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Victoria Cooper+Doug Spowart Blog

COVERING: The 2016 Libris Artists’ Book Award

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Artspace Mackay

Artspace Mackay

 

A COMMENT ON THE 2016 LIBRIS ARTISTS’ BOOK AWARDS

 

In his announcement speech for the 2016 Libris Awards at Artspace Mackay judge Sasha Grishin makes the observation that: ‘The contemporary artists book is characterised by boundless freedom’, and adds that: ‘… it has absorbed many conceptual frameworks, many art mediums and technologies and goes across the spectrum of the senses.’

 

Visitors to Artspace and the Libris Awards encounter an open space with islands of book presentation devices. Plinths of all sizes – some encased, others at floor level, there are shelves on walls, books as mobile installations hung from the ceiling and other books with ‘pages’ covering large expanses of wall. This is not an easy walk-through exhibition as each work beckons, siren-like, calling for the extended gaze of the reader.

The Artspace Libris exhibition

The Artspace Libris exhibition

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On this occasion the winners were:

  • Dalrymple Bay Coal Terminal National Artists Book Award $10,000 Acquisitive Award went to George Matoulas and Angela Cavalieri, with the text by Antoni Jach, for Europa to Oceania.*

 

George Matoulas and Angela Cavalieri, with the text by Antoni Jach, for Europa to Oceania

George Matoulas & Angela Cavalieri, with the text by Antoni Jach, Europa to Oceania

Grishin’s comments about the work were:

After much soulsearching I decided to allot the winning entry for the major prize to a collaborative and fabulous artists book by two Melbourne‐based artists, George Matoulas and Angela Cavalieri, with the text by the novelist and playwright Antoni Jach, titled Europa to Oceania. The three linocuts are by Angela, the three collographs are by George and there are another two collaborative foldout prints. The two artists, one of Greek extraction, the other from Calabria in Italy, with wit, profundity and beauty explore the migrant experience at a time when the Australian social fabric is under stress with the question of refugees and migration.

Highly commended in this award were:
Gracia Haby and Louise Jennison’s Closer to Natural
Monica Oppen’s Metropolis
Tim Moseley’s Kange pholu wanda

Peter Lyssiotis’ Blind Spot

 

  • Mackay Regional Council Regional Artists Book Award for a local artist went to May‐Britt Mosshamer for Tapping the knowledge.*
May‐Britt Mosshamer for Tapping the knowledge.*

May‐Britt Mosshamer Tapping the knowledge.*

Grishin’s comments about the work were:

As much as one fought the temptation, the $2,500 award had to go to the local artist, May‐Britt Mosshamer and her effective piece Tapping the knowledge. In art you can say very important things with a bit of humour in your back pocket. This work is all about the flood of information and the drought in knowledge.

The highly commended, or runner‐up entries in this category were:

Denise Vanderlugt’s I used to wrap rainbows
Jo Mitchell’s For Mary

 

  • Artspace Mackay Foundation Youth and Student Artists Book Award (under 26years), went to Brooke Ferguson and her The Small Garden (for M.S.).*
Brooke Ferguson The Small Garden (for M.S.).

Brooke Ferguson The Small Garden (for M.S.).

Judge Grishin’s comment on the work:

This is an award that is about taking risks, a punt and choosing the unexpected, the promising and the challenging. It is literally a once in a lifetime opportunity for an emerging artist to gain national recognition plus a handy fistful of dollars. I selected the work by the 25‐year‐old Brisbane‐based artist, Brooke Ferguson and her The Small Garden (for M.S.) The MS stands for the wonderful veteran artist, Madonna Staunton, where young Brooke Ferguson was inspired by a poem by Staunton and with gouache, pen and ink and pencil has created a fragile concertina – a beautiful sensibility from a promising young artist.

 

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In my opinion some books call for special mention. Caren Florance’s Pleasure demolition is transfixing. The suspended brown paper sheets with a hand printed letterpress phrases from poetry by Angela Gardner are animated by the flow of air and movement in the space. Forever moving, the oscillation of the pages becomes a machine for the generation of concrete poetry… phrases twirl and merge, poetic moments where new meaningful/less messages materialise.

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Jamian Stayt’s Soulless evolution

Jamian Stayt’s Soulless evolution

The individual pages of Jamian Stayt’s Soulless evolution are pinned to the wall making what may seem like a vast wallpaper pattern. However, Stayt’s work invites a closer reading of the cipher hidden within the layers of the image. He presents some big questions where contemporary notions of tradition are challenged and rapidly changing technology has intertwined agency in the evolutionary pathway for humanity.

