30 September 2011


Do these look like quilts to you? They're are made up of bits of book covers, and other materials; read more about them here.

One way to unify fabric compositions is through the lines of quilting - for her work, Nancy Natale uses a final coat of encaustic.

Quote of the day

Underutilization of therapists is widespread in the visual arts. - Robert Genn

(He quotes Winston Churchill: "Human beings are of two classes: those whose work is work and whose pleasure is pleasure; and those whose work and pleasure are one.")

29 September 2011

Book du jour

How not to do it ... in several ways ...
This is a simple coptic stitch binding. The instructions in the book said thread length should be head-to-tail height x number of signatures. That was not enough! Lesson 1: add extra to the thread length.

Lesson 2 was figuring out how and where to join in more thread.

Covering the covers took longer than the sewing, and the paper was a bit thin and grainy. For some reason, I glued around the edge only - something that might work well with fabric. Lesson 3: paste up the entire paper.

Once the book was sewn I decided to put some acrylic varnish on the covers. (Used a date stamp on them first, to give the book a front and a back, and up and a down.) Adding moisture would have been fine if the paper had all been glued down, but in this case it made the paper stretch.  Lesson 4: decorate the paper before using it.

Photo organisation - an interim goal

The ultimate goal is to have all photos that need to be kept in named (subject) files, and to have deleted all "unnecessary" photos. Vague, isn't it? ... as noted earlier, I've started, and the big project is starting to seem more possible.

A week ago I couldn't decide whether to start importing photos via Bridge, and then using Bridge to label these (and older) photos, or to keep doing it via whatever's-on-the-computer. Still haven't decided about making any change; first off, it might be an idea to find out just what IS on the computer.

I'm getting more comfortable with Bridge, via a bit of labelling of recent files - but am still wondering whether this labelling is actually going anywhere. Is it just a way of "knowing" about the photo, in years to come - sort of like writing everyone's names on the back, or the place where it was taken? Or will it help with sorting in subjects?

Ignorance notwithstanding, I've formulated an interim goal -- break down the task into small parts, so that it doesn't seem so overwhelming. So, Phase 1 will deal with the photos I need for my course, and these can be divided into:
-pix from exhibitions (maybe with subfiles of type of show, art or quilt or whatever);
-pix of things happening at college (eg lectures, results of screenprinting);
-pix of my ongoing projects; 
-pix of finished projects; 
-pix of other book arts

I'll have reached my goal when all files since Oct 2010 are purged of these photos - that is, when they have been moved (via Windows?) to subject folders. What's left will probably be family pix (easy enough to file those) and pix taken round town (file by place name?).

Although there's a subject structure emerging from my recent bout of labelling, this will develop once the larger folders, eg finished projects, get looked at in detail and subfolders made. (Reminder to self: Keep It Simple - !)

It does take a long time to get organised -  setting up a workable system doesn't happen all at once - you have to figure out what's best for your actual needs. That specificity doesn't come built in to a piece of software ... or rather, you have to be very familiar with the software to make it work the way you need it to.

28 September 2011

Three exhibitions - Matton, Kelley, Jerwood

First, Charles Matton (on till 7 Oct at All Visual Arts, near King's Cross). He makes models of real and imaginary spaces - this is a reconstruction of Francis Bacon's studio -
On to Mike Kelley (till 22 Oct at Gagosian, Britannia Street) - quite the opposite of small - a huge "fortress" including a jewelled treasure (this is where all those lost earrings got to!) -
and models of miniaturised cities (Kandor, home of Superman) in bell jars. 

And then to the Jerwood Drawing Prize - which I'm still digesting - hoping to go back again before the show finishes on 30 Oct. One of the works I liked is by Hilary Ellis - this similar one is from her website -

Book du jour

Pillow book?
The text was spontaneous, hence a bit trite.

It was heading for the bin anyway...

Then and now - Finsbury Park

27 September 2011

More from London Art Book Fair

One book book that came home with me - Maryna Tomaszewska's "Polish phrase book with art in the background" is a take-off of standard tourist phrase books - including useful bits of dialogue like "What kind of artist are you?" - "It's hard to say". See videos of dramatised scenes at www.phrasebook.tempsdimages.eu 
In a talk on developments in digital publishing, a close analysis of text (it took me back to the library school days of learning how to make KWIC and KWOC indexes) -
Table and chair, pen and paper, text and time - "an exploration of handwriting in various forms: books, spaces, performances and workshops. It offers you an experience in response to the fast pace of contemporary culture" -
Possibly the fair's youngest book artist -
Cut-out delights by Andrew Malone, including tiny books of postage stamps (I'm now kicking myself for not buying one!) -
Also should have bought these, by David R Faithfull - "depicts the story of 'Christ', depicted through 'match' imagery" - on the left, Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden -
Respite - in the caf, some serious reading is going on -
Wish list -

The mock-up and finished book of a story based on "The Hardy Tree" in Old St Pancras churchyard (planted by Thomas Hardy - before he started writing novels) -
And finally, a conjuction of meteorites -  Cornelia Parker used a piece of meteorite to burn "near misses" on maps, and Andrew has a meteorite on his ring -

26 September 2011

Moan on Monday - artists' statements

So many artists' statements are incomprehensible. Yes, they show the artist has learned to write for the "secret society" of other artists (many of whom can decipher the deliberate ambiguities; others of whom couldn't care less).

