St Abb's National Reserve

St Abb's National Reserve
View from my office

Monday, 19 April 2010

The term 'artists book' from Wikipedia:

'Artists' books are works of art realized in the form of a book. They are often published in small editions, though sometimes they are produced as one-of-a-kind objects referred to as "uniques".

Artists' books have employed a wide range of forms, including scrolls, fold-outs, concertinas or loose items contained in a box as well as bound printed sheet. Artists have been active in printing and book production for centuries, but the artist's book is primarily a late 20th century form.'

I went, with a friend, to an artists book fair, (Glasgow International Book Fair) on Saturday. Held in the Royal Concert Hall in Glasgow's city centre, it took place over the Friday and Saturday (16th & 17th April).
There was a great array of different artists and artists collectives and independent publishers working in a myriad of ways, for a great many reasons. Physically, the fair was a room full of tables, the visitors could investigate the work on display at each table; the exhibitors attended their own stands and were available to ask questions.
My initial impression left me feeling intimidated
Let me explain; not because of the exhibitors,who were, on the whole, very friendly and open (though some were weary and fed up, by Saturday pm!) but because I was asked to pick up and examine the works, which ranged from hand-cut pop-up images to photographs to illustrated writing to limited edition press to cartoons to sculpture from recycled books to fanzines to cards to knitted moustaches and badges. Stylistically, from clean, white concept to exercise book doodling, from precious to perverse and the ideas conveyed were similarly diverse; the exhibits were sometimes free, sometimes hundreds of pounds, or 12p.
The atmosphere glistened with creative possibilities and a hundred different skills were laid out-
The thought of picking up any examples of these unique and precious works was terrifying, and when I was invited to do so, I fought the urge to run away. All that early 'do not touch' training was showing itself; my 6 year old self shied away from the chance of touching the pretty things, in case they broke, in case she spoiled them.
Instead, I walked the room, making sure I visited each table; I fed my eyes till I felt I had permission to pick something up; start with something less challenging, a pamphlet, a postcard.
By the time i had made my second sweep, I was enthralled; one stand in particular, (whose name I've missed, because, in the ensuing excitement, I forgot to a card)saw me untying tiny books, bound in string and drawing little stories out of pockets, written on (a personal favourite of mine)cardboard labels. The artist had carved a forest from a book and written out mermaids tales. She cut out theatrical scenes and coloured fairy stories. my six year-old self jumped for joy.
I enjoyed (and bought from) the cut-outs of Sarah Morpeth ( and laughed out loud at the cartoons on Hole In My Pocket's stand ( I bought a tiny publication 'Spot The Difference' from C. Herbert about her constantly dislocating joints. I agonised over zines and picked up articulate journals and keenly folded notebooks made with old envelopes, and pages from abandoned books.
Here is an acknowledgement list, as in my mind, the credits cannot match the images. Look for yourself:
Exhausted, I fell into a conveniently placed sofa and waited for my companion to emerge from the fray; it took some time, but that was fine, I had a crick in my neck from leaning over tables and my head was buzzing.
So many ideas, so much information. I left feeling I had been fed.
Many thanks


Michelle said...

ah, that sounds so wonderful. I have always wanted to be one of those artists who could empty their mind into the pages of a journal/sketchbook and turn the results into something exciting and engaging. In reality I am too self concious of the outcome. It's too personal a journey for me to take those tentative steps, experimenting is too dangerous. So istead I look with awe. will check out all of those links! Thank you for sharing :) Mxx

Llamarama said...


Ooh, but my eyes...the old white on black complaint again...

Anonymous said...

I love readding, and thanks for your artical...................................................