Category Archives: artist’s book market

What’s in a name?

What’s in a name, Everything & Nothing?

Naming things also means everything & nothing like the famous conundrum about a doctor:

A father and his son are in a car accident. The father dies instantly, and the son is taken to the nearest hospital. The doctor comes in and exclaims “I can’t operate on this boy.”

“Why not?” the nurse asks.

“Because he’s my son,” the doctor responds.

How is this possible?

The answer is in the ingrained assumption that the word ‘doctor’ denoted a male practitioner which in the ‘old days’ it usually did. The assumption was ingrained over centuries of the ‘male-dominated’ world which allegedly no longer dominates the ‘norm’ but in the collective mind it seems the natural assumption falls to the male interpretation. Now this is not an article about doctors nor prejudices, I am merely pointing out that altho a name is important it often misleads our perception, even when there is no intent so to do.

I mention this because I have been involved in making art & books all my adult life which is (on paper) 50 years, in fact 56 when you take into account I made my first book as a ten year old (of course I weren’t a adult then tho) as an end of summer term project at Tod Road Junior School and my first comic, Big ‘Ead was in that book which had old wallpaper as a cover. In my first year at Gwamma Skewel (as an ex pupil of the old grammar school system I firmly believe that they are a relic of a past (male dominated) culture, so no don’t bring them back, but you’ll ignore me anyway, won’t you Tess?) I made more sophisticated books with bookcloth spines and all. In my 6th form I made my own sketch books, had to cos I couldn’t afford to buy one. At (teachers’ training) college I made several books for projects and did my first concertina book with 6 screenprints in which I have just ‘published’ in an A5-ish book.

apulscreem 2017 cover sm
‘Apulhed Sees’ is on sale at Bookartbookshop.

Then I taught how to make books to the kids in my classes but didn’t make my own again til I embarked on my MA course in my sixties after retiring hurt from my role as a ‘teacher’. You may ask, “What’s he on about?” well my answer is I’ve always been making the contents of books and sometimes the books themselves book I am not a bookbinder per se. Many of my ‘books’ tease and stretch the definition of ‘book’ which takes me back to my point at the head of this piece, What’s in a name?

Artists’ Books?

There’s a term ‘Artists’ Books’ which is quite popular nowadays denoting an infinite variety of ways to make and stretch the curve in what a book can be. There are a growing number of Artists’ Books Fairs or markets etc. I’ve frequented a few but my work doesn’t sell in droves so I cannot really afford to have a stall unless I wish to make some new (networking?) links thru meeting new folks and advertise my wares, basically I have to tell myself, “This is like a holiday Pete. You’re running a table during the day then ‘after hours’ you can take a look at a place you wouldn’t necessarily visit, like say Oxford, Newcastle or even Edinburgh. Recently I was able to walk around the Bristol Artist Book Event (BABE) [wearing my new Apulhed mask] and witness the wonderful atmosphere and the way so many folk of like mind share a big space and fill it with beautiful artistic output. I spoke with a couple from Kent but have forgotten their details, so if you’re out there I’d love to connect up and discuss making 3D masks! The people who make the books are very talented and ‘artist’s books’ are a wonderful vehicle for all manner of ideas and projects and many of them are beautiful objects. Some of my work falls under the category too but I prefer the term ‘Books Artists Make’ (BAM) for my works.

I know that not everyone involved in artists books claims to be a artist but I did before I realised am not a artist, I am a man, I am me! But all my adult life I been involved in ‘art & writing’ but once again, What’s in a name? What does ‘art’ mean? What does ‘writing’ mean? In my case they both often meant under-mining or undermining or under-mine-ing. I would undermine my own stuff, I would often do something real good then undermine it with my next work.

I have this penchant for undermining, reaching under, looking past, looking beyond. I think it came from doing ‘History’ with the late David Clayton at school where we were encouraged to question things and this continued in my Philosophy tutorials with the late Bill Josebury at St Lukes. I hated the art dept at my college so I did everything I could to undermine the tutors. I disliked the politicians in the early 70’s like Thatcher who did her infamous cuts in Education then went on to destroy mining communities so I did scathing cartoons about their lack of consideration or conniving. One of Thatcher’s best buddies was Pinochet and she must have learned a lot from his methods, he, like other dictators smashed the poets, artists and educationists. So when it came to undermining the book, wow, I was in heaven.

