Friday, June 20, 2008

Borthwnog Hall Photos

As promised in this post, a few photos of Borthwnog Hall and surrounds.

Home again, home again...

A quick snap of a few of the treasures I brought home with me. I still have a few posts planned about art I saw in Belfast and Paris, and as soon as my head stops spinning I promise I'll be straight onto it...

Wednesday, June 11, 2008


We spent nearly 3 weeks in "Noran Ion" as the locals call it (Northern Ireland to the rest of us) and while I was there, I saw some wonderful posters. They dated from the twenties and thirties and were commissioned to promote travel in Ireland, especially in Ulster (Northern Ireland). There were a few different artists employed but I liked the work of Norman Wilkinson the most. While originals can go for GBP8,000 I was able to find some good quality reproductions at Yard Gallery. We came away with two - including the one above, which depicts Glenariff, one of the nine Glens of Antrim. We weren't able to drive up Glenariff because the road was closed for work, but below are a couple of my photos taken in the same area.

By the way, I've finally managed to open most of the files of photos I've taken on this trip and am slowly starting to upload some of them to Flickr. You can take a look here.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Tate Modern and the Bookartbookshop

I headed off to the Tate Modern with high hopes. With several exhibitions to choose from, I opted for Duchamp, Man Ray and Picabia. Unfortunately, the day I went to the Tate was the day after my second migraine, and it was just a bit too conceptual for me. Then I moved on to another exhibition about minimalism, and I discovered just how perceptually-based minimalism is. It seems simple. Large areas of colour and form, and I thought I could just sit and soak it in, but the effect it had on my brain was very disturbing. The colours seemed to leap off the walls and my head began to spin. It wasn't long before I had to leave.

Luckily I was a lot better the day I headed out to Hoxton. I had heard about the Bookartbookshop in a Book Arts Newsletter and I was hoping to add to my little collection. For a very small space, there are literally hundreds, if not thousands of examples of artists books in this shop. I spent a very enjoyable couple of hours poring through various books, many only priced at 10-15 GBP. It made me realize that there is a very particular type of artists book that really excites me, enough to want to open up my little purse and let the moths out, any way. The ones I love have a feeling of the handmade. This may be quite raw and primitive or of course it might be exquisitely handcrafted. They don’t need to be totally handmade, photocopies are fine, I just don’t really go for anything too mechanically produced. In the end I chose just one to buy, titled Round the Block by Kate Farley. Here's a few photos of some of the spreads. To me, this book had an aesthetic that is just about perfect - hand drawn lines, gentle shapes, references to the city and the country, human contact, suggestions and hints - gorgeous!

Certain Trees

This is the second exhibition of artists books that is currently on at the V&A Museum. It focuses on a group of British book artists and includes multiple works by each published by their small presses. These included Tarasque Press, Coracle Press and Wild Hawthorn Press. It’s interesting to see works by artists who specialize in a medium, and compare their works with those in Blood on Paper. These works seemed very “English” to me. By this, I mean that they were thoughtful, understated and exhibited a very particular sense of humour.

The artists shown here have all made a number of artists books, and as such, the works were part of each artist’s body of work exploring the book form. There was a lot to be learnt from examining these books and having the time to absorb what they were saying, but unfortunately they were all displayed in cabinets. This meant that you could often only see a single spread, and while what you could read was often amusing, or quite lovely, I felt I was missing a lot. Standing in front of a glass cabinet really doesn't encourage you to spend time with a work. I'm always disappointed when I don't get to handle artists books, but especially so in this case, where the content was quite crucial. Nevertheless, there was still enough to see to make the visit worthwhile. There’s some more information on the V&A website.