Book Arts

Artists’ Books Exhibitions at Bower Ashton Library, UWE, Bristol, UK – ONLINE

Artists’ books from our Archives

Weds 1st July – Monday 31st August 2020

A selection of 18 artists’ books housed in the archives of the Centre for Fine Print Research (CFPR) and Bower Ashton Library’s Special Collections. Shaun Oaten (Library Information & Engagement Administrator), Angie Butler (Senior Researcher – CFPR Canon of the Artists’ Print from a Practitioner Perspective) and Sarah Bodman (Senior Researcher – CFPR Artists’ Books) have each selected six books from the archives for this online exhibition. UWE Bristol Library will be sharing two of the artists’ books each week via Twitter for the duration of the exhibition.

Shaun’s selection

Twenty Library Bookshelves, Cathey Webb
Cathey was our first library artist in residence at Bower Ashton. Her research involved choosing a random word from a book on each shelf and using those to form a short poem, which in turn formed one of twenty beautiful editions housed in a custom-made wooden box inspired by old library index card drawers. Cathey Webb.

Drip Drip Drip, Zelda Velika
Zelda was another of our library artists in residence, collaborating with Angie Butler to produce the unexpected cushions that are scattered around Bower Ashton Library. She describes her work as “nihilistic yet optimistic, with an injection of colour and experimental print work.” Drip, Drip, Drip is no exception – the cover, rather ominously, shows a razor blade, but inside the pages burst with bright red dripping blood. Zelda Velika.

GIFT: I Made This For You, Sarah Bodman
At first glance ‘Gift’ looks like one of those recipe pamphlets given away with newly purchased gas cookers in the 1940s-50s. But when you consider ‘gift’ is the German word for poison, things take a darker turn: this fascinating artist’s book actually features 14 recipes, all cooked and photographed by Sarah, containing ingredients that the ‘Angel of Bremen’ used to kill her 15 victims in 19th century Germany. View online.

Family Vespidae – Library installation, Angie Butler
Over the years I’ve photographed Angie’s installation in the special collections at Bower Ashton numerous times and to this day, as I pass it in the library I’ll often stop and lose myself in it. Featuring hundreds, perhaps even thousands, of wasps cut from the pages of withdrawn books, you could be fooled into thinking this is a living, breathing thing.

Banged Up in Bristol, Jeremy Dixon, Hazard Press
I wanted to highlight one or two artists’ books that mention Bristol and it’s fitting that one of these is by Jeremy Dixon of Hazard Press who we’ve exhibited in the library several times and has been gracious with his time in visiting the library to discuss his work. His 52 books in 52 weeks challenge was a personal highlight of mine when we displayed this project in 2018. Visit Hazard Press.

Bristol 04.13, Craig Atkinson, Café Royal Books
I first came across Café Royal Books at a BABE (Bristol Artist’s Book Event) several years ago. Laid out on a table I was drawn to the retro design with its black and white photography and use of Helvetica, perhaps because they reminded me of my childhood. This edition doesn’t disappoint and I love the cover image of the brutalist concrete NCP car park on Prince Street. Visit Café Royal Books.

Angie’s selection

I chose six books that reflect the last three months of lockdown on an everyday level:

A field guide to weeds, Kim Beck 2007
Nature has had the opportunity to grown (and in some cases, take over), without human intrusion. We have been more aware of its beauty… View online here.

I haven’t been there but it’s on my list, Simon Kentgens, 2012
Shopping labels as windows to our imagination, as we cannot travel… View online here.

Liver & Lights No 33, Twenty Household Objects, John Bently, 2007
Appreciating our household objects and their perhaps, more frequent use at this time… Liver & Lights.

Round About Town, Kevin Boniface, Uniformbooks, 2018
Key workers, like postmen, being the bearers of news from the outside world, that is so appreciated. Connecting people… View online here.

Some things are certain, Miranda Harris, 2019
There are some things that we can count on to happen, whatever our circumstances may be… View online here.

Lockdown Manifesto, Corinne Welch, 2020
A manifesto and a fundraising edition, £5 from each sale goes to Bristol North West Foodbank. (Corinne Welch will be In Conversation as part of our free online summer festival this year). View online here.

Sarah’s selection

I chose books that might offer some hope or contemplation of the wider world that we have all missed during lockdown.

The book as the future… Gloria Glitzer, 2018
Gloria Glitzer’s manifesto on / homage to self-publishing and DIY zines. It’s so full of energy and positivity. View online here.

Wipe the Slate, Sarah Nicholls, Brain Washing from Phone Towers, 2015
Wipe the Slate considers debt: what do you owe? Who do you owe it to?, and money: Where does money come from? Where does it go? Are there any alternatives to money? Is it really necessary to pay our debts? Couldn’t we just forget about them and start over?’ – Sarah Nicholls. View online here.

The octopus would like to put a stop to us
Poem by Benjamin Heathcote. Screenprinted artwork and production by the artist ottoGraphic. We stayed inside and the birds took over, who knows what else the animals might yet be plotting? Visit ottoGraphic.

Where in the world?, Hazel Grainger (HG Makes), 2012
Something (or somewhere) to think about for the future. Visit HG Makes.

Ocaso / Twilight, Martha Hellion, 2015
Hellion shows us the physical beauty of the landscape of Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta with a poem on the reverse originating from the Arhuaco people of Colombia. They believe this mountain is the beating heart of the world, and that everyone’s wellbeing, health and happiness depend upon it. It inspires a new appreciation of every sunset. Martha Hellion.

The British Seaside, Martin Parr, Café Royal Books, 2020
A reminder of and future hopes for rainy days at the beach. View online here.

UWE Bristol, City Campus at Bower Ashton, Kennel Lodge Road, Bristol BS3 2JT, UK.