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Posts Tagged ‘Artspace Mackay

IMPRINT JOURNAL: Article on regional arts awards

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IMPRINT COVER Vol53 #2

 

In March this year we were approached by the Editor of IMPRINT MAGAZINE, the journal of the Print Council of Australia to write a piece about regional galleries and the national awards that they coordinate. Of particular interest to Editor Andrew Stephens was Artspace Mackay’s Libris Awards: National Artists’ Book Award, and Mornington Peninsula Regional Gallery’s National Works on Paper Awards.

We were familiar with both awards events and in particular we’ve had a long connection with the Libris Awards as entrants and reviewers. In 2017 we visited the Mornington Peninsula Regional Gallery as viewed and exhibition of works from their awards. Many of you will also be aware of our interest in, and support of regional art so we were excited by the opportunity that the commission provided.

We set about to prepare the commentary and to add extra voices to the piece we contacted some artists who have significant participation in regional arts awards. What follows is the article with the 4 page layout and photographs followed by the text, references and acknowledgements.

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Imprint: Page 22+23

Imprint: Page 24+25

 

BEYOND THE CITY LIMITS:

Two regional art awards for artists’ books and works on paper

 

The art gallery is a place for presentation, display and the sharing of art. It is a space that orchestrates the development of cultural discourse by connecting the world of the artist with an art-interested audience including members of the public, art students, the artist’s peers, curators, critics and collectors. Big city art galleries can mount blockbuster national and international shows and also cover a diverse range of disciplines that regional galleries cannot ever hope to match. The regional gallery can however specialise in key areas of activity and collection by including in their programs discipline based national awards. These galleries also aren’t so constrained by orthodoxy and can open up the dialogue leading to more widespread changes. Through the awards they can push boundaries and help to define what is contemporary in various disciplines.

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Two noteworthy regional galleries and their specialisations are Artspace Mackay (AM) has the Libris Awards: National Artists’ Book Award (Libris) and Mornington Peninsula Regional Gallery (MPRG) has National Works on Paper Awards (NWOP). To ensure the currency of the entries both awards are offered biennially with a requirement that the works entered must have been completed within the preceding two years. Each gallery has a particular focus for their award.

The Libris Awards provide Artspace Mackay with: ‘an opportunity to become known as a centre for artists’ books; we develop/build meaningful relationships over many years with artists; the award attracts the latest and best works from artists in the field and introduces us to new artists; and provides us with a wonderful opportunity to acquire new artists’ books for our Art Collection by leading artists in the field’.[1]

At the Mornington Peninsula Regional Gallery the NWOP’s role ‘is to support and promote contemporary Australian artists working on or with paper. Works may be executed in any medium on or with paper… The paper must act as the main two or three-dimensional support of the work’.[2]

These Awards provide a testing ground for the new ideas, current aspects of technique and new/contemporary themes as well as many other art practice related opportunities. Sasha Grishin, in his ‘Judges Notes’ the 2016 Libris Awards commented 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’.[3] Entries in the NWOP Awards also exhibit Grishin’s ‘boundless freedom’ as MPRG Director Jane Alexander states in the 2016 catalogue: ‘Through printing, drawing, folding, sculpting and collage, paper is at the forefront of artistic experimentation… increasingly we are seeing this practice pushed to new and exciting dimensions’.[4]

Much of an artist’s life can be isolated making it difficult to connect with a broader community of practice, which can also be fractured by physical distance and conceptual difference. Therefore artists see these awards as an opportunity to present their most recent work. They seek the recognition that comes from selection and being shown in the awards’ survey exhibitions. This acknowledgement also locates them in a review of contemporary practice specific to their discipline. Nationally respected printmaker and artist bookmaker Dianne Fogwell generously shared with us the three main reasons she entered awards: ‘1. To stay abreast of who is professionally working in my field and 2; so that my contemporaries know I am still working professionally in my field and 3; I can enter work that does not suit the gallery exhibition either through content or scale’.[5]

