It has been very quiet here as I have been occupied by other things, however I hope to be working and posting regularly about my books again.
I made a small book a few months ago called Makes No Senseabout World War 1. It proved to be popular and the edition of 20 have all gone. As the topic of war seems to be one of my favourite subjects, I decided to make a unique copy for myself.
I sewed the book together in sections and put a black leather spine on it. I wondered what to do with the cover and remembered I had a great piece of leather stashed away that I had bought as a dud faulty piece because the black dye had not penetrated fully and had left a kind of tie-dye mark in one or two areas of the skin. I thought it looked great and decided to use it for the covers of this book.
The front cover (above) also had two holes in the leather which I filled with
red acrylic paint.
Last year I was very fortunate to work on a collaborative book with Jack Oudyn called Chance. We really enjoyed working on that project and we'd both found the working method of the collaboration quite exciting. We decided to use the same method and follow it up with another book related to 'Chance' this year. We had been hoping to have it finished for the SLQ Book Fair in late June, but unfortunately I wasn't able to finish my pages in time due to the death of my mother.
Jack and I had been talking about the plight of refugees no longer being resettled in Australia and facing very uncertain futures. We found this an interesting 'chance' topic and decided to use the same Kraft brown paper for the pages and the same Kraft card cover in a dos-a-dos format. Once again we exchanged alternate lines of text by email and both responded with a drawing. We agreed to use fresh turmeric, gesso, gouache, pencil.
Jack had used fresh turmeric in his work previously and suggested that we try using it and making a book which had an exotic spicy odour. We found the pages did have a nice smell when they were finished, but even after keeping them in a sealed plastic bag, after a week or so the odour disappeared. However the fresh turmeric was interesting to use as an art material and Jack used it very successfully in his work. This is my favourite page of his, one I find powerful and beautiful.
A choice of freedom or death. Jack Oudyn
I experimented with turmeric but used less in the end as I wanted the blue of the sea to be predominant in my pages. I started with the chance marks that resulted from a chopstick dipped in gesso and some of them looked a bit like jellyfish. I had hoped they'd give some idea of movement through the water. One of my pages was inspired by a shot in the intro to the tv show The Vikings.
A risky journey in a leaky boat.Helen Malone
A choice of freedom or death. Helen Malone
Jack produced some wonderful restrained drawings and I am so impressed with the way he was able to abstract the theme. We included two lines from the second verse of our national anthem which say For those who've come across the seas
We've boundless plains to share.
We've boundless plains to share. Jack Oudyn
For those who've come across the seas. Helen Malone
On each of our pages, there are a couple of words that have been translated into one of a number of different languages.
Aland of hope on the horizon. Jack Oudyn
For the cover, Jack made little embossings of a boat to which we added colour and he also found some reflective material to use for the cross.
Last time we made only one original of Chance which was acquired by the Manly Library in Sydney, however this time we thought ahead and made four originals, and I think two of them will remain in our own collections.
I was on the lower level of the Queensland Art Gallery last week when I was surprised to see a display case containing some books. Inside was a new acquisition for the QAG, a copy of the original 1902 edition of Henri Riviere's book of lithographs called Les Trente-Six Vues de la Tour Eiffel. Nine of the lithographs were also framed and displayed on an adjoining wall.
I was quite excited to see this as I have a copy of the book reprinted by Chronicle books and the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco in 2010 which I bought from the bookshop in the Louvre when I was staying with a Parisian friend in 2011. I was enchanted by these thirty six lithographs of Paris from the 1880's and 1890's.
While visiting this friend in 2010 I had purchased a little flip book of illustrations of the Eiffel Tower being constructed. My friend was surprised that I would want this little book as for her the Eiffel Tower is an abomination and she expressed disgust that this monstrosity had become the symbol and most famous monument of her city, and was known all over the world.
It was always a contentious structure with Parisians from the time building commenced in 1887 and I was intrigued to find that this attitude remained over 100 years later.
I left Paris and even France because the Eiffel Tower just annoyed me too much.
Not only did you see it from everywhere, you found it everywhere made out of every known material, displayed in all the shop windows, an unavoidable and horrible nightmare.
