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SLQ – 2016 SIGANTO FOUNDATION ARTISTS’ BOOK SERIES

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Post event resfreshments on level 5 of the SLQ

Post event refreshments on level 5 of the SLQ

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CELEBRATING ARTISTS’ BOOKS @ THE STATE LIBRARY OF QLD

The Program: The Siganto Foundation Fellowship artist book series 2016 – April 17

 

From 10am-1pm – White Gloves Room, level 4. The Siganto Foundation Fellows presented a display that featured their research and creative works which included research papers, artist books, drawings, letterpresses and prints. The Fellows spoke with attendees about their work and research outcomes. Participating in the Fellows White Gloves event were Peter Anderson, Lyn Ashby, Julie Barratt, Victoria Cooper, Marion Crawford, Jan Davis, Clyde McGill and Doug Spowart.

At 1:30pm on the Knowledge Walk Stage on level 1 – Clyde McGill presented Looking for Place, a performance for his artist book.

At 2pm The lecture component of the event was opened by Chief Executive Officer and State Librarian, Sonia Cooper. This was followed by a presentation by guest, UK artist and designer, Guy Begbie who talked about his current interdisciplinary arts practice. Following on – Dr Victoria Cooper, the 2015 Siganto Foundation Fellow, talked about her research into the use of montage in the State Library of Queensland’s artists’ book collection.

From 3.30pm attendees enjoyed refreshments in the SLQ Boardroom on level 5.

 

HERE ARE SOME PHOTOS AND OTHER DETAILS OF THE EVENT:

 

Siganto Foundation Fellows in the White Gloves Room

Siganto Foundation Fellows in the White Gloves Room

 

Clyde McGill performing Looking for Place @ SLQ Sigantio Artists Book Series 2016 event

Clyde McGill performing Looking for Place @ SLQ Sigantio Artists Book Series 2016 event

 

CLYDE McGILL: Looking for Place, a performance for artist book (an extract)

Crossing the river under the Goodwill bridge, knee then neck deep in the warm water, not too salty, navigating around the mangrove roots, expecting to hear mud crabs clanking and whistling, curling my toes just in case, alloneword, who calls me fictivefriend, if only he knew, shows me another pressed flower (soggy) and a leaf. Then a pterodactyl feather he says was floating down from Mt Bartle Frere last night, I suggest it was the southern end of the Glass House Mountains. It looks like it’s from the ibisosaurus between GOMA and SLQ. We are dodging the rivercat (aow carrying our bag of sandwiches above his head), the tide is running. Finally making our way over to HMAS Diamantina to borrow her (alloneword thinks we’ll have to pay), in our bid to sail her along the Diamantina River (there is water). It’s an incredible resonance of names and place, isn’t it fictivefriend, he asks. Soon we’ll picnique (no replacements found, typeahead here) on the shores of the Inland Sea. We drip mud as we tell the man at the dock entrance about our project, it’s exciting, he raises his eyebrows, says what(?) looks away and closes the gate.

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SLQ VIDEO of the performance: http://www.slq.qld.gov.au/audio-video/webcasts/recent-webcasts/clyde-mcgills-performance

Clyde McGill performing his artists' book Looking for Place

Clyde McGill performing his artists’ book Looking for Place

Clyde McGill performing Looking for Place @ SLQ Sigantio Artists Book Series 2016 event

Clyde McGill presents a fragment of his presentation to Dr Marie Siganto.

 

 

Christene Drewe from the SLQ introduces the program for the day

Christene Drewe from the SLQ introduces the program for the day

 

Guy Begbie presenting @ Siganto Seminar Series 2016

Guy Begbie presenting @ Siganto Seminar Series 2016

 

THE GUY BEGBIE PRESENTATION

 

Guy Begbie is an interdisciplinary artist, bookbinder & university associate lecturer.

As an artist, he makes book works influenced by a core interest in parallels between bookbinding structures & architectural forms.

He works in a variety of media, that includes traditional bindery materials, drawing, painting, printmaking, sculptural casting and filmmaking.

His work uses non-linear narrative and sculptural forms to investigate further innovative structures for the book and the potential in its transition from a closed two dimension to an opened three dimensionality.

The notion of a contained space in the book is of particular interest, both conceptually and physically, with book works alluding to spatial qualities in architecture and the built environment.

Filmic and time based qualities are also examined in other book works, using painterly printmaking media to present visual distillations of memories of place and the the fleeting moment.

The relationship of the book juxtaposed with the solid non-paper based artifact is also of concern and is tested through placement and the filming of constructed books and cast objects that both share some common aspects in media and construction methodologies.

This dichotomy of the kinetic book structure and the static cast form, is re-scaled in projection and further informed by the sound of the book, captured through recording the making and placement processes, then configured to provide audio soundtrack supporting the moving visual image.

http://www.guybegbie.com/Pages/default.aspx

SLQ Video of Guy’s presentation: http://www.slq.qld.gov.au/audio-video/webcasts/recent-webcasts/guy-begbie

 

Dr Victoria Cooper presenting @ Siganto Seminar Series 2016

Dr Victoria Cooper presenting @ Siganto Seminar Series 2016

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DR VICTORIA COOPER’s PRESENTATION

A segment from Victoria’s presentation follows:

 

Montage Readings: Informed by History

 

There is a long tradition of artists and designers creatively combining images.

Photomontage or combination printing has its origins in late-nineteenth-century pictorial photography, most notably in the work of Henry Peach Robinson and Oscar Rejlander.

Then in the early twentieth century, Russian filmmakers, notably Sergei Eisenstein, pioneered the practice of montage in motion picture films to present animated visual concepts and to record the passing of time. Also in the first part of the 20th century, there was the work of the German and Russian visual artists including Hanna Höch, George Grosz, John Heartfield, El Lissitzky and Alexander Rodchenko used the “cut and paste” mediums of photocollage and photomontage to create political and social commentaries.

The surrealists such as Max Ernst, and Salvador Dalí and many other artists of this movement used the montage/collage to create visual contradictions referencing the uncanny connection between psychology of dreams and familiar experiences of the world.

