Le Petit Bâtard was runner up in the Summer reads Book Art Competition held by Writers Centre Norwich and Turn the Page Artists Book Fair. Artists were asked to make a book in response to one of six 'Summer Reads' books.
I chose a (very) short story also taken from Jon McGregor's This Isn't the Sort of Thing That Happens to Someone like You..In just one sentence McGregor gives us a glimpse of a tale about a spreading fire that is both potentially horrifying and slightly comical, conjuring up images of the consequences of playing with matches.
The book takes the form of a matchbook which has been made twice actual size to simulate a child's perspective of the object.
The word bastard is said to originate in Old French but here a modern translation is used.
You can read more about the competition here.
The judges wrote " It is an excellently designed and produced , and intriguing little book object that is as minimal as the story it is based on. Quick, cunning and naughty, it uses a larger than life scale to hint at the potential destruction and unknown dangers lurking within its seeemingly innocent packaging and the quote expands on the story itself"
I only made one paper bear as part of my MA course work but was asked if it was for sale. I would never sell the original as I'd not considered how archival the materials would be. I sourced a few more copies of the book but as they were all decades old, the paper was already deteriorating. .
The pH tester pen tests for the acid in paper.. the pale yellow lines at the top of the pages shows the acid is high. After searching reviews I found several people recommending Make it Acid Free and bought some on Amazon for about £30.
I sprayed boths sides of each page and retested with the pen. The lines stayed blue indicating that the acid was neutralised. Perfect! ...Or so I thought, but next morning the blue lines were yellow again. I wasn't sure if the spray was faulty so retreated the pages several times but with the same results.
The Amazon seller agreed to refund my money if I returned the can. When I looked up postage on Royal Mail it turns out it is illegal to send aerosols through the post so it should never have been sent in the first place. This seems obvious when you think of the hazard it could cause. Eventually I did get my refund without having to return the can but I did feel bad that the seller was out of pocket.
I feel like I have come full circle... and this ending is just a beginning.
I began the course with a love of working with paper and for the process of making books but with my heart firmly rooted in sculpture. The more I began to explore what a book is or could be the harder the concepts seemed grasp ... the possibilities seemed endless but sometimes confusing and I am still learning.
A turning point was finding a copy of “THE NEW ART OF MAKING BOOKS” by Ulises Carrión in it Carrion writes..
"WHAT A BOOK IS
A book is a sequence of spaces.
Each of these spaces is perceived at a different moment - a book is also a sequence of
moments. A book is not a case of words, nor a bag of words, nor a bearer of words......"
It was with these words echoing in the back of my mind that I worked on the final project. and what I once thought of as sculpture also became book.
At the moment I'm spending a lot of time thinking about our final show .. I have a pretty definite idea of what I want to make and have started it already in the hope of avoiding a last minute panic... As I was told in my interview nearly two years ago 'books are slow'.
There is so much to consider but rightly or wrongly I'm working out some of the practicalities first.... It's no good making a book for a show then trying to figure out how to display it ...more importantly how do I encourage the viewer to engage with a book long enough to get something from it? Plus living 2 hours from uni makes dragging a plinth on the train less than an attractive prospect. If I can sort out the details then I can relax and really enjoy the process of making.
I have also been working on some altered ladybird books....They are very satisfying though there is still the twinge of guilt at taking knife to paper. I think for me the cutting is the equivalent of doodling.. while my hands are busy my brain is doing its thing in the background with ideas seeming to flow easier when I'm not consciously trying. The idea is not completely formed so won't give anything away just yet but maybe later.
The book was made using altered photocopied extracts from John Bowlby's 'The making and breaking of affectional bonds.' The text was gradually cut away leaving small sections to produce a narrative. The cover is grey silk and lined with red handmade paper.
It is displayed complete with the removed text - the potential for reparation is still really important to me.
Just a week left to make decisions about the book I am showing for the Book/print show next week.
I have tweaked and remade the pages, (this time some words were chosen and left in place while the rest cut away) but now am trying to work out the most suitable method of joining them into a concertina. Cotton tape worked ok but wasn't quite right and I still haven't decided on covers... do I have any at all? what colour? more cut words? plain.. so many things to consider and as minor as they are they can make the difference between between a success and a failure.
It will be a big show with around 60 students from Book Arts and Printmaking MA. Choosing what to make and negotiating where to show it is great practice for the final show in September. Competing for space and attention got me thinking again the difficulties of showing books. Touch or not to touch? How do you get the viewer to engage long enough to get what you are trying to say but not so quickly that they lose interest? These and a string of other thoughts are pinging about my brain tonight.. I think I will sleep on it.
In my essay I am exploring the use of the book as an emotional object and looking at our attachment to certain books. I'd love to hear your opinions or if you have a few minutes spare and would like join in tell me which book , if any, you have an attachment to. I don't mean one you just read or enjoyed but something that has strong meaning for you.
For me (tho I have several) it is a particular edition of Hans Anderson Fairy Tales which I owned as a child. I don't know what happened to it but I still search the junk shops for that exact edition. I can remember the musty smell, the colour of the cover, the loose pages and the memory of reading it under the bedcovers by torchlight. Another would be Maisie Middleton which I read to my daughter every night when she was little, for probably more than a year ..I can still recite it from memory.
I would be great if you would send me a photo or scan of your book cover (tho don't worry if not)and a line about where or when you acquired it and what it means to you.
As well as being incredibly helpful to my research I would like to include them in a book... only with permission of course.
..thanks in anticipation
I'm following my bliss.