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A DAY @ BALDESSIN PRESS STUDIO WITH SLV CREATIVE FELLOWS

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A day at Baldessin Press Studio: The State Library of Victoria’s Creative Fellowships

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William Kelly, SLV Creative Fellow and Baldessin Press Studio Residency recipient

William Kelly, SLV Creative Fellow and Baldessin Press Studio Residency recipient

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On September 27 a special event took place at the Baldessin Press Studio , St Andrews just northeast of Melbourne. The studio was built by George Baldessin who was a charismatic figure in the history of Australian art, especially in Melbourne in the 1970s. He had a brilliant career as a sculptor and printmaker, and was already considered an important figure in the history of Australian art at the time of his tragic accidental death in 1978 at the age of 39. The studio is situated in a bushland setting and is accompanied by a house and several buildings built by Baldessin and his wife Tess assisted by others including the Hails brothers.*

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Baldessin’s passing put activity in the studio on hold for some years until Tess returned in 2001. Since then she has worked to re-ignite the creative potential of the place in George’s memory so that artists may continue to create in this special place and perpetuate his generous spirit.

Part of the program of the Press includes the State Library of Victoria’s The Baldessin Press Studio Residency that gives one of the SLV’s Creative Fellowship recipients working in any field the opportunity to create a body of work. The Residency may include accommodation, printmaking tuition, living expenses and some materials. The recipient will also have the opportunity to participate in a ‘Bon a Tirer’ event during the year to present their project to the Library, public, partners and other supporters. Artist Rick Amor generously supports the Baldessin Press Studio Residency.

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William Kelly, SLV Creative Fellow and Baldessin Press Studio Residency recipient

William Kelly, 2015 SLV Creative Fellow and Baldessin Press Studio Residency recipient

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The 2015 Residency recipient was leading Victorian artist William Kelly a former Fulbright Fellow and Dean of the Victorian College of the Arts from 1975–82. His SLV research project dealt with Australian visual artists practicing between World War I and today, whose works have been informed by their beliefs about war and peace. His intention was to create an ‘accordion’ artist’s book – literally an unfolding story – that celebrated and connected the work of these artists*. In a comment about the body of creative work made as a result of the Baldessin Press Studio Residency Kelly was to say:

I have a profound belief that we can make this world be a better place but I don’t delude myself that it will, in any way, be easy. Art can play a part in this and artists can contribute to the larger debates about our future.  I’ve been quoted as saying, “a painting will never stop a bullet but a painting (print, photograph, novel…) can stop a bullet from being fired”.  These works, the “Baldessin Press Folio: Not in My Name” and the artist book “Fellow Travellers: An Unfolding Story” are testament to my belief in the power of the image.  The first “Not in My Name” has images that refer to the ideas of courage, loss, innocence and unequivocally taking a stand.

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Kelly-teddyKelly-The Cross (for Hugo Throssell, Pacifist) (583x800)Kelly feather-1000

 

The second “Fellow Travellers…” is something of a tribute to those Australian artists, writers, filmmakers who, over the past 100 years (from WW1 to today) have publicly stood by their beliefs.  It references many significant artist/activists from Noel Counihan to Arthur Boyd to those who took a stance against the Transfield Sculpture exhibition (as a result of Transfield’s role in detention centres).  Those who are on this journey are, for me, ‘fellow travellers’ and as this list is nowhere near complete and increasing numbers of artists are becoming known for their position on peace, human rights, reconciliation and social justice it is an “unfolding story”.

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William Kelly's Fellow Travellers

William Kelly’s Fellow Travellers

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VIDEO: William Kelly discusses his Baldessin Press Studio Residency works

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At the event the 2016 Baldessin Press Studio Residency recipient was announced. The recipient is Nicola Stairmand who works as an independent heritage consultant, curator and designer, combining her skills to research and interpret places of significance. She is currently employed at TarraWarra Museum of Art, where she assists with research and exhibition design.*

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SLV lady, Nicola Stairmand, Ric Amour and Tess Edwards

Indra Kurzeme SLV, Nicola Stairmand, Ric Amor and Tess Edwards

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Stairmand’s project will seek to describe everyday life at Coranderrk Aboriginal Station, established in 1863 and closed in 1924, contributing to a greater understanding of its history. Using the State Library’s photographic and documentary collections, Nicola will research and produce a series of illustrative maps supported by images and descriptions.*

The formal proceedings took place on a bright and sunny spring afternoon with a kind of conviviality and informality that occurs when friends and community gather to share and celebrate important events. George Baldessin would certainly approve of this SLV Creative Fellowship and the part the press plays in bringing about new work.