Bauhaus teacher, pioneering designer and experimental artist László Moholy-Nagy became well known for his creative use of photomontage with text and image to construct innovative posters and page designs for his visual narratives. In a 1925 text, Painting Photography Film, Moholy-Nagy described this work as photoplastics.

 

My Project

Rather than see the concept of montage limited to that of a special case of film editing, he argues that the montage … is a principle to be found underlying artistic construction of all kinds

Eisenstein’s original concept of montage was that meaning in the cinema was not inherent in any filmed object but was carried by the collision of two signifying elements.

Geoffrey Nowell-Smith Eisenstein on Montage, in Towards a Theory of Montage, 2010 pp. xiii-xvi

From the research I was drawn to the montage as a way of thinking and making. In this Fellowship I am now engaged with the montage and its ‘reading”. In this project I intended to investigate the montage through the Reading the elements… their Edges, Borders and Intervals.. or their ‘collisions’ The act of cutting and splicing in the creation of the collage/montage assigns new meanings and readings to the individual fragments. Each element, fractured by tearing or careful cutting (whether physical or virtual) before the blending, overprinting, or collage construction phase, forms the basic structure, a mise-en-scène, or syntax, of the final visual composition and narrative work.

I am interested in the differences of reading that is created through of the visible edge As opposed to the Fused and the seamless edge of the elements in montage.

These edges, whether seamless or visible, always refer to the nature of its original content, as in the grafted fruit tree where the origins of the elements are still evident. The narrative then becomes embedded or montaged inside the reading of the image or the page.

 

More to follow in a subsequent post on this Blog. The SLQ will post a video of the presentation shortly

 

SLQ Video of the lecture: http://www.slq.qld.gov.au/audio-video/webcasts/recent-webcasts/victoria-cooper

 

We offer our thanks to the SLQ team: Christene Drewe, Sharon Nolan, Bec Kilner, and Janette Garrard and also to the Dr Marie Siganto and the Siganto Foundation for their support of this event.

 

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THE ARTIST & PHOTOBOOK MELBOURNE

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The forum panel

The forum panel….Photo: Anthony McKee

 

In February this year Melbourne hosted the biggest photobook event ever in this country. Called Photobook Melbourne the event brought together exponents, collectors and critics from around the world as well as from around Australia and New Zealand. Hundreds of books were handled, read and appraised in the many galleries and venues that came on board to support the event.

 

Martin Parr and Gerry Badger in their second volume of The Photobook: A History (2006), recognised artists who worked with photographs in a specific chapter entitled Appropriating Photography: The Artist’s Photobook.

Participants in the artists’ book discipline have been active indie, DIY publishers worldwide for sixty years or more and many of them use photography in their books. They have well established networks, events activities, awards, critical debate and collectors both private and public.

At a time such as Photobook Melbourne where all things photobook are celebrated and discussed it may be worthwhile to consider what concurrence may exist today between the artists’ book and the photobook. How do artists consider their use of photography and the photograph in their books? Is there any sympatico between the photobook and the artists’ book.

To address these and many more questions I was supported by the Photobook Melbourne organisers Heidi Romano and Daniel Boetker-Smith, to convene a forum to bring the voice of the artists’ book into the photobook conversation. The participants in the forum were; Dr Lyn Ashby, Gracia Haby and Louise Jennison, Peter Lyssiotis, Des Cowley and Dr Victoria Cooper (who was co-opted as Georgia Hutchison withdrew due to personal reasons in the final days).

The proceedings of the forum, with the support of the participants, have now been formed into a PDF booklet that can be downloaded FREE from this site. To provide a taste of the presentations I present the following quotes from the texts:

 

The PDF Forum book

The PDF Forum book

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DOWNLOAD HERE:  PM-OTHER PB-BOOK

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Lyn Asby

Lyn Asby

Lyn Ashby

I make books. With few exceptions, these are hand-made, limited-edition books that would generally be considered to be “artist’s books” using the standard codex form. These are not photographic books. That is, the photograph is rarely the core of the meaning or purpose of the book. But I often use components or aspects of photographs and composite these with graphics, texts, drawings and painting etc, all of which feed into the overall material on each page.

 

 

Gracia Haby + Louise Jennison

Gracia Haby + Louise Jennison

Gracia Haby and Louise Jennison

For those of you who we have yet to meet, we are besotted with paper for its adaptable, foldable, cut-able, concealable, and revealing nature. In our artists’ books, prints, zines, drawings, and collages, we use play, humour, and perhaps the poetic, to lure you closer. And sometimes this will incorporate photography. For us, it is not the medium that is always of greatest import, but the message. And so, we use found photographs in our artists’ books and zines not because they are photos, but because of what they can enable us to say, and what we hope you might feel.

 

 

Des Cowley

Des Cowley

Des Cowley

History of the Book Manager, Collection Development & Discovery, State Library Victoria

One of the challenges for libraries and collecting institutions is to build representative collections of contemporary books and ephemeral works created by artists, photographers, and zinemakers. Artists books, photobooks, and zines generally circulate outside mainstream distribution channels – publishers, general bookshops, distributors – and are effectively off-radar for many libraries. It is therefore incumbent upon staff in these institutions to build networks and relationships with the communities creating this work in order to be informed about what is being produced, and to ensure this material is acquired and preserved for future researchers.

 

Peter Lyssiotis

Peter Lyssiotis

Peter Lyssiotis

I had a friend who lived in Belgium. He died a while back. Before he did, though, he painted a pipe on a canvas and underneath it he wrote “This is not a pipe”.

To continue my friend’s mission I say “This is not a book”.

The artists’ book is rather a workshop, a garage; a space where a time-honored craft is practised: it is here that the world gets repaired, reconditioned, reassembled.

 

 

Victoria Cooper

Victoria Cooper

Victoria Cooper

The digital cutting, dissecting, layering and suturing of the photographic quotations is an absorbing process through which the visual story emerges. I then materialize this virtual image of the narrative as a physical book in many forms: scroll, concertina or codex.     Rather than images on a gallery wall, the narrative space of the book offers for me an endless potential for interplay of the corporeal and the imagination through the idiosyncratic experience of reading.

