| Flora and fauna: a
selection of plant, flower and animal inspired artists' books
on loan from the collection at The Centre for Fine Print Research at UWE Bristol, UK.
Broekhuis Boekhandel and AKI Library, Enschede, The Netherlands
25th November 2006 – 24th January 2007
In this exhibition you will find some variations of nature and the countryside; To The Country, John Dilnot (1995), unfolding in the style of an Enid Blyton's Famous Five romp, or perhaps a celebration of the beauty of the natural world from artists such as Helen Douglas, who has been publishing artists' books under the Weproductions imprint since the 1970's. Douglas' books are personal studies of the natural environment and our relationship with nature. Her most recent series of Flit books, observe the beauty and surprise, of the often fleeting glimpses of events in nature, such as this Long-legged Fly (2006).
Some works in the exhibition are of a political yet humorous note, the Canadian artist Bill Burns's Museum of Safety Gear for Small Animals publishes environmental works to draw attention to the plights of endangered species. Songs of Birds Wearing Safety Gear, a foldout book from 2000, is one in a series of works of animals wearing safety apparatus designed by Burns. He has also published Footprints of Small Animals Wearing Safety Gear, of course, the joke is that you cannot tell by their songs or footprints if the animals are wearing safety gloves or helmets as it makes no difference to their tracks or notes.
Some of the works are text pieces, As if a butterfly fluttered across the page, bookmark by Thomas A Clark (1997) and In the Garden at Chartwell, by David Bellingham (1998).
Pheasant on the Crescent and 34 other stories, by Tom Sowden (2006), is a visual essay, one of his series of books in tribute to the American artist Ed Ruscha. Compiled from photographs of the 'pheasant' in some natural and surprising environments, much like Ruscha's studies of the Los Angeles environs. Louise Best's The Killing Jar, contains amongst others the butterfly of indifference, a book of reasons why things fall apart. Roadkill by Lucy May Schofield, is a poetic study of her finds in the Scottish border countryside.
Flowers in Hotel Rooms Volume I and Volume II are from my own series of bookworks with flowers. Inspired by Richard Brautigan's novel The Abortion, which featured a character who grew flowers in her hotel room by candlelight as she had no windows. The photographs in these books are of flowers I have found or placed in hotel rooms whilst travelling. For Volume II, I stayed in The Dolphin Hotel - the same name as the hotel central to Haruki Murakami's Dance, Dance, Dance - but I was disappointed to find that there were only two floors rather than the sixteen of the novel, and no elevator from which to emerge into Sheep Man's world. I also stayed in Room 27 of The Bay Hotel, Lyme Regis, England. In Colin Dexter's novel, The Way Through the Woods, Inspector Morse stays in exactly this room, which was as described except for the broken window and no hot water. I followed his day's routine and placed some ferns from the woods in the room by day and by night.