Un Chartered Democracy is my second Book Art Object book using title #56 of 100 stories in Sarah Bodman's book An Exercise for Kurt Johanessen (with her permission).
This book takes the idea of a charter as an official written document of Government as well as a contract executed between two parties - the US Government and soldiers serving on its behalf. A small number of US soldiers in Afghanistan have committed atrocities whilst serving their country and its promotion of democracy. Their actions were disrespectful, unethical, unacceptable, unauthorized, unchartered.
I intended to make a thought-provoking book about the insanity of war and needless killing, the effects on young soldiers working in intolerable and stressful circumstances, and how these situations create an environment where codes of conduct are broken, and to also reflect on the innocent citizens caught up in the mess.
I used the Turkish Map Fold structure to suggest a map location in the Middle East along with Islamic patterns in soft pink on the back of the pages.
The music pattern of a pianola roll containing words from Stars and Stripes Forever was printed onto the pages.
The drawings depict some of the atrocities committed by a few US soldiers in Afghanistan and parts of the drawings have been hand coloured with watercolour pencil.
I have been reminded with this book that although the artist creates a book constructing meaning by reflecting their own thoughts, opinions and feelings, once it arrives in the hand of the viewer, the whole thing is recontextualised by the opinions, beliefs and knowledge each viewer brings to their reading of the book. I would like to thank the BAO members who have received the book and written eloquent and thoughtful responses.
At the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month
we will remember them.
I first made a trip to the battlefields of the Somme on the Western Front of France in 1999 on a family history trip. A highlight was a visit to the Australian National Memorial Cemetery just outside the small town of Villers Bretonneux and I'm sharing a few photos for Remembrance Day from that trip and a second one in 2009.
The architect of the beautiful buildings on the site was Sir Edwin Lutyens. Besides about 2000 graves in the memorial, the names of 10,773 soldiers of the AIF killed in action but with no known grave are listed.
The local school in Villers Bretonneux houses the Anzac Museum and a huge sign dominates the playground - Do not forget Australia.
My second book for Book Art Object is #56 Unchartered Democracy (Group 10).
I've had the pages prepared and some heavy card I'm using cut for about the last month, but I've had other things to work on and haven't made a start putting the edition together. However, today's the day, and I'm just about to start now.
This fine binding style was developed by Sun Evrard in France in 1984. Despite its name, it can be quite complex and demanding. It differs from a traditional case binding in that the bookblock is rounded but not backed, the hollow book spine is affixed to the bookblock before the boards which are bevelled to zero at the spine side and finished before they are attached. It is a versatile binding and can be made with clean cut edges, thus suiting a variety of cover materials.
I first learned the binding from John Tonkin of Canberra in a four day workshop in 1996. John had studied bookbinding in Europe and had learned the binding from Sun Evrard. This is the book we made with a leather spine and leather foredge and it contains John's instructions on how to make the binding - mine has been well used!
A few years ago I did another 2 day workshop with John and Joy Tonkin in Brisbane and we made a Simplified binding with clean cut edges and exposed leather tapes.
Now to continue with the binding of the four books containing my father in law's story. In my last post on bookbinding, I had sewn the signatures of four books onto ramieband tapes. The next step was to glue the spine with PVA, trim the tapes and then fray them out and glue them down. The back was gently rounded and readymade headbands were glued into place.
The spine is then filled in between the tapes with tarlatan or muslin, and a layer of paper can be added too to get the spine smooth.
I cut the leather for the spine and pared the edges as thin as I could
The spine pieces were glued at the sides to the bookblock and then the books were placed between working boards and clamped
The boards were then cut to measure and the spine edges sanded and bevelled to zero forming a curve to fit the book block. The cover materials were prepared and glued onto the boards. The leather spine edges on the bookblock were pared back and sanded to remove any glossy surface in the area to be glued. The boards were glued along the spine edge to the bookblock and the partial first sheet of paper which had been torn back to approx 5 cm. They were then put between boards and put in the press overnight.
