I’ve got a couple of the photographs up in the artwork section already, so please have a look and let me know what you think.
Posts Tagged ‘art’
I managed to shoot 668 photos — it’s simply amazing how differently you approach photography when you’re working with a digital camera (a Panasonic Lumix G1 — not quite officially a digital SLR, but as close as makes no difference) that allows you to take several thousand photographs, compared to having to mentally keep track of how many rolls of film you have to hand.
Anyway, if you click the thumbnail you’ll see the first of the photographs after a dose of heavy manipulation. I’m quite enjoying manipulating a photograph until it’s almost a painting, playing with the lights & shadows to create an impossible Baroque chiaroscuro.
I’ll be adding some more manipulated photographs to the artwork galleries over the next few days.
I was lucky enough to be on a business trip to New York again last week, and I so had the opportunity to visit the Center for Book Arts.
The Center is a great resource — they have a decent-sized Letterpress studio with several proof presses, an equally well-resourced Bindery area, an exhibition space (illustrated here in a photo from their website), and enough space left over for a small shop selling hand-bound chapbooks, broadsides, and exhibition catalogues.
But the main purpose of my visit was to see The Collaged Accordion — an exhibition of Star Black’s large-scale accordion books that merge found texts & photographs and ephemera.
Star’s collaged accordion books are intricately layered with a fine sense of texture and the individual properties of the found images and materials. They combine echoes of Joseph Cornell’s boxes with a sensibility for the subtler textures and possibilities of paper.
I wish I could have spent a lot longer at the Center, but unfortunately I had to fly back to the UK that same day and had far too much to do.
If you get the chance to go to New York then the Center is definitely worth visiting.
In early January I’m planning to print a number of Broadsides as related side-projects of the Book of the Erinyes.
As well as being appropriate to the whole atmosphere of the artwork, I’m also drawn to the often scurrilous history of Broadsides, from the 16th century to the mid-19th century. Their ephemeral nature—and the fact that they have been marginalised by some as “low” culture—means that we know far less about them than we should.
Anyway, I thought some of you might also be interested in what I’ve managed to discover:
Broadsides—sometimes called Broadsheets—are large sheets of paper printed on one side only, designed to be pasted onto public house walls or sold by street-vendors (traditionally for one penny). They ranged from 13″ × 16″ (“foolscap” size) to over 5 feet in length.
They were the medium of choice for street literature from the 16th century to the 19th century, and were probably the very first “mass-media”. They fell out of use when Newspapers dropped in price enough to be affordable by common people.
According to the National Library of Scotland:
For almost 300 years until the mid-19th century, broadsides filled the place occupied today by the tabloid press.
Originally they were single sheets of paper, printed on one side only, designed to be read unfolded and posted up in public places.
At first they were used for the printing of royal proclamations, acts, and official notices. Later they became a vehicle for political agitation and what is now known as ‘popular culture’, such as ballads and scaffold speeches.
Ballads were a popular subject for broadsides (and seem to be the most documented subject), but they covered a wider variety of material including:
- political comment & satire
- advertisements for merchandise
- news (frequently macabre) and recent history
- almanacs (annually-published tables of information about particular dates in the year)
…often crudely illustrated with woodcuts (and later with engravings).
In her book A Culture of Fact: England, 1550–1720, Barbara J. Shapiro confirms the appetite for the macabre and sensational in the Broadsides:
…broadsides tended to report the unusual, the “monstrous,” and the sensational. Strange animals, unusual weather, “monstrous” human or animal births, criminal behavior, or accounts of witchcraft were among the most common items of broadside “news” hawked on the streets of London. Like the modern tabloid, these broadsides emphasized crime, violence, and wonderful cures. The sensational or “strange but true” were staples of broadside news and newsbooks.
In Printing and Parenting in Early Modern England, Douglas A. Brooks states:
For a penny, customers could purchase a religious primer, an account of the King of Scotland’s murder, a prayer for Queen Elizabeth, a description of a town-leveling fire, an epitaph of a London alderman, the complaint of a sinner, the ‘fantasies of a troubled man’s head’, or a political ‘flyting’ of a disgraced courtier—all inscribed in ballad verse and printed on a single sheet of paper.
The use of broadsides for advertising merchandise seems to have started with publishers printing broadsides listing their books.
I haven’t managed to find much information about advertising broadsides until the mid 19th century. There exist quite a few collections of American advertising broadsides from the 1840s onwards — the Duke University collection (link below) is a good example.
I am presuming that this apparent lack of advertising broadsides until the mid 19th century is actually because these items have not been preserved.
While Ballad Broadsides have long been collected—diarist Samuel Pepys collected over 1800 of them!—I suspect that advertising broadsides were considered as disposable as the many cheaply-printed flyers for double-glazing or takeaway food that are posted through my letterbox every day.
However if anyone does have any scans of, or information about, advertising broadsides from the 17th or 18th centuries then do please let me know.
Bibliography & Links
- Preston, Cathy L., and Preston, Michael J. (Editors). The Other Print Tradition: Essays on Chapbooks, Broadsides, and Related Ephemera. London: Routledge, 1995. Amazon.com | Amazon.co.uk
- Shepard, Leslie. History of Street Literature: The Story of Broadside Ballads, Chapbooks, Proclamations, News-sheets, Election Bills, Tracts, Pamphlets, Cocks, Catchpennies and Other Ephemera. Newton Abbot: David & Charles, 1973. Amazon.com | Amazon.co.uk
- The history of the broadside. From The Cambridge History of English and American Literature: An Encyclopedia in Eighteen Volumes, Volume 7 — Cavalier and Puritan, XVI. The Advent of Modern Thought in Popular Literature.
