Monday, September 21, 2009

Amazon Throne redux

Firstly, and this is probably to your relief, I've decided to stop apologising for being busy. Enough snivelling, more fun and breathing. OK. Onwards.

A few weeks ago, when Betty swung by and we did a bit of arty sightseeing, I included my studio in the tour. He did what every reading person does when they walk in: browse my bookshelves. And of course, because he is a big Tom Phillips fan, the first thing that caught his eye was my copy of The Humument.

Just in case there's anyone who doesn't know about this project: it's probably the most famous altered book that there is. Phillips is an Englishman who gave himself a project: find a book that would cost him less than something tiny and pre-decimal, and play with it graphically. He gave himself a few rules about what he was doing, and created a character out of finding two words that appeared together infrequently, and then got so caught up in what he'd created, that he kept buying more copies of the book and publishing editions of his altered version. That link, above, goes to the Official Humument Site, where there are slideshows of the pages, etc.

One of the factors of finding the book in the first place was not just cost, but geographic proximity to London's secondhand book district. Phillips is one of those artists who likes to explore his local area, and is fascinated by the concept of place. Alongside his celebrated portraiture work is a whole body of work based on exploring one area, or a journey taken frequently. This is something he has in common with Betty, who frequently posts about geographical places from his memory.

I also like Tom Phillips, but I actually have an edition of The Humument (commercially reproduced, of course, nothing original) because there is a long tradition (at least, at my art school) of art students becoming obsessed with it for at least a term, and trying to do their own version of playing with pages in the same way. I am no exception.

I recently stumbled upon my version again, named after the title of my found book: Amazon Throne. I blogged about it a few years ago, briefly. Bernice wanted more. So I'm going to share some more. There is a vague storyline, based upon a character called Domitila who is a South American princess being married off to some charmless prince called Dom Joao. She's sharp, he isn't. And that's about it. Apart from that, I just had fun with the crappy women's magazines that my Nana has been giving me for years (I just got a pile the other day!). I combined paint, drawing and collage, in a much cruder way than the master artist Phillips. Remember that I was in first year of art school, or maybe even before that, when I was doing night classes. It still has the power to make me chortle, I love having a sense of humour.

I hope you like these. They're in no particular order, much like my mind :)
My absolute favs from the series are in that earlier post, but I like these too.

For the hard of screening, the text reads There was a noticeable shortage, but regal bearing made up for minor deficiencies

Translation: She loved rich ostentation. With animal vigour she indulged in voluptuous excesses, refusing to cede an inch of her fishwife's vocabulary

No, this was no time to think of menus

Actually, when I peer into the bits that I can read under the paint, I wish that I'd kept this book intact. As you can see, I'm using large chunks of sentences, not 'found' words, and the writing is tres amusing. I can remember liking it, but not thinking about keeping it. Pity.


fifi said...

splendid collages. Hilarious!

Mrs Slocombe said...

Tres mignon, ducky:this is my favourite of Tom's:

If you go to i.i.n.a.v. and click on my head you'll find my own mining ramblings, and my own more brutish excavations are here:

byrd said...

I never properly got it. though i do recall reading it, probs from your shelves.