As I had prepared the covers to have clean cut edges rather than turned in covers, the exposed edges were painted with black acrylic paint. The inside of the boards were infilled with the torn off piece of the first sheet to create a smooth surface and the endpapers were tipped in and glued into place. Finally the title was prepared and glued to the cover.
This book Rimbaud's Illuminations is one of three books that will be exhibited in 'Cover to Cover' held by the Moreton Bay Regional Council at the Bribie Island Seaside Museum from 4th October to 2nd December 2012. The exhibition will be opened on October 6 at 11 am by Linda Douglas, who up until recently was the publisher and editor of the Australian Book Arts Journal. Linda will also be giving a talk on artists books.
The other two books on display are The Battle Within
and The River City
I've also had the good news that The River City (No 1) sold to a New York book collector and won't be coming home.
I've spent the morning sewing up a small edition of four books ready to be bound in a French Simplified binding. The book is a story about the life of my father-in-law who is celebrating his 95th birthday.
In 2009 I bound a similar type of book written by my mother about her life. The binding was a clean cut French simplified binding in pink and dark blue leather.
I've been working on a more traditional bookbinding version of The River City.
I've been participating in The Australian Bookbinders Exhibitions since 2008 and my skills at producing a designer binding are slowly improving.
The first time I entered a book in 2007, I sent a very creative book which I thought I had bound extremely well, but it was rejected because it didn't have a 'proper' spine.
Since then I've managed to make the cut, and have been working hard on French Simplified bindings. The binding I have used here is a Simplified binding with cover of Japanese paper and onlaid leather with a leather spine, leather headbands and onlaid leather title.
I can't seem to get enthusiastic about rebinding a ready-made published book so every year I remake the content of one of my books into a binding suitable for this exhibition.
I do enjoy trying to be more disciplined and skilled with making these traditionally bound books and trying to master the skills of working with leather.
The 2012 Australian Bookbinders Exhibition will be held in the Research Library of the Art Gallery of NSW from 31st October to 14th December 2012.
My starting point for the ten books in this series has been a book structure to which I have added elements of some aspect or essence of the architect's work and this is particularly relevant with the two book sculptures Le Courbusier and Libeskind.
Around 2002 I made a couple of vellum cube books which contained divisions like chapters inside.
I liked the way they closed down to a complete white cube. This gave me the idea to use this sort of structure for Le Courbusier, as it reminded me of his white concrete box-like villas (often on stilts).
Le Courbusier was also interested in proportional theory in architecture and saw his Modulor system as a continuation of the tradition from Vitruvius, Alberti and Leonardo da Vinci. He introduced the modernist open plan and split level floors and made housing more affordable by using simple low cost reinforced concrete and prefabricated construction methods.
Using heavy 300 gsm Fabriano watercolour paper, I made a box but left the back and lid section free. The internal construction of the book has been adapted from one of Le Courbusier's internal construction plans. The pages are like two floors that overlap but create a split level, with one shorter in length than the other, like two mezzanine floors.
As the book closes, the shorter split level floor/page sits above the lower floor/page and then closes into a white cube.
Daniel Libeskind's Jewish Museum in Berlin was built in 1989-99 and I think it is one of the most remarkable pieces of architecture. It takes the shape of a zinc clad dislocated Star of David with a concealed entrance. His deconstructivist work suggests fragmentation, alienation, disorientation, oppression and is intentionally disturbing.
For this book I again made a box-like structure with angular slanted ends. I thought it appropriate to use the skin of a once-living creature - in the first version I used calfskin vellum and this time I used goatskin parchment. I cut pieces of aluminium shim to size, scored them with an embossing tool and attached them to the parchment. I cut a jagged opening in the top, slit the aluminium and rounded it under the opening.
The page of text was placed into the bottom of the box and can only be read with great difficulty, either peering through the slash in the top or lifting the bookcover-like flap at the end and peering into the narrow opening of the box.
This brings me to the end of the Ten Books on Architecture. If you have any questions about materials or techniques that I have used, please ask me. You can contact me by adding a comment or sending me an email through the contact section of my website.