I’ve been working away on the new website I mentioned in last weeks post, making progress but still a way to go.It’s given me the chance to look over images of my work, and reinforced the pleasure to be had connecting and sharing with online friends, like the Book*Art*Object group.
A great way for artists to connect is by collaborating. While BAO isn’t collaboration in the sense of the individual books/objects created, the project, which encompasses all our books as the group’s response to a text, plus the entire blogged experience of their creation is certainly a collaboration.
Judy & the Jacaranda, which was my first BAO work, opened up another opportunity for collaboration. In July 2010, when I was about half way through binding my edition of 14 copies of Judy, I took a break and went to Sydney. One highlight of the trip for me was the day I visited the Librorum Bibliothecea apud Artificem, Monica Oppen’s private artists book collection.
As well as being a printmaker and book artist, Monica is a trained bookbinder and spoke about her many collaborations with artists. Although reasonably happy with my stab-binding of Judy, I leapt at the chance to explore other options with Monica. With her depth of knowledge and experience, I was intrigued to discover what her solution would be.
I spoke to Monica about the way I had thought through my approach (see this post) so she would understand what had been important to me. Then, when I returned to Brisbane, I posted off one unbound copy and one bound copy for her to consider.
Monica suggested a single piece cover with z-folds. (If you own Vol 1 of Keith Smith, you can see a diagram on p. 131) This is also an Asian-style binding, but the sewing is hidden. I was keen to use an Asian binding because the book refers to the tradition found in Asian art, where the seasons are used as a metaphor for the cycle of life. I felt happy with Monica’s suggestion and sent three more unbound copies for her to bind.
In the end, there are 14 books in the edition, plus 2 artists proofs. There is a Special Edition of 4, handbound by Monica Oppen, which comes with a handmade protective slipcase and ten copies handbound in a 5-Hole Stab Binding by the artist (me!)
It’s been a very different process, but one that has been very valuable. Living in a house with a musician, for whom collaboration is a completely natural instinct, I confess I have longed at times for something similar in my work. This collaboration came along a little late in the project, and next time, I would definitely aim to share ideas from the start. It was somewhat of a challenge to hand “my baby” over to another (it never occurred to me that I could simply unbind it all if I wasn’t happy!) However, the leap of faith that was required was really just another of the type that is demanded at times during the act of creating. I found that there was much to be gained by opening myself to the input of another at this stage, and by the injection of Monica’s particular expertise.
The binding Monica chose gives the book a greater elegance. It opens with ease and still refers to the Asian origin of the book’s theme, but with more subtlety. That said, I think some people may prefer the stab binding simply because it is a much-loved binding, as pointed out by Tara O’Brien.
I’m proud to share with you that a copy of the Special Edition was acquired for the Librorum Bibliothecea apud Artificem. Thank-you Monica! There are copies of both editions currently available for sale. I will be putting them up on the new website, but until then you can email me (potsrmeathotmaildotcom).
Finally, I have posted a slideshow below that takes you page by page through the book. This is for those people who aren’t BAO-folks (who obviously have their own copy of the real thing!) Hope you enjoy it!