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DOWNLOAD THE BOOK HERE:  PM-OTHER PB-BOOK

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GEORGE PATON GALLERY: Artist’s Books (reprised) Exhibition

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Selfie

Artists’ Book Selfie

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Digging in the archive: past and present

 

Artist’s Books (reprised) [artists’ books 1978-2014]: George Paton Gallery, University of Melbourne

Dates: 26 August to 5 September

 

A recent show entitled, George Paton Gallery, Artist’s Books (reprised), promoted that it would be showing “four decades of investigation into the possibilities and limitations of the artists’ book form.” Whilst the exhibition as presented had some gaps in the chronology, it did live up to its claim of presenting a significant collection of contemporary works alongside a carefully curated group of seminal artists’ book works from shows presented at the George Paton Gallery in the 1970s and 80s.

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George Paton Gallery Website notice

George Paton Gallery Website notice

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Visitors to the gallery encountered a space resembling a reading room with trestle tables and bookshelves presenting the contemporary books for viewing, handling and reading. Some books were marked as ‘white-gloved’ handling whilst the majority was available for direct tactile experience. Enclosed in vitrines were the historical books on loan from the University of Melbourne archives. Interestingly during the 1970s and 80s these books would have only cost a few dollars to buy but now they attract significant values. Included in this prized collection of books are: Ed Ruscha’s Small Flres and Milk; 1964; Marcel Broodthaers’ A Voyage on the North Sea; 1973; Sol LeWitt’s Grids – using all combinations of straight, not- straight and broken lines; 1975; Richard Long’s The North Woods, 1977 and Dieter Roth’s, Gesammelte Werke, Band 7, 1974. These books were sourced from past exhibitions held by the George Paton Galley: Artists’ Books/Bookworks from 1978 and Artist’s Books and Not (e) Book! from 1982, the latter curated by Canadian Tim Guest.

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George Paton Gallery

George Paton Gallery

 

In all just over 100 books were available for viewing essentially coming from a ‘call out’ for artists book makers to present work for the show. There were some interesting names; Peter Lyssiotis, Theo Strasser, Sandra Bridie, mail artist David Dellafiora, zinesters Gracia Haby and Louise Jennison, and photo-newspaper publisher Jacob Raupach. Anyone with a preconceived idea of what an artists’ book is, or should be, may have been challenged by some of the works in the show – but what an experience it was to be challenged in that way. It was a rare opportunity to view and compare such a diverse and historical collection of artists’ books.

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Exhibition installation

Exhibition installation

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Antoni Jach’s Faded World and books by other artists

Lyssiotis, Theo Strasser books

Books by Peter Lyssiotis, Theo Strasser and others

 

After spending a couple of hours in the exhibition space I searched for a way of describing the show. Then I found a text that offered a perceptive critical evaluation of the artists’ book genre. Some relevant passages from this text follow…

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Artists’ books can most simply be described as those books which have been conceived, designed and produced by visual artists. As distinguished from those books about artists, such as a monograph of catalogue raisonee, or about art, artists’ books are instead complete artworks in themselves: they are artworks that are presented in the form of books.

 Since about 1960 a distinct genre of artists’ books has appeared. These are by artists who are self-consciously exploring the possibilities of printed books: the social dynamics of a reproducible vs. a unique art object; the aesthetics of the mass print media vs. fine art prints or deluxe editions.

 The contemporary genre of artists’ books is now a widespread phenomenon. Practically every significant development in western art has been reflected in the ongoing publication of artists’ books. There are books coming out of the movements of pop art, minimalism, arte povera, performance art, fluxus, happenings, and new image painting. Conceptual artists of the 1960’s and 70’s in particular, utilized the book form as a method of realizing artworks. We can regard these books now as a vein which runs through many areas of contemporary art and includes diverse movements, interests and preoccupations.

Or have the interests been so diverse? Pop art, minimalism, performance art, arts provera, were all movements distinct from (even antagonistic to) one another, yet they all belonged to a general tendency towards “non-objective” art… Briefly, this tendency has been reflected in a desire on the part of artists to explore new media, in an attempt to abandon the traditional (modernist) disciplines of painting and sculpture. It was/is in favour of the widened scope of the flux and flow of a multi-disciplinary approach. For example, an artist may be involved in sculpture as easily as film, performance, video, photography and/or books. Perhaps most significantly there has been a conscious determination to undercut the reification of artworks – society’s valuation of art – by concentrating on the non-objective. This has meant, for instance, producing works from common industrial or throw away materials (art povera, fluxus), works constructed only in theory (conceptual art, language art), imagery stolen from the banal repertoire of mass media (pop art) ….. All this seems to have been more successful as an ideal than as an actual practice. Minimal sculpture in the late 60’s was quite successful in the art marketplace. Conceptual art has been immensely influential, popular, and saleable. As much as these artworks were determined in opposition to the bourgeoise reification of art they were inevitably complicit with it. That is because capitalism is a social system which seems to embrace new ideas but in fact appropriates and establishes a commercial value for then.

 

Bling book - title and maker to be added soon

A book by Dianne Dickson

 

Artists’ books typify this interest in non-objectivity and reflect the internal contradictions of such an ideal in a particular way. In contrast to the traditional “livre d’artistes” of deluxe editions, artists’ books are usually inexpensively produced and sold. They are affordable, accessible and as plebeian as an art object can be. In fact they are almost too exemplary of the non-objective ideal.

As books they are not commercially viable simply because they defy the expectations of a mass market by presenting avant-garde information. Yet they have few patrons in the art world because their affordability to the public represents a low profit for a dealer. Also, books can not [sic] be viewed in the same way as other art objects; they must be held in one’s own hands and read. It is remarkable then that despite the contradictions and foils of art’s survival, artists’ books have become such a highly evolved genre of contemporary art, as evidenced by the works in this exhibition.

