Thursday, March 26, 2020

"in a flap"

"in a flap" is not about my condition due to the current state of the "virussed" world. Even the dark brooding cover would be appropriate but that may be the subject of a future book. You may have noticed that a lot of my books last year were interactive and used little windows or flaps to provide surprise and playfulness for the viewer. 
When making a book I usually try out a lot of new areas on single sheets first. These experiments are usually done to find the best paper or media for the book. Consequently, I end up with a lot of interesting bits of paper that I can't bear to throw away. 
So, "in a flap" is a collection of these papers bound into a book, an artist's proof. You will see where some of the ideas used in many of last year's books came from.

Thursday, February 6, 2020


"edge" is an artist proof for a larger book I hope to complete later in the year about "Kati Thanda-Lake Eyre which had historically high levels of water in it during 2019. I have been trying all sorts of work to try and come even a little close to this wonderful experience. This is my first attempt that gives just a small feeling of awe but I will keep trying for better results. 

You can't really get to the actual edge of the lake, it is too shallow and boggy as the water just keeps oozing out over very flat expanses of desert. It starts to evaporate almost immediately so that its edge is not "fixed" but is very elusive and varied.

The cover is handmade paper using grass and plant fibre as the surrounding desert country near Kati Thanda - Lake Eyre is transformed into beautiful grasslands after the rains. The paper is dry but dry and fibrous with little shiny, silk-like fibres from native grasses.

Our flights over the inland sea also went into the Channel-Country and the Diamentina and Warburton rivers. The water spreads and meanders snake-like through the sand hills bringing new pastures and fish in the streams and billabongs. It is a truly wondrous sight which images can only approximate the overwhelming beautiful experience of being surrounded by it.

The book has little flaps that can be lifted to reveal surprises like small maps of descriptions of land and features. This is meant to pay tribute to the experiences of early explorers in these areas - searching for an inland sea. These can be lifted with a little lifter (DIG) provided inside the front cover.

The  thin rice-paper pages are folded to make a double sided page to allow the pockets and tabs to be lifted to reveal the inside surprises - like a turkey nest.

Mixed- media used included mangrove and pomegranate inks, acrylic paint, coloured pencils, china graph pencil, maps and pastels.

The stab-bound pages roll over like the north-south sand-hills of the desert in the Simpson Desert and around Birdsville. 

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

"Post cutaneous"

Before I share my very latest and first for 2020, I must finish an old post from 2019. I eventually got back to more exploration and finishing my little artist's proof  "cutaneous"Another black book but there are so many more possibilities. I just love the delicacy of this paper! I have made a little folder for the book to keep it in a safe place.

The folder is made from an old X-Ray of mine, the medical nature of which seems to fit . Pity the shiny surface doesn't photograph very well.  

As the paper is so thin and fragile it is difficult to grab to turn over, so I included a little card "lifter" which lives on the back cover.
I'm thrilled that this little book has already found a happy home with someone who also has very interesting skin with just a few wrinkles. 

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.