Saturday, June 15, 2013

Tall Tales: the installation

Tall Tales, 2013, artist's books installation, Hand Held Gallery. Click on image to enlarge.
I'm still finding it hard to believe that the opening night of Tall Tales has come and gone. It meant a very great deal that so many of you came along, especially on such a cold and rainy night, and helped make the evening so memorable.

It's a very strange feeling to see the work I’ve done little else but live, breath, fret and generally obsess over for several months finally come to fruition. As the books in this series evolved countless ideas were embraced, then discarded. I can’t remember when the project began to assume its present shape and form. Although I was making vertical concertina books from the outset, starting with A Tall Tale, I had not necessarily intended for all the books to be formatted like this. Several concertina books with horizontal compositions were also planned. (These will still be made, but that’s another project for another day).

For a very long time my idea was to hand paint and letter the front covers of the books in Tall Tales; the boards had even been cut and prepared. It was only when I came to a final decision about how to exhibit the work, namely as a wall-based installation, that I started to question this. I realised that if the books were displayed in this way the front and back covers would not actually be visible. (By comparison, when landscape format concertina books are displayed open, the covers and inside pages can be viewed simultaneously). Moreover, unless it was going to extend the narrative in some manner, it seemed that additional imagery would merely be extraneous.

It was only as I completed the last books in the series (at least to date) that I began to consider the idea of simple cloth binding along with relevant text. Even then, it was quite difficult to let go of the idea of hand-painted covers; I’d lived with it for so long. Whites Law Bindery bound the books. They did a beautiful job and were genuinely enthusiastic about the project. Now I can’t imagine the books presented in any other way. 

I'm delighted that The State Library of Queensland, the State Library of Victoria and the Baillieu Library at the University of Melbourne have respectively acquired Eve's Apple, The Maiden Flight and Tree House for their permanent collections. The SLV and the Baillieu Library also acquired the limited zine Card Sharps (see previous post).

Warmest thanks to Megan Herring and Adrian Lawson of Hand Held Gallery for their support, hard work and considerable creative input. The attention to detail and extra care that Megan takes has become her hallmark. Pictured left is the folded catalogue she designed. It's a potential collector's item in its own right.

Mine will be the last show at Hand Held. To put it mildly, I'm not the only one to be very sad about this. But Megan has some exciting plans for the future, which I will share with you in future posts.