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The Baldessin Press Studio Team

Click on their names to go to the Baldessin Press Studio Biogs…

 

Tess Edwards (Baldessin)

Tess Edwards - Baldessin Press Studio SLV Creative Fellowship Residency announc

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Lloyd Godman

Lloyd Godman - Baldessin Press Studio SLV Creative Fellowship Residency announc

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Rob Hails

Rob Hails-Baldessin Press Studio SLV Creative Fellowship Residency announcement event Spetember 27, 2015

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Silvi Glattauer

Silvi Glattauer-Baldessin Press Studio SLV Creative Fellowship Residency announc

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Deanna Hitti (Baldessin’s master printer)

Deanna Hitti - Baldessin Press Studio SLV Creative Fellowship Residency announc

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All photographs and video ©2015 Doug Spowart.
*Some texts paraphrased from SLV & Baldessin Press Studio websites. William Kelly artworks and text ©2015 William Kelly.

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PUMPING-UP the VOLUME on PHOTOBOOKS

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Screen dump on Volume site

Screen dump on Volume site

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I attended Volume: Another Art Book Fair in Sydney on the weekend of September 11+13, 2015. The event was a collaboration between Artspace, Perimeter Books and the American artists’ book not-for-profit book shop Printed Matter. Packed into the Artspace building in Woolloomooloo were around 100 ‘Art Book’ makers, publishers and sellers all vying for the attention of potential purchasers. The table holders had spread before them all things book – let’s not try and get into discussions around what an ‘art book’ is, but rather celebrate the range of published products from thin stapled zines and comics, to self-pub photobooks, artists’ books and gallery catalogues, and further to trade-styled ‘fine art’ books and livre d’artiste productions.

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Some of the Volume Art Book Fair table participants included:

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Shannon Michael Cane from Printed Matter

Shannon Michael Cane from Printed Matter

Printed Matter

 

Cameron Cope

Cameron Cope

Cameron Cope

 

The Perimeter Books table

The Perimeter Books table

Perimeter Books

 

Bloom Publishing Lloyd Stubbers + Jay Dymock

Bloom Publishing Lloyd Stubbers + Jay Dymock

Bloom Publishing: Lloyd Stubbers + Jay Dymock

 

Richard Tipping and Max Ernst (David Dellafiora)

Richard Tipping and Max Ernst (David Dellafiora)

Thorny Devil Press: Richard Tipping

 

George Voulgaropoulos

George Voulgaropoulos

Pneuma Publishing: George Voulgaropoulos

 

Deanna Hitti

Deanna Hitti

Deanna Hitti

 

Libby Jefferies MomentoPro after a long day on Sunday

Libby Jefferies MomentoPro after a long day on Sunday

MomentoPro: Libby Jefferies

 

Anita Totha Remote Photobooks NZ

Anita Totha Remote Photobooks NZ

Anita Totha: Remote Books

 

Kate Golding

Kate Golding

Kate Golding

 

Stephen Dupont

 

John Ogden Cyclops Press

John Ogden Cyclops Press

John Ogden Cyclops Press

 

Helen Frajman - m.33

Helen Frajman – m.33

M.33: Helen Frajman

 

Chloe Ferres

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Selling books to interested collectors and lovers of books is one thing but as is the case with the emergent trend in self-pub everyone wants to have their own book. To cater to this growing group of keen makers the program included many free forums, workshops and lectures by a variety of key makers and commentators on various aspects of the disciplines of writing and self-publishing (self-pub).

 

Why Publish panel

Why Publish panel

 

As my interest is in topics related to photobooks I attended two sessions: Why Publish and Designing Photobooks. The why-pub panel consisted of Helen Frajman (m.33), Daniel Boetker-Smith (Asia-Pacific Photobook Library), Brad Haylock, Jack Harries and Geordie Cargill and Shannon Michael Cane from Printed Matter. Attendees, of which there were around 30, heard discussions relating to the usual issues of publishing, getting a designer, edition numbers, marketing, selling and getting your work into the right hands including the international market. Brad Haylock suggested the key themes for photobooks were:

  • Technologies and organizational forms
  • Social relations
  • Institutional and administrative arrangements
  • Production and labor processes
  • Relations to nature
  • The reproduction of daily life and the species
  • Mental conceptions of the world

Ultimately the overall message seemed to be ‘Give it a go’!

