Regenerator II: Altered books project
Launch of online archive and permanent displays
30th September 2010
View the online archive of all the books here
Download the library checklist of books
An online article in The New York Times in April 2006, about an altered books project, inspired us to do something with our own library's discarded books. Long Overdue: Book Renewal was a collaboration between Maine College of Art and the Portland Public Library. Books that had been retired from the library's collection were given to 200 artists who then turned them into works of art. These works of art were then re-entered into their library system and became available for check out to anyone in the country, via the Inter Library Loan system. The books from that project can be viewed online at: www.meca.edu/GalleriesExhibitions/Longoverdue.aspx
We decided we should do something similar with the books that had been boxed up for withdrawal from our School's art library at Bower Ashton. Due to space, the library didn’t want them back; so the first Regenerator in 2007 ran as an artists’ exchange project. 82 artists took part, selecting a book from the list and returning it after they had created a new piece of work with it. The books were sent out to artists in the United Kingdom, EIRE, Australia, Germany, USA, Denmark, Norway and South Africa to work with and return for archiving and photographing before an exhibition and book swap. All the books from the first project are archived online.
Last summer our library had a complete refit, and as students and visitors had been asking to see examples of altered books in the collection and displays we thought the time was right to bring some discarded library books back into the collection as artworks to inspire the viewers. Our library had a pile of withdrawn books and we added some of the books we had rescued from the floor of the now defunct Bookbarn in Bristol.
This new project launched in February 2010 with an open day at Bower Ashton Library. Bower Ashton library staff launched the new artists’ book study area and we launched Regenerator II in the Special Collections Room, alongside the opening of the Tom Trusky Artist's Book Memorial Exhibition Cases. Guy Begbie demonstrated ideas for working with altered/reconfigured books, with some examples of his reconfigured books in the Special Collections room, and people chose their books from our selection to return by the July 2010 deadline. Other artists joined from overseas, and we posted their books to them.
Regenerator II now follows in the footsteps of Long Overdue, 57 altered books have been returned from artists in Australia, the UK, Belgium, Germany and Norway, to be documented and photographed for the online archive. The books will be on permanent display as part of Bower Ashton Library's artists' books collection from 30th September 2010.
Many thanks to all the artists who took part in this project and generously donated their altered books to the library's collection. We know these books will be enjoyed by students, staff and visitors for many years to come.