In the public arena, though, statements are a way to draw in the viewer who is uneducated in art, and seeking to know more.

There's no point, imho, in writing a statement if it doesn't inform someone. So I offer (or rather, repeat) some simple rules:

Keep statements brief.

Make them understandable.

Get a friend to check spelling, grammar, punctuation.

And if you want to make your artist statement interesting to the non-art-educated public - include a simple description of how you make the work ... say briefly what materials and/or processes you use.

24 September 2011

Book fair

on a sunny morning
for the London Art Book Fair to open
Plenty of temptations 

Three days of displays and events.

New basements for old houses

It's the latest thing, in some parts of London - houses that have already been expanded up into the loft and out into a conservatory are now adding on a new basement - which worries the neighbours.

There is now a petition on the Government website asking for the introduction of more rigorous legislation to try to restrict the number of extra basements being dug in our cities.  If you agree please click on the link and don't forget to validate your vote when the website sends you a confirmation email.

You can view the e-petition at: http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/17072
If this is close to your heart (or home!), do send this to as many people as possible and ask them to forward it on. 

(Image from here.)

23 September 2011

Book swap

Watch out - you might get a book placed in your hands, out of nowhere. "Serendipity is what we need more of in reading" - and here's how it works.
The first I knew of "the big book swap" was this ad in the tube, during my riding/writing of the District Line (for the Sketchbook Project).

Photos of some books waiting for a reader are here.

The Power of Making

A quick look round the show, nipping in to the V&A early in the day to avoid the queues. It's proving very popular -- at 10.30 it was full of school or college groups - and the kids were really interested.

The show runs till 2 January 2012. It's "an exhibition about the breadth and depth of craft's presence in modern life," says the brochure. "The featured objects have been selected to highlight both age-old skills and contemporary techniques, from traditional stone walls to machines that can make other machines. Each exhibit demonstrates refined craftsmanship, meticulous control or ingenious application."

The objects are grouped: Types of making; Learning a skill; In the zone; Making new knowledge; Thinking by making. Read more this here.

The brochure has a great list of processes and techniques - unfortunately not on the exhibition's website -
The exhibition includes commissioned documentary footage filmed at individual maker’s studios and factories, to provide an insight into how the knowledge of making is preserved - and a selection of the fascinating short films submitted to www.vimeo.com/groups/pomopensub.

The artists-in-residence associated with the show have a blog: www.vam.ac.uk/blogs/postlerferguson

One of the most riveting exhibits is this stunning dress (The Widow) by Susie Macmurray - see an interview about its making here.

22 September 2011

Book du jour - boxes

Now that I've broken the ice by making a clamshell, all sorts of other types of boxes cry out to be made. This little drawer took about an hour and didn't have enough care paid to exact measurement. Having the scalpel at a slight angle can make that crucial difference, especially in a small item (this is about 3"/8cm long).

Another dimension

A domestic intervention ... nice surprise, thanx kids!

Referencing its own making

"Using a till receipt to capture a specific moment in time, the book records location, time, date, artist, artwork and cost in a single transaction."

Thermal print with card case, 2009.  www.franciselliott.com

Found among the delights in Books of All Stripes, which is showing in Melbourne until Feb 2012. See them all at www.bookarts.uwe.ac.uk/sbtalkoz11/slvsb.pdf

Hankies, anyone?

Sophie Herxheimer is a fervent champion of the handkerchief's return to the pocket or sleeve of every citizen, so in her role as artist-in-residence at London Printworks Trust she is asking for submissions of handkerchief designs. The one shown is one of hers - a poem made from letters in the word "disaster" (she reveals that this type of poem is called oulippo).

Her email said:

You are invited to submit designs for a hankie. Please use this opportunity to play with colour, pattern, line, political beliefs, jokes or possibly ideas about life and meaning! A little space to speak from, a miniature town square!
All entries will be shown. If you can create a cloth hankie, great, if not ideas on paper or online are also welcome. If we can print from your artwork we will. Please stick to a a square shape for your design, details are on the attached document. Please spread the word.
There will be prizes for especially interesting or wonderful handkerchiefs, we will also be making limited edition runs to raise money for printworks, we will discuss how this works, but basically each artist will retain their own copyright, and will have an edition of their design for their own use or profit. Submit several/a series if you feel inspired. 
I'd recommend limiting colours to two if you want us to screen print your design... but you're welcome to make a one off with embroidery, dye, fabric pens, etc.
Deadline is end of October - contact Sophie (via her website) for more details.

