Talks on Artists' Books - archive
Lucy May Schofield. Book Artist.
1* My studio in Manchester is where I spend the majority of my time. I have stunning views across the city from my 8th floor space, where I gaze out and watch the changing sky. This is where ideas for new work begin to take initial form.
2* My typewriter is my best friend, giving me instant print gratification, without the trouble of setting lead type or turning it on at a wall. I can quickly get down onto paper whatever is in my head.
3* I have been committed to the accessibility and sensitivity of the book form since making my first book in 1999. The making process is still as exciting for me as the conception of the idea. I find folding, cutting, sewing and pressing relaxing and soothing. Since training in the studio at 'Bookworks' while I was a student, I learnt the value of a quality finish, and it remains paramount in my work.
4* I discovered the pleasure of reading, being lost within the pages and the hidden intimacy held between a book and its reader. The books I make often require quiet contemplation, sometimes a cup of tea and a sit down.
5* The combination of text and image, coupled with the possibilities of taking someone through a hand-held journey remains my focus for making work.
6* I take photographs which I often use to punctuate what I am trying to say in a piece. This is a self-portrait.
7* I am fascinated by stories, the experience of others and the power that books have in sharing, exposing and housing them.
8* I first published these miniature concertina books in 2002 in an edition of 500. Born from a frustration of being too shy to articulate how I felt, I began writing my feelings down and using this method as my communication to the world. I exhibited them at my degree show 5 years ago and gained orders for another 5, which then grew to 500. This one perforated Love Note became 8000 little books in 4 variations and sold to galleries and shops in the UK, Europe and the US.
9* By accident I had become a designer! I was enjoying the fact that I could make what I loved and people wanted to buy them.
10* The range grew and grew and soon I had published 9 editions of miniature books.
11* I created a wooden box to house the collection of books, so it resembled a writing box, or a mobile portfolio. This allowed me the opportunity to stock to far more places and reach far more people with my work. It gave retailers the option of showing all of the work together so it could be viewed holistically.
12* All of the larger editions of books stem from the one-off or limited editions I create. A simple concertina book of photocopied love letters I'd sent over a 3 week period, inspired me to create…
13* Ready Made Love Letters, in which the hard part is pre-typed for your convenience, and you are invited to fill in the name of the recipient and sign it yourself. These led to a commission with a lingerie firm to make 500 of each in two degrees of devotion, for customers to send to their loved ones along with fancy knickers.
14* It is as important to me to make work about the challenges in life, as well as the highs, and this book reflects the end of the inspiration that all of the previous works brought about. A silk-bound concertina book, resembling a wedding album but far more awkward to hold and difficult to read. I have made 20 of these books in the last 2 years and the continue to speak to people in a strange but reassuring way.
15, 16 & 17* The themes explored in recent books include salvaged diaries, dementia, lost love, proverbs, canaries and nest building. Inspiration comes from observation and experience.
18* My love of the written word and posting letters led me to making a range of 'Birdie paper' stationery after a childhood spent obsessively drawing blackbirds and warblers.
19* I then used found imagery to illustrate a story of 3 canaries searching for a place to nest. The two strands of my work constantly inform one another.
20* My desire to explore took me to Lapland one year, where I discovered that letters from all over the world, ever addressed to Father Christmas arrived at the 'Santa Claus Central Post Office'. The letters were always kept, but the envelopes were sold for charity. While sailing on a boat down the Norwegian Fjords, I began to attach the envelopes together with a Coptic stitch. I have sold around 20 of these books since and taught a Christmas workshop at the Crafts Council using the envelopes and form.
21* My changing landscape and geography is constantly informing the work I create. I made a move from Brighton to Manchester in 2005 to take up a residency at Manchester Metropolitan University.
The change in quality of light stunned me.
22 & 23* From sunny seaside to broody city, I found myself responding very quietly to the change in atmosphere, creating monochrome photographic portraits of my isolation and loneliness.
24* Last year, I found I needed to escape the city's momentum, and
embarked on a 6 week residency in the Scottish Borders. I stayed in the mill where Helen Douglas of 'Weproductions', had created books for last 30 years.
25* It was here in the chilly Mill that I found refuge and simplicity. My days were spent making fires, eating porridge, looking, listening and thinking.
26* There were hundreds of books to read and a beautiful collection of Artists' books for inspiration.
27* Without a mobile telephone, internet access or T.V, I found pleasure in walking to the post box and listening to hum of the Heidelberg press.
28 & 29* Silence became a new obsession and was invaluable to making me focus on the work.
30* I found that making took over and I became a night owl printing and folding into the small hours.
31* Inspiration came to me in observing the beauty of the road kill I witnessed daily on the windy roads.
32 & 33* I took hundreds of photographs documenting them to make small detailed water colour studies.
34* I found new direction and energy for my work. Walking, drawing, feeling a part of the landscape.
35* I used the Heidelberg letterpress to make a series of newsprint pamphlets documenting my experiences, weekly reports on my discoveries and contentment. This was my largest edition of handmade books, totaling 42, in accordance with how many days I spent at the mill.
36* Each working week differs and I find myself doing the most obscure workshops. I recently worked with a wonderful group of elderly residents of a sheltered housing unit in Salford. I had six weeks with them, trying to get their creative juices flowing without letting on to them that they were making art! We exchanged stories, family histories, secrets and dreams together and made a series of inspired books reflecting on wisdom and heritage.
37* All of the ladies became addicted to the usefulness of 'bone folders' and took them home to carry on making. They all made very honest books about the happiest times in their lives and after the workshops I felt as though I'd gained 6 grandmothers.
38* Exhibiting. It is so important to get the work shown that I make. I have tried to exhibit as widely and often as I can. I show some of my work at trade shows and craft fairs in order to target shops and galleries to stock my larger editions.
39* It gives me an excuse to install elaborate and surreal sets to exhibit the books, and satisfies my childhood ambition to be a set designer. The more abstract the better, in order to attract people to the work, even if it's purely to enquire about what it is that I do?
40* In 2005, my colleague Louise Best and I got funding to go and exhibit in Seoul at the Artist's Book Fair. We had a fabulous time. Culturally we were awe inspired, and took full advantage of exploring the more edgy parts of town and flea markets.
41* We were successful in sales too and became Korean Millionaires!
42* Last year I finally had the opportunity to show my full body of work, in one place. I took part in the 'Origin' crafts fair at Somerset House in London. It allowed me to invite anyone that had ever purchased one of my books to come and see the new work in one place.
43* You will see some similarities to the 'Sitting Room' exhibition, in the re-creation of a familiar domestic setting, as I attempted to get everyone to handle the books and engage with the stories in an inclusive and welcoming environment.
44 & 45* It was a great success and soon turned into a storytelling corner, with members of the public sharing recipes and poems as they bought a book.
46* I have recently been awarded a scheme by the Clerkenwell Green Association, for the development of new work inspired by a London craft collection, and to have access to their archives for 8 months. This results in a solo exhibition in London, EC2 in March 2008.
* denotes reference to slide number in presentation
Lucy May Schofield talk mp3 (12mb) to download, right click and 'save as'
Powerpoint presentation (viewable/downloadable as streaming flash)