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VICKY DISCUSSES ‘READING MONTAGES’ on the SLQ Blog

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Siganto Research Fellow Victoria Cooper

Siganto Research Fellow Victoria Cooper

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Vicky has recently posted a her latest paper about her research on the State Library of Qld’s Blog. This latest post comments on the montage and is illustrated by some interesting books from the SLQ’s Artists’ Book Collection.

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Read on or visit the post here: http://blogs.slq.qld.gov.au/ala/2016/05/27/reading-montages-perceptions-dilemmas-edges-and-resolution/

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Reading Montages: perceptions, dilemmas, edges and resolution.

Nomenclature Dilemma: Collage or Montage

In this third blog post I will share the dilemmas of encountering the blurred boundaries associated with the lexicon of these art forms, for example: What is the difference between collage and montage? Does it matter? Are there different “readings” of collage vs montage images that have been reproduced by mechanical or digital means for both wall art, or as encountered in my research, book forms? I will present an Occam’s Razor resolution arising from the considerations that inform my research to provide a path through the complexity of these issues.

Responding to terminology dilemma:

As I progress through the research I am continually confronted with terminology issues and questions regarding the nature of montage and its intersection with collage. The dilemma is with me as a kind of Sisyphean cycle where, after climbing the mountain of wondrous diversity in the Australian Library of Art artists’ book collection; I am drawn back down by the weighty issues of inconsistent terminology.

Many artists, who cut, arrange and glue disparate and/or mixed media elements refer to their work as collage or for computer made images, digital collage.  This should be the end of the debate as the etymology of collage is the French word ‘to glue’. But there are others who cut and piece together disparate elements and ‘glue’ and then fuse them within the image and refer to their process as montage (or digital montage for computer images). Also interesting to note is that the origin of the word montage is a French word meaning ‘to mount’.  Is there a need to differentiate between these similar practices? Does terminology affect the ‘reading’ of these works? In my art practice I refer to myself as a montage maker, thinker and reader and as such I bring my own perspective to reading visual narratives.

Gracia Haby and Louise Jennison, who prefer to be known as paper artists, make collage works. Their unique state artists’ books and democratic multiples in the form of zines and editions of artists’ books have a place within this discussion.
Haby and Jennison responded to my email question regarding the nature of the digital work in their book, ‘And we stood alone in the silent night’, where they state that: ‘Digital collages are made in chorus with unique state pieces. They are all a means of making, with the ‘how’ of lesser interest to us than the ‘why’ or ‘message’.

In their statement above they suggest that the means of the making is secondary to the final work. Even when the collage has been digitally scanned and then printed it remains, for them, a collage.

‘And we stood alone in the silent night’

‘And we stood alone in the silent night’

The book, ‘And we stood alone in the silent night’, presents the reader with an enchanted narrative through the composition of images and poetic texts across the pages. Underpinning the reading is the smooth and seamless joins of the elements creating a surreal landscape with a theatre of colourful inhabitants. The compositional elements draw the reader into a kind of Alice in Wonderland experience of reading: where the fused elements are arranged in a mise en page; and the turning page emulates the scenes of a paper movie (i) . The small size text comes through the reading as a poetic aside to underscore the scene.

‘And we stood alone in the silent night’

‘And we stood alone in the silent night’

Haby and Jennison’s careful cutting and pasting of added elements over or alongside the original image distinguish their broader collage work.  Again, in these works the silent edges between these interventions and the original image provide uninterrupted reading. Importantly as this transition or interval between the elements goes unnoticed the added element ultimately colonize the interior space and time of the original image.

So far in my research, I have not found many artists that tear and roughly cut their elements intentionally leaving these edges in the final montage for the reader to interpret. One example however is Lorelei Clark’s work, ‘Brisbane: River City‘.

Although the elements are fused by digital

reproduction, their roughly torn or cut edges seem to separate the elements so that the reading is disturbed much like a jump-cut (ii)  edit in a film.

'Brisbane: River City'

‘Brisbane: River City’

The elements combined in this way demand separate attention and focus on individual parts of the narrative or issue presented. As the source material may have been glossy magazines or pictorial publications, these edges could represent a critique or even an attack on social issues that affect the human condition. In many ways the reading is unsettling, rather like the political montages of Peter Lyssiotis, they shout back at the reader.

