I often find that when visiting an exhibition a secondary agenda can hijack you from the ostensible reason for going. Like going to see a particular artist and finding them a bit disappointing but getting blown away by a subsidiary exhibition in a side room that you go into by accident. Anyway on this occasion, I thought I was going to a Book Fair at The Tetley to look around carefully, taking in as much as I could visually, something I would normally do silently. Instead I found myself unable to stop talking. I spoke to EVERYONE. Students from Art Colleges, retired art lecturers now printing full time, bookmakers. On and on. I didn’t get to look round the full exhibition, I completely ran out of time and had to leave after looking around only half. As a complete introvert this was quite a sea change for me. One of the first things many people asked me was if I was a stall holder too? Afterwards I reflected that my talkativeness was at least partly due to being “amongst my people”. I haven’t been on an OCA study day for a while but that can have a similar feeling. A feeling of openness and of being on the same wavelength even when other people’s work is widely differing from one’s own. My favourite conversations were with the students from local art colleges despite the age difference. I loved their bright eyed bushy tailedness, their futures yet to unfold.
So on this occasion I was talking with people about the different ways of producing an artists’ book. I touched a lot of books and bought a few examples.
I don’t have many coherent thoughts but here are my random reflections:
-It reinforced my feeling that I don’t want to produce a professionally printed book.
-I want to make something HAND PRINTED.
-It could be a ONE OFF HANDMADE object.
-I like letterpress but don’t want to do it myself.
-Looking at some of the students’ work, I felt my work stood up well by comparison, as though I was in the year above.
-Some students’ work is MESSIER and MORE SLAPDASH THAN MINE.
-Anything I make must be SATISFYINGLY TACTILE as well as VISUALLY APPEALING.
One encounter that stood out was with Alice Fox. I have met her before at book fairs and like her work. On this occasion she was showing a piece of work “Unknown Book” which she had produced as artist in residence at Newcastle Central Library. She has produced a self published book (professionally printed, not handmade) to accompany this which I bought. The final piece is very expensive but the book provides a way of making this work more available. This is an interesting alternative and she writes in the book about the process of publishing and how it intersects with her practice.