Saturday, December 21, 2019

Festive Greetings

This "animated" version of this year's card doesn't really do the physical card any justice. The red bow needs to be undone so the card can open and reveal the message inside. Sometimes the old traditional way works better than the digital version doesn't it?

Looking forward to sharing a few more books in 2020, there are already some at various stages in the pipeline although they may never see the light of day. 
Hoping your creative work helps to keep you in a positive space in an sometimes hostile world.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

"Lake Life" on Kati Thanda-Lake Eyre

Although I have been home from Kati Thanda - Lake Eyre for several months, I'm still struggling to translate that amazing experience and memory into my visual work. These small scratchy drawings make a series that form a little concertina book ,"Lake Life" which is my first response. 

After the long wait for "Uluru - Ayres Rock  , [the first dual named place in the Northern Territory in 1993) to be recognised and widely used, I wonder how long it will take for us to start using dual name for Lake Eyre,  Kati Thanda-Lake Eyre which became the new name in 2013.
The lake was the fullest it has been for 40 years and the flocks of pelicans out there is truly amazing. How do they know to get themselves there when the water is boiling with fish. Only the pelicans were visible from the low flying plane but there are apparently many smaller birds out there enjoying the abundance of insects coming down with the water. The aerial view of the green channel country is indescribable. What an incredible change from the desert surroundings, so dry and lifeless!

My initial responses have been try to capture the changing nature and energy of the environment as a result of the rain. Other sources of inspiration include the incredible aerial views from the little aircraft and the patterns, colours and textures of the landscapes. The slow, shallow meandering water courses draining into the lake, is another area to explore, as is the dry, remote hostile environment. No shortage of material, just how to organise and process some of these sensations in a new, fresh way, is always the big challenge.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019


"Wrinkles" is a smallish book around A5 in size. The wrinkled pages of various types of black and white paper ask to be altered but not reduced. The viewer can alter, tear, fold or change a page without taking any paper away from the book. A few years ago, I encountered a large book by Tim Mosley of beautiful woodblock prints that uses this most interactive of processes. It seems to combine well by extending the processes into my other black works which also use apertures and hinged openings to reveal other textures and colours of paper.

Most of the papers have been waxed prior to wrinkling. Following on a few books about skin, this seems quite a logical direction to follow. Like my aging old skin, the pages are so fragile and easy to peel back. The many thicknesses and textures each with its series of "injuries" mimic the journey through life as we get older.

This book will get more and more complex as the audience reacts to the pages and make changes. These layers of change are a metaphor for life and aging. Different textures and weights of paper reflect the passing of time in the rich collage of life.
I have started the process of making changes to each page and have decided that for this book I will have some damage control and limit the audience to personal book artists I know and not let a gallery audience participate in the change process. I must be more of a control freak than I thought but maybe I can be less precious about the books once I have made a few more. 

The tactile qualities of the papers are of course impossible to convey other than by touch. Making the alterations to the pages forces the viewer to physically interact with the paper and experience the crunchy, silky, soft, and whisper thin tactility first hand. BUT yes, at this stage, it would be terrible to go too far and destroy the book in the process.

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.