Thursday, August 22, 2019

points of difference

Often we make a book and it takes a while to get feedback on how it "works" for the audience. Recently, when showing "tactile dialogues" to some book artists, I was thrilled to see how differently they interacted with my book. 
Some opened and closed the individual tags separately making little noises of surprise at what was underneath and then closing the shutters, while others left the little windows open with all the tags sticking out making a more 3D presence. Turning the shiny carbon coated pages in the light, changed the shadows and gave more sculptural feeling.
It is wonderful to see the different reactions to very abstract surfaces and shapes on the pages. The interactive, open-ended emphasis was one which this audience enjoyed "playing" with. 

This valuable feedback will help me make more interactive, maybe even process driven work using the qualities of the paper to drive the book's tactile qualities. Sadly, much is lost in blogs like this although perhaps a video format might help, particularly with the movement part of this different process of "seeing" an artist book.

Thursday, July 25, 2019

"tactile dialogues"

"Tactile Dialogues" is another black work and deliberately unstable and "messy" like the coal industry. It refers metaphorically  to the current dialogue about the transition from the use of coal  to other more sustainable "clean" alternatives. The viewer is invited to wear gloves and use a little lifter to ease open the tabs to view the hidden text and code while keeping the hands clean.

(Click onto an image and you will be able to see the images closer up and more clearly.)
The pages have a silvery metallic sheen from their graphite rubbed surfaces. A beautiful surface despite its instability and impermanence which the gloves will show. Also we keep our hands clean trying to come to terms with the difficult issues.
Each page is cut and scarred with deep scratches suggesting the process of mining.  

As I'm still only "scratching the surface" I think there may be a few more black books in the pipeline.

Monday, July 1, 2019


My next book "cutaneous"has just been completed. It is another black book and joins the small series of black work I have started for the year. Although it is in a very conventional codex form, it also has perforations, windows and flaps that reveal several layers at a time. The book is about skin and the Chinese carbon paper screwed up and straightened, is soft and wrinkled like my skin. 
I was researching how to make the Japanese cloth-like paper using momigami and using different papers and glues instead of the konnyaku paste and stubbled on some very interesting surfaces and textures to use in my books.

 The results were encouraging and I hope to get back to this artist's proof to make a bigger, better version once I finish my next few explorations into the black.

Saturday, June 15, 2019

"scratching the surface"

It is always surprises me how we can keep generating "new" ideas and ways of working.  Sometimes, I am influenced by the content of work by other artists but sometimes it's the media and new processes used that gets me excited. 
Recently, I have been working with carbon in the form of charcoal from trees in a bush fire and the idea of carbon capture . However, it was a series of black/grey graphite sculptural works at the Asia Pacific Triennial that got me exploring other forms of carbon. These works by Ayesha Sultana were highly polished, minimalist graphite works that gave off a lustrous metallic sheen. 
As she explains -"Instead of reading into an image or work of art, I slowly began to discover what ‘looking’ could be. Drawing is useful and concentrated in this manner in that I’m able, to an extent, to assimilate experience by recording myself looking. It was a gradual but deliberate process of discarding the narrative content in the work."
Even though her abstract approach and concepts behind her work,  differ greatly from mine, I was captivated by how she would have made these surfaces. This resulted in a process of graphite (pencil) rubbings on different papers to create surfaces completely new to me. Once I had different surfaces to play with I started looking for ideas that overlapped with the physical qualities of the papers.

This has resulted in a series of "black" books using graphite and carbon paper exploring different themes. The different layers can be accessed by opening flaps.

"Scratching the Surface" is a Black book that uses  layered pages with openings that can be open and closed. The densely black pages have been scratched, cut, damaged or pierced to suggest  surfaces like indigenous skin with the interior content peeping through. These inner layers are from images for an earlier book on Uluru and consist of  symbols and references to early maps and geographical features. 

Sunday, May 26, 2019

A Manly visit

This year I was lucky enough to be able to get to Manly from Brisbane to check out the 2019 Northern Beaches Library Artists' Book Award. 
What a delightful treat!
Beautifully displayed and lit.
Wonderful range of different book formats.
Thought-provoking themes and content.
(If you click onto the image you can get a better look.)

Bernard Appassamy's
"2,422 Haircuts"
Made from the paper wrappers of the disposable razors barbers use.  

"A Prayer in Hell"

I was thrilled to be in such esteemed company. Only another two years before the next one.

Friday, April 12, 2019

2019 Northern Beaches Library Artists’ Book Award

 Good news, I'm quite excited, I have been accepted into this years  Northern Beaches Library Artists’ Book Award formerly the Manly Library Artists' Book Award. This great exhibition attracts artists from all over the world and I am thrilled to be in there with them. 

My book,  "A Prayer in Hell " , made it to last years Libris Award in Mackay and is travelling south this year for another great showing. I have never been to see the Manly exhibition myself and plan to visit this year to have a good look at all the other lucky entrants.

Saturday, March 16, 2019

"A well kept footpath"

"a well kept footpath"

Recently I met up again with friends who are one of my longest art supporters from the early 1980's. They have just downsized from an old Queenslander and moved into a new apartment. I was thrilled to see that they still have one of my very early works on the wall . When I saw my early work from 40 years ago, I was reminded of some good advice from my favourite art teacher Roy Churcher. "Don't be in a hurry to exhibit, wait a while till you find your feet or you will want to buy back some of your early work as you will move on so much." While coming face to face again with one of my first paintings out of Art School was a little daunting, I could see a connection with  my work today and felt comfortable that I didn't show too early.

My friends are great travellers and like ourselves, include Prague as one of our favourite cities. In 2001, since my daughters were both working in London, my wife and I met up with them in Prague to explore the city together for a week. 

Later when I got home, I used my diaries and ephemera in a series of mixed media works for an exhibition -  "In Praha 2002" at Doggett Street Gallery. The exhibition was only a very modest success and I had some works left unsold. What better way to downsize myself than by giving my friends a choice of some of these reminders of their favourite city to book-end my other earlier work.

I always find it amazing how others can find their own links and connections with artworks. Often the original connection or meaning can be quite different but still very valid. If you click on the images and open them in a new tab, by right clicking, you can enlarge the work and see some of the detail like in "A well kept footpath" :  "Massive City Cleanup planned ". Just what was being planned for the poor dogs???