Guy de Maupassant, La Vie Errante, 1890
Riviere's thirty six views of the Eiffel Tower were inspired by the Thirty Six Views of Mount Fuji, thirty six woodcuts by Hokusai, made from 1831-1834. As I was in Paris for a month I felt inspired to investigate all of Riviere's locations to discover how many still existed and still offered a view of the Eiffel Tower. I wanted to see how much it dominated the skyline in 2011, if at all, and I hoped to have enough material to make a book of my own photographs - hopefully thirty six. Many of the locations had disappeared or been renamed and many others no longer offered even a glimpse of the tower. Along with the views of Riviere's that I was able to reproduce, I discovered many alternative views of my own and was able to make a 2011 version of Thirty Six Views.
The Thirty Six Views by Helen Malone
Here are a couple of the views I was able to match.
In Riviere's lithographs the tower is not always easy to spot and my images are similar.
Riviere's first image
My first image taken at Place Charles de Gaulle-Etoile
Riviere's view from Quai de Passy
My view from Quai de Passy 2011
Riviere's view Over the Rooftops
My view over the Rooftops from Montmartre 2011
Riviere's image of the Quai du Javel
My view of Quai du Javel 2011
A couple of the alternative images of the Eiffel Tower I discovered
From the Australian Embassy, Rue Jean Rey
Inside the Eiffel Tower
A bunch of Eiffel Towers held by a souvenir seller
in Avenue Gustave Eiffel
The Eiffel Tower glimpsed through the Arc de Triomphe
I wish I could always find such an absorbing and interesting project to work on while on holidays.
Following on from an exhibition in the Cairns Regional Gallery earlier in the year, a display of sculptural books by 4 South East Qld and 4 Far North Qld artists has been installed in the Brisbane Square Library, George Street, Brisbane.
The SEQ artists are Fiona Dempster, Susan Bowers, Adele Outteridge and myself, and the FNQ artists are Rose Rigley, Claudine Marzik, Barbara Dover and Rosie Miller.
I chose to make two poetic works - interpretations of Rimbaud's Drunken Boat and Baudelaire's Flowers of Evil as they are always good to represent sculpturally, and they also turned out to be a suitable choice for the library.
My third piece is called Into the Void.
The exhibition continues from 1 July to 30 September.
The 'abbe' Artists Book Conference will also take place in Brisbane from the 16th - 18th July. There will be an associated Artists Book Fair on the Friday afternoon and Saturday. Details can be found here
A highly anticipated artists book event on the calendar is the yearly event at SLQ sponsored by the Siganto Foundation, and this year's event was better than ever. This year introduced us to Amir Brito Cador and his presentation on other Brazilian book artists which was a real treat and quite inspiring. It also introduced us to performances of artists books, and we heard about the projects of newly completed and current SLQ Fellows. It was a really great day and I was obviously so absorbed I didn't think to take even one photo!
The Artists Book Fair held on the Sunday was also hugely enjoyable and successful. I loved seeing other people's books and sharing a table with my friend and collaborator Jack Oudyn. We had a range of our own books, some collaborative books and Jack had lots of zines. Once again I had such a great time mixing with people and talking about books that I didn't think to even take
a photo of our table.
Thank goodness for Doug Spowart who did take lots of photos and he and Vicki Cooper have written up a well illustrated account of the two day event on their blog here.
There is also an aptly titled blog post (Artists Books Extravaganza) on the
How fortunate we are to have the State Library of Queensland and it's support from the Siganto Foundation, and we hope these Siganto events and the associated Artists Book Fair will continue.
I had made a little booklet/zine for the day titled Makes no Sense. I had received a pile of cards from the exhibition of my book Back to the Front in France. The card had the photo positioned very low down with a huge white area above. My friend Jack immediately folded it and the image appropriately went to the back, so I used the cards as covers to make 20. I had enough cards to paint ink onto the glossy surface of others and scratch into it with an etching needle
to make some of the pages.
Of course it's about WWI hence the title, and some of the pages are placed upside down or sideways.
I was contacted by one of the Curators of DIY Cultures 2015, a festival of talks, exhibitions, film and animation with stalls selling zines and artists books to be held at Rich Mix in London on 24th May. They were interested in obtaining a copy of my book Unchartered Democracy for a concurrent exhibition of artists books called
I was thrilled to have the opportunity to participate once again this year in the exhibition Delires de Livresin Chartres in France.
The theme for the 2015 exhibition was 'How about we go........' and I chose to send a copy of my book Back to the Front, which fitted the theme perfectly -
How about we go back in time to the Western Front.
