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 was delighted that the paper bear was chosen to feature on all the publicity for Turn The Page this year. It was strange to see it on posters around the Norwich Forum and on the catalogues that visitors we carrying. As if that wasn't lovely enough, on the Friday of the show, one of the organisers told me that the BBC's One Show had asked for my contact details as they had seen the bear and wanted to do a piece about it. I half expected it was a leg pull but was surprised to get an email saying the same and would I be interested. (...would I?)
How exciting I thought.. and although pretty sure nothing would come of it, I said yes.
'Great,' emailed the researcher, 'it's for a piece called ' Fifty things to do with Fifty Shades of Grey' ?' (ok.... nothing remotely related to my usual work.. but I like a challenge) 'Sure' I tell them.
I arrive home from Norwich on Sunday and hit the ground running - have never made anything in two days -ever and certainly not from scratch but I do have an idea and a charity shop copy of a book which I have never read.
In the afternoon the researcher phones to get background info and tells me they need it by Tuesday morning. (oh!) He asks would I come up to be interviewed. 'It'll be filmed,' he says 'so no pressure to get it right first time.... '(don't want to do it but a gift horse and all that.. and it would only be a couple of minutes).
I sketch out an idea and work out a pattern. I don't know much about the Shades apart from reading reviews and overheard conversations at work but my impression is of a manipulated woman.
A puppet and a plaything is not so far removed from my usual focus but the context is worlds apart.
The book cover forms the cross bar controls.
The figure is cut from the pages.
It's stitched and stuffed with wool.
On Monday the researcher rings again. It's decided that they won't need to interview me after all as they aren't sure where the filming will take place and it's a long way to go for 2 minutes. (He thinks he is letting me down gently but I am so relieved) They will send a courier at 8sm on Tuesday to collect. I finish making at 1.30 that morning. A motorcycle courier arrives and whisks her away.
I don't tell anyone about it all as I'm still convinced it won't happen... I have thoughts of 'Drop the Dead Donkey" in my mind. I hear nothing so email the researcher who tells me that if it makes the final cut it will be shown on Wednesday's show. Cautiously I tell a few friends and family. But oh! the toe curliness of waiting to see if it makes it.
The feature begins and she appears -for a few seconds at least -quite literally. How funny is that!...and not so much as a mention.
Am I disappointed? No not at all. I stepped way outside my comfort zone in terms of subject and in what I could make in the time available. I learned that I don't necessarily need to spend weeks and months producing something. Besides you never know when or where a piece of work will be seen or what it might lead to.
Millions of people have now seen something I made ... ( albeit for a few seconds and without the foggiest notion who made it... hahaha..) But it's all good.
If anything caused irritation (and only a little one at that) it's the fact they seemed surprised when said I wanted my puppet back.
Too right I do -she's been on the telly.
Had a fantastic time at the Turn The Page Book arts fair in Norwich last weekend. I shared a table with Margaret Cooter, Janet Bradley and Chris Gibson who I was with at Camberwell. There was an amazing array of books on every stand and it was lovely to meet people whose work I have admired for a long time.
I'm following my bliss.