Re:Play, an exhibition of new work from Sydney Book Art Group, opens this week. Please join us at the opening, or drop in and say hello any time over the next couple of weeks.

SydneyBAG is also hosting two public events to accompany Re:Play. The first is a panel discussion in the gallery on Sunday 1 July, when four guest book artists will come together to discuss what makes an Artists’ Book. The second event is a workshop, on Wednesday 4 July. Two SydneyBAG artists will lead participants in an evening of playful paper folding and construction.

SydneyBAG artists meet regularly and collaborate and exhibit when the opportunity arises. While not exclusively book artists, it is books, and the love of books, that unites the group.

Paper string

There’s a lot going on in my studio. I am working away at my book—my book to be published, that is, not my artists’ book (it gets confusing!)—and at the same time I’m preparing for three exhibitions. Today I’m focussing on the first of those exhibitions: a show called Re:Play, featuring new work from my book group, Sydney Book Art Group. This is a detail from a piece I have just finished. I used a discarded cover from a book called What Would Google Do? and made paper string from Encyclopedia Britannica pages. The string is woven and then sewn onto the cover. It’s fiddly and challenging making all that paper string, but I’ll be making more of it today for my next piece!

Blue bag

It’s remarkably easy to accumulate offcuts, scraps, printed bits and pieces and ephemera, all intended to be used later in some collage, artists’ book or other artwork. Each piece invariably holds some special appeal at the time, but later, going through those piles of saved precious commodities, the appeal of much of it can have evaporated. I have a busy year ahead, and I’m preparing for it by clearing space and assessing the material I need to keep and that which I need to discard or reassign. I find that I am discarding more than I am keeping, an enlightening process because it’s showing me how my art practice has changed and developed over the last year or so. I’m also finding things I had forgotten about—which are now providing new inspiration—and items like this blue post bag from Sweden, which must have contained a delivery of books bought online, that will go back into the pile to be reassessed at some future point in time.



Whether you love Newtown or hate it, there’s no denying it’s always interesting. When it comes to people-watching and window shopping, sometimes I prefer the north end, sometimes the south end—but this day I was somewhere in the middle because I had a place to be, and I spotted this artwork on my way back to the car.



Around the time that Lord of the Rings was showing at the cinema there was a lot of press about the multi-talented Viggo Mortensen. Here was an actor who was also a painter (those paintings in A Perfect Murder were his own), photographer, publisher, poet and musician, conversant in English, Spanish, French, Danish and Italian. What could Mister Viggo Renaissance Man Mortensen not do! It was one thing to learn about how he performed his own stunts, but when we heard that he was perfecting his Elvish for an awards night speech it was almost too much to bear and my friend and I were reduced to a fit of the giggles. But out of it a word was born—viggoing—a noun to describe any pursuit of personal academic and creative betterment for its own sake. So, when my friend asks ‘are you viggoing this week?’, she wants to know if I am spending any of my leisure time improving my mind and becoming more accomplished in the arts. So I might reply: ‘Yes, ukulele lesson tonight, Spanish language and history tomorrow, and by the end of the week I would like to have mastered the onion-skin binding technique.’ And if I were to enquire about her viggoing, she might say: ‘I’m in a play, which I am also directing, and rehearsals start this week, and on the weekend I am teaching myself how to spin my own wool (before dying it with dyes derived from plants in my garden) and knitting a Fair Isle cardigan’. For example.

Common threads


This week saw the opening of Common threads, an exhibition of work—alphabetica, book arts, prints, stitch arts, textile collage and typography—by my friend and colleague Sue Rawkins and myself. Although we have led parallel careers in book design and have worked on many projects together, this is our first exhibition as artists rather than designers. While we share the influences of letterforms, binding processes, techniques, materials and shapes, the visual language and outcome of our work is as different as our personalities. The exhibition runs until 18 June at me.Artspace, 25 Atchison Street, St Leonards, Sydney NSW, open 11 till 4 Tuesday to Saturday. Thanks to everyone who made the opening such a great success.

Chuck Close


I knew of Chuck Close, but until I saw the current exhibition of his work at Sydney’s MCA this week, I had no idea how absolutely amazing his work is, nor of the depth and breadth of his skill as a printmaker. I think I’m doing well when I manage a two-colour woodcut, but that pales to insignificance when compared to his 84-colour or 113-colour woodcuts. Or his 126-colour screenprints. Not to mention the thousand-plus watercolour pigment squares he painted, scanned and manipulated until ready for use. Or that phenomenal mezzotint, Keith. But what impressed me most were his working grids, like the template for the etching of Philip Glass. The editioned etching and the spitbite grid hung side by side, the grid as superb as the finished portrait.

Sydney BAG


I am lucky enough to be part of Sydney Book Art Group, and tonight is the opening of our first group show, at Art Est. Art School and Gallery in Leichhardt, Sydney. Individually, we have exhibited work locally and internationally, but this is the first time we have shown work together. When I delivered my books to the gallery yesterday morning I was astounded at the volume and diversity of our combined efforts. Although I had seen most of the pieces before, when we meet each month we only bring a few things along—generally projects we are working on or have just finished—so to see our work amassed was something else.

Sydney BAG is Bernard Appassamy, Barbara Bartlett, Julie Bookless, Cathie Edlington, Lisa Giles, Avril Makula, Gary Smith, Cindy Tonkin and Sandra Winkworth. The exhibition runs until 2 December.



Halloween doesn’t have much of a tradition in Australia. At most, you might get one or two local kids knocking at the door in the hope that the householder has: one, remembered that it is Halloween, and two, armed themselves with bite-size chocolate bars to dispense. This year has been different. I’ve never seen so many cobwebbed fences in the neighbourhood, and yesterday the early evening streets were filled with hordes of hopefuls in various levels of make-do dress-up. The kids don’t quite get the idea of trick or treat, though. My friend, having no treats at the ready and thereby declaring, to one young doorknocker, that it would have to be a trick, was met with a blank face of total incomprehension. My local greengrocer got in on the Halloween act with these charming jack-o-lanterns, complete with price stickers slapped on the side of their heads.