Which brings me to the work of Tim Hopkins and his subject Fernando Pessoa’s The Book of Disquiet. Tim  has a day job, but when he gets home he must work thru the night on his little Adana press. http://britishletterpress.co.uk/presses/small-presses/adana/

Tim has produced a wonderful box of prints, which may be called an artistsbook of The Book of Disquiet. https://twitter.com/halfpintpress a bk o disquietLaunched on Thursday 6th April it’s on display in the window at the Bookartbookshop  near Old Street station, London. It’s difficult to describe but it’s very beautiful. Fernando Pessoa wrote his book (never published in his lifetime) during his final days on lots of ephemera and Tim has printed Pessoa’s writings onto many ephemeral objects like beermats, pop bottle labels, stamps, pencils, lolly sticks. This is a labour of love. He did 50 boxes/copies for sale and sold out almost immediately! I bought two packs with for pieces in each and they seem to be beautifully printed but Tim’s attention to the detail of Pessoa’s writings is astonishing.

a Pessoa

Pessoa had a strange view of What’s in a name?, he invented what most of us call alter-egos but he coined the term, ‘heteronyms’ to explain his use of a myriad of ‘characters’ in his writings who spoke with different tongues and names in his work. Fernando Pessoa says ‘my habit of placing myself in the souls of other people makes me see myself as others see or would see me…’

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7816.Fernando_Pessoa

and well done Tanya for arranging the show!

By strange coincidence I had come across Pessoa’s work for the first time ever a couple of weeks before this launch at Bookartbookshop as I was doing a poetry workshop (the same night as the launch!) at the Poetry school in Lambeth led by Saradha Soobrayen:

Session 4 Pessoa Task (for Thursday 6th April): Describe and create heteronyms to unlock hidden parts of your writing…

Pessoa’s on his term ‘heteronyms’. “A pseudonymic work,” he explained in a 1928 article, “is, except for the name with which it is signed, the work of an author writing as himself; a heteronymic work is by an author writing outside his own personality: it is the work of a complete individuality made up by him, just as the utterances of some character would be.”

Now you know my tendency to undermine don’t you? I’ll finish this blArt with my own slight consternation at Pessoa’s notion that a writer can, ‘write outside his own personality’? I tend to agree with this comment from the goodreads link above, that Pessoa wrote from 4 differing aspects of himself. ‘It is sometimes said that the four greatest Portuguese poets of modern times are Fernando Pessoa. The statement is possible since Pessoa, whose name means ‘person’ in Portuguese,…’

 

 

a new ‘Shrewd Idiot’ book

Here’s a sighting of ma new Shrewd Idiot book during the binding at Sullivan & Son.

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It’s A3 size, that’s with two A4 type-written (By Jill nee Williams in the late 1970s) sheets on each page. There are 13 ‘big’ images at A3 size potted thru the script along with lots oif little doodles and some nice images dropped into the typed pages. There’s lots of alterations and corrections through the document because it was originally meant to be a manuscript to attract a publisher deal. In the 1970s the publisher would take this document and hand it to the typesetter who would follow the instructions which I had put over the type and any which were added by the publisher. This ‘manuscript’ was never intended for public consumption hence the need at one point to go through and change all names when I thought maybe I’d self-publish as a normal book which would be typed into a modern form where all the corrections and changes could be implemented so the viewer never see them. However, I decided not to have it re-typed, that would have made my job a lot easier so it was a must to avoid, NO, better to really really struggle with the original typed pages, scan them in then alter them as required in photoshop then design the layout in Quark (I know, Quark is so out of vogue now and it’d be much easier in Indesign, so I stuck with Quark, you know me.

So, there we have it, the book is now printed and with my binders who have now debossed the actual cover cloth with my little drawing of the Shrewd Idiot pushing his barrow of books, well one BIG tome anyway!

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This red image is only half the cover, it sits to the right hand side of the cover making it look like the fool is pushing his barrow off the book.

