Friday, September 07, 2012

Book arts news

I've been forced into taking things rather quietly lately. The winters in Brisbane are generally pretty mild, but this one has been quite cold. In fact, we've had a very bad flu season, much worse than in the colder cities of Sydney and Melbourne. And I can tell you it's not really a good idea to arrive back after three months away, right into the thick of it! But luckily there's been quite a bit going on in the realm of books without my doing anything much.

Self (States of Change) detail by Amanda Watson-Will

First up, I received word on Monday that my porcelain book Self (States of Change) has been selected for a book arts exhibition in my home town! Well almost. It's actually at Bribie Island Seaside Museum, about 80 kms north of Brisbane. Still, book arts opportunities around Brisbane are rare, and I haven't exhibited any work closer to home than Noosa since 2007. So I am really delighted to be selected for Cover to Cover in October. 

Then, I sold a copy of The Great Library of  Alexandria. Selling work obviously isn't a major reason that I make art. I don't make a huge amount of work, and in the past much of it was ephemeral, so exhibitions and competitions have been my focus. As a consequence, I don't have that much to sell. In truth, selling my work to individuals is something I've never found that comfortable. I worry they won't be happy with their purchase, and for some reason, I feel more confident when an instituion is the buyer. I suspect this is entirely illogical, but feelings often are. Anyway, this week I made a sale, to another book artist whose work I admire greatly. For privacy reasons, I won't say who, but you know who you are, and I say a heartfelt thank-you!

Finally, as if these little successes weren't enough, the letterbox has been supplying me with book art delights, day after day. 

First to arrive, this book, "arbre brume" (misty tree) with its beautiful, atmospheric black and white photos by friend and talented artist Renaud Allirand from France. Some of the photos were also available as prints in his studio/gallery in the Marais when we visited, but the book meant we didn't have to argue over which one to choose!

You may remember that I mentioned meeting Renaud in Paris last year and shared a little book by him here (scroll to the bottom of the post).  

This year I was looking forward to seeing what Renaud had been working on since our last visit. As well as photography, he has been working in ink and had work selected for a prestigious art competition. We were lucky that the exhibition opening was during our visit and Renaud invited us along. Below you can see me standing with him in front of his work. If you'd like to see more of Renaud's work, follow this link.

Renaud Allirand and I, in front of work by Renaud.

I'm participating in Edition 4 of Book*Art*Object (see more here) this year and two books by other artists have arrived already.

Detail from "Dust" by Bertie can der Meij [click on the photo to read the text]

First is Dust, a humorous, serious, clever and beautiful book by Bertie van der Meij. Letterpress printed on handmade paper, bound in a vacuum cleaner bag(!) Bertie deals with the detritus of life and death with great sensitivity and honesty. I love this book more and more every time I pick it up. You can see what Bertie wrote about the book on the BAO blog here and visit her website here.

Gail Stiffe's Pulp Fiction

Next to arrive was Gail Stiffe's Pulp Fiction. This book plays wonderfully with Sarah Bodman's title (Pulp Fiction) literally pulping some pulp fiction to create beautiful thin sheets of paper. A reknowned and talented papermaker, Gail's handmade paper is wonderfully tactile, with pages that are embossed, watermarked and overlaid with coloured pulps and then stitched back into the covers. I love it when craft and concept come together this well in an artwork. You can see more about Gail's work on her website.

Ce que j'ai fait pendant mes vacances by Jac Balmer

Finally, a real surprise! Jac Balmer (another BAO participant) in Lancashire received one of my Wabi Sabi zines earlier in the year and has kindly returned the favour by sending me a copy of her new zine. It's entitled Ce que j'ai fait pendant mes vacances (What I did on my holidays) and is pretty perfect for me, I think! It seems that Jac visited France for her holidays too, and the zine takes the reader on a wonderfully evocative walk through a very French garden. The front cover is a great reproduction of a spiral bound school book and the little book structure is filled with Jac's soft, romantic sketches in (I think) pen, coloured pencil and watercolour. It's quite beautiful, and even though they're not my sketches, it works as a lovely memento of my time in France too. You can see more about Jac's work on her blog.

What a lovely week!


  1. Oh my God, Amanda, what shall I congratulate you on first? You are on a roll of goodies happening and goodies arriving! I imagine you must feel really happy so I'll congratulate you on that too :)

  2. sorry to hear you've not been well - but goodness you've had a lot of yummy things this week to perk you up! I'd love to see those BAO books (both look fab!)

    hope you're feeling better soon xx

  3. A wonderful week indeed Amanda, if only they could all be like that without feeling unwell - it's so exciting when the postman arrives with unexpected parcels.

  4. It's almost worth getting crook(just colds and flu, that is) if you are sure to get a week like yours. Love your blog, I get so easily side-tracked.Congratulations on your acceptance and sale, you deserve more of both.