There is also the potential benefit of exposure, critical review and for some the financial reward of purchase or winning a major award. It should be noted that both the Libris and NWOP receive significant sponsorship and support from range of sources to make possible their awards[6]. Deanna Hitti won the 2008 Libris Award and the 2009 Books Beyond Words Award held by the East Gippsland Art Gallery. She comments that, ‘I am quite fortunate to have been the recipient of two major Australian artist book awards in consecutive years… My whole arts practice gained exposure and in a way it validated my work and presented a path to promote my work through’.[7]

The choice of appropriate judges for these awards is critical as through their decisions a continual review of the nation-wide practice of the award’s associated disciplines is carried out. The selected judges for the Libris and NWOP come from major collecting and exhibiting institutional backgrounds and are widely respected within their specific disciplines.[8] Other awards may have judges who are also acclaimed artists, art critics and teaching academics.

Before entering any awards the artist needs to consider their work in relation to the competition criteria and the judging process. In this evaluation some gritty questions tend to surface regarding how their work is to be considered by the selection committee and the awards audience. For example: How much is my art worth? Will the winner’s work need to appear comparable to the amount of prize money associated with the award? Will awards that favour the spectacular and immediately accessible works marginalise those that require time and focus? As the practice of book arts is very broad and varied, from book sculpture to fine press to zines—in rewarding a particular art form/s this could promote one form over many other worthy and incomparable works. If so this could narrow the potential for a variety of work to be accepted within the broader practice?

To address questions of diversity, the two awards discussed in this article attempt to provide opportunities to recognise different mediums and the stages of the artist’s career. Libris has in the past offered a separate award for Zines, and have always included a local artists award. This year they are featuring the altered book. Both the Libris and NWOP also include emerging artists’ awards along with a budget to acquire a variety of other works selected for the exhibition.

Another salient question for the artist to consider relates to the handling of the work and its display, particularly for unusual work, such as sculptural and installation works that are unframed. Many galleries may not have the capacity to appropriately display these works and still allow for quality public engagement. The Libris awards require that entrants include a document on how they would like work would be shown. This way the artist has to consider whether the work should be handled and how it will be placed in the gallery space.

Although an important part of an artists career awards should not define them and their creative work potential. Dianne Fogwell presents a grounded perspective on how the award should influence the artmaking process: ‘Being selected as a finalist or to be the people’s choice or winning the award or prize gives you heart as making art is a lonely thing and more so the longer you do it. Does it make a difference to the way I make my work, no, has it made a difference to who buys my work, I hope not, as it is the work that’s important in the end’.[9]

To build an archive and history of these important survey events both Libris and NWOP create records of their awards in the form of catalogues and online in accessible PDF versions.[10] Libris posted 2016 judge Sasha Grishin’s award notes[11] and an illustrated list of works.[12] NWOP has over the last two events, 2014 & 2016 published a physical catalogue and online versions as well.[13] Additionally AM and MPRG can be contacted for further information on historical records.

These archives add to the history of the award as well as a snapshot of the adjudicated contemporary practice in the disciplines at the time of the award and the value that collectors and the art market place on artworks. What may be interesting as an enhancement to any art award could be consideration for the creation of a democratic record of entry where all entries are listed in an online format to show the complete story of all artists who entered the award and their works.

CONCLUSION:

After the judgements have been made, the winners received recognition, the acquisitions completed and the remaining works returned, the exhibition may be over but the legacy of the awards lingers on. Through the initiative of the regional gallery, sponsor support and the contribution of artists, these awards create a fertile space where ongoing discourse can both challenge and shape the development of the art.

 

Prepared by Dr Victoria Cooper and Dr Doug Spowart

With thanks to: Tracey Heathwood Director Artspace Mackay and Narelle Russo MPRG Curator-Collections / Registrar.

Dr Lyn Ashby, Dianne Fogwell, Deanna Hitti, Johanna Kambourian, Dr Clyde McGill, Dr Felicity Rea.

