| Exhibition in the Artists' Books Study
Area at the Library
School of Creative Arts, UWE Bristol:
Luci Gorell Barnes
12th January - 28th February 2009
I was first attracted to making books because I have always enjoyed curling up with a good one. I use stories in my work so it has been an important to find ways that the audience can sit in comfort and enjoy a book in its entirety. Motivated by this, I created Bookshed, where the Keeper of the Books, played by performer Brenda Waite, invites people into a little parlour, two at a time. There they choose one of a collection of books to read and are given a slice of cake as they leave.
I have toured Bookshed to places such as the National Theatre, mac in Birmingham and most recently the Bristol Do. I have also worked with the Forest of Avon, Stour Valley Arts and the National Trust where I have run workshops alongside the shed, creating books and making charcoal over an open fire.
Bookshed books include: The Woman who walked into the sea - the story of a suicide printed on handkerchiefs, Escapology - significant points of a journey, drawn on maps and hidden in a suitcase and The Man with the Bear's Heart - which tells of a young man's extraordinary encounter in the forest. It is a book within a book, made in an old and much loved copy of Winnie the Pooh.
In 2007 I was given a grant by the Arts Council of England to develop ideas and images relating to home, belonging and loss. I worked from my own memories and experiences as well as hearing other people’s accounts, including those of Gypsies, refugees and asylum seekers. As part of this exploration I made No Direction Home - a book made in a passport, which deals with the disintegration of a home. Islington Council used two images from this book in their information leaflet for failed asylum seekers living destitute in London.
I also have a residency practice, and I am particularly interested in working with those who find themselves on the margins for one reason or another. I have used bookmaking extensively in my participatory work finding that it offers an accessible form for many people. This has included two anthologies made with young women in HMP Eastwood Park in South Gloucestershire. I found that working with book form allowed them to contribute in many different ways, and they could add just a little to the anthology whilst still feeling that they were part of the whole.
For many years I have done studio support with Bristol-based artist Kamina Walton, and as part of this we have an ongoing project called Inheritance. We have been exploring ideas about shared daily practice around early childhood memories and recently we opened this up by inviting a group of people to share their earliest memories with us. We really enjoyed reading their memories and felt privileged to do so. We then added our own and made a book - A Collection of Recollections - giving all the contributors a copy.
Luci Gorell Barnes