the dynamic world of artist books.


The Personal Histories International Artist Book Exhibition highlights the dynamic world of contemporary artists’ book practice, with contributing artists from over 16 countries who attempt to reconfigure and reignite our relationship with the book.

This exhibition intimately catalogues a perspective of individual life experience exploring various structures and content, with curator Robyn Foster inviting us to contemplate our evanescent relationship with books at a seminal point in history where technology has overtaken books as society’s primary information source.


A detailed website discussing the project, the exhibitions and the works can be found HERE


Some images from the event:


Personal Histories opening group

Robyn Foster, Judy Bourke, Selena Griffith, Tracie Toohey, Rachel Hunter, Lisa Morisset.

Tracie Toohey @ 'Personal Histories' opening Uni NSW, ADFA, Canberra.

Tracie Toohey @ ‘Personal Histories’ opening Uni NSW, ADFA, Canberra.

Judy Bourke @ 'Personal Histories' opening Uni NSW, ADFA, Canberra.

Judy Bourke @ ‘Personal Histories’ opening Uni NSW, ADFA, Canberra.

Robyn Foster @ 'Personal Histories' opening Uni NSW, ADFA, Canberra.

Robyn Foster @ ‘Personal Histories’ opening Uni NSW, ADFA, Canberra.







One Response

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  1. Thanks Doug & Victoria for such a wonderful documentary resource of the Personal Histories event at UNSW Canberra.

    Robyn Foster

    January 8, 2016 at 9:40 pm

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