 

Suzannah Griffith's While The City Sleeps

Suzannah Griffith’s While The City Sleeps

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To illustrate means to make something clear by example, or to adorn a book with pictures. Within a publication, an illustration can be a picture, a drawing, a photograph, a design, or an ornament. Illustration is, of course, a prominent element in all mass media publishing. To consider all illustrations as a single genre is, in a way, quite boggling. It means imagining all magazines in the world and all the printed pictures.

With this imagining I try to analyze these pictures but have only an individual response to guide me. In principle my inquiries and suggestions are all subjective, my curiosity is intuitive, my critical remarks are speculative. These habits of mind and predilections constitute the trail of my argument. Because illustration operates as such an enormous social phenomenon, it is difficult to grasp its total meaning as a genre. It is too huge a concept. Yet paradoxically, all is intimately familiar.

 

Sarah McConnell's 29 2011

Sarah McConnell’s 29 2011

 

Practically everyone looks through magazines, sees the pictures, knows what they mean. But try to separate yourself from a simple recognition of the picture and examine the picture as a conceptual model and you may understand how difficult it can be. An illustration is not simply a picture of an object or thing. In that object’s absence a picture is a way of visualizing it, recalling it or conjuring it. Then all together the medium of illustration is a way of visualizing the world. As illustration is a mass medium, it is certainly a very powerful and influential instrument of ideas. As a conceptual model, a picture is showing us how to think and what to think about.

Art characteristically departs from conventions. In leading the way from these conventions and artists can end up revealing and/or inventing upon a given culture, popular or otherwise. Furthermore, the artists’ books in this exhibition occupy a middle ground between the hermetic region of high art and the mass culture of popular illustration. They also embody a comparison between the two; they have been produced as a way of participating (in theory at least) in the mainstream of popular culture at the same time as they are an extension of art, extending beyond galleries and museums, and outside of the realm of the rarified art object.

 

Jon Hewitt's feel the confidence 2011

Jon Hewitt’s feel the confidence 2011

 

 

It may be noted that the photo works included in the exhibition are not photography books in the usual sense. For example in some books, the artist has exchanged the customary fine detail and high quality printing found in most art photography books for the flat, grainy, aesthetic of newswire or snapshot photographs, with all their vernacular associations. In other books the artist may manipulate the photographic frame by cropping it tightly to draw attention to narrative details or expanding it to the edge of the page for a window effect. Some books here constitute a repertoire of personalities through a wide array of photographic self-portraits. Others are collections of images specific thematic subject matter which suggests an interpretation of the complex meanings of culture and its institutions through the examination of its artifacts.

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Yasmin Heisler's formed in air 2014

Yasmin Heisler’s formed in air 2014

 

In opposition to the conventions of art photography, which dictate an aesthetic around the “integrity” of an individual print, these photo books, to some extent, are each engaged with the qualities inherent in reproduction by offset and other printing processes. The artists represented in this exhibition are utilizing photographs as something other than a clear, well-composed picture. In their books they manipulate the “natural reality” of photographs and so inform our recognition of photographic images with their mannered inventiveness.

There are also a few books included here which are constructed sculpturally to introduce a tactile sensation to the fingertips and so expand the act of reading illustrations into the field of sensory awareness.

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Bridget Hillebrand's Book of Chalk 2014 and Book of Stone 2014

Bridget Hillebrand’s Book of Chalk 2014 and Book of Stone 2014

 

Finally, just as the works in this exhibition are included towards an exploration of the social and aesthetic attributes of illustration, they also demonstrate a way of looking at and experiencing the world. Theses artist’s books reveal and embody a way of reading deeply into they dimensions of contemporary culture. As much as they foster an incipient consciousness they ask for sensitivity on the part of the reader.

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Tim Guest, the curator's essay for the 1982 George Paton Gallery Artist's Books and Not (e) Book!

Tim Guest, the catalogue for the 1982 George Paton Gallery Artist’s Books and Not (e) Book!

 

These words come from Tim Guest, the curator for the 1982 George Paton Gallery Artist’s Books and Not (e) Book! A copy of his catalogue for the show was made available at the exhibition. Guest’s commentary is as relevant today as it was in the early 1980s, and while we have moved on, and now view the artists’ book works of that time with a degree of comfort and acceptance, the new artists’ book works continue, as Guest points out to, ‘demonstrate a way of looking at and experiencing the world’. For me it emphatically confirms that artists’ book are still ‘edgy’ and still pushing limits.

 

Doug Spowart

September 5, 2014

 

DOWNLOAD the contemporary list of artists’ books gpg artists books list of works

 

DOWNLOAD the books on loan from the University of Melbourne ArtistsBooksloanselectionGPG2014 docx

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Part of the associated activity for the show – an artists’ book making event outside the gallery led by Michele and Laine. It was a a sunny and warm late winter’s day in Melbourne.

Michele Grimston and Laine Stewart and their Free Artist's Book activity

Michele Grimston and Laine Stewart and their Free Artist’s Book activity

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BOOKS AS ART: 30 YEARS IN THE MAKING – Catherine McCue Boes

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BOOKS AS ART: 30 YEARS IN THE MAKING by Catherine McCue Boes

Bundaberg Regional Art Gallery – 14 May – June 29, 2014

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An observation of artists and artmaking in the regions…

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Artmaking and artists from the regions are constantly sidelined by the power of proximity that pervades these ‘blessed’ centres of art and culture. People who make ‘real art’, it seems, come from places where populations are concentrated, like ‘big cities’ or localities where a place of learning (university) or an uber vibrant arts community exists. In Australia the place names of Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Hobart and perhaps Bris-vey-gas, are part of a roll call of significantly charged places for artmaking, presentation, commentary and critique. *[Note: artists’ books have a wider community of practice that is more inclusive due to the fact that regional centres tend to present events, awards and workshops that bring the city and country together. SEE https://wotwedid.com/2013/05/13/2013-libris-awards-the-judges-view/]

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With this in mind, then consider my surprise when I recently encountered an exhibition of artists books at the Bundaberg Regional Art Gallery. The main gallery held one of the largest exhibitions of artists books I’ve seen for some time. The show was more impressive because it was essentially the book works of one person with additional books by others coming from the artist’s collection. The exhibition, entitled Book as art: 30 years in the making, was by Catherine McCue Boes a local Bundaberg artist. As the title implies the exhibition encompasses a significant period of time and the life of the artist.

