As an artist, making books has been an integral part of my practice since making my first books at art college in 1985. When I realised that a book could be art, I instantly felt it was right. For me they are containers holding a collection of images or a string of ideas. I like the intimacy of a book, its sequential nature. As I had already been a printmaker for some time, I realised that I could print editions of books to distribute as an inexpensive work of original art.
My interest is in natural history, particularly urban domestic nature and human intervention. My observations of nature as a child have had a lasting influence on me. I have vivid memories of exploring my grandparent’s large garden, observing the ‘Weeds and Pests’ and enjoying the produce from their vegetable plot and fruit trees, particularly helping picking and sorting the good from the bad apples before storing.
To date, I have made around 65 titles, many of the books are screen printed, others use photocopy, photographic prints, potato printing, hand cut rubber-stamps, or digital printing. A preferred binding method is accordion, which is a long strip of paper folded zig-zag to create pages which can be opened out to view the whole book.
Some early book works, Estate (shown at Oldham Art Gallery) and Ten English Homes (shown at Cornerhouse Manchester and Bluecoat Liverpool), were produced to accompany installations. I liked the idea of making two completely different things. The book being a small intimate object, produced in multiple and lasting beyond the exhibition and the installation, a large temporary structure.
From 1994 to 2004 I worked on a Little Book Series. The books had economy in mind and was partly an exercise in what could be made from an A4 sheet. I also wanted to keep the price down selling through a range of outlets and so was able to reach a larger audience.
For many years I have been photographing trees affected by their urban environment. In January 1999 I started photographing discarded Christmas trees, I was struck by the dramatic ways many were disposed of at the time. These photographs became the book January and at that point I decided to sort the other photographs I had into themes and produce four more books, Attachments, Boundaries, Space and Communication.
The books are in many public collections including, V&A, Tate, MOMA New York, Yale Center for British Art, University of the West of England Library (Bower Ashton), Winchester School of Art Library, University of Brighton, The British Library, Royal College of Art Library and Chelsea School of Art.
UWE Bristol, City Campus at Bower Ashton, Kennel Lodge Road, Bristol BS3 2JT.
How to find Bower Ashton Library