Saturday, 18 March 2017

Artistic Explorations: Artists' Books and Book Objects (1)

Artists' books are books made or conceived by artists. There are fine artists who make books and book artists who produce work exclusively in that medium, as well as illustrators, typographers, writers, poets, book binders, printers and many others who work collaboratively or alone to produce artists' books. Many artists' books are self-published, or are produced by small presses or by artists' groups or collectives, usually in limited editions. Artists' books that maintain the traditional structure of a book are often known as book art or bookworks, while those that reference the shape of a book are known as book object  (source:
End of last year a friend of mine, who is a poet and papercut artist, started talking about collaborating together. We are both inspired by artists' books and book objects and we had the change to take part in a workshop "Book Object" organised by artist and educator Brigid Collins. Once I had seen her website and her beautiful creations I didn't have to think long before I said yes!

Book object by Brigid Collins
Book object by Brigid Collins
"Yield" by Brigid Collins

The workshop was focussed on creating a 3D object with the general book form as reference. She showed us how to make a structure with wire and use tissue paper and markmaking to add certain effects.

I already had a clear idea of what I wanted to make with the materials I brought with me so I actually did something completely different than the rest of the class. Brigid could give me some great advice on how to construct with my mainly natural materials such as (very tough) birch bark and a branch from our garden. Other materials I used are: scrim, bookbinding thread, dried grass and skeleton leaf, printed papers, family envelope and a film strip. After the workshop I spent some more time finetuning things. I'm delighted with how my experiment turned out!

Birch Book (front) by Fenfolio

Birch Book (front, close-up) by Fenfolio

Birch Book (back) by Fenfolio

Birch Book (side, back)) by Fenfolio

Birch Book (side, close-up) by Fenfolio

Birch Book (back, close-up) by Fenfolio

Birch Book (front, close-up) by Fenfolio

Birch Book (front, close-up) by Fenfolio

After this very successful session I really wanted to learn more about how to make artists' books and objects. I had noticed there was a workshop organised by another book artist Susie Wilson at Leith School of Art, but unfortunately I couldn't make these dates. So I arranged a one-to-one session instead. Here are some examples of her books:

Artist book by Susie Wilson

Artist book by Susie Wilson

Artist book by Susie Wilson

Artist book by Susie Wilson

Map book by Susie Wilson

Map book by Susie Wilson

Artist book by Susie Wilson

First she showed me some samples of artists' books made by her students and herself.

Flutter book by Sarah Morpeth

Flutter book (unfolded) by Sarah Morpeth

Artist unknown

Street Scene artist' book by Liza Green

A Book of Tears by Julie Johnstone

A Book of Tears by Julie Johnstone

Dark Matter artist book by Victoria Browne

Artist book by Margaret Anderson

Artist book by Margaret Anderson

We then focussed on the concertina format and I learnt how to make a pamphlet stitch, a flag book, a flutter book and a map book. Again, I brought quite a few materials  with me such as a selection of my handmade proof prints. After a wonderful day in Susie's studio at home I was really pleased with what I had learnt and created such as this flag book:

Organic book  (cover) by Fenfolio

Organic book (spine) by Fenfolio

Organic book (inside) by Fenfolio

Organic book (inside) by Fenfolio

Organic book (first page) by Fenfolio

Organic book (fully laid out) by Fenfolio

Organic book (inside) by Fenfolio

Organic book (top view) by Fenfolio

My friend is now also going to do an intense workshop, with Brigid. With our combined skills and interest we aim to create a few artists' books that we can exhibit in due course.

Thursday, 23 February 2017

Mind and Memory Art Show Aberdeen

Recently I submitted two experimental pieces for the Mind and Memory Art Show, organised by Aberdeen Artists Society and hosted by Aberdeen Dementia Resources Centre. I'm delighted that both have been accepted!

A very broad interpretation of mind and memory could be taken, for example considering brain activity and structure in terms of figurative or abstract landscapes to dreams, hallicunation, fantasy and realism from development to degeneration.

This brief and browsing on Pinterest gave me lots of ideas and I decided to create two sculptural works. It was risky because I have just started exploring the 3D approach, but I thought "nothing ventured, nothing gained".

Mind Map is created with Dutch maps which I painted with Golden High Flow and then cut with a scalpel and punching tools. It consists of 4 different layers (incl. background) which have been pinned down on cardboard.

I submitted the following statement:
This piece is my interpretation of how our brain is structured. It's a cross section of the three brain layers. Each layer shows a different cell pattern and colour. The tracks, roads and waterways on the maps correspond with interconnections between the cells. The size is A4.

Mind Map ©Fenfolio2017

Close-up Mind Map ©Fenfolio2017
For Reminiscence I printed old handwritten letters from my family, old photos from Aberdeen and and old map onto tracing paper. These were then framed into metallic curtain grommets and pinned down on a handmade and embossed print (which didn't have enough ink), subtly rubbed with some graphite to reveal the textures.

I submitted the following statement:
Snippets of memories in the form of old (family) photos and letters are popping up from a fading grey and textured background which represents the brain activity and structure of a patient. Although some patents might have lost their long term memory, going back to the past could help their loved ones and caretakers in dealing with the disease.

Reminiscence ©Fenfolio2017

Close-up Reminiscence ©Fenfolio2017

Close-up Reminiscence ©Fenfolio2017

The exhibition will take place at Aberdeen Dementia Resources Centre in Kings Street and opens on the 8th of March, 6-9 pm. It will run until the 7th of April, Monday-Friday 10am-3pm. In this press release in one of the local papers you can read more about it.

Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Serene Loch Duich

Last weekend our kayak club had a trip planned to Loch Duich near Kintail, West of Scotland, a 4-hour drive from our house. It's a long way for just two days but it was worth it as we couldn't have had any better weather. High pressure, freezing, wall to wall sunshine and no wind on the Saturday. Kintail Outdoor Centre was our base for the weekend.

Map of our kayak route on Loch Duich ©Fenfolio2017

We launched our kayaks at the bridge of Dornie, just around the corner from iconic Eilean Donan castle. From the moment we arrived, most of us were more involved in taking photos of the stunning scenery in golden light than preparing all our equipment!

Eilean Donan Castle at dawn ©Fenfolio2017

Eilean Donan Castle at dawn ©Fenfolio2017

Eilean Donan Castle at dawn ©Fenfolio2017

Getting ready to launch ©Fenfolio2017

A perfect start of the day! ©Fenfolio2017
It was actually more of a photography trip on the water than a kayak trip. Well, at least for me! I had to pinch myself regularly because it was as if we were paddling in a fantasy world.

Paddling towards Eilean Donan castle ©Fenfolio2017

Dornie bridge ©Fenfolio2017

Inspecting Eilean Donan Castle from Loch Duich ©Fenfolio2017

Is this for real? ©Fenfolio2017

Loch Duich and the five sisters of Kintail ©Fenfolio2017

Splendid scenery from Loch Duich ©Fenfolio2017

Approaching Heaven ©Fenfolio2017

The tops of the 5 sisters of Kintail can been seen in the background

Synchronicity ©Fenfolio2017

Happy paddlers on Loch Duich ©Fenfolio2017

The perfect reflection ©Fenfolio2017

Pure bliss! ©Fenfolio2017

The 5 sisters of Kintail ©Fenfolio2017

Paddlers in Paradise ©Fenfolio2017

Breaking the thin layer of ice was fun and noisy! ©Fenfolio2017

Ice layer ©Fenfolio2017

On our way back again ©Fenfolio2017

View of Eilean Donan castle from other side of Loch Duich ©Fenfolio2017

Paddling underneath bridge that leads to castle ©Fenfolio2017