 

[1] Correspondence received from Artspace Director Tracey Heathwood
[2] https://mprg.mornpen.vic.gov.au/Exhibitions/National-Works-on-Paper Viewed 10 April, 2018.
[3] http://www.artspacemackay.com.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0009/205398/2016_Libris_Awards_Artspace_Mackay.pdf   Viewed 4 April, 2018
[4] Jane Alexander, 2016 NWOP Catalogue, p 3.
[5] Correspondence from Dianne Fogwell
[6] The Libris and NWOP offer significant monetary prizes: Libris—4 awards, 2 acquisitive) totalling $15,000, and the NWOP offers a major acquisitive award of $15,000. Both awards have acquisitive awards budgets – NWOP allocates a further $35,000.
[7] Correspondence from Dianna Hitti
[8] Judges for 2018 Libris: Roger Butler AM, Senior Curator Prints and Drawings, National Gallery of Australia Helen Cole, former Coordinator Australian Library of Art
and the 2018 NWOP, Jane Alexander, MPRG Director;
Victoria Lynn, Director, TarraWarra Museum of Art;
Dr Kyla McFarlane, Curator of Academic Programs (Research) Ian Potter Museum of Art.
[9] Correspondence from Dianne Fogwell
[10] http://www.artspacemackay.com.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0007/204955/2016LibrisAwards_IllustratedListofWorks.pdf  Viewed 7 April, 2018
[11] http://www.artspacemackay.com.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0009/205398/2016_Libris_Awards_Artspace_Mackay.pdf  Viewed 7 April, 2018
[12] http://www.artspacemackay.com.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0007/204955/2016LibrisAwards_IllustratedListofWorks.pdf  Viewed 7 April, 2018
[13] https://mprg.mornpen.vic.gov.au/Exhibitions/National-Works-on-Paper Viewed 7 April, 2018

 

 

SOME OTHER AUSTRALIAN – PRINTMAKING + ARTISTS’ BOOK AWARDS @ March 2018

Manly Artists Book Award—Bi-yearly, next 2019

https://www.northernbeaches.nsw.gov.au/things-to-do/arts-and-culture/manly-artists-book-award

Hazelhurst Art on Paper Award—Bi-yearly, next 2019

http://www.sutherlandshire.nsw.gov.au/Community/Hazelhurst/Exhibitions/Previous-Exhibitions/2017/Hazelhurst-Art-on-Paper-Award-2017

Gippsland Print Award—Bi-yearly, next 2019

http://www.gippslandartgallery.com/prizes/gippsland-print-award/

Swan Hill Print & Drawing Acquisitive Awards—Bi-yearly, current 2018

https://gallery.swanhill.vic.gov.au/2018/03/print-drawing-finalists/

2017 Geelong Aquisitive Print Awards

http://www.geelonggallery.org.au/cms_uploads/docs/2017-geelong-acquisitive-print-awards_online.pdf

Banyule Award for Works on Paper—Hatch Contemporary Arts Space

https://www.banyule.vic.gov.au/Arts-and-Events/Banyule-Award-for-Works-on-Paper

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LIBRIS ARTISTS’ BOOK AWARD – Cooper+Spowart Finalists

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The artists’ book TIDAL by Cooper+Spowart

 

Our artists’ book TIDAL is now on show as a FINALIST in the 2018 LIBRIS ARTISTS’ BOOK AWARD at Artspace Mackay, Queensland, Australia.

We are excited to be finalists in this Award exhibition. The awards were announced on May 26 – details of the winning works and a download of the exhibition catalogue are available at the bottom of this post.

 

ABOUT OUR ARTISTS’ BOOK – TIDAL :

 

TIDAL is a montage of fragmented imprints made from the solid reality of found objects swept up by the tide–beautiful castaways from the ocean.

These objects as image elements, no longer in their original form, are woven together as if a poem, song or dance. In many ways TIDAL relates to a ‘desire for that melancholy wonder that is the blue of distance’ from Rebecca Solnit’s A field guide to getting lost.  Or just simply it could be about the artist and their art.

It is book of double-sided cyanotype prints, when held to the light, allow for the montage of the images front and back, thus merging and unfolding the space and time of the page and the book. Reading becomes the blending of the fragments through the spatial divide of the turning page.

The video that follows gives a basic view of the TIDAL book:

 

 

 

ABOUT THE TIDAL BOOK PROJECT:

 

This project began with the collection of beach detritus at low tide after the super moon at Wooli, north coast New South Wales.

