| Artists’ Books
University of the West of England, Bristol, UK
Tom Trusky Exhibition Cases
Special Collections Room, Bower Ashton Library
Invisible Cities and Hidden Landscapes
Curated by Cath Fairgreave
31st October - 4th December 2011
A travelling exhibition of books and book-related artworks made by students, lecturers and alumni from four universities: Coleg Sir Gar/Trintity St. Davids, the University of the West of England, Bristol, UK, Kansas State University, and Portland College of Art and Craft in Oregon, USA.
This project was instigated to promote dialogue between teaching institutions in Britain and America to investigate the medium of artists’ books. Participants were invited to submit a book of their choice or make one in response to Italo Calvino’s poetic novel ‘Invisible Cities’. The outcome is eclectic reflecting a personal landscape for each artist.
The show launched at Coleg Sir Gar in Carmarthen in September, and after this exhibition it will travel to Portland College of Art and Craft in February 2012 and then conclude at Kansas State University. The exhibitions will be accompanied by an ongoing Internet discourse between participants from which it is hoped further collaborations and future projects will evolve. Catalogues will be available to purchase from 2012.
Curated by Cath Fairgrieve, this show gathers together the work of lecturers, alumni and current students from four teaching institutions, to form an eclectic collection of artists’ books and related works from more than 60 artists in Britain and America.
A rich and moving recital from the Vale of Towey Male Voice Choir at the opening of the exhibition seemed an appropriate accompaniment to a number of the exhibitors’ themes. Sian O Doherty’s hand-cut sketchbook ‘Hiraeth’ took inspiration from The National Woollen Museum in Felindre, referencing the life, work and family of traditional welsh rural communities through the metaphor of threads within a woven cloth. Julia Griffiths Jones’ exquisite line drawings digitally produced on wool in ‘Jones her book’ produced during her residency at The National Woollen Museum, pays homage to the traditions of Wales, as does Cath Fairgrieve’s intriguing enamelled lockers entitled ‘Memorial’ with a recording of the choir which resonates with the strength of past communities. The nostalgia for lost tradition is combined with a contemporary sensibility - pushing the possibilities of book art as well as technical skill and new technologies such as laser and water- cutting.
The exhibition embraces diversity, including film animation, 3D books, altered found objects, and textiles such as Sue Selby’s delicate ‘Tree of Life’ or Dan Hunt’s profusely embroidered ‘Salty Sweet’. Beate Gegenwart’s triangular leather bound books explore cross-cultural references through an investigation of a new hybrid of fine art and applied art practices. The tactile qualities of paper are celebrated in Elaine Knight’s laser cut silk paper accordion book ‘City Lights’ in which she refers to ‘cities to be seen through their opaque and fictitious thickness’ whilst Melanie Braumer’s work on abaca, papyrus and kitkata paper demonstrates the subtle potential of substrate also apparent in Rachel Fishe’s delicate portraits ‘Interbeings’ on anjing paper.
The show has wide appeal across art genres. A diverse collection of poetical works from some highly accomplished, established and emerging artists who have succeeded in pushing the boundaries of artists’ books which should serve to raise awareness of an exciting potential within artists book making in Wales and beyond.