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CODEX 9: ARTISTS’ BOOK DISCUSSION MEETING

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Queensland, it seems, is the place to be if you are interested in artists’ books (ABs). Queenslanders have one of the countries most significant collection of artists’ books in the State Library of Queensland, another significant private collection held by Noreen Grahame, herself a major contributor to the AB in this country. Other collections and events coordinated by Artspace Mackay including the Focus on Artists’ Books Forum and Libris Awards. There are also major practitioners of the art living and working in Queensland including Katherine Nix, Adele Outteridge, Wim de Vos, Ron McBurnie, Stephen Spurrier, Helen Malone, Jack Oudyn, Judy Barrass, and many more.

CODEX Event graphic

CODEX Event graphic

In this fertile space for ABs a small band of interested practitioners recently met to discuss the idea of forming a special interest group dedicated to the discipline. The invitation came as an email under the auspices of a CODEX 9 event with the following statement:

books by artists / artists books

printmaking, letterpress, papermaking and more

artists interested in making books are invited to

join an Impress Printmakers discussion group

located in Brisbane to foster and promote

contemporary artists book practice

Meeting on level 4 of the State Library of Queensland the 10 attendees represented a broad range of artists many of whom have had significant activity within the AB discipline, some had experiences of working as teachers using the book as a learning tool, some had academic links to ABs apart from their practice of making books, all had a definite interest in the discipline and wanted to engage in the idea of the discussion group as proposed in the invitation.

CODEX Event + Impress Printmakers AB discussion meeting

CODEX Event + Impress Printmakers AB discussion meeting

During the meeting many topics were raised including:

  • The dogged question of ‘what is an artist’ book?
  • What is not an artists’ book?
  • Where does the apostrophe go in the term artists book and why does it move
  • The Duchampian view of the ‘found object’ as art and his often cited idea that ‘it’s art because I say it is, and I’m an artist’
  • If it has a colophon then it’s an AB(?)
  • Scrapbooks as AB and the silent ‘s’ in the term scrapbook
  • Ideas of sharing knowledge about the gamut of the discipline

One participant presented a polemic to the group, proposing that a freestanding 3D object on the table before us could be an AB – how would we know? The object was a folded “No food or drink allowed” SLQ sign. Discussion ended and reinforced the group’s interest in being challenged, as through such knowledge and understanding emerges.

a polemic for an artists book

a polemic for an artists book

Other structural matters relating to the group’s future activities, meeting schedule, email and communications methods were discussed. Some requested a degree of anonymity at this time. It was noted that the SLQ will be hosting the next Siganto seminar with the topic being the trouble with artists’ books. It was agreed that it will be a ‘must attend’ event.

The meeting concluded in a convivial mood with most attendees going for a coffee, and we guess, some more conversations about the idea of the artists book …

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Doug and Victoria

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

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EX LIBRIS: WHO OWNS THIS BOOK? A Queensland artists’ bookplate project

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Zealous book collectors have always prominently placed inside the first few pages of a book their Ex Libris bookplate as a sign of ownership of books that they acquire. Over time these bookplates became a kind of specialised artwork created by artists and designers—not only for their own collected books but also for the libraries of serious book collectors. Bookplates then, are not just the carriers of the name of a book’s [one time] owner, but are also a thing of artistic integrity and beauty. Indeed there exist a large number of book-collecting dilettantes who are more interested in the bookplate and less in the book in which it is fixed.

The origins of the bookplate can be traced back to the 15th century and the artists who made them include Albrecht Durer and Hans Holbein. In Australia the most noteworthy bookplate designers include Norman Lindsay, Adrian Feint and G.D. Perrottet. Most significant state and national library collections include bookplate works. The Toowoomba Regional Art Gallery has a collection of bookplates as part of The Lionel Lindsay Gallery and Library Collection (Also known as the Bolton Collection) and in 2004 Patrick Corrigan AM gifted to the gallery a collection 318 bookplates, mostly by Australian artists, including John Shirlow, Lionel and Norman Lindsay, P. Neville Barnet, George Perrottet, Lloyd Rees, Pixie O Harris and Brett Whiteley.

"Bookplates Unbound" limited edition set (two views)  Photos: Doug Spowart

“Bookplates Unbound” limited edition set (two views) Photos: Doug Spowart

Into this bookplate space a new and ambitious project is set to provide a contemporary view of the bookplate by Queensland artists. The project, entitled Bookplates Unbound, was inspired by conversations between artists Gael Phillips and Wim de Vos around the role of printmakers in the creation of fine art bookplates. The details of the Bookplates Unbound are as follows (from the frontpiece):

As the project evolved we decided to invite 29 other Queensland artists to collaborate in a project to make a limited edition folio of fine art bookplates mounted on sheets of art paper, unbound, in a clam shell box. The artists were also requested to supply an Artist’s Statement to accompany the prints. Any hand printmaking technique was allowed as well as digital prints. The size was restricted to no more than 90mm by 130mm and the bookplates were to be printed on acid free paper of a weight up to 100gsm. Since we are now in the 21’t century, digital prints were also allowed and, if submitted, these were to be printed using archival inks on acid free paper.

