Sunday, July 31, 2011

My website is up! Huzzah!

After a few days of concentrated effort I have uploaded the basic content for my website and published it! YAY!

You can find it at:    http://amandawatson-will.com

 

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I’ve been messing around for over 6 months trying to organize one, but I don’t think that I’ve been totally convinced that I needed one before Fiona’s comment on blogging. She delineated beautifully for me the way that a website can be your “professional face”, leaving you free to be more playful and/or personal on your blog.

This was the motivation I obviously needed to get to work and more importantly to finish (for now).

I tested out three different options, which were either totally free or had free trials before deciding to go with Weebly.com (recommended by Sandra Pearce – thanks Sandra!).

First, I spent ages choosing a layout or theme. There are so many on offer and some are really funky or gorgeous, but I realized that the last thing you want when you are an artist is somebody else’s aesthetic on your website. Somewhat ruefully, I opted for a plain option.

All the services I checked out offered plain and simple design options, and they also all offered the possibility to buy your own domain name (e.g. amandawatson-will.com or similar).

I chose weebly in the end because it was quick and easy to use. Your options are set out across the top of the screen and you simply drag them into place. I found some of the others far less intuitive in their operation. I had to keep returning to the “help” page to remind myself how things worked. There’s enough to be done loading up loads of visuals and text without unnecessary complications, I think.

Anyway, if you decide to pop over and check out the website I’d love to hear from you. If you come across anything that doesn’t work as you would expect, or if the organisation doesn’t make sense to you, I’d be most grateful if you would let me know!

 

 

P.S BTW I don’t have any affiliation with Weebly, they are just the option I found easiest and so I thought I’d tell you about them in case you are interested.

 

 

 

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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Where to next?

 

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I want to thank everybody who commented on my last post and shared their thoughts on blogging.

I thought it was really interesting to see how many people started off on a particular path and how their blog had evolved and changed course over time. It highlights one of the major features of blogging – the flexibility inherent in it, and the freedom we can therefore allow ourselves.

Those of you who did make a comment last time, you may be surprised (or not!?) to hear that I made notes from your replies and drew up a list of reasons for blogging.

I would say the most popular reason was the “conversation” or personal connections that participating in the blog-o-sphere allows us to make. This is certainly the main benefit for me, and it is one that I hadn’t predicted before I started blogging. It’s an ideal solution in that it allows artists, who are often introverts, to converse about art and overcome “studio isolation”.

A lot of other reasons described by you coincided with my own, in particular using the blog as a way to share work because I’m not comfortable with more traditional modes of marketing.

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Some of your comments have started me thinking. For example, Fiona remarked how the blog allows her to speak in the 1st person, where she sees her website as more formal and a showcase for her finished work. Also, a number of you talked about using the blog to show works-in-progress or as a studio workbook/notebook. And Ronnie (as usual!) threw out the challenge with her comment about her decision to offer work on her blog under the freer copyright of creative commons.

So where does this leave me and this blog? Well, I’m not sure, but certainly still here.

I have started work on a website, and I feel that once that is up and providing a professional window on my work, I will probably feel more free to be creative here, to have some fun and allow this blog to be a little more organic and responsive to daily life. While this space is my sole professional face online, it does need to meet certain criteria (or I so I’ve thought). That said, I suspect any changes here will mostly be along the lines of a gentle pulling into shape, rather than any significant surgeries!

 

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More soon!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Why do you blog? The million dollar question.

 

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I’ve kind of fallen into a bit of a blogging funk – hence, the lag between posts.

Interestingly, I’ve noticed that I’m not the only one in the blogosphere who is feeling this way. One artist who blogs wonderfully, sharing her life and inspiring many, spoke about the possibility of opting for a monthly newsletter instead. 

110 comments later!!! she was left with no doubt that others still valued her blogging efforts most highly.

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Loads of comments are definitely a wonderful reinforcement, (I love ‘em just as much as the next blogger) but my question is more about what you want to share in your blog and why. Yes, this actually is a question, I’d love to know!

I am sure that there are as many reasons to blog as there are bloggers, and they are probably all valid.

Originally I started out wanting to show what my life with cfs was like, without specifically describing symptoms or gory details too much; more of an illustration over time of what was lost and what was gained.

Next came my masters, and that seemed a worthy process to document in a blog. And since finishing that two-and-a-half years ago, I’ve been blogging about the art I make and see around me.

Earlier this year, I realized that while I am still learning (I’m sure I always will be) I have reached both an age and a stage where I wanted to share what I know. I’m not in a position where I can run classes or workshops, but I thought that perhaps the blog could be honed to work more in this way. By confining myself to posts that might interest book artists, and working a bit harder at the research background and structure of the posts, perhaps I could offer something worthwhile.

Unfortunately, that level of blogging isn’t always sustainable for me, and while it’s great fun while I have enough energy, it just becomes something else I feel guilty about leaving undone when I am unwell.

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So just now, blogging has become a bit of a chore for me. I’ve thought about trying to turn each post into a piece of art in itself, rather like the beautiful posts on Speak Without My Voice and The Floating Bridge of Dreams. I’m still thinking about that option, but I can see problems with that too.

In the meantime, I know that after 5 years of writing in this space (yes, I’m amazed how long it is, too) I have built up a wonderful, inspiring, international network of bloggy-colleagues. You feel so much more than mere cyber-friends. You feel very, very real, and although I may be casting around for a direction for the blog just now, you can be sure that I will remain connected to you.