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Julie Barratt Blair Athol recut

Julie Barratt Blair Athol recut

Julie Barratt’s Blair Athol recut refers to Solastalgia: a theory on the contemporary human condition for a deep loss of place. In one part of the installation there is a book of dark photolithographs where maps are encroached upon by black inks. For the reader this growing blackness evokes a gloomy absence. Facing the dark pages in the clamshell container are vials of coloured soils, plant fragments and found objects. Although collected from this disturbed place, these samples are vibrant and alive – perhaps they are the vestiges of childhood memories that recall a different time before the destruction of the physical place by coal mining.

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Ana Paula Estrada Memorandum

Ana Paula Estrada Memorandum

Many books feature photographs as the primary carrier of the narrative. Ana Paula Estrada’s Memorandum employs the medium to document elderly people and their connection with life through personal photographs and how their memories are re-lived through viewing these photos. The book, conceived and made through the Siganto Foundation Creative Fellowship in the Australian Library of Art at the State Library of Queensland, is a complex assemblage of contemporary portraits, photo-glimpses from family albums and a narrative conveyed through the turning of pages.

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Exhibition view

Exhibition view

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As usual the artists’ book as exhibition defies direct touch and the turning of pages for narratives to be revealed and for the book to speak of what it has allowed the artist to create. But for the 72 books in the exhibition to be read the visitor would need to stay for the duration of the exhibition, working through the night with white gloves and torchlight. The exhibition reconnects and continues the significant contribution of the Artspace Mackay’s Libris Award to inspire artists and create a space discourse on the book in all its forms. In doing so the assembled exhibition represents cutting edge survey of Australian artists’ book practice.

Some works will become part of the Artspace Mackay collection; others will be re-packaged and returned to their makers. While the exhibition is dispersed its spirit will continue in the form of the gallery’s excellent illustrated catalogue, the text of Grishin’s speech, reviews, videos and other commentaries such as this, as well as the memories of the readers who viewed the show.

In two years time – the next iteration of this important event in the Australian artists’ book calendar will take place again. Wouldn’t it be nice if the whole collection could be purchased and held in perpetuity as a record of the discipline? Until then …

 

Dr Doug Spowart

16 October 2016

 

screen-shot-2016-10-22-at-6-25-18-pm

DOWNLOAD THE CATALOGUE: 2016-librisawards_illustratedlistofworks

http://www.artspacemackay.com.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0007/204955/2016LibrisAwards_IllustratedListofWorks.pdf

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A VIDEO FLY-THRU OF THE EXHIBITION

 

OTHER BOOKS FROM THE EXHIBITION

 

Denise Vanderlugt with her highly commended bookwork I used to wrap rainbows

Denise Vanderlugt with her highly commended bookwork I used to wrap rainbows

Peter LYSSIOTIS Blind spot

Peter LYSSIOTIS Blind spot

Martha BOWMAN You could have sent an email or a text

Martha BOWMAN You could have sent an email or a text

Jamian Stayt’s Soulless evolution (Detail)

Jamian Stayt’s Soulless evolution (Detail)

Bernard APPASSAMY Constellation of endearment (Detail)

Bernard APPASSAMY Constellation of endearment (Detail)

Deanna HITTI Assimilated museum

Deanna HITTI Assimilated museum

Gracia HABY and Louise JENNISON Closer to natural

Gracia HABY and Louise JENNISON Closer to natural

Caren Florance’s Pleasure demolition

Caren Florance’s Pleasure demolition

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All photographs and videos ©2015 Doug Spowart.  Main text (except Judge Sasha Grishin’s words) ©2015 Doug Spowart   With thanks to Victoria Cooper for her suggestions and edits.

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2 Responses

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  1. thanks guys for showing some of the exhibition — especially the fly-thru! I could find my bit and other pieces from mates — I wish that the audience were able to interact more with some of the books (or at least my bits — the main part of the work in my booky contribution is hidden if the audience can’t touch — they miss the spectacular poems of Melinda Smith – these poems were written especially for this project and this is their only published form… )

    ronnie

    October 23, 2016 at 1:38 pm

    • Hi Ronnie, thank you for your comments…. presentation of artists’ books is a problem. At least these works have been accepted into the award, seen by the judge and documented in the catalogue. There will be audiences that these books will connect with in a more reader oriented way in the future.
      Cheers Doug


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