Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The Maiden Flight and Harpy

Harpy and The Maiden Flight are part of Tall Tales, an ongoing series of unique artist’s books. The collective title was suggested by A Tall Tale, the first book in the series (see previous post). It equally alludes to the format of the concertina books, which open vertically to reveal fantastical self-contained tales that are tall in every sense of the term.

My friend artist Deborah McMillion-Nering recently recommended the book The Mysteries of Harris Burdick by author/illustrator Chris Van Allsburg. It was a revelation to me, as its concept not only reinforces what I’m aiming for with this project, but also underpins most of my work. As a rule, I’m reluctant to limit an image by attaching one definitive meaning to it. “Harris Burdick” has taken this to a sublime level. His exquisite, mysterious drawings, accompanied solely by a single line of equally enigmatic text and Van Allsburg’s hugely inventive, entertaining and skillfully woven “history” of their origin, have inspired numerous others, including several famous authors, to invent their own stories based on the drawings. Some of these have been collected together in The Chronicles of Harris Burdick: Fourteen Amazing Authors Tell the Tales/With an Introduction by Lemony Snicket. For more about the elusive Harris Burdick, visit the website HERE.

Aside from their title pages, my Tall Tales similarly contain no texts. This will enable each of them to tell a myriad of stories and not be just confined to one.

Pictured above: Harpy and The Maiden Flight, both 2013, unique concertina books, ink and acrylic paint on Khadi paper, each 80 x 15 cm (open). Photograph by Tim Gresham.