Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Books in the making

The best time I had in Mackay was a workshop run by Adele Outteridge called 'Books as Sculpture'.

I spend so much time thinking about what to put in books that I devote very little time to the structure. And that attitude stems from the fact that very little was taught about structure during my visual arts degree. I went through a workshop which specialised in Artist Books, but most of the stress was on content, not form. Our teacher was European, and did not like bound books. In France in the early 20th century, artist books were unbound, and if the collector wanted a binding, they did so after purchasing the book, which made for terrific personal libraries. My teacher produces work of this vein. So we were encouraged to use binding techniques and experiment with them, but were only really taught a quick and basic stitch to hold book sections together. Anything else had to be self-researched.

A bit like art schools today. This year at the school I work at, the students have less staff, less hours, less resources, but they do get a library and a studio space. And they are paying more! It's basically a correspondence course on site. The attitude seems to be 'we'll show you a few pictures, show you how not to hurt yourself on the equipment, give you a space for a few hours a day, and you can spend three years working out a few things and at the end we'll tell you where you went wrong.' Whatever happened to skills-based training? No wonder more people are turning to the TAFE system.

Oh, there's my rant for the day. Back to books.

Adele showed us how to do a concertina binding, how to 'rust' paper, and how to do a coptic stitch binding. I had a ball. I'd brought up some of my old typeset offcuts, and made a fun piece that looks at first glance like a normal little book, but can shuck off its cover and turn into a sculptural piece.

This is one way of looking at a book...

this is one way of looking at a book

and this is another way of looking at a book

and this is another way of looking at a book

but wait! there's more...

but wait! there's more...

The best thing was learning how to bind using hard covers without a drop of glue. I made a great little sketchbook, and started a few more during the rest of the trip. I'm making books for all presents this year. I figure even my old great-aunt can use a little notebook, even if only for shopping lists.

Coptic stitching rocks. I haven't taken a photo of my stitched book, but I'll put one up soon. It produces a hard-backed book without a hard spine; instead there are four plaited bands across the spine which allow the book to open flat, something I love a book to do. I'm going to making a lot of stuff this year. I'd forgotten how much I like this sort of thing!

Adele is one of those people who is constantly busy with her hands. She makes endless variations on a theme, pushing the book shapes and the binding techniques all over the place. She has an exhibition of her more substantial productions on at Artspace Mackay at the moment, in conjunction with our exhibition, and it's very impressive.

1 comment:

Adele said...

Thanks for the terrific reviesw of the masterclass. Just found it now.