Tuesday, 26 August 2014

A First Novel

Middle-Aged Men in Lycra is the first novel written by my husband, Ross Davies.  It has just been published by Boolarong Press here in Queensland.

The blurb on the back of the book says :

“In 1969 the streets of Brisbane are rocked by a violent street demonstration against the Vietnam War. Two teenagers, Griff and Mia, take centre stage in the incident. In the following months, they find themselves positioned on opposite sides of a love triangle that is about to be torn apart following the tragic death of a young soldier in Vietnam.
Fast forward thirty five years and Griff’s life is in crisis after the death of his wife and the subsequent loss of his job. Alienated from everything that once defined his world, he meets up with a disparate group of cycling mates every morning at a cafe in the Southbank Parklands. The antics of the other riders provide a perfect diversion as they try to convince him to join them on a night out to find a new partner. However, he soon discovers that one of his friends, John Kelly, also holds the key to what happened in Vietnam and this ultimately sets Griff off on a quest to find Mia again.
The book reveals an up-close and intimate view of Brisbane’s cafe culture and a cycling fraternity dominated by middle-aged men in lycra. Shifting time frames allow the reader to peer through a window into a turbulent period of our recent past.”

Ross did his first book signing at Dymocks at Carindale in Brisbane last Saturday.

For anyone wanting a signed copy or to have a chat with the author he will also be signing books at the following bookstores.:
Angus and Robertson, Post Office Square, Brisbane City, Friday 5 September, 2014
New Farm Editions, Merthyr Village, New Farm, Saturday 20 September, 2014
Angus and Robertson, Brookside Shopping Centre, Mitchelton, Saturday 18 October, 2014
Copies of Middle-Aged Men in Lycra are also available online from Boolarong Press or on Amazon.

Saturday, 23 August 2014

A Collaborative Book about Chance

Earlier in the year an artist's book talk took place at the State Library of Queensland, by two visiting German book artists, Ulrike Stolz and Uta Schneider, who work collaboratively as USUS.  I attended the lecture with my friend Jack Oudyn and we were both so impressed and excited that we went home inspired and wanting to work on something a little different to our normal work.  We emailed each other and agreed to work on our own collaborative piece.  

We had looked at a 'Fluxus' exhibition in GOMA before the lecture and had noted some chance happenings and coincidences on the day.  In fact there were so many 'chance' happenings around this event  that we felt compelled to make our book according to the laws of chance in the style of early 20th Century German Art. It immediately seemed appropriate that our pages should be of brown Kraft paper rather than expensive art papers. USUS had worked on a book arising from exchanges of text by fax, and  Jack and I liked this idea, thus our starting point was an exchange of alternate lines of text by email, each line relating to the previous one and each linked to ideas of chance and 'chance' in art.  Our starting line of text was Chances at an exhibition.

We both completed a drawing when we received our new line of text and we didn't see each other's work until a set of ten drawings each was completed a few weeks later.

We were pleased to find that the book was going to come together really well and that we had used the same materials - gouache, pencil, ink and collage.  I had also used rubber-stamped German words, which I subsequently added to Jack's pages.  We had intentionally left space for additions to the drawings so we swapped booklets and worked on completing each other's drawings.

 This was really nerve-wracking and I was very nervous about working on another artist's work.  We were also a bit nervous about how the other person would change our drawings but we needn't have worried - we were both so pleased with the results and agreed our original drawings were improved.  I think that trust is a big part of a collaboration like this, and now we both have no doubts with our current collaborative and as yet uncompleted project.

Initially we thought that we might mix the pages of our work by interleaving them throughout the book, but in the end we decided to keep each set intact in a dos-a-dos book which worked with both ends as a starting point. We used Kraft card for the cover and Jack made the gorgeous linocut which was printed on both ends and hand-coloured.

We experimented with copying the drawn pages and made up a few more books so we could at least keep one each.  I think in future on a similar project we would make a few originals at the same time to cover a copy each and perhaps one or two for exhibition and sale.