Saturday, February 27, 2016

Pedestrian Artist Book

One of my final projects for my upcoming exhibition 'Big Smoke, Little Smoke' was a set of 5 artist books titled 'Pedestrian' primarily using photographic images - something quite different from my usual printmaking techniques.

The title 'Pedestrian' alludes to the banalness of the urban environment from a bicycle point of view. I often ride my bike along local roads and bike paths to go shopping etc.  One day I realised the extent of urban structure around me - road markings, signage, poles, bins, drains etc. There's so much of it, pointing us in the 'right' direction, guiding us through our journeys, and modifying the natural environment.  So banal, so much sameness, it all just becomes a blur in the background.  They are the stage props against which we act out our daily lives.

To create the layout for the 5 concertina books, I engaged the services of a graphic designer, Wendy Clark.  I had originally intended these to be circle accordion formats with a self-cover but a hiccup in the printing process meant that I had to change plans slightly and so my first books in the edition have self-made covers from box board and binding tape.  I also made a simple slipcase to house the books.  The low-tech cover and slipcase contrast nicely against the semi-gloss of the monotone photographs.

'Pedestrian' is designed to look a bit urban grungy and this first version certainly fits the bill.  

Friday, February 12, 2016

A Mock-Up or Two

Today I finished another artist book that I've been working on for my upcoming partnered solo exhibition "Big Smoke Little Smoke" opening on 5 March at the Grasslands Art Gallery at Tambo.

I was inspired by an artist book format I found in the book 'Playing with Paper' by Helen Hiebert.

My book is called 'Entomophobia'.  I used atlas pages to make envelopes then cut hexagon windows and inserted insect imagery printed on organza.  The book comes together with piano hinges and when installed, will be arranged in a closed hexagon.  The hexagon shapes are repeated in one of my other artworks for the exhibition, and refers to beehive combs.

When I make artist books I usually avoid making mock ups as I've always felt it drained my creativity and enthusiasm.  But this time, I knew that I needed to do some testing and playing before I made the actual book.  It was a good idea, as I had to make a couple of mock up books before I found the papers that would do the job.  Making the mock ups also allowed me to expend all of my 'frantic' creative energy on the test pieces, thus ensuring when I was working on my final piece I was calmly measuring, cutting and THINKING mindfully, not allowing my knife to get ahead of my brain!

The structure and images I have used in this book express the idea that humans have significantly changed the global landscape and thus impacted on insect populations.  The title of the book 'Entomophobia' alludes to our general attitude towards insects - an inconvenience and nuisance within our homes and gardens.  Perhaps we should be also considering the importance of insects in the natural world, where they are part of the food chain, help break down plant material and of course pollinate plants.

Cutting out hexagon windows in my handmade atlas envelopes

I printed my insect imagery onto organza sheets

The mock up artist books
The final book, side view

Top View, the concertina will be installed
closed like this in a hexagon pattern

Close up of one of the piano hinges,
using a bamboo skewer to secure it

Friday, February 5, 2016

Collagraph Plates and Prints

Fellow artist Joanne Taylor and I are collaborating on an artist book for our joint exhibition "Big Smoke Little Smoke", opening at Tambo's Grasslands Art Gallery in March.

For the book, we have each prepared 2 collagraph plates.  Collagraphs are bits of cardboard and other materials collaged with glue onto another piece of cardboard, then sealed to create a printing plate.

Yesterday I spent the afternoon printing the plates multiple times in blue, black and brown colours. When dry, the prints will be sliced up and attached to a Venetian-blind style artist book to be hung on the gallery wall.  The book will be approx 60cm wide by 150cm long.

The book's title is 'Viewpoint' - referring to the idea of looking out of a window and seeing the landscape.  From Jo's viewpoint, its the landscape of wide open spaces, gidgee trees and her local wildlife.  From my viewpoint, its fences, buildings and geometric patterns.

The book will come together in the next couple of weeks.... a very basic technique to create a unique artist book.

One of Jo's collagraph plates in progress

The collagraph plates
Inking up one of the plates

Printing Joanne's plate

Joanne's Emu Feather print

My Studio Etching Press - a Hill Dav, I
bought second hand a couple of years ago

The finished just have to wait until they dry before
I start assembling the book!