Book Arts

Latest Book Arts News April – May 2021

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Bristol Artist’s Book Event 2021

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World Book Night – The Herbarium

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Postcards for Perec

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Gestetner 140

Gestetner 140 Exhibitions

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Blue Notebook journal for artists’ books, Vol 15 No 2

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Artist’s Book Yearbook 2020-2021

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Scandinavian Artists’ Books Partnership Project

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An Inventory of Al-Mutanabbi Street

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BABE 2021

Bristol Artist’s Book Event – The Lost Weekend 17th – 18th April 2021

Due to Covid restrictions we held a ‘lost weekend’ version of BABE over 17 – 18 April 2021 as an interim BABE in the run up to our usual larger event which we now plan to hold at Arnolfini in 2022.

Bristol Artist’s Book Event at Arnolfini presented works by over 160 book artists from around the world, online over the weekend. We had submissions from artists and publishers in Australia, Argentina, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Italy, Japan, The Netherlands, Mexico, Norway, Poland, Russia, Sweden, UK & Ireland and the USA.

We have a wonderful selection of 100+ videos by artists and small presses you to watch and a downloadable mini catalogue to browse and contact artists. Read more about The Lost Weekend, and find video links here.

BABE is organised by Sarah Bodman, Angie Butler, Phil Owen and Tom Sowden (Centre for Fine Print Research, School of Art & Design UWE Bristol and Arnolfini). Visit Arnolfini’s website. Image: Video detail from ARKIR Book Arts Group, Iceland.

Centre of Gravity

World Book Night 2021 – The Herbarium

“With freedom, books, flowers, and the moon, who could not be happy?” Oscar Wilde

Organised by Sarah Bodman and Linda Parr: WBN United Artists invited participants to identify a poem or text that about flowers then create one – paper, fabric, collage, drawn, printed, text-based, photographic etc., for our exhibition, bibliography and exchange. On 23/04/21 we revealed the special printed keepsake for contributors to World Book Night. We are showing the flowers at Bower Ashton library 23/04/21 – 23/05/21 – which is currently not open to the public, so we have put them into an online catalogue for public viewing.
Image here: Calligraphy flower by Bindu Adhikary, Kathmandu, Nepal.

Postcards for Perec

Postcards for Perec

Organised by Linda Parr: Postcards for Perec is now full, artists from twenty-two countries responded to the call to create the Two Hundred and Forty-three Postcards in Real Colour. A slideshow video was presented at BABE for The Lost Weekend and a catalogue will be forthcoming.

‘The exhibition is planned at Bower Ashton Library here at UWE Bristol in July and August, be it real or online or both. 2022 will be the 40th anniversary of Perec’s death. I am hopeful that next year will bring further opportunities for exhibiting the results of our project.

Georges Perec parodied these postcard messages in ‘Two Hundred and Forty-three Postcards in Real Colour’, dedicated to his fellow writer and friend Italo Calvino. These imaginary missives are now becoming a reality, postal postmodernists on a Grand Tour via Perec’s Postcards.’ See them on Instagram. Image here by Sharon Kivland: We’ve crossed the North Cape. Midnight sun, and all that! Well worth the effort. Many regards.

Gestetner 140

Gestetner 140 Celebration / Exhibitions

Organised by MAMDP student Gin Saunders: Before photocopiers took over copy-making, messier, cheaper simpler duplicators ruled the world. The Gestetner revolutionised the office making printing easy, cheap and widely accessible. Its simplicity, efficacy and economy quickly put it at the heart of the community where schools, churches, local clubs and organisations churned out endless reams of pamphlets, bulletins and newsletters.

But behind closed doors the Gestetner sat just as solidly at the epicentre of counter culture; it was the DIY tool for fanzine writers, beat poets, anarchists and agitators. Hovering in the hazy world between counter culture and the truly clandestine, it helped to foster freedom and express the shock of the new. More recently the Gestetner has enjoyed a renaissance as a vehicle for creative expression for artists and printmakers across the globe.

