Saturday, April 21, 2018

2018 Libris Awards

I had some good news recently when my little book "A Prayer in Hell" made the short list for the 2018 Libris Awards : Australian Artists' Book Prize which takes place in Mackay Artspace 26 May 2018.

I was lucky enough to make the last Libris two years ago, (seems like yesterday) and was able to go and see the books in Mackay. It was a stunning show and I'm sure this year will be similar.

I was stoked to make the short list again and excited to be included in the company of some of the best book artists in Australia. I'll post a few images to give you some idea of the little book that went to Mackay which I hope you will enjoy. It is so hard to appreciate the book unless you can physically hold and see it but Mackay is a long way for most of us so here's a taste.

The book is in the format of a palm leaf prayer book used mainly in Asia. Wooden slats are also often used, I saw a Tibetan one and decided it suited my book perfectly. I did start off with a dirty, blood-soaked piece of rag holding only one end so that the book fanned out to reveal the double-sided "pages".

Later, I realised that having both ends fastened like a Venetian blind worked well. The subject behind the book was raising awareness of the awful plight of our refugees and the way our country treats them. The pages include references and quotations from the Nauru Files published recently by the Guardian newspaper and snippets from an Islamic prayer book.

The book fits snuggly into its coffin-like slip-case and is quite small and intimate. It could easily be part of someone's hand-held personal luggage. 

The pages also contain medical dressings which become cleaner and more minimal as the pages progress to a more hopeful climax.

The slip-case and book are designed to be displayed together. 
My artist statement explains my intentions:

"I make artist books that examine social and political anxieties. “A Prayer in Hell” is informed by concerns of the treatment of asylum seekers. It is small, recycled, portable and intimate like the few personal belongings of the refugees.

Recycled timber slats recall the pages of a palm leaf prayer book familiar to the asylum seekers in Australia’s off-shore detention centres. This book is for the hundreds of men, women and children who were held for lengthy periods on Nauru and Manus Island.
The text and other collaged personal detritus gradually change from bloody, damaged and dirty materials and text, to cleaner less damaged ones, suggesting the possibility of hope and healing in the future. The work suggests the shameful quality of life and conditions in these centres. Hopefully, these broken refugees will be settled here in Australia to build a better life in safety and dignity."


jac said...

Congratulations on making the short list. This is such an effective response to a difficult subject. Wish I could see it in the flesh.

Jack Oudyn said...

Thanks Jac.Yes, we are too far away.

susan bowers said...

Oh Jac. I am so envious not only of your concepts and your work, but of your ability to make such fine work which screams out at the injustices around us. I admire that you make art that stands up for what is decent and right.

susan bowers said...

Ps Jac = Jack! Stupid typing ........

Jack Oudyn said...

Thanks Susan,I do feel strongly about some things but they are not always easy to work on. Most of the time I'm a lot lighter.

Helen M said...

A really intimate and moving book addressing an unpleasant and difficult truth. You manage to give the blood and the bandages and the horrors the illusion of being something beautiful which attracts the viewer to look deeper. You really excel in this area Jack.

Mo Crow said...

your book brings a glimmer of hope through the despair

Jack Oudyn said...

Wow!Helen and Mo Crow, you make me feel so special. I hope my book really does make a difference no matter how small. Every little bit counts but I also need to be realistic and realise I have a very special audience with different sensibilities. Thank you for commenting.