- The Word on the Street — Broadsides at the National Library of Scotland
- Broadsides (Special Collections, University of Glasgow)
- An American Time Capsule: Three Centuries of Broadsides and Other Printed Ephemera (Rare Book and Special Collections Division, US Library of Congress)
- American Advertising Broadsides — from Duke University’s Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library
- Broadsides from the Colonial Era to the Present at the South Caroliniana Library, University of South Carolina Thomas Cooper Library’s Digital Collections
I thought I’d share a very short video I put together from some clips of me printing out a page of the Book of the Erinyes.
At some point in the not-too-distant future I’ll put together something a bit better, but in the meantime:
Just a quick announcement that I’ve replaced the “Artwork” page on this site with a great little gallery script called Plogger. I’ve uploaded all the artwork so far, and will keep adding to it over the coming weeks.
Anyway, check out the new artwork pages and see what you think.
Yesterday I spent the day in London doing a whistle-stop tour of a few exhibitions as background research for the Book of the Erinyes.
Bookbinding at the V&A
First stop was the V&A in South Kensington to see a small display of Fine Bindings for the Man Booker Prize 2009 designed by the Society of Designer Bookbinders.
It’s only a small display (6 books) but it’s well worth seeing these bindings “in the flesh” as they’re great. The display can be found in Room 74 (20th Century section) of the V&A until 21st March 2010, and admission is free.
The binding illustrated here is by Rachel Ward-Sale. More information about all six bindings, their binders, and the techniques & materials used can be found on the Society of Designer Bookbinders website.
Ctrl.Alt.Shift Unmasks Corruption
After the V&A I headed up to Soho to see Ctrl.Alt.Shift Unmasks Corruption at the Lazarides Gallery in Greek Street — an exhibition of political comic book and graphic novel work by artists and writers including Dave McKean, Pat Mills, Peter Kuper, Janek Koza, Dan Goldman, and pop culture figures Lightspeed Champion and V V Brown.
I’m particularly fond of Dave McKean’s artwork—especially the magnificent Sandman covers—so it was great to see some of his larger-scale collages close-up. His artwork on display was about the widespread corruption surrounding AIDS relief to villages in China.
Ctrl.Alt.Shift Unmasks Corruption is on until 28th November 2009 at the Lazarides Gallery, Greek Street, London. Admission is free.
Just got back from seeing Romilly Saumarez Smith: Bookbindings for Eileen Hogan at the V&A.
It’s a small exhibition, just outside the National Art Library, but it’s definitely worth a visit.
Obviously I was on the look-out for inspiration for binding the Book of the Erinyes, and Romilly Saumarez Smith didn’t let me down.
Romilly Saumarez Smith studied book binding and paper conservation at Camberwell School of Art and Crafts and went on to become the first female forwarder at Zaehnsdorf’s Bindery (Zaehnsdorf’s Bindery was taken over by Shepherds in 1998 and the bindery now trades under the single name of Sangorski & Sutcliffe.). In the 1990s she began increasingly to use metal in her bindings, and gradually moved to making jewellery.
One of the innovative materials Saumarez Smith uses for binding is pillow ticking (the strong cotton fabric used to cover pillows and mattresses). The ticking is coloured with multi-layered washes of leather dye, backed with Japanese paper and rubbed with beeswax. She also uses dye and wax resist techniques to great effect.
The exhibition at the V&A is on until 2nd August 2009. More details on the V&A website.
I’m lucky to be on a work trip to New York at the moment, and this morning—my bodyclock still working on UK time, and the rain pouring down—I managed to grab some time to visit the Morgan Library and Museum on Madison Avenue, not far from my hotel.
The Morgan began as the private library of financier Pierpont Morgan housing his collection of illuminated, literary, and historical manuscripts, early printed books, and old master drawings and prints.
The main focus of my visit to this institution was to see—first-hand—a Gutenberg Bible (the Library owns three of them!) printed in 1455 by Johannes Gutenberg, the inventor of the printing press and movable type.
The visit was a fantastic mine of inspiration, from the wonderful library itself (illustrated here — photo by machbel, found on Flickr, licensed under Creative Commons, used with thanks), to the vast array of old books (including some great Books of Hours), the Gutenberg Bible itself, and a fantastic collection of artwork encompassing personal favourites such as Joseph Cornell, Egon Schiele, and Jim Dine, as well as preparatory sketches and drawings by old masters.
I left the galleries and went to the Library shop feeling very pleasantly overwhelmed, my head overflowing with ideas and inspiration for the Book of the Erinyes.
In the shop, in addition to a couple of postcards, I bought a copy of Miniature Books: 4,000 Years of Tiny Treasures — a wonderful, richly illustrated, book exploring the world of books that are less than 3 inches high.
I don’t actually have a huge interest in miniature books, but the bindings illustrated in this book are wonderful — I think the creators decided that they could have more fun with small books.
They range from traditional leather bindings to bindings made of mother-of-pearl (popular as a deluxe binding in the 19th century), gold-thread on silk, tortoiseshell, copper, velvet, gold, silver filigree, palekh lacquer (a Russian folk craft), polycarbonate, and enamel. Some are plain, others gilt-tooled, embedded with emeralds, amethysts or pearls, embossed, embroidered, engraved, or decorated with tiny enamel portraits.
The wealth of creativity displayed in this book is amazing, and will certainly prove invaluable as inspiration for binding the Book of the Erinyes.