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Exhibition frontpiece

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Engaging with the artists books on display was a challenge – I walked around the space, glancing at and visually grazing the works on display. In keeping with the gallery display norm for artists book display the books were not for touching with many in vitrine glassed cages. Many books were the concertina form that allowed for easy reading and connection with the narrative. The artist also presented alongside the books wall works to give the reader an idea of the contents of the book.

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Exhibition installation of 'Books as art'   Photo: Doug Spowart

Exhibition installation of Books as art: 30 years in the making

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After my initial viewing, the sheer volume of the work on display and the demands that such a volume of complex and at times conceptually dense places on the viewer, I had to go away and come back to the gallery for a second viewing.

On my return I was drawn to a number of the accessible concertina books. The first of was, In Paris 2012, which dealt with the artist’s personal experience of walking in Paris and the extraordinary things experienced. The book’s plain white paper surface is inscribed with diaristic jottings, a quick unfinished drawing of the Eiffel Tower, a textural pattern element, and deep-etched monochrome photographs of sculptures and architectural details. A pink abstracted form with a pigment-bled edge repeats over many pages – is it a memory of a figure walking in the rain with an umbrella or is it a self-portrait?

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Books as Art: 30 years in the making Catherine McCue Boes Bundaberg Regional Art Gallery

In Paris 2012, Catherine McCue Boes

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In another work, Preserved in Australia, an old Kodak folding camera has the concertina bellows extended ready for use. Spilling from the rear of the camera explodes a concertina of 20 or so images attached to the viewing hood. The book is derived from a period of time where the artist worked in Roebourne in Australia’s north west. The photos are from the early 1900s, loaned by their owners – residents from Roebourne as well as from the local Historical Museum. McCue Boes has metamorphosed the camera and it’s image legacy into a device for viewing history.

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Books as Art: 30 years in the making Catherine McCue Boes Bundaberg Regional Art Gallery

Preserved in Australia, Catherine McCue Boes

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An early book, First Revolution (Macbeth) Lithographs 1989, represents the artist’s reference to the Shakespearian theatrical character of the same name. These stone lithographs are accompanied by screen-printed texts on the verso page. In the style of the livre d’artist this large format book with it’s thick deck-edged pages and codex binding make it a strident piece of work. Whilst the book is firmly enclosed in a vitrine and opened to one page only, individual prints from other pages of the book are presented as a framed artworks on the wall.

The First Revolution is also referential to the artist’s major influence, an 1800s book of rococo etchings she discovered in the 1980s and bought at an auction. She states in the exhibition materials that: ‘this was the catalyst for me to not only collect artist books but also create them’. The binding, its construction, materials and its red covering are echoed in many works.

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A New Book of Shields 1770-1800

A New Book of Shields 1770-1800

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Books as Art: 30 years in the making Catherine McCue Boes Bundaberg Regional Art Gallery

First Revolution (Macbeth) Lithographs 1989, Catherine McCue Boes

 

The hybrid mix of traditional printmaking and digital techniques creates an opportunity for McCue Boes to extend the artist’s vision and the nature of the outcome. In the 2005 book The Red Shoes, Mark 3 the artist references the Hans Christian Anderson children’s story of the same title. Seven linocuts have been enhanced through scanning into the computer, being redrawn and with text added – the result is a blending of the tradition of print with the graphic elements of typography to convey the story.

Catherine McCue Boes works with other artists in international mail art projects that are presented in another section of the exhibition. A collaborative work curated by the artist, entitled, Life Line, Flood project 2014, brings us back to the idea of the artist’s work being affected by the places they come from. In 2013 devastating floods inundated Bundaberg and upper reaches of the Burnett River. The swollen river gouged out land, animals, houses, trees and farms and significantly affected the land and people of the whole region. McCue Boes curated a collection of photos and texts from friends and assembled a concertina book that carries the sentiments of the contributors. The book is a narrative of many voices with text and image carrying the emotion and the spirit of the contributors. Art often has a dual role, that of the healing catharsis and also to present accounts that can inform those who did not witness the grief first-hand. While this work may be a little uneven in its attempt to blend the individual contributions it is profoundly successful in its purpose and outcome.

Working around to other books in the show a persistent source of inspiration is the artist’s surroundings and environment. I’m reminded of Lucy Lippard’s statement that: ‘Everybody comes from someplace, and the places we come from–cherished or rejected–inevitably affect our work[i]’. This is most notable in a body of work arranged on an island-like plinth towards the rear of the gallery. Assembled is a collection of books that relate to mining environments. McCue Boes works with photographic images, irony and conceptual play to present a variety of book forms and commentaries.

The book, Inspiration from the Artificial Environment 2012, consists of 16 photographic images and borders printed on canvas that are presented in a form that mimics wallpaper, soft furnishing and curtain material sample books. The patterns are photo elements flipped and flopped to form plausible, although somewhat 1960s dated looking designs for decorating your home. The reality of the source images is that they are the detritus of mining workspaces and consist of rusting drums, cable, pipes waste and pondage.

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First Revolution (Macbeth) Lithographs 1989,

Inspiration from the Artificial Environment 2012, Catherine McCue Boes

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Other books, some that are more book-like sculptural forms, are part of this body of work. Presentation includes commercial boxes, simulated strips of black and white negatives, abstracted photographs and industrial labels – one stating, ‘Danger – This energy source has been LOCKED-OUT’.