Everything about the book is not exactly what it seems at first glance. It looks like a story about a young bloke who left his home town and travelled as far away as he could to get an education and how he was initiated into all those things young fellas need to be initiated into. But it’s not about that at all. It’s about awakening, awakening of consciousness and the acquisition of skill to carry the revelations that an awakened consciousness finds in a pretty uninterested world. By the end of the book the idiot has a lot of disappointing outcomes but they are just more revelations about how hard life can be especially when you have a penchant for making life difficult or finding the hard way to do the easy things.

In the end the book is not about that fella back in the early 1970s, it’s about his older version now in his mid-sixties and how he never gave up on his dream of showing folk the quality of what he found in all those initiations and revelations and how it took more than forty years to bring them out in a public format. You’ll see as soon as you open it that it is not what you thought it was as the opened book shows, it has a beautiful feel to it and again that’s an acquired sensibility from over 40 years of continuous effort and striving to achieve.

And the best is yet to come because this is just number one in a whole series of publications which this guy has been preparing over the past. But there’ll be no more quite like this, I’ll find easier ways to do the design and layouts. Watch this space.

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the original face of Apulhed when he saw mankind’s inhumanity all over the planet Earth

The book plus a sister publication of 37 A3 images should be available by the end of February 2017 and hopefully a facsimile publication of the famous concertina ‘book’ called ‘Appleheadman Screams’ which I did in 1972. Nothing has changed, the things he screamed about are still going on…and on…and on. Apulhed shows a perturbed visage but he won’t accept the original face of Apulhed when he saw mankind’s inhumanity all over the planet Earth, he decide that rather than flee this realm he will stayy to spread happiness and compassion, slowly but surely he knows that humankind will return to peace.

I am doing a launch Performance Art piece at the Arnolfini during the BABE book event on Saturday 1st April. Watch out cos that’s not what it seems either, whereas if you can get to it you’ll see what looks like a Clickerti-Clix year old bloke prancing about with words and masks and dad-dancing (not! I do Zumba once a week don’t you know), it’s really an introduction to the Shrewd Idiot book with all its ins and outs. More about that in my next blog.

Visit 2 da the New Tate

London dream on

Photo taken of some idiot dreamer as part of a Uniqlo gig at opening days at Switch

Wa doo eye kerno? (That’s ‘What Do I Know?’ in real Englitsch. Not much! I’ve only been making ‘art’ since ’68 now, 48 years later am 65, 66 on 27 Oct!. So I tink I knows a bit about ‘art’.

I visited the Switch (aka New Tate build) twice this week. I LOVE IT!

I got an overwhelmingly positive feel in the place, despite LONG queues, big crowds and the obvious commercial success of art (something which fro 48 years eluded me work & still does, I’m not represented in the Tate butti don’t mind cos am represented in this blArt…I’m in the Tart!

I could already write a book about the value of the New Tate (Tate Modern & Switch). It employs thousands of people, some on a wage, some for free, some just ogle at Great Tate.

I first went to Tate in 1967 and it were a massive part of my Art Education. Now I am working on 3 books about my life & work. Two are already written; The Shrewd Idiot and Genie Ass. Its taking time to lay them out, so you have to be patient cos they’re on the way.

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Enter a caption

a little Bourgeois sculpture from the Tate collection .

bgwmn cleen s
a portrait I done o LB earlier, holding a Tate Member with her best friend on her shoulder

“Louise Bourgeois is the Godhesse!”

https://www.bing.com/images/search?q=louise+boureoise&id=E697774EB2F4FA54F3BFB9C7D852C3EA0677DBFD&FORM=IQFRBA

I thought that as I looked thru the new room dedicated to work she did which Tate now owns! https://www.google.co.uk/webhp?sourceid=chrome-instant&ion=1&espv=2&ie=UTF-8#q=Louise+Bourgeoise

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another gem

I’m sad to say Andrew Marr on the BBC2 kept harping on about the £260 million it cost.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b07hk12j/new-tate-modern-switched-on?suggid=b07hk12j

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This is getting to be the Bourgeoise show (they won’t let you snap Mona Hatoum!)