Watch this space!

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Friday, July 01, 2011

Artists books in Paris

 

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I took this photo of the sun emerging over the horizon as we flew over inland Australia, heading home. Apart from reducing the image size for uploading, it is completely unaltered or processed.

So now I am back home, settling into a surprisingly cold winter, but I still have more to share about the trip.

When I was in Paris three years ago, I tried to look for artists books. I did some research on the internet and also checked out the Book Arts Newsletter, but only came up with two shop names. The first, as I’ve mentioned previously was Florence Loewy nearby in the Marais (9 rue de Thorigny) and the second is Christophe Daviet-Thery, which is in the 13th arrondissment.

On that trip, by a bit of luck, there was an exhibition of artists books down the road from where I was staying in Montmartre. It was at the Musee d’Art Naif (naive art) at Halle Saint Pierre. The artists books were a student graduation show (not naive art at all) and I’m not really sure why they were in that venue. Anyway, those three were all I was able to track down, even after speaking to the lecturer whose students were participating in that show and who ran a small publishing house for his students’ books.

 

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This trip I had some more luck. One week-end there was an antiquarian, rare and old book fair in the the square in front of St Sulpice. While the majority of stalls concentrated on the first and rare editions, maps, etchings, lithographs etc,  there were some stalls that had brought along some of their stocks of artists books. There were some beautiful contemporary works by major French publishers of this type of fine edition, which included etched, blind embossed, lithograph and screen printed artists books. As Paris has always been a major site for numerous historic avant-garde movements, there were also some artists books in this category too. However, there was one little old book that won my heart (and despite a hefty price tag) and a place in my suitcase.

The best way to show you is visually.

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The man selling this told me it is a Moroccan prayer book, dated 1729 (when the date is converted to the Gregorian calendar). But it isn’t the usual prayer book from the region, which would be based on the Koran. Instead this is rather heretical, containing incantations for warding off evil spirits, for blessing travellers etc. It is built for carrying on the belt (by the loop) hence its condition isn’t great, but both this, and its subversive contents make it very rare.

I was, of course, entranced, and had to have it. I am interested in showing it to someone knowledgeable in this subject, so if you can help, or suggest someone who could, I’d be very interested to hear from you.


Beyond the Antiquarian Book Fair, it is my impression that the situation in Paris regarding artists books had changed since 2008. Perhaps I am just looking in the right places this time, but I definitely found a lot more artists books around.

There appears to be three main types of venue.

  • Contemporary galleries showing installations, paintings etc but also including a small range of artists books by artists whom they represent (perhaps 30 examples by say, a dozen different artists). You may well stumble upon these, and I’ve learned it is worth asking whether there are any artists books (they are often hidden away).

 

  • Next, there are shops entirely devoted to the artists book. They stock contemporary works being published in larger e.g. 500, 1000 or even unlimited editions. In addition, these shops often include multiples and art objects, and perhaps a small exhibition space devoted primarily to smaller-run artists books. In addition to Florence Loewy and Christophe Daviet-Thery, we found (and frequented) Yvon Lambert Bookshop, (108 Rue Vieille du Temple) in the Marais. The bookshop is associated with the gallery of the same name nearby.

 

  • Finally there are shops selling old, rare books and/or prints, which can be a goldmine in terms of stocking artists books or objects by well-known artists who were members of particular historic art movements. These tend to be avant-garde movements who produced artists books, such as members of Cobra, the Lettrists, the Situationists and Fluxus. Here I am talking about names like Guy Debord, Asger Jorn, Alison Knowles. A number of these are located on the left bank (6th arrondissment). My favourite was Libtairie Lecointre Drouet (9 rue de Tournon).

With all this opportunity, of course, we had to do some purchasing BUT I was very restrained – no, really, I was!! So here’s a little peek at some of my favourite new acquisitions.

 

Title: “sleep on, beloved”

Artist: Yosuke Yamaguchi

See more on the artist’s blog (mostly in Japanese): http://blogs.dion.ne.jp/bonfire/   or his Flickr photostream: http://www.flickr.com/photos/cribas/

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This book of beautiful, gouache paintings by Yamaguchi, reproduced at the size of a tabloid newspaper, explores a world of dreamscapes.


Title: Editions Dilecta

Artist: Anish Kapoor

Kapoor said: “What I am trying to do is paint the interior, my interior.”

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I was drawn to the grainy darkness seeping into the white of the page, the contrasting bright colours. But actually, as soon as I saw the marks creeping around the edge of the paper, invading the first opening (first picture) I was entranced.

Sadly, this is not one of the 50 copies signed by the artist.


Title: RF.22.301

Artist: Rene Fauconnet

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A very cool book of genuine typewriter art dating from 1961 (who has a typewriter and the patience to do such a thing these days!). Actually belongs to my dh, but I love it too now!


Title: Et pourquoi pas l’eternite? (And why not eternity?)

Artist: Renaud Allirand   More here:

Text: Jacques Lesot

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This book of moody, semi-abstract ink paintings is by talented printmaker, painter and book artist, Renaud Allirand. Jacques Lesot wrote the text in response to Renaud’s images. Apparently it is rather difficult to penetrate even for a native French speaker, so I am most content to immerse myself in the tiny paintings. (Each is only 7.5cm x 7.5cm).

There are more images of Renaud’s books on his website here.