 

Designing for Photo Books panel

The Designing for Photo Books panel

 

Associate Professor Christopher Stewart from University of Technology Sydney chaired the Designing for Photobook panel. Each speaker showed examples of their work and discussed design concerns associated with their books. Heidi Romano from Unlessyouwill spoke of her history in design, her passion for the photobook and her experience of the international world of book design. She cited her interest in advancing Australian photobook design as being a driver for her establishment of Photobook Melbourne. Esther Teichmann, and artist from the UK discussed her exhibition work and the challenge of bringing wall-work into the space of the book as well as her experiences, not always pleasant ones, with book designers. Tom Evangeledis, Black Eye Gallery  described his interest in encouraging exhibitors at his gallery to consider a book to support the exhibition but also to enhance the opportunity for the artist’s work to be extended beyond the exhibition dates. Chloe Ferres, probably kept the most on track with the topic of book design by presenting a range of works that in some ways subvert the idea of the book being a vessel to hold photographs that express a narrative – she considers the book structure as also important to the narrative and uses a range of design interventions to disrupt the preciousness that many photographers seem to consider important when they make books.

Christopher Stewart posed questions to the panelists to draw out aspects of the topic but when asked if there were questions from the floor Daniel Boetker-Smith asked about how we can make photobooks that are more about the ‘fetish’ of the book – ‘some books all look the same – I’m interested in all kinds of books. A young photographer in Myanmar stapling a bunch of photographs together to make a book is just as important to me as some “coffee table tome”!’ An attendee agreed and responded that books often look the same as they as designed from a dummy where all decisions about the book are considered at the beginning and immutable – whereas another less formal method is the development of a book in a process where opportunities for review and discovery are made along the way allowing the book to be like a collaborator with the artist…

 

Bella Capezio making Insta Photobooks for APPA

Bella Capezio making Insta Photobooks for APPA

Make your own Photobook with Garry Trinh

Make your own Photobook with Garry Trinh

 

While some attendees attended these lecture sessions others were busy making books. The print-on-demand company BLURB offered bookmaking workshops over the weekend led by photobook self-publisher Garry Trinh. Asia-Pacific Photobook Archive presented a selection of their books at the event and founder Daniel Boetker-Smith and Bella Capezio led photobook-making sessions as well.

 

Victoria Cooper and Ruyin Yang

Victoria Cooper and Ruyin Yang

 

The biggest book-making venture over the weekend was a special project coordinated by Onestar Press who, with Artspace and other supporters including Surry Hills Print & Design Konica-Minolta, design students from University of New South Wales – Art &Design. The project, entitled ‘Book Machine’, brought together a designer with a ‘content provider’ (artist or photographer), and over the course of 3.5 hours the two work together to design a book. Overnight the book was printed and made available to its collaborative participants.

 

Alexie Glass-Kantor – introduces the Book Machine commentators

Alexie Glass-Kantor – introduces the Book Machine commentators

 

Late on Sunday afternoon the Artspace coordinators drew together a distinguished panel of erudite book critics and commentators including Brianna Munting – NAVA, Simon Barney Artist, Alexie Glass-Kantor – Executive Director Artspace, Maddalena Quarta – One Star Press, Bella Capezio – Asia-Pacific Photobook Archive, Philip Keir – publisher and artists’ book collector and Nicholas Tsoutas – Curator and Art management executive. A crowd gathered to hear this discussion and celebrate this unusual project.

 

Book Machine

Book Machine

 

Towards the end of the day on Sunday I rushed around to catch up with people that I still hadn’t spoken with and books not yet seen. I felt something of the heightened energy levels with which these table holders had been operating in the preceding days. Did they sell enough books…? Did they make contacts with people who will do future business with them or provide content for future books…? Did they get a chance to check out what everyone else was doing…? Did they get to do a Book Machine project…? Buy a pie at Harry’s Cafe de Wheels or take-in the harbor, the Finger Wharf and the view of naval ships at Garden Island.

 

Harry's Cafe de Wheels

Harry’s Cafe de Wheels

 

Volume: Another Art Book Fair was a major undertaking for the visionaries who conceived it and then brought it into fruition. There were so many activities, add-on events, presentations and booksellers and books available for artbookophiles in which to luxuriate. There was a real sense of community created in this art book fair that can only advance the disciplines associated with it. One thing is for certain, at least for me, is that I know I have just attended one of the most significant art book fairs to be held in this country to date. When, and where the next one will be is something we’ll await with much anticipation…

 

Doug Spowart

14 September 2015

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