Marr’s underlying take on it was poor but Waldemar Janacek’s was even worse, but I have about as much respect for his views as I do the woman who got up and walked from mher bed when Saint Saatchi told her to get up & walk.

borgeoise switch hse4

This woman who got out of her bed to talk to Marr has been involved in ‘art’ for less time than me (but should be more articulate cos she is paid millions to practice) said a work by Louise Bourgeois is a ‘mindfuck’.

bourgeois bed 1991 get lost sm
I photo’d LB trying to rid the rats from her bed, but to no avail, they stole it!

I think anyone with a ounce of intelligence may see what she was getting at but I’d have thought she could have been more descriptive and constructive about that great artist who actually tolerated her more than I do even though Bedgirl stole many of her ideas and methods.

angel gormley sm
I took this photo of an angel flying over Gatesheed in 2015 when I went up to the Book Fair at BALTIC

Anthony Gormley talked well about a work he did with 5 eyes on it (it’s very good).  He got lucky back in 1981 when Serota at the Whitechapel consented to show his early sculptures. I never had that big a break, yet, well accept it I never will, ‘Never say never’, I just did! Compare my Billy No Breaks to Gormley’s big bits breaking waves near Liverpool, albeit he’s done some good stuff, his angel still flies north  and I saw his 2003 show at Baltic.

http://balticplus.uk/antony-gormley-domain-field-installation-shot-2-c10436/

I still keep making my art, this blArt is pArt of it too.

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one last bourgeoise

Mona Hatoum’s show is wonderful too.

I posed for these photos in her ‘Corps Etranger 1994’

mona hatoum (2)
good looking pensioner gets inside Mona

I love her utilizing mundane, nay ubiquitous, materials; weaving it into her clever metaphors. I love her glass grenades, her toy soldiers arranged as an infinite loop. Worth seeing. As is the work called (or by) Tarek Atoui in the basement at Switch.

It’s several musicians make sound out of instruments designed to emit sound electronically (or sommat like that!). It’s part of the Tate Live Art stuff. One day I may be able to do ma ting there too cos I am a live artisbloke as you know.

Actually over the years I have performed at Tate in many ways. I first entered as a raw-would-be-artibloke in the 1960s. In the 70s I frequented it as I became a teacher. 80s I took my own audiences in the shape of coach trips from my night classes and i drew Paulozzi. 90s I took my own childers one of whom is now a curator and i drew Miriam Patchen and then Bruce that Scottish fella. Noughties I stood in a massive derelic  buildin and thought ‘they’ll never make it work, then on opening day I saw a surge of folks walking like Pina Bausch dancers into the Turbine Hall. In the 2010s I couldn’t afford the member’s pass until my state pension kicked in this year and I re-joined. Glad that I did, a good year to do it.

‘ere’s a bonus poem:

The Beauty of making my art today

 

The Beauty of making my art

After 50 years of trying to make it

I finally made it, good.

 

How do I do it now?

It’s easy after all these tears

 

I cried many many years

As they ignored me, all ways

Now I come into my own

Do it my own way I do too.

 

 

Finally, here’s a sign i saw on a London Bus as I travelled to the Tate

london farts logo

 

Just like Eddie

 

  1. I was working on my Shrewd Idiot Buk (SIB) and I decided I have done too many photos in my life, thousands. I used to take ‘em and develop em and print em misen but the need for that is non-existent now cos yu gets yer images with a flick of a switch and anyone can do that.

I decided I have done too many photos when faced with the fact that I could spend hundreds of hours editing in the snaps for my SIB but really they’d take away from my intent, which was to do a buk with writings & drawings in, not a book of snaps.