'The very first book of fish'

‘The very first book of fish’

Another example of the rough cut collage can be found in Jack Oudyn’s Book of Fish series of small books, where the original collage or paste-up can be seen in the ALA collection along with the small zine like productions. Rather than attached to the surface, the reproduction of these collages fuses the elements into the page and transforms the reading of the text and images. In these little books, the elements are submerged within the narrative and seem to float around like the flotsam and jetsam of everyday life.

Jack Oudyn 'The very first book of fish'.

Jack Oudyn ‘The very first book of fish’.

My resolve:

For the purpose of this research, I have decided to take account of how the artist defines their work as stated in the Library catalogue. As a researcher I am reliant on the information supplied by the artist, either in the form of an artist’s statement or catalogue information. This information allows a deep engagement with the work that ultimately enriches the reading experience for the researcher. Many may consider that too much information may reduce the potential for the book to be reimagined, but for readers like myself there are many ‘readings’ of an artists’ book.  As social scientist, Pierre Bourdieu suggests that an artwork is:

‘in fact made not twice, but hundreds of times, thousands of times by all those who have an interest in it, who find a material or symbolic profit in reading it, classifying it, decoding it, commenting on it, reproducing it, criticizing  it, combating it, knowing it, possessing it.’ (iii)

As mentioned earlier in this blog I refer to my work as montage, and align my methodology and inspiration with that of film and the pioneers of montage and page design from the early 20th century. In this research I have found similarities in the ‘reading’ of collages that have been either created or reproduced through mechanical or digital processes with the images created as montages. As I strive to engage with the many new ways of reading that each artist presents, any background information can take me into new spaces and places, each time I read the same book.

So rather than questioning the terminology, either a collage or montage, I am more informed by the way elements are grafted or combined; their arrangement on the page; the typography and page design. When the elements such as type, photographs, painting, drawing, found objects etc have been fused within the space of the page of the book by photomechanical, digital or another printmaking process, I will read these as a montage. As such, in the research I will consider the following:

•    whether I am seduced by nature of the smooth transition and the interval between elements is subliminal or if the torn edge focuses my attention;
•    whether the adjacency of the elements is disturbing or attacking my attempts to flow smoothly;
•    whether the transition has been digitally achieved or by hand if the information is available.

The nature of the edges of the combined visual elements within the composition is a profound aspect to reading these visual books. So rather than questioning the terminology, whether a collage or montage, I will continue in my ‘montage readings’ informed by the narratives contained within and between grafted edges.

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Victoria Cooper

 

PART 2 of this research series can be viewed here https://wotwedid.com/2016/03/19/victorias-slq-blog-post-montage-research/

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i. Lou Stoumen is the author of visual books including ‘Can’t Argue With Sunrise: A Paper Movie‘ (1975)
ii. Film makers Jean-Luke Godard and Sergei Eisenstein championed the use of discontinuity devices such as jump cuts in scenes to disrupt the flow of the cinematic narrative and create the illusion of moving through time and space. This was intended to engage the viewer proactively to think about the issues surrounding the scene.
iii. Bourdieu, Pierre. ‘The Rules of Art: Genesis and Structure of the Literary Field’. Translated by Susan Emanuel. Stanford University Press, 1996. Editions du Seuil 1992. Page 171.

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ABBE: Artists books Brisbane Event 2015

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ABBE Logo

ABBE Logo

For many years Queensland had a diversity of artists book activities: the bi-ennial Artspace Mackay Artists Book Forums and Libris Awards, the once yearly Noosa Artists Book Events and the Southern Cross University Acquisitive Artists Book Awards. Also contributing to this fertile artists book environment the State Library of Queensland’s Australian Library of Art which included the SLQ’s Siganto Foundation fellowships, ‘white glove’ presentations and events.  Added to this were exhibitions and artists book fairs coordinated by Grahame Galleries and other shows at scattered venues. With the recent demise of the Mackay, Noosa and Southern Cross events their absence was felt by the artists book community.  Now a new event has emerged to add to the SLQ and Grahame Galleries support of the art – the Artists Book Brisbane Event (ABBE). Over July 16, 17 and 18 ABBE featured a triptych of activities; a conference, an exhibition of books, an artists book fair and allied exhibition events at the State Library of Queensland, Grahame Galleries, The Studio West End, the IMA and Impress Printmakers Gallery.