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Books as Art: 30 years in the making Catherine McCue Boes Bundaberg Regional Art Gallery

Fragile 2012, Catherine McCue Boes

 

.A major contribution to this environmentally themed piece is the book/s, Fragile 2012, which is a collection of 12 small concertina books each containing 10 photographs. When assembled the covers create a full-sized image of flaming torch-like structures. The unsuspecting viewer may encounter these little photobooks as a pleasant visual wander through shapes, forms and colours. However the artist has seductively blind-sighted the viewer – these are not pretty and benign subjects. The accompanying didactic explains the photographs were made while participating in an artist in residence in a gas mining plant in Queensland. The artist adds to the didactic that: ‘The work demonstrates my concern for the environment and the depletion of the country’s resources.’

A position pervades many works in the show and I’m reminded of Lucy Lippard’s closing comment in the catalogue for the exhibition Weather Report: Art and Climate Change, where she speaks of the artist as a commentator, communicator and as one who acts as a provocateur. Lippard proposes, ‘… it is the artist’s job to teach us how to see.’ (Lippard 2007:11) Through these works McCue Boes is as an artist ‘teaching us to see’. The strength of her communiqué in these political works is achieved through with irony and humour, and the association with reality of the photographic image.

Books as Art: 30 years in the making is not an exhibition about art, or about making, or even about books. It is an exhibition about the very stuff of life and the human experience of the world – an experience that needs to be shared.

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Portrait: Catherine McCue-Bowes

Portrait: Catherine McCue-Bowes

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I’ve made a note also about the importance of proximity in regional centres as well – the ‘big city’ should come visiting sometime. They may be amazed!

 

Doug Spowart

July 28, 2014


VISIT CATHERINE McCUE BOES Website: http://catherinemccue.blogspot.com.au/

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Reference:

[i] Lippard, L. R. (1997). The Lure of the Local: Sense of Place in a Multicentered Society. New York, The New Press. P36.

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Review text © 2014 Doug Spowart

All photographs  © 2014 Doug Spowart

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COMMENTARIES: ARTISTS BOOKS … AS POPULAR AS TATOOs!

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COMMENTARIES ARISING FROM THE SLQ SIGANTO FOUNDATION SEMINAR

The trouble with artists’ books  

State Library of Queensland – May 4, 2013

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The quote “artists’ books … as popular as tatoos” was an opening remark by gallerist Noreen Grahame

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All great seminars, forums, conferences and meetings stir discussion and commentary; The trouble with artists’ books seminar was no exception. We approached a number of artists book people to contribute to this blog post responding to the stimulus created by the event – I have included their responses after my introductory comments.

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In Volume 7 of the Bonefolder e-journal  I reported on the dual artists book events of the 2010 Artspace Mackay Focus on Artists Book V, event and the 3rd Libris Awards. In this report I commented on the speaker’s presentations and reviewed the artists book award. I then concluded that these events were integral to the development and maintenance of a community of practice for those who make artists books in this country.  Three years on the energy and enthusiasm for artists’ books remains however the Mackay Focus event has been abandoned and some awards events have slipped from their usual place in the yearly/bi-yearly calendar.

We are indeed indebted to the Siganto Foundation and the SLQ who in 2012 made possible the Keith Smith and Scott McCarney workshop and seminar, and this year the The trouble with artists’ books seminar. It seems to me that artists book community in this country has a great appetite for information, connecting with the heroes and heroines of the discipline, learning about methods and techniques as well as participating in camaraderie with their peers.  My concluding words in the Bonefolder report recognised the importance of events such as Artspace’s Focus on Artists Books and the Libris Awards as they invigorate the discipline and the art of artists books … The significant response to this seminar indicates that the pace and frequency of artists book events should not slacken – we want more!

The Bonefolder report concluding comments were:

Awareness of the origins of the discipline of artists’ books and the Australian context as well as issues of contemporary and emergent practice is a unique outcome for FOAB. Where else in Australia this year would one be able to experience, or participate in a program where issues as diverse as Avatars making books in their second life, the death of the book/author, wild books and zoo viewing of books, propositions for new perceptive literature, mail art and the products of psychometry being resolved as artists’ books? Perhaps attendees should be warned of the ride that they would encounter.

Central to need for the FOAB, as an event, is its ability to pull together artists’ book interested people and provide a forum for them to be a part of something bigger than themselves. Artists’ bookmakers are individual artists, sometimes collaborators, librarians, academics, gallerists and collectors are isolated as islands of interest in their usual place of activity. But at FOAB they meet, greet, mingle, chat, discuss, argue and get down to the flensing-out of ideas, polemics and concerns about practice and the book as a work of art. This blend of interested parties forms the nucleus, the hub, of the discipline within this country – without it, there would only be individual soliloquies in the wilderness

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Julie Barratt

Julie Barratt   –  Artist

I guess really briefly what I got from ‘the trouble with artist book ‘ talk if I was going to quote is ” it seems the trouble with artist books is that there are too many to love!!!” On a more serious note I guess for me it always comes down to how we talk about/define an artist book, as an ongoing discussion.

Almost on a daily basis when I had the gallery (I always had at lead a few artist books on display) people would ask what these books are! How to define them without quoting Johanna Drucker?  Should there be categories i.e. Sculptural, digital etc etc. How do we expect the audience to understand them if we as practitioners have difficulty talking about them? But how do we agree on a definition?

That’s what I imagined the forum to be about because ‘isn’t that the trouble with artist books’? Having said that I thoroughly enjoyed the forum and think there need to be many many more of them when in fact there seem to be less (Mackay forum? ) so that the discussion can continue….

Its always a pleasure to catch up with the artist book community, feels like a reunion every time!

Julie

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Maureen Trainor portrait

Maureen Trainor

Maureen Trainor  –  Photographer and QCA Masters student

I found these presentations to be very informative and inspiring.

The content and sequence of the presentations were dynamic.

By breaking down the delivery into the three different viewpoints the three Keynote speakers were engaging and thought provoking.

Starting with Helen Cole presenting ‘the Librarian’s view’, Noreen Grahame presenting ‘the Gallerist’s view’, Jan Davis presenting ‘the Artist’s view’ and ending with an interactive audience time for ‘questions and answers’ was right on target with information.

The Hearsay team discussing their project was fantastic. Combined with humour and wit they certainly kept the attention of a diverse audience.