Some of the 'Bookplates Unbound' printing plates   Photo:Doug Spowart

Some of the ‘Bookplates Unbound’ printing plates Photo:Doug Spowart

The Bookplates Unbound set of bookplates is a limited edition production with each artist receiving a copy. The remaining copies will be made available to collectors. The coordination of the project was undertaken by Gael Phillips and Wim de Vos at The Studio West End and was supported by Adele Outteridge.

'Bookplates Unbound' wall @ The Studio West End   Photo: Doug Spowart

‘Bookplates Unbound’ wall @ The Studio West End Photo: Doug Spowart

Anne Jolly, of Novel Lines Bookshop, launched the Bookplates Unbound set at a special event at The Studio West End on November 24. Accompanying the launch was an exhibition of artists books from friends of Studio West End that was opened by Helen Cole, Senior Librarian, State Library of Queensland. Wim de Vos also gave the audience a performance of two new tunnel books, one on Venice and the other referencng the Chrysler Building in New York that he has created [SEE the video in this post]. The openings concluded with a musical 6 song set by ‘Rock and Roll’ impresario Wim and fellow band members Neil Anderson and Robin Webb [SEE the video in this post].

Gael Phillips talks @ 'Bookplates Unbound' launch  Photo: Doug Spowart

Gael Phillips talks @ ‘Bookplates Unbound’ launch Photo: Doug Spowart

Wim and Gael thank Anne Jolly   Photo: Doug Spowart

Wim and Gael thank Anne Jolly Photo: Doug Spowart

Helen Cole opens the Studio West End artists book show   Photo: Doug Spowart

Helen Cole opens the Studio West End artists book show Photo: Doug Spowart

Helen Cole opens the Studio West End artists book show   Photo: Doug Spowart

Helen Cole opens the Studio West End artists book show Photo: Doug Spowart

Studio West End artists book show   Photo: Doug Spowart

Studio West End artists book show Photo: Doug Spowart

Studio West End artists book show   Photo: Doug Spowart

Studio West End artists book show Photo: Doug Spowart

The Band - Wim, Neil and Robin   Photo: Doug Spowart

The Band – Wim, Robin Webb and Neil Anderson Photo: Doug Spowart

The contributing artists to the Bookplates Unbound and their respective print media are:

Janette Bailey                     Line etching / aquatint

Graham Bligh                     Linocut

Susan E Bowers                 Sugarlift etching and embossing

Victoria Cooper                  Digital print

Geraldine Connolly           Soft ground etching

Philomena Drake               Etching / aquatint

Malcolm Enright                Digital print

Barbara Heath                    Digital print

Tabitha Ford                       Line etching

Lynne French                      Line etching and relief roll

Teresa Jordan                     Digitised linocut

Jeraldene Just                    Line etching

Sharon Lee                          Digital print

Chris Ling                            Line etching

James McDougall              Photo etching

Julanne McDougall           Photo etching

Fiona Medhurst                 Line etching and rubber stamp

Karla Meursing                  Linocut

Anita K Milroy                   Three hand pierced plates, line etching and embossing

Katharine Nix                    Lino etching

Adele Outteridge               Line etching

Gael Phillips                       Line and photo etching on three plates

Pip Reid                               Line aquatint etching

Anneke Silver                     Engraved lino print

Doug Spowart                    Digital print

Stephen Spurrier               Digital print

Madonna Staunton           Wood cut and rubber stamps

Jonathan Tse                      Screen print

Geoff Thompson                Line etching

Wim de Vos                         Line etching on four plates

Sheryl Whimp                     Open bite etching

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The Colophon for Bookplates Unbound

This Edition consists of forty copies, of which this is number 11

The bookplates were mounted on acid free cartridge paper and the cover titles embossed in “Times New Roman”. The font used for the Artists’ Statements was “Centaur”, designed by the late Bruce Rogers. The clam shell boxes were made by a craftsman bookbinder, Tony Gibaud at “Craftsmen Bookbinders”, Geebung, Queensland, who also made the blocks for the cover, spine and title page to a design by Gael Phillips and Wim de Vos. The text was printed by Drawing & Drafting Digital, Bowen Hills, Queensland.

The copyright of the bookplate images is retained by the individual artists.

ISBN: 978-0-646-59203-9

Published by Alumni Publishers

© 2012 Brisbane

SEE ALSO: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/business/wealth/telling-a-book-by-its-inside-cover/story-e6frgac6-1111113127290

GRAHAME GALLERIES: Lessons in History Vol. II – Democracy

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In an otherwise drought of artists’ book activity in Brisbane the opening of the much awaited exhibition at grahame galleries Lessons in History Vol. II – Democracy provided a welcome spike in calendar. In one brief afternoon there was the opportunity to be swept up in a deluge of books and book people. This is a the democratic camera view of the event …

A catalogue is available for viewing at the gallery’s website HERE. A print catalogue featuring each book is available from the gallery as well.

grahame galleries panorama

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Noreen Grahame and the catalogue

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Jan Davis and her book Democracy Counts

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Monica Oppen and her book Dare to VOTE!