The conference sought to address 3 main themes relating to the artists book:

  • post literacy
  • materiality/the haptic
  • the nature of reading artists books.

Three keynote presenters lead the program:

Sarah Bodman presents her keynote lecture

Sarah Bodman presents her keynote lecture

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SARAH BODMAN (Abstract)– ARTISTS’ BOOKS AS A PHYSICAL SITE OF PRACTICE

If a post-Literate society might also encompass new ways of thinking about reading, we could think of contemporary artists’ books as a site of practice beyond that of McLuhan’s sign posting of the invention of moveable type as fundamentally responsible for how the Western world physically reads: “along the straight Lines of the printed page.”

We seem to have already moved from Linear to non-linear reading; we are used to flitting through digital screen-based texts, and losing our attention through a multitude of online multi-tasking. Physical engagement with artists’ books provides us with spaceto breathe, a slower rhythm of ingesting information and time to reflect, so what about the artists who are making them? How are artists engaging with the physical book now?

These examples focus on celebrating the book as a physical container used by artists to: re-present language, offer performative reading, view how reading is perceived, appropriate text from novels and instructional manuals into new works, or to transform information from the virtual into the physical.

BRAD FREEMAN presents his keynote lecture

Brad Freeman presents his keynote lecture

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BRAD FREEMAN (Abstract) – JOURNAL OF ARTISTS’ BOOKS

Brad Freeman’s Lecture focussed on JAB, the Journal of Artists’ Books, that supports critical inquiry into artists’ books. Since 1994 JAB has published interviews with contemporary artists whose primary medium is the artist book, reviews of artists’ books, and essays about historical issues and contemporary artists and their work. JAB has a two pronged approach to culture creation via publication arts; an educational approach with critical writing and documentation of current activity; and second, a creative approach with publication art-exploring the creative potential of print and the book by commissioning artists’ covers (letterpress and offset), artist designed pages, and artists’ books made especially for insertion into JAB.

Lyn Ashby presents his keynote lecture

Lyn Ashby presents his keynote lecture

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LYN ASHBY (Abstract) – POSTLITERACY AND ARTISTSBOOKS: Coming to our senses with a modern mythic form

This presentation is a speculation on the idea that contemporary artistsbooks may be the laboratory for a new literacy, and that in honor of the quietly evolutionary nature of this new literacy, we might call it “postliteracy”.

As background, it explores how our centuries of standard literacy and its attendant conventions of pictorial space and chronological, narrative time, have privileged a specific code in the representations of our language systems (both image and text) and their operations across the page and through the book. The prescriptions of these conventions and the domination of the line and the grid onto the look of language have come to minimise the participation (and uncertainty) of the senses in the direct process of apprehending meaning with language forms.

But the pages of artistsbooks are often filled with the explorations of other ways that language forms can activate a lively, sensory involvement with the page space, or how meaning can be formulated beyond the limitations of chronology.

Some of these experiments involve the invocation of pre literate, oral language structures that work more by the devices and grammars of music, song and myth than the usual strategies of standard literacy. in this way, the contemporary artistsbook may be the hardcopy home of a modern, mythic form.

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Doug Spowart performs his lecture 'I'm about to 'read' a book'

Doug Spowart performs his lecture ‘I’m about to ‘read’ a book’

Photo from ABBE Artists Book Conference July 16, 17 & 18 2015 at the Queensland College of Art

Victoria Cooper presents her lecture ‘The Grafted Image: The Montage’

Tim Mosely presents in the lecture room

Tim Mosely presents in the lecture room

Presenting/Participating at the conference

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  • Lyn Ashby
  • Sarah Bodman
  • Sara Bowen
  • Deidre Brollo
  • Helen Cole
  • Victoria Cooper
  • Marian Crawford
  • Daniel Della-Bosca
  • Fiona Dempster
  • Caren Florance
  • Jenny Fraser
  • Brad Freeman
  • Angela Gardner
  • Noreen Grahame
  • Bridget Hillebrand
  • Joel Lardner
  • Marian Macken
  • Tim Mosely
  • Adele Outteridge
  • Mikhail Pogarsky
  • Doug Spowart
  • Kym Tabulo
  • Wim de Vos
  • Gabriella Wilson
Invite – 'Books by Artists'

