My book Type Town has made it to the printer! Type Town is a photographic feast that highlights the quirky, the fanciful and fantastic typefaces and signage that contribute to the rich cultural fabric of Sydney’s vibrant Inner West. This is one of more than 280 photographs from the book, and here is the story behind the picture.
In February 1935 the Sydney Morning Herald reported a spectacular fire at the Superior Cabinet Company Limited in Excelsior Street. Flames from the incinerator, which had been filled with waste wood, set fire to the wall, sparks ignited sawdust on the floor and the highly flammable oils and varnishes exploded. Within minutes the interior was ablaze. Dense, acrid smoke poured from the building, and flames leapt fifty feet into the air. Brigades from Petersham and Leichhardt worked to control the fire while police tried to control the crowd of sightseers—but it was too late to save the furniture. I don’t know if this building on Elswick Street became the new premises, or was another street frontage of the Excelsior Street factory, but the typography remains intact and the lush red paint is a reminder of a dramatic piece of local history.
Type Town will be launched at my exhibition Typecast on 22 August.
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.
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!
Some time ago I was given a couple of adhesive street signs, and ever since I have been looking for an opportunity to use them. All I knew was that I wanted to use the ‘green’ section of the sign Greenswood Lane, in conjunction with some astroturf, in an artists’ book. Finally the idea took shape and a deadline presented itself, and I am pleased to say that my book made it as a finalist in the 2017 GreenWay Art Prize. The book is digitally printed on fine art paper, 7-hole pamphlet stitched, and sits in a black box lined with astroturf, the street sign used as the title on the front. Text fragments are taken from descriptions of common NSW eucalypt, wattle, grevillea and hakea species, found in the discarded pages of an out-of-print botanical encyclopaedia.
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.
I currently have three prints and five small artists books in ‘Simply Black and White’, a group show that features (primarily) black and white work from more than thirty emerging and professional artists. The show runs until 22nd December at ME Artspace, 25 Atchison Street St Leonards NSW. This is a spread from one of my books, ‘Building for beginners’, from the seven-volume series A Classical Education.
This coming weekend, 11–13 September, Alphabet City Press will be at Volume 2015 Another Art Book Fair. The last few weeks have been a hive of activity, and I have made several new artists book editions, one of which, A Classical Education, will be launched at Volume on Saturday. The book fair is being held at the Artspace Gunnery Building in Woolloomooloo, and focuses on independently produced, artist-led publications, supported by a program of talks, workshops, launches and readings. Volume 2015 is being held in conjunction with Sydney Contemporary, which runs concurrently at Carriageworks.
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.
I was pretty chuffed to receive first prize for my cased-in book at this year’s Royal Easter Show. At the beginning of March I visited a local bookcloth supplier for the first time in the hope of tracking down a particular cloth I needed for a project. I got more than I bargained for! My eyes glazed over at the myriad of choices on offer. Not only did I find the cloth I needed, but some time later walked away with enough supplies to keep me going for quite some time. My purchases included a warm grey linen bookcloth and an iridescent orange and yellow duocloth, the combination of which inspired me to make this book and solander box.