We worked collaboratively in the intense heat of Christmas Day 2016 to hand coat the cyanotype emulsion on ricepaper, expose the ‘found objects’ to the paper in the sun, and then wash-out in running water with a dash of lemon juice to create the double-sided cyanotype folios.

Over the next year we developed the structural form of the book, and finally returned to finish it at Wooli, as this state, over Christmas in 2017.

The double-sided cyanotype prints, when held to the light, allow for the montage of the images front and back, thus merging and unfolding the space and time of the page and the book. Reading becomes the blending of the fragments through the spatial divide of the turning page.

 

THE BOOK:

A unique state book of 6 double-sided cyanotype images on rice paper.

Book size 49.5x30x1 cm

The text was written by Victoria Cooper and includes a quote by Rebecca Solnit.

Folders and text:
Canson Stonehenge and Arches paper with rice-paper collage elements.

Garamond font family in pigmented inks on Arches paper.

This book is another work created in an ongoing series relating to the locality of Wooli and we acknowledge the support provided by Dr Felicity Rea

 

BOOK TEXT:

 

Frontpiece: TIDAL

 

 

OTHER INFORMATION INCLUDING THE WINNING BOOKS:

 

Category 1. Dalrymple Bay Coal Terminal National Artists’ Book Award

Winner: Clyde McGill for his work ‘Witness’

Category 2. Dalrymple Bay Coal Terminal Altered Book Award

Michelle Vine for her work ‘Contested Biography I (quadrat)’

Category 3. Mackay Regional Council Regional Artists’ Book Award

Jamian Stayt for his work ‘Tagged’

Category 4. Artspace Mackay Foundation Tertiary Artists’ Book Award

Jenna Lee for her work ‘A plant in the wrong place’

 

LIBRIS CATALOGUE

CLICK THE LINK BELOW TO DOWNLOAD A COPY OF THE CATALOGUE

Libris_Awards_2018_Catalogue_of_Entries_brochureA4

 

SEE OUR POST ABOUT THE 2016 LIBRIS AWARDS HERE

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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) ©2016 Doug Spowart   With thanks to Victoria Cooper for her suggestions and edits.

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COOPER+SPOWART – JOURNEY NORTH

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Travelling along highways north….

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We are travelling up to north Queensland at the end of September for a month of artists’ book and photography projects, workshops and lectures.

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The artists in tropical garb with palm trees...

The artists in tropical garb with palm trees…

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Our Journey …

 

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Capricornia Printmakers logo

Capricornia Printmakers logo

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September 27 ROCKHAMPTON: CAPRICORNIA PRINTMAKERS

We will present an evening talk about our artists books/photobooks and the Siganto Foundation Research Fellowships work we have been doing in the Australian Library of Art at the State Library of Queensland.

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September 29 MACKAY: ARTSPACE MACKAY as part of the LIBRIS AWARDS PROGRAM

Here are the details…

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SpowartCooper flyer

 

 

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October 2-8 ORPHEUS ISLAND

Here are the details…

orpheus-flyer-2016-1000

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October 16-22 WINTON: NOCTURNE WINTON – To be confirmed

See our other Nocturne Projects …  HERE

A few images like those we could be making at Winton follow…

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Walker's Hotel, Grafton

Walker’s Hotel, Grafton

Trucks through town...

Trucks through town…

A group of Nocturne photographers

A group of Nocturne photographers

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Nocturne Winton Facebook Logo

Nocturne Winton FB Logo

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CONTACT US FOR DETAILS OF ANY OF OUR JOURNEYS NORTH ACTIVITIES

<Greatdivide@a1.com.au>

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COMMENTARIES: ARTISTS BOOKS … AS POPULAR AS TATOOs!

