| Exhibition in the Artists'
Books Study Area at the Library
School of Art, Media and Design, UWE Bristol:
Fib’s artists’ books
from Helsinki Finland
20th November 2006 - 5th January 2007
As graphic and fine artists with two diplomas in graphic design, fine arts, film and theatre, we have worked for many years with artists’ books. Through educational workshops with people of varying social backgrounds, different ages and a variety of interests we try to share our love of and joy of working with this kind of artform.
We have around 500 examples of book works in our collection. Each piece in this collection has its own story, message and form depending on its creator. Every book has a sequence of space and time, but not all our books have the normal elements of text and image in them. Some of them are purely self-standing book sculptures, or just image sculptures in the book form.
We see the new art of making books as a kind of ‘social’ work. Each person has the right to approach, touch and be a part of the bookwork and share the pleasure of it. That is our aim; to work with different social backgrounds – from workshops for children, to rehabilitating workshops with those with drug or alcohol dependency. We also run workshops for people with varying physical abilities.
The most important thing is that we can share our own joy of creating and sending messages to the outside world and through this, give the same chance to people who may not usually have these opportunities. We see this potential engagement with the world outside as a positive thing in the world of art and especially with the newer artform of the book, where people can share their message with a wide audience. The book is a personal, true and complex way to express oneself.
There will always be the need of the human touch in this world, which is running fast in a rush of technology, where touching is missing. One should never forget the reality of this world and sometimes its cruelness. In our own work, the aesthetics of our books is very important. The motive is the root of the work and it remains always there in the background of every book. For us the form and the materiality of the piece of art are also very significant. We have some very small, minimalist works and some very big impressive ones. The contrast between forms and materials, brings the meaning out of each.
As artists, the printed picture has a significant meaning in the works as well as the printed word. It is very important that the picture communicates with the word and with the form and material. We try mostly in our workshops to use recycled material, to re-use and through it to support the idea that in re-energising the old material with new ideas, we have made some kind of environmentally and socially right work, as there is a big amount of unused productive energy in the world. Each piece of our work is a structure itself, one has to learn to read and see it to understand it. Our art of the book doesn’t discriminate against anybody, our art invites the observer to take part in it and feel safe and welcomed.
In our workshops we teach all the rules, techniques and the history of the artist’s book. We settle strict rules of function for each part of a structure of a book, and after we have set the rules we break them all and rebuild the book in a new way. The production of an artist’s book is a complex, multi- dimensional process, where making a decision and thinking of a solution from the beginning and carrying it through to the end is not always possible. When you are working, you are obliged to invent solutions and to come up with very surprising ways of creation. The result is very un-anticipated. One has to experiment with the printing techniques and binding techniques and then settle down and try to reproduce this idea through the use and experience of the material and the techniques.
Only through the experience of making yourself, can you embrace the artform of the book. For as long as we can remember, maybe most of our students have been women and we feel this kind of art shows the democratisation happening in the field. For us a book is a multilateral communication medium and it communicates only when one touches it. We think that the artist’s book as form of art will grow extraordinarily and that it has a great future.
Tizzi Fib is a lecturer in the graphic design department at the University of Art and Design Helsinki, UIAH, where she has been running an artists’ books courses for 11 years. www.uiah.fi
Each participant in their workshsops, designs and executes their own book in a small edition, by hand, using traditional or new methods of printing.