Invite – ‘books by artists’

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
books by artists’ in the Webb Gallery, QCA

The ‘books by artists’ exhibitors

  • Isaac Brown
  • Blogger_dad
  • Penny Carey-Wells
  • Victoria Cooper
  • Caroline Craig
  • Fiona Dempster
  • Hesam Fetrati Angela Gardner
  • Annique Goldenberg
  • Alannah Gunter
  • Institute of Modern Art Cassandra Lehman-Schultz
  • Alison Mackay
  • Judy Macklin
  • Heather Matthew
  • Tess Mehonoshen
  • Christine Mellor
  • Tim Mosely
  • night ladder collective
  • Naomi O’Reilly
  • Adele Outteridge
  • Mona Ryder
  • Rose Rigley
  • Glen Skien
  • Doug Spowart
  • Wim de Vos

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THE ABBE ARTISTS BOOK FAIR

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Artists Book Fair

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Artists Book Fair stallholders

Sue Anderson + Gwen Harrison

Sue Anderson + Gwen Harrison

Lyn Ashby

Lyn Ashby

Sara Bowen (no image taken)

Photo from ABBE Artists Book Conference July 16, 17 & 18 2015 at the Queensland College of Art

Deidre Brollo with Christene Drewe and Helen Cole

Penny

Penny Carey-Wells

Centre for Regional Arts Practice (Cooper+Spowart) (no image taken)

Marian Crawford with Sarah Bodman

Marian Crawford with Sarah Bodman

Daniel Dell-Bosca with Victoria Cooper

Daniel Dell-Bosca with Victoria Cooper

Robyn Dempster + Fiona

Robyn Foster + Fiona Dempster

Caren Florance

Caren Florance

Robyn Foster (no image taken)

Brad Freeman  JAB

Brad Freeman JAB

Angela Gardner

Angela Gardner

Griffith Centre for Creative Arts Research (no image taken)

Impress Printmakers: Sue Poggioli + Jennifer Stuerzl

Impress Printmakers: Sue Poggioli + Jennifer Stuerzl

Institute of Modern Art

Institute of Modern Art

Sheree Kinlyside

Sheree Kinlyside

Clyde McGill

Clyde McGill

Heather Matthew

Heather Matthew

Anita Milroy book – 'Biography of a Physicist'

Anita Milroy book – ‘Biography of a Physicist’ (Image supplied by the artist)

Adele Outteridge + Wim de Vos

Adele Outteridge + Wim de Vos

QCA Gold Coast (no image taken)

silverwattle bookfoundry

silverwattle bookfoundry (Tim Mosely)

Peta Smith

Peta Smith

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ABBE participants also visited Grahame Galleries, The Studio West End and the State Library of Queensland

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The SLQ White Gloves team Christene, Helen and Jeanette

The SLQ White Gloves team Christene, Helen and Jeanette

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ABBE Logo

ABBE Logo

ABBE was an initiative of the Griffith Centre for Creative Arts Research and was coordinated by Dr Tim Mosely and Dr Lynden Stone.

All photographs  © 2015 Doug Spowart

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Creative Commons-by-nc-nd.eu

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

PERFORMING the BOOK @ SLQ – Siganto Artists Book Seminar

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The Siganto Artists’ Books Seminar 2015

On June 20+21 the 2015 The Siganto Artists’ Books Seminar took place at the State Library of Queensland. Attendees were presented with a one–day series of lectures, performances and a forum addressing the diversity of the artists’ book and importantly visual and creative research being undertaken by Fellowships supported by the Siganto Foundation.

State Librarian Janette Wright welcomes guests to the seminar

State Librarian Janette Wright welcomes attendees to the seminar

The State Librarian Jeanette, introduced by MC Christene Drewe, spoke of the Library’s Artists’ Book Collection. This was followed by Dr Marie Siganto from the Siganto Foundation who spoke enthusiastically about the Foundation’s support of the Artists’ Book Collection.

