Bookbinding and beyond

I valiantly attempt to meditate, am still trying after all these years but am not very good at it, yet. I was intrigued when I read this in Brain Pickings: ‘Oftentimes during meditation, I am visited by flash-memories dislodged from some dusty recess of my unconscious — vignettes and glimpses of people, places, and events from long ago and far away, belonging to what feels like another lifetime.’ Maria Popova.

I have experienced exactly that, I remembered my own first visit to the Lake District during a deep restorative yoga relaxation session with Catrina. I saw that as strange but very understandable. In some ways the significance of that one memory was that the trip was with my junior school at the end of my time there and it was the first time I had been anywhere away from and without my mum and dad (Jack & Jenny K.).

10 TRY'D

The Society of Bookbinders (SoB) Conference 2017

I audaciously sent my bound version of Inside This Earthen Vessel with David Jury’s beautiful letterpress renditions of my six poems into the (SoB) Competition & it was included in the (SoB) Exhibition (organised and set up by Marie Doinne and Mylyn McColl) where it was in good company. It happened to be the biggest height & width-wise in the show. There were however many exceptional entries and I particularly liked the two books entered by Rahel Scheufele (Switzerland) who won the Second Prize & Third Prize in ‘Fine Binding’.

Sumi Perera’s ‘soundwave scroll & boxset’ called 28 or not 28 was for me one of the best in show as she not only bound her cd in a box but also created a very beautiful round box for her scroll.

sumi perera sm

Also I loved the cover, which was all I could see in the display cabinet- and I would have loved to have seen inside of Daniel Wray’s Koi Karp & Chips.

koi chips

In fact the method of display disallowed showing insides of books which for me is a shame as the insides must make up 50-90% of the book. In my case I made the bind to house the prints! And the prints are high quality letterpress the words being very meaningful too.
a vessel buk at SoB3a sm

 

The Catalogue has excellent design and layout by Mel Jefferson who also won the People’s choice award.

I was lucky to be able to attend several talks about different aspects of Bookbinding where I was astounded by how little I know:

Kathy Abbott A ‘Tomorrow’s Past’ Modern Conservation Binding in Limp Vellum www.kathyabbott.biz I learned so much watching Kathy’s talk in which she informed me that EVA is the best adhesive to use as it conserves better. Very instructive about making a ‘pricking temple’ and how to score creases from the mid-page out to top/bottom.

Roger Green – Making a Drop-Back Box www.buchbinderei-green.de I recently made my first book-box which had a ‘lip’ around the box, Roger’s had no lip and it was much stronger.

Renate Mesmer – Medieval girdle bindings. Renate’s incredible intro to making girdle books was quite stunning, concomitant with someone who works at the Library of Congress in Washington DC.

Consuela (Chela) Metzger –the ledger book. Chela showed me the making of  a cover in parchment with all sorts of tacketing.

John Mumford – Islamic bindings John gave a fascinating talk on how books were made after Constantine became Roman Emperor and felt the need to have ‘50 new churches decked out in shimmering gold and jewels which also adorned the parchment bibles that had to have heavy wooden boards on to keep the parchment flat.

Christopher Harvey- Old Manuscripts, Working Books, Changing Structures – Aspects of Book Conservation at the College of Arms, London www.college-of-arms.gov.uk Chris spoke well of the collection housed near St Paul’s in London where he tackles, ‘support & structural issues of the paper book-blocks’.

Peter Bower Adventures with Books: Investigations into Book History using Paper Analysis. Peter’s talk about his detective work in paper analysis was fascinating.

Paul Johnson – Pop Up Books In a way I saved the most intriguing til last. Paul showed us how he goes about making his incredibly complex one-off ‘pop-up’ books.

I was lucky to sit next to Monique Lallier during the formal meal in the Ballroom at Keele Uni as she proved to have a good sense of humour, as did her husband Don Etherington who told me he was an amateur binder and me being ignorant believed him, the joke was on me Don. It turns out that Monique does the most beautiful bookbinding and if I work hard for the next 50 years I may catch up with her. We also found that we read the same books, Book of Joy by Dalai Lama & Desmond Tutu and Red Notice by Bill Browder, what a strange coincidence. Next I must read her book on binding which she did with her husband!

After attending the above talks and demos in just 2 days I was knackered but much better informed about some of the skills which are out there. So, I am sticking my girdle book under my belt and, like Bunyan’s hero Christian, I’m setting off on a long road down Bookbinder’s Way. First stop may be Wuppertal in Germany (Pina Bausch’s dance place) where Roger Green has his bindery. He lives about 30 minutes train journey from Dusseldorf where I hope to be later this year to benefit from Vest & Page’s workshops in Performance Art (PA). Verena & Andrea (who are V & P) are two of the very best PA practitioners and I am hoping that just being there and getting guidance from them will help me move forward in the arts of Performance Art!

Am gonna need as much help as I can get as am doing some of my own pieces at Colchester Art Centre on Nov 5th as part of a launch for my Shrewd Idiot books.