2. My mate IEPW has taken some of the most wonderful photos of dancers at the Birmingham Royal Ballet but for copyrite reasons you will probably never see them. He had to sign a disclaimer preventing his using them before they’d let him take them. The good thing is the Japanese principal ballerina who featured in many of them has had a beautiful mural of about ten of the images given to her and she then gave it to her parents who have it in pride of place in Japan.  There’s a cleft stick here. The copyright on the images will always belong to IEPW cos he’s the maker of those images, but he had to sign the disclaimer. It’s the ballet company cutting its nose off to spite its face. The more folk who see his beautiful photos the more folk would go to the ballet. IEPW is an ace photographer. Talk about an artist suffering for his art. He had a big old stroke a few years ago and was in th’ospital for 4 months learning how to use his limbs again. Never did get full usage back in some. But he still insists on dragging himself down to the ballet to take his incredible snaps. I hope he gets his next stage in the Royal Photo society ratings. His bird photos are second to none.

hark at the diver sm
arc of a diver. copyright I E P Woolard

I came across the dreaded ‘ban on photography’ ting today, that thing where the place yer visiting says ‘Look No Photos’. It happens in galleries, at gigs, in museums and so many other places. In tonight’s case it was not the Arts Centre which prevented photography, it was the star attraction’s team. (I’ve been lucky to get some incredible images at Colchester Arts with permission before now, see my blog about the Japanese drumming https://apulhed.wordpress.com/2016/05/22/mugenkyo-taiko-drumbeats/) Photographs help spread the word about an artist’s work and can generate interest in and inform people who weren’t there.

Sorry to go on about this. Really, my life would have been a lot easier if I had never taken any photos, I’d have had more time for the important things in life like cleaning my car, house and garden.

I can understand the need to prevent flash from cameras which must distract and even hurt the actor’s eyes. There’s always an issue of care. The photo-taker needs to take care not to distract or annoy the stage occupier and of course other observers. So many times I’ve wished to record (my admiration for/love of) the work of an artist only to find there’s a ban on photography.

I went along to see Eddie Izzard tonite do his show in French. I learnt that I must do some swotting on my French, cos it’s worse than his and his is quite good. His show is really good but I think he could (and probli has) just stand and utter jibberish and he’d be funny. ‘It’s the way he tells em.’

But my decision not to take any more snaps cos I got millions I never use was reinforced by the order that went out not to take any photos of him during the show. Great. I had no choice cos I was banned from taking them and you know what am like, if I’d gotten permission to snap, you know, I would have. And that would av added another 30 or more images to my vast store. I would have used them in ma blog but now I cannot cos I not got none did i?

The best I could do on the night were to snap a gargoyle on the outside of the building what houses Colchester arts where he were playing his act in 3 tongues, German then French then Anglaise. Like I say he were very good. So is the gargoyle.

3.

a colarts gargoyle2 s
I never noticed this gargoyle before in the 40 years I bin going to Colchester

Anyway, I have decided to use up some of the snaps I took this week and there’s no bar on my doing that cos the flowers don’t say you can’t. I decided to use the flowers from my garden cos they are there now at this early summer and we are only about 9 days away from a very important moment in the calendar- the longest day!

Bless

Enjoy my flowers, just like Eddie.

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Innocent poppies reach for the sky

I have had a spate of poppies shoot up this week.

a lilac plant sm

This little fella is a subtle treasure, don’t know its name but I know someone who would.

And my hexagonal book arrived in Moscow, it’s OK.

The BALTIC market of Books Artists Make is on this coming weekend but I won’t be there. I had nothing new to show cos the SIB is taking so long to complete. I hope BALTIC books has loads of visitors, it’s a great book fair.

‘and Lennon’s on sale again’

 

‘…it is the very presence of the performance artist in real time, of live performers ‘stopping time’, that gives the medium its central position. In the first decade of the 21st century PA is at last being folded into the history of art proper, moving from the margins to the centre…PA continues to be a highly reflexive, volatile form- one that artists use to articulate and respond to change. It continues to defy definition and remains as unpredictable and provocative as it ever was.’ RoseLee Goldberg in Performance Art (PA). From Futurism to the Present.

As the new year gets going the great news is that I shall be doing a short performance art piece at the Society of Bookbinders in Kentish Town in March.

SoB Book Arts Day 2016

London and South Region of The Society of Bookbinders

Book Arts Day

Saturday 5th March 2016  (10:30 – 4pm)

(£10 members SoB, £15 non-members)

The day will comprise:

 An illustrated talk on Book Arts by Sarah Bodman

 A book arts fair presenting a variety of emerging and established book artists (many works will be for sale).

 Demonstrations by a selection of the exhibiting artists.

 A spoken word performance by book artist Pete Kennedy.