2021 marks the 140th anniversary of the Gestetner which was first patented in 1881 by David Gestetner. Gestetner devised the duplicator after working in the stock market in Vienna where his job involved endlessly, hand writing multiple copies of each day’s activities. He had previously been a kite seller, and it was the waxed Japanese kite paper that inspired his first duplicating device using a waxed stencil and stylo. David Gestetner eventually moved to England and in 1881 established the Gestetner Cyclograph company. The Gestetner works opened in 1906 at Tottenham Hale, north London, and employed tens of thousands of people right up until the 1990s. To celebrate, artists and printmakers were invited to submit prints for inclusion in a virtual global exhibition.

The physical exhibition at UWE brings together work from two current Gestetner printmakers: Petra Schulze-Wollgast (psw) and Jim Pennington, alongside Gestetner rarities, equipment, memorabilia and ephemera.

For more information and to see the on-line pop-up gallery of prints and music inspired by the Gestetner, visit Gestetner 140.

Blue Notebook

The Blue Notebook journal for artists’ books Vol 15

Vol 15 No. 2, Spring – Summer 2021 is the first of two issues dedicated to The Arts Libraries Society Australia and New Zealand (Arlis/ANZ) & abbe 2020 conference presentations on artists’ books practices. In this issue: Dr Tim Mosely introduces the Arlis/ANZ abbe 2020 collaboration: reimagining the material: artists’ books, printed matter, digital transformation, engagement

Marian Crawford explores the slipperiness of the character of certain artists’ books as case studies, and considers whether the form and content of these hand-printed artworks present an opportunity to test conventions of both the book and the portrait. Crawford’s book Picturing the Island (2016) presents a portrait of Central Pacific islands, while Alison Alder’s Sleep of Doubt (2015) is populated by screenprinted portraits of contemporary Australian politicians. Both artists have discovered that when a book is hand-made, the signifying power of this familiar form changes.

Paul Uhlmann posits that select artists’ books are material objects existing as unique vehicles of literature, simultaneously occupying visible and invisible realms. The books are embodied creations. The pages are the stuff of matter—of oil, pigment and paper—but are also always objects of the body; their purpose is to effect change, to convey sensations and feelings to others.

Caren Florance – The field of Australian artists’ books is a broad and active one, and its development and various histories have been both helped and hindered by the rise of digital culture. The internet has fed and sustained cross-pollination and connection between our regional communities; however, it has also failed us by proving to be unstable, quick to overwrite itself, and expensive in terms of archiving for the future. In the short term, it allows us to find creative solutions for quick-turn needs, as we are discovering during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ana Paula Estrada responds to Ulises Carrión’s ‘The New Art of Making Books’. She aims to contribute to a better understanding of ‘the new art’ by presenting two examples – an artist’ book which investigates how papermaking and the book’s materiality can be used to draw the reader closer to the subject matter. The second is a digital artwork that aims to translate oral speech into a form that explores technology as a means of connectedness between aged care residents and the rest of the community during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Angie Butler – By setting phenomenology within the context of art-making it is possible to investigate how we use our minds and bodies through the experience of practice. This discussion considers that contemporary artist-publishing activities that employ the letterpress process, are embedded in how practitioners articulate their bodies and senses to engage with materials, equipment, and presses to develop their work.

Cover design: Tom Sowden. Artist’s page: Robert Good.
Subscription info for Vol 15 can be found here.


Artist’s Book Yearbook 2020-2021

The ABYB is a biennial reference publication focusing on international activity in the field of book arts. It serves as a resource for artists, academics, students, collectors, librarians, dealers, publishers and researchers, in fact anyone interested in artists’ books!

The 2020-2021 issue has essays, articles, and lots of useful information on: Artist’s Book Publishers & Presses; Bookshops for artists’ books; Artist’s Book Dealers; Artist’s Book Galleries & Centres; Collections, Libraries & Archives; Artist’s Book Fairs and Events; Book Arts Courses and Workshops; Design, Print & Bind; Print Studios; Journals and Magazines; New Reference Publications; Organisations, People, Projects and Societies. In the Artists’ Books Listings section, you can also discover hundreds of examples of new books made by artists in: Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Japan, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Russia, Sweden, the UK and the USA. Cover design: Tom Sowden.

Order your copy online with UK postage here, or international postage here.


