Saturday, December 31, 2011

It’s a lovely clean slate

As memories of Christmas indulgences fade, it is time for the bit I really enjoy – the New Year.

christmas in the suburbs

I like nothing better than the feeling of standing at the top of a brand new year, with the months unfolding before me, like bright, white pages of opportunity. I love the sense of possibility and I hate to fill it up with specifics too quickly.

There’s also a chance to pause and glance back at the year that’s finishing. For some, I know it hasn’t been a particularly good year. I’ve certainly known how it feels to say “good-bye and good riddance” to some years. Luckily for me, 2011 was not one of those.

Yesterday I dug out the plan I made twelve months ago. Inspired by Chris Guillebeau of The Art of Non-Conformity fame, last year I put together my most extensive list of goals ever.

The process Chris describes seems very business-inspired to me, and I have to confess I wasn’t entirely committed. He sets very specific, measurable goals even for his personal-life, which feels a bit too concrete and didactic for me.

However, I did find it interesting and helpful to think about all the areas he covers, including the personal. For the sake of the exercise I wrote down some ideas, which meant I had those to refer to yesterday, some twelve months later, and I have to say, it did make interesting reading. Some things I hoped to do were a bit over-optimistic, and I think if I repeat the exercise this year, I’ll know myself better.

If this sort of thing interests you, Chris’ s guide can be found here. I think you’ll find it quite an eye-opener!

Whether I go the full Excel spread sheet (yep, that’s how he does it!) or not, I will certainly be doing a review of my year in relation to my art work. I love to sit down and write out a list of works made, exhibitions, workshops or conferences attended and in recent years, I’ve been able to add works acquired to that.

It’s a great time to update the CV and celebrate the year’s successes. I often feel frustrated by what seems to be very slow progress during the course of the year, so writing up the year in this way is a pleasant surprise.


Then when it’s done, I can turn the page to a fresh new year, and think about my priorities for 2012.

Wishing you a lovely, shiny bright, fresh New Year, with lots of blank spaces to fill in just as you want!

Friday, December 23, 2011

The Big Reveal: The Great Library of Alexandria

The good news is the wall bed has been installed in the studio and I am slowly getting the rest of the room back in order. This is a chance for a bit of a spring clean, so things tend to progress slowly as I sort through everything and try to part with some! When it is all organised and looking pretty I will post a photo or two.

In this post I thought it would finally be safe to post images of my latest Book Art Object edition, as I think that everyone must have received their copy by now. I have decided that the best way to show off books is in a video, and as I now have my website to keep up to date as well, I spent some time this afternoon putting one together. I don’t usually use much in the way of transitions or effects, as I don’t think they usually add much, and in fact used badly can be rather comical. However in this case I used a few and I think they help to give a bit of an impression of handling the book and turning it in your hands.



And in case you are interested in details, here is a close-up of the colophon.



I also want to let you know that over on the Book*Art*Object blog, the call has gone out for our next edition. So if you think you might be interested in joining in the fun, pop over there and take a look at the details. Making an edition of ten plus is a challenge, but we are a friendly and helpful group, and I guarantee you will learn a lot from taking part.

Finally, I’d like to thank everyone who has visited my blog this year, and especially to those kind and encouraging folks who commented. It is such a delight to hear from you and I am always thrilled and surprised when your feedback comes through. If anyone has been thinking of commenting or sending me an email, but hesitated in the past, please know that I would love to hear from you!

I wish you all a happy, safe and loving time this festive season, and hope to see you here again soon. xxx

Sunday, December 04, 2011

BAO edition finished & other progress

I’m very happy to be able to report that this week I completed the edition of 10 books for Book*Art*Object inspired by an extract from “Art & Lies” by Jeanette Winterson.(Yes, they are curiously square in shape for books, aren’t they?)

Four are currently winging their way overseas to members of BAO in the UK and the US, so I’m holding off a full reveal here for a couple of weeks until they have arrived.

We’ve also been lucky enough to have the “Art & Lies” edition acquired by the State Library of Queensland. Helen Cole, from SLQ, saw the work exhibited at the Impact conference and that’s where the deal was done! There is also some discussion with Alicia Bailey from Abecedarian Gallery in Denver, Colorado about exhibiting “Art & Lies” there! This is a very exciting possibility and if it comes off, will be my first step onto the international stage.

I realized that I haven’t posted the text by Winterson here yet. So, in case you haven’t seen it over on the BAO blog, here it is.

300BC. The Ptolemies founded the great library at Alexandria.
400,000 volumes in vertiginous glory.
The Alexandrians employed climbing boys much in the same way as the Victorians employed sweeps. Unnamed bipeds, light as dust, gripping with swollen fingers and toes, the nooks and juts of sheer-faced walls.
To begin with, the shelves had been built around wide channels that easily allowed for a ladder, but, as the library expanded, the shelves contracted, until the ladders themselves splintered under the pressure of so much knowledge. Their rungs were driven into the sides of the shelves with such ferocity that all the end-books were speared in place for nine hundred years.
What was to be done? There were scribes and scholars, philosophers and kings, travellers and potentates, none of whom could now take down a book beyond the twentieth shelf. It soon became true that the only books of any interest were to be found above shelf twenty-one.
It was noticed that the marooned rungs still formed a crazy and precarious ascent between the dizzy miles of shelves. Who could climb them? Who would dare?
Every boy-slave in Alexandria was weighed. It was not enough to have limbs like threads, the unlucky few must have brains of vapour too. Each boy had to be a medium through which much must pass and yet nothing be retained.
At the start of the experiment, when a book was required, a boy would be sent up to get it. This could take as long as two weeks, and very often, the boy would fall down dead from hunger and exhaustion.
A cleverer system seemed to be to rack the boys at various levels around the library, so that they could form a human chain, and pass down any volume within a day or so.
Accordingly, the boys built themselves eyries in among the books, and were to be seen squatting and scowling at greater and greater heights around the library.
A contemporary of Pliny the Younger writes of them thus:
[here is a chunk of latin that is never translated. JW at her most scholarly & impenetrable... but would look great in calligraphy, Ronnie!]
There is no system that has not another system concealed within it. [my emphasis] Soon the boys had tunneled behind the huge shelves and thrown up a rookery of strange apartments where beds were books and chairs were books and dinner was eaten off books and all the stuffings, linings, sealings, floorings, openings and closings, were books. Books were put to every use to which a book can be put as long as it is never read.

Jeanette Winterson, Art & Lies (London: Jonathon Cape, 1994), pp. 4-6.


The other lovely news I received is that our wall bed will be installed on December 20th. You may recall this post from a couple of months ago, mentioning my plans for doing up my studio (at last!). 

Well, having a wall bed, instead of the current single, will allow me to have a lot more shelf space above the bed. Storage has been a problem in this little room ever since the air-conditioner was installed, which meant that small bookcase that sat on top of my desk had to go. Here’s where some of that stuff has been patiently waiting for a “real” home for some months.

I didn’t want to leave you with a photo of my mess, so here is the plan I’ve drawn up for the studio. I am hoping I might be able to squeeze in a small comfy chair for reading between the bookcase and the built-in, but time will tell. 

If you see any glaring problems, please do comment! Your thoughts, as always, are gratefully received.