 A mini exhibition of Sónia Serrão’s personal collection of artists’ books collected over the last 20 years.

Sarah Bodman is an artist and researcher at the Centre for Fine Print Research (CFPR), UWE Bristol, where she investigates contemporary book arts. She is also Programme Leader for the MA in Multidisciplinary Printmaking at the Bower Ashton campus, editor of the Book Arts Newsletter, Artist’s Book Yearbook andThe Blue Notebook journal for artists’ books, and writes regularly on artists’ books for ‘a-n’ and Printmaking Today.

 

I have chosen to do a variation of my Clay Jug piece because it resonates ‘book’ and I have several book projects I’d like to show anyone who turns up to see. It was originally done tward my MA in Art & the Book and I have ‘danced’ it at IPA in Glastonbury & Bristol where it was very well received. The books that grew into the project were greatly influenced by Joanna Drucker’s wonderful book on the Alphabet. http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/790760.Alphabetic_Labyrinth I experimented with:

  • use of clay tablets like cuneiform,
  • poti like the Tibetan book form,
  • scrolls like medieval manuscripts and
  • the idea of knowledge being found in buried or hidden pots.

I use the music that Luke E. Walker created for Clay Jug to spark my movement thru this piece. Here’s a link to Luke’s music on soundcloud:

I also recite the words of Kabir and, maybe, Osip Mandelstam). I also intend to show a couple of my most beautiful unique copy books that I did to house my six poems generated from the project. PLUS David Jury’s version in letterpress with a surprise package.

I am also developing a piece which I did at IPA several times in Oct2015 based on the words of a song from the wonder-full cd  named still calm melancholy air brush hush by Colin Lloyd Tucker called Brush in which I have his words written and show them with movement as the piece progresses. I mime making a painting and in the end, in some venues, I actually brush an image onto a surface which can be paper and/or glass, perspex, wood, anything. I am looking to do it in shop windows, particularly art supplies places.

It fulfils my desire to follow in the footsteps of zen masters who write their thoughts in beautiful calligraphy and do drawings too. I may use Colin’s beautiful ambient music before I appear ‘on set’ but more & more I am working tward not having beautiful distractions as I move thru a piece, I am working tward playing the music in my head as I move.

see-   http://campus.poetryschool.com/follow-brush-making-zuihitsu-poetry/

another  new idea I am working on is:

 Somme Lads – Burnley Boys 1916

Designed as a solo work where PK plays two combatants, Tommy & Gerry. This is a commemoration and hopefully a reconciliation, of the horrific battle of the Somme July 1916. Tommy has a helmet like the one worn by Brits in WW1, but this also could be a cooking pot or wok like those we used to wear as children when playing war games.

My aim is to try to stop all wars on planet Earth, no pressure then Pete! My request is that the world works towards de-powering those perennial ‘leaders’ who create wars and create a planet where war is but a dim distant recollection. Can you Imagine that! Here’s Lennon my working class hero singing his song in a set which has all my favourite foibles in: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T2hvkPyiAFE  You see John dressed in apparel almost certainly designed to antagonise the obviously ‘privileged’ audience his band played in front of dressed in his red suit and black round specs.

And Lady Gaga, almost outdoing Lennon with her glasses pays tribute to one leader (Obama) who tried not to wage war and her favourite song writer in her version of Imagine: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=urjyP95H6vk

Here’s  Marianne Faithful singing another Lennon classic, Working Class Hero in which he lays it down like he sees it, quite lucidly I believe. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x2SDRQJrawU

Finally another working class hero David Bowie who sang ‘Lennon’s on sale again’ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IftjxN_KJoM and whose outlandish dress-sense set the stage for Gaga.

I was hoping to do it in June at the book fair at BALTIC (Artists’ Book Market BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art Saturday 18 & Sunday 19 June 2016) but haven’t been selected to do an intervention this year. So, if you have a venue in the North east area and want to see one or more of my pieces near the weekend of 18-19 June please let me know.

pete's earthen vessel

BAM Books Artists Make

In my previous blArt I piped on about B..B..BAM – Beautiful Books By Artist Makers.

a beau bks bam sm

go to https://apulhed.wordpress.com/2015/07/26/b-bam-b-bam/ if you wanna see the last blArt?