Siganto Seminar and Artists' Book Fair - June 20+21, 2015

Dr Marie Siganto makes a presentation to the attendees of the seminar and presents 2015 Fellowships

A significant theme of this years’ event was based around the idea of artists’ books as performance. Brazilian artist, performer and academic Amir Brito Cadôr’s presented his keynote address The Book as Performance – he also performed a book reading of Momento Vital by Brazilian artist Vera Chaves Barcellos.

Amir Brito Cadôr makes his keynote presentation

Amir Brito Cadôr makes his keynote presentation

In the morning session 2015 Siganto Foundation Artists’ Books Fellows Clyde McGill and Julie Barratt presented progress reports on their research projects. Jan Davis discussed her 2014 Creative Fellowship and presented the completed artists’ book to the Library. The book was entitled Drawing on the ground and referenced the historical aspects of work and toil on Queensland farms. Reference material for Jan’s book came from diaries, books and documents held by the Library. Her artists’ book features text fragments and line sketches – the book was bound by Fred Pohlman and the cover was styled to resemble an old station journal.

Julie Barratt discusses her Siganto Creative Fellowship

Julie Barratt discusses her Siganto Creative Fellowship

Clyde McGill discusses his Siganto Artists' Book Creative Fellowship

Clyde McGill discusses his Siganto Artists’ Book Creative Fellowship

Jan Davis discusses her Siganto Artists' Book Creative Fellowship

Jan Davis discusses Drawing on the ground, her Siganto Artists’ Book Creative Fellowship

Doug Spowart discusses Jacob Raupach's Radiata

Doug Spowart discusses Jacob Raupach’s Radiata

As the 2014 Siganto Artists’ Books Research Fellow I presented an illustrated lecture on my experiences as a researcher of the Australian Library of Art, a selection of the range of books I encountered that employed photography from very minor references in text to conceptual pieces based on photographs. This list included:

Anne Wilson in, Tock 01-01-2000, 2000

Codex Event: Darren Bryant .. [et al.], Wild Cherry Tin Mine, 2006.

Vince Dziekian, Blooms Books, 1993-4.

Barbara Davidson, Different moods of the Opera House, 2001.

Felipe Ehrenberg, Generacion 1973

Peter Kingston, The Blue Mountains, 1987.

Michael Buhler, Oblique Lines, 19-.

William Copley Notes on a Project for a Dictionary of Rediculous Images, 1972.

Adam Broomberg + Oliver Chanarin, Holy Bible, 2013.

Judy Barrass, Eden-Monaro in Summer, 2001.

Juli Haas, The oyster book of lessons from the memory room, 2007.

Jihad Muhammad aka John Armstrong, Ten menhirs at Plouharnel, Carnac, Morbihan, Bretagne, France, 1982.

Angela Callanan, 7 Signs of Absence, 2010.

Susan King, Photo bio, 2011.

Malcolm Enright, Western Wisdom, 1998.

Pierre Cavalan, Artists Book, 1998.

Compiled by Kay Faulkner Indulge, 2006.

Debra Gibson, Kamikaze, 2004.

Dick Jewell, Found Photos, 1977.

Julie Barratt, Collateral damage, 2008.

Alison Knowles, Bread and Water, 2004.

David King, Raw deal, 1997.

Valerie Keenan HY1, 2001.

Tim Johnson, Fittings, 1972.

Christian Boltanski, Scratch, 2002.

Amanda Watson-Will, Judy and the Jacaranda, 2010.

Phillip Zimmerman, High tension, 1993.

Jan Davis, Solomon, 1995.

  I then disclosed the principal research product the paper: The artists’ book, the photobook and the photo-a spectral approach, as well as recommendations to the Library for photobooks to be relocated from the General collection into places that reflected the significance of these books in the history of photography and the photobook. I also supplied Photobook Publishers and Info URLs that could be used by anyone wanting to keep up with new photobook releases an purchasing opportunities. I particularly noted that the Library held no Trent Parke books and provided, as an example, his book Dream Life that could have been purchased in 2000 for around $60 is now sold for $1,000+. Highlighting the need for the SLQ to be pro-active in purchasing contemporary book for modest outlay – rather than waiting until they are nearly unaffordable. I also highlighted the need for institutions to engage with and maintain links with artists’ book and photobook self-publishers as they exist outside of the usual publishing structures. I quoted Des Cowley, the State Library of Victoria’s History of the Book Manager from a statement made by him in his presentation at the ‘Other Photobook’ forum at Photobook Melbourne. He said:

… 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.  

