Monday, 25 October 2010

Pop ups and other artist's books

On my desk top I have a few favourite sites that I'd like to share. So I won't be saying much and I hope you enjoy these sites as much as I do.

The Movable Book of Letterforms, designed and constructed by Kevin Steele, 2009. Master of Fine Arts program, Henry Radford Hope School of Fine Arts, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana US.  I love the music.

Kevin Steele's amazing book was the winner in the Pop Up Books Exhibit "Pop Up Now", an international exhibition of movable artist books through October 14th. 23 Sandy Gallery, 623 NE 23rd Avenue Portland, OR 97232. Unfortunately the exhibition is over but the video gives a glimpse of the excellent books, of which Kevin's was one.

Book + Art: Artists' books from the Sallie Bingham Center for Women's History and Culture, Duke University Libraries, curated by Christine Wells and Kelly Wooten. This exhibit is part of a semester long celebration of Book Arts done in collaboration with UNC Libraries. Start: October 12, 2010 | End: Jan 9, 2011 | Perkins Gallery.

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Mapping the World

Considering that I already have several metres of books precariously stacked around my walls in front of my bulging wall to wall bookcases, commonsense would indicate that I shouldn't buy another book until I find space for all the others. But yesterday I did buy another book, a big one. This one is called "Mapping the World" by Michael Swift, New Jersey : Chartwell, 2006.  256 p. : ill. (some col.), maps (some col.) ; 31 x 43 cm. (12.5 x 17.5 in.) Landscape in format, this is a coffee table book full of glorious colour plates of maps from the earliest times (cartographically speaking) - from 1200-1085 B.C. to the end of the 19th century. Michael Swift is the pen name of a London publisher who writes about cartography and while this is more coffee table style with brief captions rather than a learned look at maps, it is certainly a feast for the eyes. Michael Swift does give an introduction to the subject but, disappointingly doesn't provide an index. This is a serious omission (my cataloguing prejudices showing) but I'm in a forgiving mood, and I did find the book on the remaindered shelf, after all. As some of the maps depict 16th century marine animals - my favourite subject - I couldn't resist. The photos show the front and back covers. As with so many books cheaply published (and sadly many that cost the earth), this book is badly constructed. Machine sewn, the sections appear to be glued together, with a narrow strip of mull holding the book, which is large and heavy, and without careful use the text block will fall out of the covers.

Monday, 4 October 2010

Eating, gardening and reading

The eating was easy. I made a pavlova for last weekend's birthday lunch and here it is. Coming out of the oven it was puffed up high but the top cracks as it cools, leaving a crunchy top and a marshmallowy centre. In my family we just like to smother it in whipped cream and strawberries but passionfruit is served on the side for all those Australians who believe a pavlova has to have pash n'strawbs. Fruit salad is also popular but I think it's a bit messy for my pav. There is a huge conflict in Australia and New Zealand because country claims to have invented the 'pav', a dessert originally made for the ballerina Anna Pavlova. I don't care where it originated, just so long as I can keep making them.

In the garden I am very excited to see my first globe artichokes appearing on my one and only plant. This is such a beautifully architectural plant that I'd forgive it for not producing anything at all, but I am rather chuffed that these beautiful little chokes are growing fatter by the day. Now I'm torn between whether I actually eat them or let them develop into the most magnificent thistle flowers. For many years I daily drove past a paddock of neglected artichokes and I was captivated by the huge blue flowers in spring and summer. At last I have my own; and perhaps my garden isn't big enough to have a giant thistle spreading seeds everywhere.

Also in the garden we have two big lizards. One is an Eastern Bearded Dragon, quite big, very harmless, no photo so far. The other is also big, also harmless, and like the Dragon, loves to sit in the sun for hours on end. This fellow (I think) is a Blue Tongue Lizard, nearly two feet long, and we are thrilled to have them both in our garden. I took this photo this morning and I was about 4' away before he (or she) gave me a look and slowly moved away under some timber. I say I think he's a Blue Tongue but his very dark colour is making me a bit unsure, so if anyone has any better identification I'd be happy to hear it. By the way, a Blue Tongue Lizard has a very blue tongue.

I've had many months of migraines and then, to my dismay, sciatica - so I've had quite a lot of time on my hands when I couldn't really concentrate to read or do anything else much. So I've been playing with old paperbacks, something I did many years ago but had forgotten about. This is, I suppose, an altered book, and if I'd been feeling more capable I'd probably have tried to make it a lot more perfect. As it is, my faulty attention span has given it a few strange folds - but I rather like it. I think now I'd like to bind a book just for this purpose, and do some experiments with shape.

I've unearthed all my book binding books - what a treasure trove that I've been missing for the past 18 months. I thought I should tell you about one each time I post. I'm not very good at reviews because I seem to have an inability to be critical of everyone's work but my own but I'll get around that by telling you what I particularly like. The first is The Book as Art: Artists' Books from the National Museum of Women in the Arts, by Krystyna Wasserman with essays by Johanna Drucker and Audrey Niffenegger, c2007 NMWA. This is a substantial book, hard covered, lavishly illustrated, often with just one artist to a double page spread. Each artist's book is generously displayed with a simple description and the artist's statement. The essays by Drucker and Niffenegger are a valuable addition to the book, readable and fascinating insights into these two highly regarded book binders. Krystyna Wasserman's introduction to the book and to the National Museum of Women in the Arts has me determined to visit the museum if I manage to return to the US. I can't believe I've spent weeks in Washington DC and didn't know of the existence of this museum which houses over 800 artists' books! This shows 108 of those books, and thank goodness, has a comprehensive index. The listed artists read like a who's who of book artists I've heard of and many I haven't. The label on the back of the book tells me I paid AUD$110.00 for this book in 2007. Pricey, so unless you're obsessed with owning every last book, I'm sure this is one your library would get for you on Inter Library Loan. Do let me know what you think.