I truly enjoyed the afternoon and felt I could of stayed into the night with more speakers and presentations.

Maureen

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Monica Oppen

Monica Oppen  –  Artist and collector

The Trouble with Artists’ Books (and the Libris Awards)

Coming away from the SLQ seminar where the attendance was so strong and having attended the opening and announcement of the Libris Award at Artspace Mackay the conviction that has risen strongly in my mind is that there is a real need for events such as the SLQ Siganto Seminar. The strong attendance not only indicates a real interest in the topic but a desire of artists to reconnect with others working in the field. As Helen writes in her post about the Libris Awards, and I can vouch for it, there were very, very few artists there but also no other significant persons from the institutions who have an ongoing interest and involvement in artists’ books were there. The tyranny of distance and the associated costs of travel and accommodation will only be overcome by creating an event that is worth travelling for.

The topic The Trouble with Artists Books is pertinent and complex and was way too big to handle in one afternoon; a multi-day conference could have been structure around this topic. Time restrictions meant that Jan Davis and Noreen Grahame could only touch on, hint at and introduce the work/books from which a broader discussion could have expanded. The sense that there is a need for these seminars (judging from the attendance numbers) also hopefully indicates a need for more rigorous, mature critical discourse around the genre, a breadth of conversation and argument. Does the constant discussion of definition and the non-committal responses from ‘those who should know’ arise from this lack of discourse? I don’t consider the definition ‘if the artist calls it a book, it is a book’ to be an adequate, exciting nor empowering definition unless some force is allowed to work in opposition to it, that demands a justification, demands some critical analysis. The lines will always be blurry but this could be an energizing force and contribute a dynamism to the genre. By not taking a stand are we in fact leaving definitions to the gallery? Surely the gallery as a medium is the antithesis of the (artists’) book. The gallery is exposed and extraverted; the book is enclosed and introverted. Always it comes up, the problem with exhibiting artists books— this is because books are not meant to be exhibited, they are meant to be read. What are the implications for the genre if books are only viewed in the gallery, and more seriously if the gallery maintains a ‘no touch’ policy? Ironically, making a (artist’s) book was originally about abandoning the gallery; about the subversion of the commercialism of the art object. The book was meant to be a free-floating object in wider society. Where is that rebel spirit?

A hundred more questions could be asked. I hope the SLQ seminar is not a one-off but gives an impetus to more symposiums throughout the country.

Monica Oppen 14/5/13

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Judy Barrass

Judy Barrass

Judy Barrass  –  Artist

THIS COMMENTARY COMES FROM JUDY’s BLOG – ‘Critical Mass’ http://www.criticalmassblog.net/2012/?p=2568

No one can agree on what they are, or even where the apostrophe should be placed, but a seminar on artists’ books at the State Library on Saturday drew a crowd.

It was a  rare get-together of artist book makers and officianados, with attendees travelling from other states and regional Queensland just to attend the two-and-a-half-hour seminar and catch up with old friends.

According to the speakers, librarian Helen Cole, gallerist Noreen Grahame, and artist book maker and academic Jan Davis, artist books are problematic. That’s not just because no one seems to be able to agree on a definition, but also because they are hard to store, hard to display, and are not usually included in mainstream collections or exhibitions. They attract mostly a smallish group of makers and collectors and don’t sell in large numbers. Despite this, artists’ books draw a passionate audience of makers and supporters whenever they are on show (or whenever there’s a seminar).

Queensland has been a leader in the artist book phenomenon. The Queensland State Library is a significant collector, and Grahame Galleries took an early leading role. Artspace Mackay and Noosa Regional Gallery added public gallery support to exhibitions and collecting.

Someone suggested that it’s an inbred audience made up almost entirely of artist book makers, but a show of hands in the crowd on Saturday debunked this myth since at least half the attendees were not makers. Still, as Noreen Grahame remarked, artist books are a sort of ‘underground’ movement outside the mainstream.

I can’t help wondering if this is merely a question of naming. By calling these artworks ‘books’ they are relegated to the collections of libraries rather than art galleries, or they exist in a no man’s land between library and gallery. Nonetheless I have seen many works in public art gallery collections that could (or perhaps should) be called artist books. The boundaries are thin and flexible, and this was evident at the seminar. The mantra seems to be that if the artist calls it a book then it is a book.

One of the more interesting questions on the day was about the growing number of artist books that exist only in digital format. Helen Cole said the library was considering how these books might be collected and preserved, but indicated it was extremely difficult, particularly as technology changes so rapidly and formats and software become obsolete. Noreen Grahame solved the problem by referring to digital books as ‘ephemera’, and Jan Davis thought the number of artists working in the digital realm was small.

Following the discussion, a very chatty audience enjoyed a scrumptious afternoon tea and the  launch of Hearsay, a large format collaborative artists’ book by artist Euan Macleod, printmaker Ron McBurnie, and writer Lloyd Jones. They apparently didn’t worry too much whether or not their work was or was not an artist book, but have sensibly hedged their bets by also producing the pages as a portfolio of unbound prints (in case anyone thought it wasn’t art, or more probably because the portfolio might be more saleable than an artist book ).

The seminar ‘The Trouble with Artist Books’ was sponsored by the Siganto Foundation through the Queensland Library Foundation.

The State Library artist book collection is part of the Australian Library of Art.

(Thank you Judy for allowing this re-posting in this blog)

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Wim de Vos

Wim de Vos  –  Artist

‘The Trouble with Artists Books’

The lecture sponsored by the Siganto Foundation was very well attended by a large audience of art practitioners, administrators, and lovers of Artists Books, and was introduced by the new head of the State Library, Janette Wright. The speakers were Helen Cole, Senior Librarian of Special Collections at the Library; Noreen Grahame, Gallerist and long time respected promoter of the Artist Books within Australia and Internationally; and Jan Davis, Academic, and practitioner of Artists Books at Southern Cross University, Lismore, NSW.

Technically the lecture was informative, ran smoothly and was very well presented.