My presentation concluded with two quotes from book artist and mail art aficionado Ulises Carrion that I felt related to the contemporary artists’ book and photobook. Carrion states:

I include books in the category of

living creatures … : they grow, reproduce, change colour, become ill and finally die.

At this moment we are witnessing the final stage of this process.

… if books are to survive they have to change. And [artists’] bookworks is the real possibility that books have for survival.

Schraenen, G. (1992). Ulises Carrion : We have won! Haven’t we?

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HERE IS THE SLQ VIDEO OF THE SIGANTO FELLOW’S PRESENTATIONS

http://www.slq.qld.gov.au/audio-video/webcasts/recent-webcasts/siganto-artists-books-seminar-2015-session-2

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Other artists’ book performances included: Virginia and Julie Barratt’s The Morning After, one by Clyde McGill and a performance by QUT drama students of the three-part book Robert Bringhurst’s artist’s book New World Suite number three: a poem in four movements for three voices. The performers were Thomas Yaxley, Emily Weir and Meghan Clarke and was directed by QUT lecturer Floyd Kennedy.

Clyde McGill performs his book

Clyde McGill performs his book

The afternoon concluded with a forum moderated by Louise Martin-Chew on the topic of collaboration. The forum participants were Clyde McGill, Julie Barratt and Doug Spowart. Each participant discussed a project that involved collaboration and questions were posed by Louise to bring out important points from each panelist. The most interesting aspect of this forum was when questions from the floor created heated debate around the idea of the physical book and its experience verses the virtual online experience.

Julie answers a question in the collaboration forum

Julie answers a question in the collaboration forum

On Sunday many local and interstate stallholders presented their work for an Artists’ Book Fair in the Knowledge Walk at the SLQ. Tours of selected artists’ books from State Library’s Artists’ Book Collection were well attended and provide rare access to special books from the Australian Library of Art Collection. The two-day event was significant for the opportunity for artists’ book aficiandos, makers, collectors and readers to engage with the physicality of not only the books but also to touch with the extensive community of the book. Our thanks must go to the SLQ, particularly Christene Drewe and Helen Cole, and to the Dr Marie Siganto and the Siganto Foundation for their continued support of the artists’ book collection of the Australian Library of Art and events such as these.   Doug Spowart

State Librarian, Janette Wright views a tunnel book by Wim de voss

State Librarian, Janette Wright views a tunnel book by Wim de Voss

What follows are a range of images from the Seminar and Artists’ Book Fair

Tim Mosely promotes the ABBE Conference @ QCA in July

Tim Mosely promotes the ABBE Conference @ QCA in July

Sue Poggioli at the Artists' Book Fair

Sue Poggioli at the Artists’ Book Fair

Amir and Noreen Grahame

Amir and Noreen Grahame

Julie Barratt at the Artists' Book Fair

Julie Barratt at the Artists’ Book Fair

Julie Barratt, Monica Oppen and Helen Cole Artists' Book Fair

Julie Barratt, Monica Oppen and Helen Cole Artists’ Book Fair

A section of the Artists' Book Fair at the SLQ

A section of the Artists’ Book Fair at the SLQ

Doug Spowart and Wim de Voss

Doug Spowart and Wim de Voss

Doug Spowart and Victoria Cooper and their C.R.A.P. display

Doug Spowart and Victoria Cooper and their C.R.A.P. display

Clyde McGill and Anne Kirker

Clyde McGill and Anne Kirker

Helen Malone at the Artists' Book Fair

Helen Malone at the Artists’ Book Fair

Helen Cole, Michael Wardell and Clyde McGill at the Artists' Book Fair

Helen Cole, Michael Wardell and Clyde McGill at the Artists’ Book Fair

Sandra Pearce at the Artists' Book Fair

Sandra Pearce at the Artists’ Book Fair

Amir Brito Cadôr with Helen Malone

Amir Brito Cadôr with Helen Malone

Amir Brito Cadôr with Victoria Cooper and Doug Spowart

Amir Brito Cadôr with Victoria Cooper and Doug Spowart

Adele Outteridge and Wim de Voss

Adele Outteridge and Wim de Voss

Judy Bourke at the Artists' Book Fair

Judy Bourke at the Artists’ Book Fair

Presented by SLQ with the generous support of the Siganto Foundation.   All photos and text ©2015 Doug Spowart