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The wide view

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-port

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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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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2013 LIBRIS AWARDS: THE JUDGE’S VIEW

with one comment

As a departure from our usual format of WOT WE DID, we invited a Guest Blogger – eminently qualified Helen Cole, to comment on an event that we were unable to attend. Helen was the judge for the 2013 Libris Artists Book Awards and in this post she talks about WOT SHE DID, and  provides insights into the awards and selects artists books to add to her commentary:

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Artspace Mackay Libris Artists Book awards… some thoughts

2013 Libris Awards  .........Photo: Helen Cole

2013 Libris Awards installation ………Photo: Helen Cole

2013 Libris Awards installation  .........Photo: Helen Cole

2013 Libris Awards installation ………Photo: Helen Cole

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The Libris exhibition, as always, looks fantastic in the Artspace gallery. The works are very varied, from codexes, scrolls, altered books, and boxes to woven and sculptural pieces.

 

Julie Barrett's Book

Julie Barrett: The mourning after …….Photo: Helen Cole.

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The first thing that struck me when presented with the ninety books for the judging of the Libris Awards at Artspace Mackay was something that came up in our Trouble with artists’ books seminar last week- the inadequacy of the digital surrogate. Anna Thurgood, Director of Artspace Mackay had sent me images of each of the entries. Seeing them in the flesh mad me realize I had wildly mis-imagined the size of some of the works. For example, Julie Barratt’s The mourning after, perhaps 50 x 70 cm, I had imagined as a small hand-sized book. Conversely  Julie Bookless’ (interesting name for a bookmaker and a potential title for her book as it had neither image nor text but was still a very interesting work) Audrey was a tiny 10 cm tall  when I imagined it to be at least octavo size. Size does matter and it does have an effect on the impact of a book.

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Julie Bookless: Audrey - Photo Helen Cole

Julie Bookless: Audrey ……..Photo Helen Cole

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A noticeable difference between this and past awards was that, because there was no associated forum, very few of the artists who had entered attended the announcement of the award. This connection of the artists’ book community was such a wonderful part of the previous Mackay events and is perhaps the reason we had such a large attendance at The trouble with artists’ books seminar.

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Michele Skelton: Wave form .......Photo: Helen Cole

WINNER Category 1. $10,000 Dalrymple Bay Coal Terminal National Artists Book Award,
Michele Skelton, Wave form, woodblock print, unique. …….Photo: Helen Cole

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The quality of the entries this year was very high and any of a dozen works could have won the major prize. The winner Wave form by Michele Skelton looks simple (in a photo) but as I said a photo can be deceiving; the book is deeply thought out and faultlessly constructed. It appears sculptural but is actually a traditional codex form with spine, cover and pages. The cover represents the calm of the sea and the shore when the book is closed and when it is opened the pages sewn into the spine spill out as waves which can be arranged and twisted to represent a raging sea. The choice of paper is perfect to allow this. The waves are printed from a woodblock and this choice of technique works beautifully with the colour and subject to evoke the classic Hokusai image The great wave. It has the advantage that it is an artist’s book that can be seen as a whole while on display without handling.

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Caren Florence: WYSIWYG .........Photo: Helen Cole

Caren Florance: WYSIWYG ………Photo: Helen Cole

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Another work that does that is Caren Florance’s clever WYSIWYG (What you see is what you get). To enable the viewer to see the whole book without having to touch it, Caren letterpress printed a sheet multiple times then cut and bound the pages so that one line from each page is visible. They build up to a witty text written to the reader from the book’s point of view, stating that it understands the viewer’s problem and hopes it has solved it.  And it has.

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Helen Cole  Coordinator, Australian Library of Art, State Library of Queensland

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Thank you Helen for this commentary 

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SEE THE OFFICIAL AWARD WINNERS AND IMAGES OF THE OPENING AND THE BOOKS FROM THE ARTSPACE MACKAY WEBSITE:

http://www.artspacemackay.com.au/whats_on/news/libris_awards_photo_gallery

http://www.artspacemackay.com.au/whats_on/news/and_the_winner_is…

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SEE ANOTHER BLOG WITH ENTRY PICS AND LINKS TO ARTIST’S PAGES.

http://moreidlethoughts.wordpress.com/2013/05/17/more-from-the-libris-awards/

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All  photographs  © Helen Cole 2013.    Copyright in the artworks resides with the artists.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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2013 LIBRIS AWARD WINNERS ANNOUNCED

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