Saturday 4 May 2013

Turn the Page

'1 - 100' Artistbooks

Last year I toddled off to Norwich for the first 'Turn the Page' artists book fair. An inspirational exhibition for those of us who love book arts.
Today I toddled off to Norwich again for 'Turn the Page' 2013 (hard to believe where that year has gone!)
Accompanied this year by a good friend, with whom I had studied at Post Graduate level at LCC, we were excited to see what was happening in the world of Book Arts, having both digressed back to our respective disciplines of photography and illustration

Mentioning Book Arts to most people, I am usually met with a blank stare. Mention bookbinding, and most will have something similar to this in mind. It goes without saying that all book artists will either have embraced traditional bookbinding within the art or will be aware of the methods which they may have adapted to suit their own needs. For myself, I find hand stitching codex book blocks a wholly satisfying process, as making books is another hat I wear. Very shortly, I will be embarking on a very special hand bound album for a certain newly-wed couple.

Having worked on bespoke albums in the past, I also get equally enthusiastic about the limits to which making books or book arts can be stretched to.

There are those who just can't seem to accept that a book should be anything else than a codex form but book arts encourage exploration, experimentation, fun and enjoyment. This is what I found when I studied at LCC, and now the MA study in Book Arts is available at Camberwell.

At 'Turn the Page' 2013 there was work which on first appearance seemed like a normal book. On closer inspection, it had come about from pages of thoughts which had been written down, torn out and screwed up, a process being repeated today for regenerating into another new book.

'The Wastepaper Project' Joanna Holden
 The books moved from the almost bizarre...

Karen Apps the cute. Here books had been altered (some may view this as sacrilege!) the bunny having fully movable arms and legs, and being made from the cut pages of the selected book.

Other notable work came from Nicola Dale, with her intricately hand cut pages (timelapse). Theresa Easton with her colourful printmaking drawer, and Miranda Campbell who I had first encountered at the Minories in Colchester.

What was clear today is that Book Arts is as exciting as it has always been, with forty artists sharing their passion at Turn the Page 2013.

I look forward to 2014 and maybe I will have something to share then too.

Whilst visiting Norwich, it seemed sense to 'make a day of it' and we dropped into the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts located on the UEA campus.

I hadn't visited this art museum before and I spent the first twenty minutes of my visit taking in the impressive architectural work of Sir Norman Foster. Pre-dating Stansted Airport, another Foster building which I have come to know pretty well due to my regular flying visits to Ireland, the similarities in the construction were clear to see. The Sainsbury Centre has now recieved listed status as an example of high-tech architecture.

By contrast, the space below is filled with an amazing and mostly historical collection amassed by Robert and Lisa Sainsbury.
Henry Moore and Francis Bacon are alongside each other, and here the Little Dancer by Edgar Degas appears to look up in architectual amazement.

This work struck a chord with me. My Wednesday evening yoga sessions are sometimes like this- my mind alerted to dinner by a grumbling empty stomach, rather than concentrating on the beneficial poses!

Finally a piece which has quite an impact on those who see it. Stranded is a six metre long crystal-encrusted skeleton of a minke whale.

"Stranded raises issues of the dramatic changes in the chemistry of the planet’s oceans and brings awareness to the threat of coral reefs and the marine food cycles"

This reminded me that very shortly I will be returning to Ireland, where I am involved with the IWDG and where I hope I will again be fortunate to enjoy the sight of whales, including Minke, Humpback, Fin whales, and maybe even a basking shark or two in the waters around South West Cork.

Still, I will turn the page to that on another day. Today was all about art. Aren't the chapters of life great?!

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