OK so I drove over to the second Hadleigh artist book show because Wendy Allen was doing a table and I wanted to catch up with some friends I have made over there in the last couple of years. I was going to make a whistle stop visit and out and back ‘ome so I could go to a new show at Sculpt gallery.
But I got hooked again and stayed all day talking with old friends, well not so old I only met most of em in the last 2 years.
First person I set eyes on was Chris Ruston. I really love the work she does it’s fantabulous. She does these books full of exquisite monoprints. To say that in no way can do justice to their beauty. She uses very thin paper and I would call it decalcomania plus frottage, both techniques introduced by Maxt Ernst when he declared easel painting with brushes to be dead. What Chris does beggars belief. Some of the best Artist’s Book work I have so far seen, and I seen quite a lot now. Funny ting is she was pegged back to 3rd place by two book-makers from the same Hadleigh stable in a national competition!
It was wonderful to find that Gwen Simpson was adjudged First place after the trouble she encountered on an MA course which has really upset her. To see her given such credence is wonderful. Second place went to Karen Apps (?), I tink. All 3 did wonderful work which thoroughly deserved acclamation but I wonder about all the others who entered the competition, they must have cried ‘FIX’, altho, of course, it weren’t! you can see their work at their site http://www.artbookart.com/book-art-events.html
Windy’s bream beaver buk
But that’s not the only reason I loved it. As I toured the tables I kept seeing such high standards. It’s not my intent to cover every exhibitor, this is just a flashing blart, not one of my long drawn out incredibly deep ones.
Wendy Allen had bravely decided to go on her own when all of her fellow book-makers from the Colchester based group Gambit, still recoiling from being turned over by a turned page lot, all weepy, decided not to go to Hadleigh so Wendy was left high noon and dry, the nasty bandits, I can say that cos I was one of them, the one with the mask on the horse called Hopalot. Sorry Wendy. In fact it was a plan to give you the opportunity to shine which your work surely did. I even bought one of the bream-catcher (that’s dream-catcher actually) books Wendy did.
She does these lovely little tings, in small editions, very understated calm and full of thought. She said she had had a great day meeting folk, talking about her work to visitors and learning.
So, learning. The best ting about NOT exhibiting was that I could walk around at will and just meet folk. I looked at a book made to mimic a wallpaper samples book by Barbara Brown. She had screen-printed images of her family from grandparents to grandchilders using repeat images. Then, at the foot of each page she had placed a strip of repeat images generated on photoshop of individual members of her clan. We had a discussion about one particular image which worked well and had become the visitors’ favourite. We said it is often not predictable which of our works will become popular and the ones that do are often a surprise to us.
Next table was Sandie ‘Artysan’ Cottee with her able help Pauline Davidson who allowed me to make a little book. Sandie uses rubber stamps and photos in her books and has two machines which enable her to pierce holes to ring spiral bind her books, a skill I shall investigate as some of my work uses ring binds. She also puts lots of insertions into her spines and maybe some bits of beads and other dangles. Simply by adding accoutrements to your book you are altering the concept of what is book, changing the notion of a book from a penguin paperback to ‘something else’. At hadleigh several artists use the altered book idea extremely well and I overheard Gwen Simpson mention Tom Phillip’s Hummemento (I specialise in altered werds as yu gnow!). Phillips has a great track record in artist’s books and I feel sure one of his inspirators is also one of mine since I saw his books in the Hayward show of 1973, Dieter Roth.
Rot inspired me in 1973 when I saw his screenprints at the Hayward which were my main interest as I wer doing screenprints at the time in my art course. I have always believed it best to change your prints with each pull, I never ever wished to create a whole series/edition with identical prints as is the ‘norm’. Rot did this too so in him I thought I had found a soul mate, which indeed I had and he wer much closer to me than I thought , this becoming apparent 40 years later. I had seen his self-published books at the show and on seeing them, a couple o ears later, I thought, well he did his own ting so will I and I brought out Apul-One. Now apulone has changed spellings in it as I wer writing in shorthand (mine) for speed of gerrin werds down and also cos I cum frae Lancashire born in Scotland so my spelling reflected those roots. What I never realised, cos as a student I couldn’t afford to buy his buks and I still cannot buy those 70’s ones as they are astronomical now, he also used changed spelling when he wrote in Engerlisht, not cos he wer german but cos he chose to. So we were twins and I dint kno. Also, he wer a good looking guy in his 20’s and he became a ugly bloke, which is summat I have found we all have to put up with. But seriously, he did have real trouble coming to terms with those changes, booze helped him cope, the main difference is, I don’t any longer do booze, and my good looks are returning (not). Also, as brad Freeman pointed out, neither Roth nor Ruscha were the first to do artist books, altho I would argue the former was the biggest influence on altered books, and prints, in the modern era. An obvious pre-cedent was Willaim Blake who not only printed some of his books as one offs, to order, he would colour them differently, or at least his wife did. F H Haagensen is another printer who often changed his images as he worked an edition. And then there is me.
back to Hadleigh with the beautiful porcelain books of Margaret Cooter. I didn’t see her wonderful ‘book’ on a banner on the wall behind her until I had spoken long time with her and accepted her invitation to handle the light pottery ‘books’ she has made. One had some spirals on and some strange marks which I likened to bookworm and she seemed very pleased with my reference to the holy ones. She has a blog at margarte-cooter.blogspot.com which I must admit I’ve yet to visit but look forward to. When my eyes alighted on her banner ting I loved it. She has taken cutting from mostly the Grundiag in long strips folded over so they are stronger then stitched on a backing sheet to make this long wall hanging which I loved.
Finally, cos am in a hurry to see the last days of the ‘Beyond El Dorado’ at BM, I came to the table of the mother & daughter team called Swains. Lola’s workis a lovely form of prints of tings like lapwings to accompany words from her husband’s poems. I loved her marblellous covers on her small sketch books. Louise, the youngest of the clan on show, has re-typed a story by Poe and highlighted certain words then bound it in traditional style, rather well. She also does collage type images with cut and pasted werds, lovely stuff. Bye for noo.