By chance, this exhibition in France is opening tomorrow on our Anzac Day. Although probably meaningless for many of the French (though certainly not those wonderful people in Villers-Bretonneux who observe and commemorate our Anzac Day every year after the liberation of their town by the Australians on 25th April 1918), it could not have been more appropriate for me.
The exhibition will continue from 25th April to 17th May.
The exhibition venue is the beautiful old Collegiale Saint Andre in Chartres, not far from the magnificent Chartres Cathedral.
I was interviewed recently for a video about Anzac Day on the occasion of the opening
of the Of War and Peace Exhibition at the Caloundra Regional Gallery,
along with the other three participating book artists Fiona Dempster, Barry Smith and Susan Bowers.
This video was shot by Ellen Ebsary and she has edited it into a beautiful 3 minute film and posted it onto the ABC Open website.
You can see it here
The 5 March 2015 marks the eighth anniversary of the bombing of Al-Mutanabbi Street,
the street of booksellers and book culture in Baghdad since the eighth century.
30 people were killed, 100 wounded and countless numbers of books destroyed or burned.
This year we can also remember the Charlie Hebdo massacre in Paris and the recent burning and destruction of books in Mosul in Iraq.
Events and readings have been scheduled in different countries to remember this event by the Al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here members.
This year an event will take place at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, organised by artist Peter Annand who also participated in the artists books and printmaking sections of the Al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here project.
A Soiree, including recitation of Arabic texts, music and readings from the Al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here anthology will take place at 5 pm on 17th March in the UQ Library Conference Room.
An installation of boats made from bookmarks and called Passages, relating to the Australian experience of refugees, has been installed today in the foyer area of the University of Queensland Library. These books have been made by a number of participating artists, and there will be workshops in the Library on Sunday 8 March and Friday 20 March from 2 - 5 pm, where anyone interested can make a boat that will be added to the installation.
My boat, made from a combination of my own handmade ink bookmarks and found library bookmarks is contained in a book and opens out to display.
David Symons and Peter Annand did a great job hanging my book in the installation and I decided to call it 'The Magic Carpet'.
The books will then be displayed in the middle of the year in Brisbane.
My three books include Rimbaud's Drunken Boat, a flexible book made of etched perspex and acrylic which can be adjusted to sit asymmetrically, suggesting the chaotic movement of the sea. The etchings on each page were made as a response to random lines of the poem Le Bateau Ivre by Arthur Rimbaud, and were then coloured with acrylic.
The Flowers of Evil
The Flowers of Evil is another book inspired by French poetry - Les Fleurs du Mal by Charles Baudelaire. In this sculptural interpretation of the poem the pages are of linocuts and expressively written text from the poem appears on the book cover and the book box.
Into the Void
My third book is Into the Void which I've already posted about here.
I participated in the Artists Book
section of ‘Al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here’ Project
with a book called ‘Absence’ and when the call came out for the printmaking
project called ‘Absence and Presence’ I was delighted to have the opportunity
to explore this idea of the destruction
of culture further.
I spoke to an artist friend, Jack Oudyn, with whom
I have collaborated on projects in the past, and who also intensely supports the rights of freedom of
speech and democracy. We felt that if we
collaborated on the print we would be making a statement about support and solidarity
between artists, particularly our fellow artists under threat in Iraq. After much thought and discussions about freedom of speech, around the time of the Charlie Hebdo massacre in Paris, France, we started work on the print. Since that time there have also been reports of the destruction and burning of books in Mosul in Iraq.
The print is a combination of two prints, the first
is a linocut of an Islamic screen which has openings to let in the light of the
world, culture and literature, and others that are blocked by an aggressive
arrow pointed shape moving across the screen.
The second digital print of abstract asemic writing
underlies the first print. It also
contains the jumbled letters of the words Al Mutanabbi Street Starts Here,
but only fragments of the print are visible through the openings in the screen,
and these letters do not appear in their entirety in the displayed print.
The composite print has a 3D element in that the
openings in part of the screen have shutters (or perhaps book covers) that need
to be opened when the print is on display.
Five of the edition of ten prints of The Presence and Absence of the Light are on their way to the United Kingdom and the United States for inclusion in the 'Absence and Presence' exhibitions held as part of the Al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here Project.