It was great to see so many practitioners (well over half the audience) and the general public, as this event facilitated a forum – to share, and some time to catch up with friends and colleagues. This has over the last few years become non-existent with the loss of the Art Space Mackay Artist Book Forum. Also the Noosa Regional Gallery’s ‘demise’ of the Artists Book annual exhibition was a sad occurrence. In addition, both venues offered successful workshops with renowned National and International Practitioners in the Visual Arts to nurture the visual arts and the book.

Many aspects of the development of Artists Books were addressed. Helen Cole addressed the ‘Trouble with Artists Books’ from a Librarian’s point of view, in that, because they were ‘Artists Books’ and diverse in so many ways, the logistics of preservation, cataloguing and storage were ‘Troublesome’. Furthermore, it was stated that the ‘Galleries’ had passed the Artists Books onto Libraries to display and make use of them, and by making Libraries the custodians of the ever-growing phenomenon of the Artists Book.

The concept of Artists Books is generally not an easy topic to present. It is in fact generally not understood at all. A friend recently pointed out, ‘I didn’t even know that an artist book existed, but as I have learnt through the language of art over time, I can say, I view this process as Book Works by Artists.’ A major exhibition of books of this nature: DAS BUCH was presented at the Queensland Art Gallery in association with the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney and the Goethe Institut in Germany during 1992. This was, I’m sure, a huge influence on art practitioners and the public. At the time, it placed an emphasis on the ‘Book as Object’ in a context never before experienced in the Antipodes. There has been no major exhibition of this type in a public gallery in this State, since.

As I am a practising artist and maker of prints, paintings, and sculpture, and work with a wide variety of materials, the book as object comes naturally as a medium to extend my practice. It has in fact tied together all my processes of making art, including text, giving me the freedom of story telling on many levels.

I observed, as the afternoon progressed, that in the presentation not all aspects of Artists Books practice was being fully covered and explored by the presenters. This became, indeed, troublesome. There is actually content within books, books with text, images and text, objects and materials, and so on. There was very little mentioned on the subject of the Sculptural Book or the Photo Book. A visual list WAS presented with images of the types of books that were in the collection of the Library. But no further elaboration was offered to those in the audience that were not already ‘in the know’. The State Library of Queensland has one of the largest collections of Creative & Historical books in the southern hemisphere.

Let it be said that we can be proud of a comprehensive, diverse, eclectic and public collection of books – particularly in the collection of Contemporary Art practice in Queensland and beyond. It is promoted that it ‘may be visited at any time, by appointment’.

I recognise that there is not time to cover everything fully. This made duplication and repetition even more irritating. Time may have been used more productively.

The lecture continued with the history of the Artists Book and it’s growth within Australia over the last 30 odd years. This painted an impressive picture of collections and practise over that time. Artists were mentioned who were instrumental in its development, but presenters did not go far enough on this issue, and failed to mention key motivators: artists both local and international. There was a ‘flow of words’ promoting a few artists over and over again. When the presentation of ‘Favourite Artists Books’ was introduced the theme of the lecture was totally abandoned. We were presented with a self-indulgent diversion as to what the book may mean only to the ‘literate Artists Book fans’ present.

It would have been more useful to give the audience an indication of how they may wish to learn more about Artist Books through the public and private system. There was enough talent and experience behind the microphone to impart this information. It seemed much of this lecture was preaching to the converted.

Afternoon tea on the terrace was followed by the launch of a collaboration of an Artist Book created by two well-known visual artists:  Ewan McCloud and Ron McBurnie, and the writer Lloyd Jones. This was a very good presentation chaired by Suzi Muddiman: Director of the Murwillumbah Regional Art Gallery in NSW. This gave the opportunity for the layperson to experience the processes of collaboration in art making.

As there are no indications of any follow-up lecture or activities relating to Artist Books, it would be worthwhile to plan something on the promotion and educational aspects of Artists Books. I am sure it would be a great success.

A ‘large bouquet’ to Helen Cole in particular, and the State Library, for organising this generally informative and pleasant afternoon. We look forward to a more expansive event in the future.

Wim de Vos

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Peter Lyssiotis

Peter Lyssiotis  –  Artists book-maker and photomonteur

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Peter’s letter

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A vodcast for the event is available at  http://www.slq.qld.gov.au/audio-video/webcasts/recent-webcasts/siganto-seminar

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Cheers  Doug+Victoria

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© Of all texts resides with the authors

Photograph of the SLQ Theatre, Julie Barratt, Monica Oppen, Wim de Vos  © Doug Spowart 2013. Self-portrait of Maureen Trainor ©2013. Judy Barrass portrait supplied by Judy.

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2013 LIBRIS AWARD WINNERS ANNOUNCED

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COOPER+SPOWART TALK ABOUT PHOTOBOOKS

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Victoria Cooper talking about photobooks @ Foto Frenzy

Victoria Cooper talking about photobooks @ Foto Frenzy

On the evening of May 21 Victoria + Doug  presented a talk and showing of their self-published photobooks and artists books. Entitled LOOKING GOOD IN PRINT: PHOTOBOOK, the talk connected participants with concepts and techniques on how to personalize and create photo-stories in the form of the bespoke self-published book.

Participants engaged in a lecture presentation that helped them to develop a broader understanding of what a photobook can be—extending them beyond just a collection of photos into a resolved personal narrative of high technical and aesthetic values.

The range of options for making photobooks was discussed and samples of hand-made, inkjet printed and hand-bound artists’ books, as well as print-on-demand books were available for viewing and handling.

The Intro Session included an overview of the following topics:

  • Simple and advanced forms and structures of books
  • The creative influence of artists books
  • The image, sequence and the narrative flow
  • Production and design issues for handmade/print-on-demand book
  • Computer processing of the book
  • Simple bindings for the handmade book

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Location:

Unit 3/429 Old Cleveland Road, Camp Hill, QLD 4152.

Time + Date: 6.00 – 8.30pm, Tuesday May 21, 2013.

THE FEE: $ 75.

Bookings were made  through:

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Cooper and Spowart photobooks

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All  photographs + text © Doug Spowart 2013.

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