Scandinavian Artists’ Books Partnership Project

We are delighted to announce that UWE bookarts has received an award from the Nordic Culture Point to run a new project until 2022. This is in collaboration with Megan Adie (Aviary Press, Denmark), Sarah Bodman (CFPR, UWE Bristol) Angie Butler, (CFPR, UWE Bristol) Imi Maufe (Codex Polaris, Norway), Lina Nordenström (Grafikverkstan Godsmagasinet, Sweden) Joakim Norling (Timglaset Editions, Malmö Sweden), Morwenna Peters (Bower Ashton Library, UWE Bristol), Tom Sowden (School of Art & Design, UWE, Bristol) and Maria White (Independent curator, UK).

Our project will facilitate knowledge exchange between librarians, artists and the public that will expand understanding of arts practice, and work towards a more sustainable, innovative and culturally successful discipline. It will change attitudes towards and the perception of artists’ books. You can read a little more info about our plans here. The featured image here is of Imi Maufe’s, Norway in a Bookshelf, collection of artists’ books.


An Inventory of Al-Mutanabbi Street

This exhibition is on tour as part of the ongoing al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here Coalition projects. The online Inventory gallery was launched to coincide with the fifth anniversary of the bombing of al-Mutanabbi Street on 5th March 2012, for which project partners around the world held commemorative readings and events. Since then the Inventory has grown as artists’ books created for the project have arrived. The gallery pages show images and information for each of the 260 books completed for the project.

Exhibitions held since the launch of the tour include:
The Westminster Reference Library, Westminster, UK; The Powell Library Rotunda, UCLA, Los Angeles, California, USA; Salt & Cedar Letterpress Studio, Detroit, Michigan, USA; The Cambridge Arts Council, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA; The Santa Fe University of Art and Design, Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA; The John Rylands Library, Manchester, UK; The San Francisco Center for the Book, San Francisco, California, USA; Gallery Route One, Point Reyes, California USA; the Center for Book Arts, New York in association with Alwan for the Arts, Columbia University Libraries Butler Library, International Print Center New, Poets House, New York, USA; Literary & Philosophical Society Library, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK; Collins Memorial Library, University of Puget Sound, Tacoma, Washington, USA; Curry College, Milton, Massachusetts, USA; American University in Cairo, Egypt; Arab – British Centre, London, UK; The Mosaic Rooms, London, UK; Kate Chappell ’83 Center for Book Arts at the University Of Southern Maine, USA; The Hague Public Library, The Netherlands; Queen Elizabeth II Library, Memorial University, St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada; Jaffe Center for Books Arts, Florida Atlantic University, USA; Central Library of Rochester and Monroe County, Rochester, New York, USA; Goddard College, Vermont, USA; Arab American National Museum, Dearborn/Detroit, Michigan, USA; Idaho Center for the Book in partnership with The Arts and Humanities Institute at Boise State University, USA; George Mason University, Fairfax, Virginia, USA; Herron School of Art and Design, The Herron Art Library of IUPUI University library, USA; Keats House and the Iraqi Cultural Centre, London; the Arab American National Museum, Dearborn, USA; Idaho Center for the Book in partnership with The Arts and Humanities Institute at Boise State University; Al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here DC 2016 a partnership between George Mason University’s School of Art and George Mason University Libraries, Split This Rock, Smith Center for Healing and the Arts, McLean Project for the Arts, Corcoran School of the Arts and Design at The George Washington University, Busboys and Poets, Georgetown University, Cultural DC, Smithsonian Libraries, Brentwood Arts Exchange, Smithsonian American Art Museum, National Portrait Gallery, Northern Virginia Community College, George Mason University Student Media and Fourth Estate Newspaper; Rosenberg Library at the City College of San Francisco, USA; Konstlitografiska museet, Helliden, Sweden.

Selections from the related Shadow and Light project are currently on show online at UC Santa Barbara Library, California, USA. View them online here.

The image shown here is a detail from Hers: a primer of sorts by Tia Blassingame, Silver Spring, Maryland, USA, 2013.

You can read more about the Al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here project at the LAAF Festival website.

Al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here has regular updates on the Facebook page.