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Anne Kirker and Ron McBurnie discussing books

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Stephen Spurrier and his book Canaries for Democracy

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Looking @ Glen Skien’s Atlas 1

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Heather Matthew and her book Occupy

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Discussing Democracy books

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THE RANGE Arts and Culture Festival: The LAUNCH

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Last night, with much fanfare, social camaraderie and prominence, the Toowoomba art scene came alive with the launch of THE RANGE Arts and Culture Festival. The idea of a nine-day art event was masterminded by Ashleigh Bunter and was generously supported by Federal and State Government grants[1]. This activity promises to give a boost to the local arts community and will also serve as a celebration of the significant artist run initiative (ARI) scene in Toowoomba.

Attendees @ The RANGE Launch Photo: Doug Spowart

Attending the event at the Empire ‘Church’ were the glitterati of the local scene including two councilors (maybe more), the local newspaper art scene critic, gallery people, university art faculty members, art collectors, a couple of TAFE art teachers, art society members and representatives of the local arts council. Added to this group were numerous artists, performers, musicians, film-makers, creatives, art buyers and last but not least, members of the art interested public. SEE: The Chronicle Newspaper photos HERE.

Presented on one wall of the function room was a selectively curated group of artworks from what was described as  the ‘Darlings of the Darling Downs’ art scene. This display included works by Damian Kamholtz, Stephen Spurrier and Danish Quapoor and were presented for the appreciation by attendees, and later in the evening, these works were auctioned providing an unusual addition to the formal proceedings.

The crowd excitedly engaged in conversation and were revved up by Councilor Geoff McDonald who acted as master of ceremonies for the evening. The chant ‘The—RANGE’, ‘The—RANGE’, ‘The—RANGE’ made an auspicious start to the proceedings and was followed an introduction to the directors and gallerists of the ARIs featured in the program—Alison Mooney—Mars + The Grid, Sally Johnson—Blockwork, Alexandra Lawson and Tarn McLea—Raygun and Alex Stalling and Elysha Gould—made. Creative Space.

Introducing the ARIs Phtoto Doug Spowart

An address by USQ’s Head of the Creative Arts School, Associate Professor Janet McDonald commented on the ARIs and their importance within our community as providing a space other than the traditional gallery institution. These initiatives allow emerging artists and curators, including many USQ students and graduates, to operate in the public space presenting work and building their experience and professional practice.

A second speaker, Charlie Cush, Senior Advisor Arts Culture, Local Government Association of Queensland, spoke excitedly when he expressed that he was ‘blown away by the grass roots arts movement in Toowoomba’. He stated ‘that many arts communities around the country are looking towards what is being achieved here as a model for the how an ARI can foster emerging artists and contribute to the vitality of a region’.

The audience was then treated to the spectacle of works from the ‘Darlings’ being auctioned off by a professional auctioneer—bids were slow however the activity highlighted one approach to the many ways in which art is presented for appreciation and acquisition.

From my point of view the concept of ARIs has been around for a long time. My experience in this gallery practice goes back to the 1980s when I was co-director of Imagery Gallery in Brisbane. At the time artist-run-spaces as they were called then, provided a platform for artists outside of the commercial scene to present their wild ideas and art. They were experimental art spaces, often overtly non-commercial and supported by an ‘in-crowd’ associated with the artist’s demographic, their training institution and the social networking possibilities that the gallery opening provided.

The RANGE ARI’s, through the umbrella created by this Bunter Project, now emerge, not as isolated special interest groups, but rather as a powerful support mechanism for the advancement of all aspects of art from inspiration, creation, presentation, appreciation, criticism, merchandising and possession. Perhaps, for a regional arts community this event marks a new era of respect and opportunity for art. This attitude is desperately needed in our current political and economic climate which is seemingly ambivalent to the presence and the value of art and its important role in the community and life.

As we left the launch party a lone smoker was outside watching the last of the featured local films projected on the open air theatre set up for the night—I’m sure she was contemplating the meaningfulness of this moment for the arts in Toowoomba …or just enjoying the warm night air, the open air theatre and a smoke.

Watching a movie in the open air theatre Photo: Doug Spowart

ASLO SEE the Ash Bunter interview on the CHRONICLE NEWS Website

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BLOG words and images by Dr Doug Spowart in support of the RANGE Arts and Culture Festival.

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1. Regional Arts Development Fund–Arts Queensland and the Toowoomba Regional Council, and the Australian Government’s Regional Art Fund in partnership with Artslink.


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