21 September 2011

Danger signs - Kensington Road, SW7

Did you always wonder what's inside the big red postbox?

The danger sign warns that there may be hypodermic needles ...

Book du jour

It's a clamshell - made the empirical way (ie, try it and see if it works). I learned a lot, especially about measuring, checking, trimming, measuring again, starting over ...
I cut two sets of pieces, hoping to use the second set as templates for further clamshells. The material is mountboard and the glue is fast-drying PVA/paste combination.

Close examination of a photo archive box gave me some pointers, and by this stage the worst was over in terms of figuring what to glue down first and what that meant for cutting the bookcloth -
An empty box - not perfect, but presentable -
Now to figure out what to put in it - something 3D - it's a nice cosy place for all sorts of shenanigans, especially when the covers are closed and no-one's looking....

Photo organisation - choices

After a bit of research into suggested photo storage programs like Picasa and Smugmug, I have decided to "do what I can with what I have" - one of my sticking points, after all, was getting to grips with something new. At least I have some experience of using the Windows and Bridge systems - though obviously not to their capacity. So now I'm "looking" at them both.

Here's the familiary view of any file of imported photos - the folders arranged by date, eg 2011-09-03. I've been adding keywords to this title (sometimes) - eg, camberwellMAshow - but that may apply to just some of the pix.
But what's this at the bottom of the screen - something I've not noticed before - when a photo is highlighted, it appears -
and it has an option to "add title" ... but ... if the title is visible only when the photo is selected, that's not much good for my current purposes. I want to change the filename so it's visible among gazillions of similar pix on screen.

Will going back to the folder and renaming it help at all? no, unfortunately.  Is there a "batch rename"? no, selecting a batch and using "rename" still affects just one pic at a time. 
Looks like the easiest way forward with this system - though possibly not the best way - would be to move files to folders and then sort out what's what within the new folders. After all, the pix are named by date (something I do on importing).

Speaking of importing, perhaps there's more can be done at that point - adding keywords, perhaps ... something to investigate next time I import pix, later today or tomorrow. Hardly a day goes by that I don't take, and download, a few photos.

Now, Bridge - I've not really used Bridge, which makes some people incredulous - "oh I use it ALL the time," they say; "it's SO useful" - and indeed, you can do things with "batches" ... but what, exactly - there seem to be too many options!
 Some careful looking shows how helpful Bridge is - I've selected some pix, put in a bit of text for the title, and in the bottom of the box it shows how many files are selected and what their new filename will be. OK, I'll do that for a while (a pilot study on a few recent folders) and get comfortable with doing it and then assess if it's worth doing. Uh-oh, another decision - "rename in same folder" or "move to other folder" - simple is best, let's leave it here for now....

Done - the filename of the selected photos is now more helpful - a keyword, the date, and a sequence number, eg v&a20110903_36 - ah, I don't want the date cluttering up the filename ... but it's not in the metadata, hmm ... well it's in the "sep5" tag that I added when importing. A check of the folder in Windows (in extra-large icon mode) shows the renaming (v&a_36), and hovering the cursor over the photo shows the date and time, should that ever be needed.
Another feature of Bridge is the panel on the right - Keywords. I've changed them to fit in with my developing file structure and am about to start tagging, in the hope that this will somehow be useful for finding a particular photo later (gotta think more about this...). The discipline here will probably be keeping the number of keywords so that they all show on the screen at once -
 This is still in the "pilot study" phase - but at least I've bitten the bullet and got going.

20 September 2011

Erasmus, Silverberg, van Lingen

The book work of South African artist Stephan Erasmus blends words/text with visual components, sometimes in large-format installations, like "In the stars a love letter for her" -

He cites Robbin Ami Silverberg as a big influence - her work is new to me, and I'm glad to see works with "skin-like pages" and others with references to textiles, for example in Emperor's Clothes -
See some of her collaborations here, as well as on her website - as well as editions and unique books, she makes installations - this is Simulacrum -

Another of his influences is Claude van Lingen who creates "drawings" by intensively and extensively writing words and phrases on top of each other until the paper can hold the weight of the words no more -

More of his work is here.

Mule chest discoveries

In the bottom drawer, audiotapes from 20 years ago - these once gave me a lot of pleasure, in the days of Walkman. Now - they are gone -

In the chest, unopened for a good two years ... my collection of knitting wool, some of it dating back quite a while. Looks a mess; needs sorting. Not gone yet ... I just couldn't face it.
What to do with materials for projects that you might get back to? Many times I've given up knitting for months or years, and then started again. Are there medically-supported programmes for knitting cessation?