I realise that is a bit of a mouthful so let’s refine it.

I have played with the term AB (Artists Books). But BAM seems to ring a bell with me most- Books Artists Make- BAM.

bam clean sm

Then there was BA (BookArt) which also allows in all those beautiful commercial books like they do on the ground floor at Whitechapel’s Books Market. The art of designing the book is a great skill that artists like Eric Gill and David Jury espoused, along with William Morris, Kurt Schwitters, Guillaume Apollinaire, Jan Tschichold http://www.designishistory.com/1920/jan-tschichold/  to name but a few. Thames and Hudson (Hiroshege’s A Shoal of Fishes), Taschen (Hiroshege’s One Hundred Famous Views of Edo) and many more have produced commercial quantity books with beautiful feel and design. There are beautiful small press and individual publishers who create editions of gorgeous books. And of course artist/writers who create one-off-unique items which can be seen in exhibitions world-wide. I recently posted a blog about artists books, the gap between their beauty and the public’s not ‘getting’ or not understanding what they are. Even the definition & outcome of the artist’s play or experiment with the form and ingredients of what a book can be are unpredictable!

book art smBa Ba Black Cat have you any…book?

VIP please note – I don’t expect or anticipate the ‘B..B..BAM’ . BAM . BA logo ideas should overtake the term ‘artists book’, it’s the concept that I’d like to promote. The idea is meant to attract people not familiar with artists books and book art into the exhibition, show, fairs and markets in which the wares are being displayed.  I believe there is a need for a good rallying call, like an invigorating ‘quality’ hallmark or symbol to use on publicity material. The ‘pop-art’ similarity is about that stimulating bounce that comes with the onomatopoeia. My logos go back beyond pop art to the world of comic with Herriman, D D Watkins, Bestall and all. My designs are merely suggestions. I wouldn’t wish for them to be adopted but they flag up possibilities. I think the use of BAM or BA would be good on publicity but designed how local people or each book fair/event wants them to be from ‘normal’ typo to Rick Griffin illegible logo. For those of you unfamiliar with Griffin’s work take a look at this http://www.myraltis.co.uk/rickgriffin/galleries_sleeves.htm

Some of the interesting aspects of ‘bookness’:

Artists book’ is a good term (AB)Book Arts’ may be better (BA)

But

Neither spells out

Nor indicates

Nor defines

Nor limits

The variety

The differences

The various

The qualities

In the making of ‘book

With all the differing components

That comprise

That conspire

Together

To make books!

Babylon used clay tablets

Egypt used papyrus

Tibet used daphne

Magna Carta used vellum

Moses used stone

Kerouac used scroll in On The Road

Medieval monks used parchment

Gandharvans used birch bark

Nowadays we use plastic and vinyl too

The list goes on BAM BAM

See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_scrolls it’s good.

©Pete Kennedy July 2015

B..Bam B..BAM!

VIP please noteI don’t mean the ‘B..B..BAM’ logo to overtake the word ‘artists book’, I think it’d be a good rallying call, like an invigorating ‘quality’ hallmark symbol to use on any publicity material. The ‘pop-art’ similarity is about that stimulating bounce that comes with the onomatopoeia. Pete

I do not wish to ruffle any feathers but I feel the term ‘Artist’s Books’ is a bit misleading. I believe that to attract a wider spectrum of people in to Artists’ Books markets with a view to buy the books  we make, rather than merely view them, there is a need for a more catchy symbol on publicity material, a signifier which is less bewildering, more informative and more inviting, more exciting, maybe:

a b b bam

I believe the term ‘Artist’s books’ can be misunderstood by anyone who is unaware of the beauty that lies within (the field). I’m not being silly nor am I joking. Some people I know who happen to be very bright-intelligent and who get about a bit have been fascinated to see what ‘artist’s books’ are composed of/can be. But, just think of the first timer who comes across a poster which talks about “An Artists’ Book” event. Those uninitiated might be put off, believing that this event is only for ‘artists’ and they are not that, it can be intimidating. I believe after my recent participation at English Artists’ Books Markets in Oxford, Bristol and now Gateshead there is a lot of (simple) work to be done to increase members of the public willing & eager to put their feet over the threshold into the ‘market-place’.