COOPER SCROLLS @ Toowoomba Regional Art Gallery

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Victoria in the 'Off The Wall' installation

Victoria Cooper in the Off The Wall installation of three scrolls from the series of five

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ABOUT ‘THE STORIES OF THE GORGE’ ON SHOW @ TRAG

Victoria Cooper’s digital montage Stories from the Gorge scrolls, made over ten years ago were included in Toowoomba Regional Art Gallery show. The exhibition was entitled Off the wall and was on show in Gallery 2 and Amos Gallery in May 2013.

The information about the exhibition that follows comes from the exhibition room sheet prepared at the time by Toowoomba Regional Art Gallery Exhibitions Officer, Ashleigh Bunter:

The works in the exhibition have been selected from the Toowoomba Regional Art Gallery’s City Collection. They have been placed simply together due to their three-dimensional nature and to highlight their derivation from the traditional two-dimensional picture plane.

This exhibition demonstrates the way that artists manipulate physical depth within their works which can often create a greater engagement between the object and the viewer. Interestingly, many of the works in this exhibition focus upon environment, whether it is the natural, public or the domestic environment. Materiality is also a common consideration. Throughout this exhibition one can see the influence of ‘the collector’, artists who gather images or common materials, reusing and reinterpreting them to create their art.

Victoria Cooper’s Stories from the Gorge: Order, chaos and the story of the hillside is a Chinese-landscape-scroll inspired series that represents “the last bastion of a natural chaos and order, an anti-culture, occurring on the fringes of agriculture.”[i] Human effects on the natural environment are central to Cooper’s practice and her prints and artists’ books in various formations lead the view from a flat two dimensional plane into the landscapes she investigates. These printed scrolls rise up from handmade acrylic boxes like the tall gum trees on their surfaces.

Other artists in the Off The Wall show include; Michael Schlitz, Marieke Dench, Tiffany Shafran, Judith Kentish, and Brigid Cole-Adams and the exhibition will be on the wall until May 26, 2013.


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PRIZES AND AWARDS

2001 The Gorge was purchased by Australian Library of Art at the State Library of Queensland

2001 – Photographer and gallery director Sandy Edwards awarded The Gorge, First Prize in the Muswellbrook Photography Award

2001 – MCA Director Elizabeth Ann Macgregor awarded The Cliff, First Prize for Works on Paper, Martin Hanson Memorial Art Awards, Gladstone Regional Art Gallery and Museum

2002 – Five Stories from the Gorge was a Finalist in the 2002 Josephine Ulrick & Win Schubert Foundation for the Arts Photography Award at the Gold Coast City Art Gallery was selected by Isobel Crombie Curator at the National Gallery of Victoria

2002 –The triptych was acquired during its showing in the Toowoomba Biennial Acquisitive Award selected by Julie Ewington, then Curator at the Queensland Art Gallery..

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Stories From the Gorge triptych as presented @TRAG

Three images of the Stories from the Gorge triptych as presented @TRAG

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THE BACKSTORY OF THE SCROLLS AND THE SERIES OF 5 WORKS

Cooper’s scrolls were presented for the TRAG exhibition as a triptych, however in the original exhibition, entitled Searching for the Sublime, there were five scrolls. Searching for the Sublime was a collaborative project with sculptor Jim Roberts, fellow artist Doug Spowart and curator Deborah Godfrey. The inspiration for the project was a wilderness area in the Helidon Hills a mere 20 kilometres north-east of Toowoomba. Supported by an RADF Grant, the show featured Roberts’ sculptures, Spowart’s abstract water photographs, and Cooper’s scrolls and was shown at 62 Robertson Gallery in Brisbane in August 2001.

