I have spent a lot of time in the garden this week. On Wednesday morning I woke with a plan. This entailed visiting several garden centres because, naturally, one place had the right pots, another had the right potting mix, and yet another had the right plants. On Thursday pots were positioned, plants were planted. On Friday, after months of dry weather, and with perfect timing, it rained. My new hibiscus already has new flowers, and wouldn’t you know it, I have a typeface called Hibiscus!
A big thankyou to everyone who visited my table at Volume 2017 Another Art Book Fair at Artspace in Woolloomooloo this weekend. It was a busy and rewarding three days, and while it was great to show (and even sell!) some of my artists’ books, it was the conversation, interaction and exchange of ideas that made it a worthwhile experience. When I make books I work alone in my studio, and apart from occasionally singing along to whatever music I have playing, I can spend days without saying much. This morning I am hoarse from those hours of chatting, so today I’m planning to sit around and do not much of anything while I segue from loud Volume to daily life volume.
This is the run-up week to Volume 2017 Another Art Book Fair, the biennial event at Artspace that features more than seventy local and international exhibitors, me included. It’s a diverse mix of book people. At the first fair, in 2015, some exhibitor tables were crammed with towers of books, other tables featured just one or two, and they ranged from printed books, much as you might find in any bookshop, to one-off handmade artists’ books. This year I have a taste of everything from my book arts practice, plus a few handmade notebooks and cards and several new small editions. So if you are in Woolloomooloo on the weekend, stop by and say hello to Alphabet City Press.
A dozen or so tattered dust jackets have come into my possession. I have never heard of any of the books, but it hardly matters. The illustrations are evocative and dramatic, and while the title typography is different on each of them, they can certainly be recognised as a style. I googled The Dean’s Watch, and discovered that it is a novel written in 1960 and set in England, and the general consensus is that it’s a pretty good read. The book didn’t accompany this jacket, so I won’t be reading the story any time soon, but I have a plan for these tattered discards that involves making my own books using the imagery that is really just too good to waste.
There is something fascinating about dams. I love how they are landscaped with camellias and jacarandas, now gnarly with age, and the vista of water that looks like a lake but isn’t really a lake. I get a little mixed up with the dams around Sydney: I can’t ever quite remember which one has the curved wall, which one has the art deco detailing, which one has the picnic area with the view. But I do know that this notice is on the Avon Dam wall, and that I was rather pleased to see that someone had amended the sign.
The first time I went to Hawai’i it came as a revelation that hula was not just the entertainment of Elvis movies, but a deeply meaningful and moving form of storytelling. And the first time I saw hula kahiko, the traditional hula style often performed by men, I was spellbound. The first hula I learnt was the Haleakala Hula, using the split bamboo sticks called pū’ili. I had barely managed to master the steps by the day of the performance, so when our kumu, the magnificent Uluwehi Guerrero, surprised us by playing the accompaniment at lightning speed, I still don’t have any idea how I managed to keep up! It was only when I was throwing out my favourite old shoes, after I had worn them through, that I discovered they were ‘hula’ shoes. Which made me laugh, because of course they would have been no help to me, as there is no such thing. Whatever style of hula, it’s always performed barefoot.
This is the bounty that was being protected by that ratty and dusty old cardboard box of Toolite fame and, no surprise, it has become my favourite piece of bookmaking equipment. It’s very heavy, flat, the size of a small book, and has a handle that makes it easy to pick up and move around without squashing your fingers. It’s got that bit of been-around-the-block seen-a-few-things-in-my-time rust, yet the bottom is smooth and clean and shiny so doesn’t mark the paper. Even better, it has type on it.
I never intended my ‘short break’ to stretch to eleven months, but time has a way of ticking along and space has a way of getting itself filled. Over the last few weeks people have started to ask me what’s going on and if I’m returning to the blog, so if you are reading this, I guess the answer is that I have been successfully prodded. And in the way of all things timely and synchronous, a dusty ratty torn cardboard box came into my possession (the contents of which are for next time) with this most wonderful Toolite label stuck on the side.
Alphabet City Press is taking a short break, but I’ll be back. I am not an android assassin who has been denied entry into a police station, and therefore I will not be returning by driving a car through the doors to gain access. My return will be a little quieter—just the usual thing that will no doubt involve typography in some way. In the meantime, the DF Commercials clock and the wonderful Bach Script, a recent release from the Mendoza Vergara design studio, will have to suffice.
I’d like to think that the greengrocer signwriter is in cahoots with the hardware store, or at the very least has a wicked sense of humour, but unfortunately I think that this strategic and quite wonderful spelling mistake is just that—a spelling mistake. I sometimes wonder if ‘interesting’ spellings such as this are ever brought to the attention of the vendors by concerned (and more written-language savvy) members of the public, or if anyone even notices them. Depends where it is I guess. We once had a grocer/deli in the local shopping centre that went to the effort of overhauling their in-store signage. There were so many errors that the customers started writing on the signs and leaving messages, to the extent that the entire new signage was replaced with a couple of weeks of being installed.