Talking of Colchester Art Centre I must congratulate Ant & the team for setting up a great show of photos taken by people who live out on the streets in Colchester. It opened on Friday night in the Old Bus Depot which is a big old dusty near derelict site but I love old bus & lorry depots, something about my youth when we used to go frequent them when it rained and we couldn’t keep playing football in the backstreets until the rain abated. So, shelter for me as a kid, and now shelter for the artworks made by people who could benefit from better shelter in today’s world.

 

 

 

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Trajal Harrell at Barbican.

‘The object of choreography: bodies, time & space.’

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xf9LAo_buic

When I saw the first day of Harrell’s ‘Hoochie-Coochie’ season at the Barbican I loved him & his troupe of dancers and his choreography. I wanted very much like to take some photos during the dances but of course Barbican has a blanket ban on anyone doing that! I like the way Harrell crosses the boundaries with his art. So I drew them! You cannot keep a determined man down.

from Caen Amour

Caen Amour

Caen Amour is the longest piece at 1 hour 10 mins and his latest creation, it involves 4 dancers (3 male 1 female; Thibault Lac, Alex Roccoli, Trajal Harrell & Perle Palombe) and the audience. In my sketch the head on left shows how incredibly creative the troupe are with simple props, you have to see them to understand, in this sketch he is wearing a ‘tie’ wrapped round his head and dropping down his face. The central figure is totally covered in long garments and seems to have them pulled together at the mouth by hands. The woman uses a dress to cover her arms and head down to her bum, her nose makes the little black mark to left of the word ‘sheer/sheen’ and her nipples make the two ‘eyes’. Of course my rapid sketches do no service to the beauty of the dancers movements and costumes which are festooned with colour and glittery surfaces.

The dance owes much to a range of influences from Japanese ‘butoh’ to Folies Bergère, from Martha Graham to hoochi coochie dancers. All four main dancers have a trademark Trajal style of movement which comes in from his earlier ‘minimalist’ work and they use gyration and arabesque which crosses genders. “We perform as the all-female shows, though we are mixed genders.” They hold their hands above their heads and make hundreds of moves with their fingers, wrists elbows waists genitals knees feet and bum-see-saw daisys. It’s hard to describe. They are all strong, dedicated, muscular lithe they tease with their ‘c’mon in baby’ looks like strippers would if I ever saw any, not that I have, well not that many Mrs Moneypenny. The music is mesmeric and appropriate; it set the pace and the scene. Three dancers,  do most of the show then Trajal enters from through the pillow-seated audience and stamps his style on it. The audience becomes part of the show/choreography when the follow the invite to go round behind the set and watch the dancers disrobe and re-attire for their next entrance and they move on and off the stage with rapid frequency. If you click on the link you’ll see 3mins of Caen Amour: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7h6LURgMoWg

 

In The Mood For Frankie

in the mood for Frankie

Although only 3 male dancers took part in In the Mood For Frankie it turned out as fascinating as Caen Amour. It’s hard to detail the dance, it’s best to go watch it. The dancers moved across the set in twos with the third player sometimes criss-crossing the others. I found it peculiar that when one of them decided to replenish water in a conduit he used a plastic bottle rather than the brass jug which one dancer was dancing with altho’ taking in the ‘minimal’ and ‘realness’ using ‘everyday objects’ rather than things for show. Trajal talks of…”rejection of spectacle, virtuosity and make-believe…, his work ‘uses constructions of gender, artificiality and social roles to critique authenticity…realness operates precisely by blurring the line between perceptions and constructions of the fake and the real.’

There’s a great Guardian article which contains lots of links to more material about some of the wide variety of things which Trajal takes in when he designs a piece, https://www.theguardian.com/stage/2017/aug/01/trajal-harrell-the-dirty-dancer-voguing-his-way-into-history

This article is a good intro to one of Trajal’s influences, Rei Kawakubo’s fashion,

https://www.theguardian.com/fashion/2015/sep/20/rei-kawakubo-radical-chic and if you watch the video of her boys walking the walk you’ll see how Trajal mimics the walk in several of his works.

 The return of La Argentina

Carmen Amayareturn of La Argentina

Here I have Trajal watching over La Argentina as she danced.

The clothes he wears in his The return of La Argentina are fluted like her dress altho’ he only dons pieces of fabric, one colour on one leg, another on the other, one colour on one arm another on the other. He does dance with a flamenco dress(?) as he enters. He sits on a piano stool and does a ritual with some spoon and bowls. He scrapes the spoon around the Japanese dish which as its made of clay with a heavy grog sounds a bit like chalk scratching a blackboard but music all the same. As he departs he wears two rectangles of fabric folded into square in which he places his hands and motions toward the crowd which sits & stands watching. Is he waving? Maybe. He’s gesturing some sort of call, some of us wave, he smiles and backs away thru the gap between the audience and he smiles and shoots off up the stairs, the dance is done.

 

See this interview with curator Leila Hasham- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZAK_GG4AFrU