I am going to suggest maybe the slant be changed from ‘Artists Books’ to something like, ‘Books by Artist MakersB..BAM! Let’s think about it? Let’s talk about it? Let me know if you think it’s a good idea. We need something to get folks over the threshold, especially in England where the pinch of the recession still bites the majority and is going to worsen in the next five years as government squeeze the less well off. Books by Artist Makers take a lot of thought and a whole lot of making. They are works of art in themselves which often take longer to create than a painting. Indeed some have several ‘prints’ in as part of their beauty. People may buy a framed print for say £50 (I know that’s cheap, but it’s just a figure to play with, to try to make a point), but would the same folks buy Books by Artist Makers with say 3-6 prints in for £50?

Here’s a quickly sketched onomatopoeia for Books by Artist Makers a b b bam

Cowboy Pete, cowboy pete fingers gunsBukman Artist-Maker

(Hooray, total ‘visits’ to my blog since it began tipped over the 7500 mark today).

Below I have added some comments which came in since I posted this blog about artists books (artisbuks) and the gap between their beauty and the public’s not ‘getting’ what they are. Please add your thoughts if you have any which say things not already said by those who added comments.

seems like we are touching a chord, thanks to yez. Here’s some replies already:

“I think that’s a great idea Pete. To me ‘Artist’s Books’ conjures up an image of books containing illustrations of their artwork or writing, with brief notes or explanations. As opposed to a complete work that you would admire as much as a photograph or painting hanging on a wall. I would never expect the book to be hand-made.” (Maxine, a ‘normal’ non-artist person.)

“Pete, I think you’re right a LOT of people do not understand Artist made books, and I do like your idea BUT how to get other people on board ? I know this is something we as a group at ArtBookArt are thinking about when advertising our event how do we get the concept across to those who think our exhibition may be books about rather than made by artists?

Yes the cost of an artist’s book versus a painting or a print, its partly to do with global forces, people can buy a book (any book) much cheaper and most people do not have the awareness of time taken + cost of materials. However in the right place and with the right buyers it is a different story. Perhaps venue and place is an important consideration in the selling and understanding of artist made books, and when trying to reach people who have never heard about them perhaps there has to be a different approach, a more educational one with some work-shops on simple book structures.” Gwen, (Artist’s Book Maker).

“You make a good point there Pete.

BookArt is a confusing term and it also hides a lot of mediocre stuff as well, just to do something in a book theme is not necessarily good art, it attracts all different sorts and some are not artists but craft people.

To me, for it to be good art, the book form has to be relevant to the art work, it has to enhance/emphasise the artistic thrust of the work. For instance your Venus Stairs book is a story of a work being created, over time and thought, into a an artwork.  Also, using the structure of a book and distorting it to jolt or draw out another perspective, such as using folding lead sheets, is another good way. Also, the attraction and power of using literature/poetry/drama/knowledge communicated in words, as another material to incorporate into the artist’s ‘palette’ is very powerful. There could be an interesting search and analysis on how artists have used words/books in their works over time.

So, anything to help explain that these works are art works based on a book form could be useful.

Maybe it could help shake out the different type of players under the ArtistBook banner from fine bookmakers, crafts people, illustrators, printers, poets/writers, to artists. There will be a lot of resistance to change the term from the established ArtistBook fraternity. But from an artist’s point of view I guess there would be a lot of agreement.

I like the pop-art shout. I have another one, WaBiAW!   Words and Books in ArtWorks!

It’s really all about the emphasis and priority, as to what comes first the book or the artwork.” Duncan (Mod from Twisted Wheel 1960’s days.)

“…The name change might work as well and I’m not saying it’s a bad idea, but I don’t think that on it’s own it will make a huge difference. But B.B.Bam is a cool idea and I love the graphic. The battle I think is to change the way people think of artists’ books by having more book markets and making them as accessible and welcoming as possible. Keep making books though Pete, and entertaining us with your wonderful performances.” Gary Malkin, Book Archivist BALTIC