Searching for the Sublime @ Gallery 62 Robinson

Searching for the Sublime @ Gallery 62 Robinson   PHOTO: Courtesy of 62 Robertson

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Five Stories Fom the Gorge installation at SQIT Gallery

Five Stories from the Gorge installation at SQIT Gallery

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The images were assembled as a photomontage in the tiny, by current sizes, Blueberry iMac computer. At times Victoria juggled 200 layers in one Adobe Photoshop document to create the fiction panoramas. Seeing the whole image was a problem as most of the time Cooper’s view was no bigger than the iMac screen requiring her to ‘scroll’ the image up and down–just as you will do in looking at the images in this post. Saving the files took 20-30 minutes and the system often crashed. The images were printed in pigment inks on an Ilford Novajet printer onto Hahnemühle Japan ‘rice paper’ by IMT on the Gold Coast. Victoria worked with artist Wim de Vos to design the bespoke handmade acrylic boxes. The design featured the ability for the box to not only serve as a container, but also act as a device to display the scrolls.

The complete set of scrolls, Five Stories from the Gorge, was shown in many venues and awards (see prize list at the end of this post), including Photospace at National Art School, Australian National University, Canberra. Canberra Times arts reviewer Myra McIntyre commented that Cooper’s works are:

Most elegant and fascinating photographic objects are Landscape stories, a series of five Asian-inspired scrolls. Cooper crawls, wanders and flies through the Australian landscape gathering hundreds of objects, patterns, and perspectives that she digitally intertwines, creating a continuum of almost imperceptibly diverse perspectives and a physical sense of vertigo in the viewer.

Review, Canberra Times, May 10, 2002

In 2002 the triptych was acquired during its showing in the Toowoomba Biennial Acquisitive Award selected by Julie Ewington, then Curator at the Queensland Art Gallery. Interestingly the rules of the competition at the time restricted entries to work that had not previously won an art award–as such only the three scrolls The Story of the Hillside, Chaos and Order were entered. When purchased the two other scrolls were orphaned from the set.

So here in this blog, we reunite the Five Stories from the Gorge presented in a form for you to scroll/stroll through …  Enjoy.

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By Doug Spowart

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Story of the Cliff

Story of the Cliff

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Story of the Gorge

Story of the Gorge

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Story of the Hillside

Story of the Hillside

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Creative Commons-by-nc-nd.eu

 

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

 

COOPER+SPOWART Guest Bloggers @ SLQ Artists’ Books

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The State Library of Queensland has just posted commentaries that Vicky and I have prepared on the artists’ book ‘Monologues’, a book of mezzotints by Graeme Peebles and a text by Gottfried Benn. The texts and images of the book are available online – SEE …

http://blogs.slq.qld.gov.au/ala/

SLQ Blogsite

FLOOD DONATION: ‘Toowoomba Water’ book to SLQ

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Helen Cole + Doug with the book 'Toowoomba Water'

At a time when all Queenslanders were reflecting on the first anniversary of the devastating floods of January 2011 it was fitting that I was able to make a presentation of the book Toowoomba Water to the Australian Library of Art at the State Library of Queensland.

The book features a response to flooding in Toowoomba that took place on January 10th. The book was designed to be output using Australia’s premier print-on-demand supplier – AsukaBook using their Book Bound Hard Cover 10″x10″ format.

On the studio step + our 'rainforest' backyard

Water came within 20cm of our studio and a brown torrent flowed into our garden and under the house.  At the bottom of our street a massive flow of water along East Creek took the lives of two people.

East Creek in flood at the bottom of Burns Street

The book makes a commentary on the flood by responding to an aspect of the event that was ‘sampled’ and then brought together to form the book – it is an unusual approach to the documentation of place. Reference for this methodology comes from the work of Marcel Duchamp‘s Paris 1919, Sol LeWitt’s colour grids and Bruce Nauman‘s L.A. Air.

The donation was accepted by Helen Cole, Senior Librarian, Australian Library of Art, State Library of Queensland.

SEE THE BOOK: http://www.cooperandspowart.com.au/2_PLACES/OtherBooks/Twba_Water_Flip/TwbaWater-Flip.html  (Note: This link is to a Flash Flipbook that may not play on all viewing devices)

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