Aim: Artists’ books can be anything from a concertina fold to a professionally bound volume or an old textbook with sheets stuck in. Create an artist’s book about something which elapses over time.
Method: Your research should have opened up innumerable possible routes to completing this exercise. There are plenty of instructive tutorials on the web if you want to try something more traditional or to investigate the potential use or misuse of the craft skills of book binding. An artist’s book can just be a reworked found object, or a simple fold of paper.
Research: See following sections/ blogs for the research: Sandro Botticelli‘s illustrations of Dante Alighieri’s “The Divine Comedy“, and research into artists books.
Artist Book – Noel, My Father
Paper fold and cut patterns for a book. I went with pattern #2, this enabled me to have 6 pages of illustrations on one side along with the front and back cover of the book. The reverse eight pages could then be given over to text.
A set of six pastel portraits showing my father at different stages of his life from the young toddler on a beach donkey through his teens and manhood to an old man with dementia.
I left the last portrait until the end as this was a painful one to draw. This is my father in his last year, a bewildered old man whom now fails to comprehend his daily life due to Alzheimer’s. Whilst he was still alive when I took this photo and did a few pencil portraits one afternoon as he dozed in his armchair he has sadly passed away a year ago. Doing these portraits, I was very much reminded of the essay by John Berger about sketching his father in his coffin, “Drawn to the Moment” (Berger, 1976)
in addition to these 6 portraits on the ‘face’ pages of the artists book, I also wrote a brief note and a couple of annotates on my father’s life.
Text Panels – Noel, My Father
This artists book consists of eight panels on the front and another eight panels on the reverse. These are used as follows: Front – front and back cover (2 panels) and the six illustration panels. Reverse: text, life description on eight panels.
Noel Edmond Tucker (1929 – 2016)
Born on Christmas Day 1929 to Reginald Tucker and Anastasia Tucker (nee Willis), Noel was the middle child of five, he had two brothers and two sisters.
The family lived in Glasnevin on the north edge of Dublin city. Their childhood summers were spent at the family holiday home in Skerries, a small fishing village north of Dublin. Summers by the sea gave Noel a passion for swimming. However, the family joy at this holiday home was lost when Noel’s mother died when he was still in his teens.
The local knowledge of the Skerries waters was to prove fruitful when Noel entered and won the Skerries Harbour Swim at the age of 15. This is a gruelling sea swim of several miles in the cold waters of the Irish Sea. A quick chat with the harbourmaster regarding the tides and currents also provided useful.
Another passion for Noel was singing, especially opera. Part of the chorus with some tenor roles at Dublin Grand Opera Society (DGOS) lead him to meeting and singing with some of operas greats including Luciano Pavarotti singing in Rigoletto, La Traviata and La Bohème. His passion for opera was life long.
In the early 1950’s at Butlins Holiday Camp Noel met his love Maeve,
After a couple of years of walking out Noel and Mary (Maeve), nee Kenna were married In July 1956 in Sutton Co Dublin, honeymooning in Torquay. Noel and Maeve settled in Raheny Dublin, not far from both their families.
After the DGOS Noel turned his energies to raising a family of three boys and a girl with his wife, Maeve.
He actively participated in their passions of swimming, scouts and rugby. He was the founder of the 73rd Scout Troop Raheny Dublin.
His wife Maeve sadly predeceased him by 25 years which lead to a lonely life for Noel with his faithfully ever-present old Labrador dog and chirping budgies. To counter this loneliness Noel continued working until he was 82 years old.
Sadly, his happy memories of past times and meeting people were robbed from him as Alzheimer’s blighted his last few years. The last two years of his life were spent in a care home on the edge of his old favourite holiday home of Skerries. He passed away in his sleep in October 2016. He now rests beside his wife Maeve.
Artist Book – Ode to the Dandelion
An artist’s book made from unwanted materials – re-cycled cardboard, re-cycled drawing pad cover card, recycled envelopes, re-cycled old dictionary pages and found bamboo leaves. The titles, inscription and drawings are black ink with watercolour on the drawings. The inscription on the title second page is from a poet found on the internet. The Dandelion (Lindsay, 2018)
In this book I took the humble weed or some say wild flower and scourge of many a lawn – the dandelion and elevated it to the subject of a book. The poem (The Dandelion (Lindsay, 2018), by Lindsay notes this as a regal, flower and hopefully worthy of a book in its own right. Though this is not an academic tome on the subject of this humble weed, but rather a more tongue in cheek praise of the golden glory of the dandelion.
The cover pages to this artist’s book
Materials: re-cycled cardboard, re-cycled card, found bamboo leaves.
The inside pages to this artist’s book
Materials: recycled envelope, re-cycled old dictionary pages, with black and watercolour.
Artist Book – Unfolding Seasons
An endless book illustrating the changing seasons: Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter. The four seasons of the year with quote for each season inscribed on each page. The quotes used on the pages of the book are noted below.
Seasons [outer cover sleeve]
“There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven – A time to give birth, and a time to die; A time to plant and a time to uproot what is planted.” Ecclesiastes, 3:1-2
“Spring is the time of year when it is summer in the sun and winter in the shade.” Charles Dickens, Great Expectations
“Spring makes its own statement, so loud and clear that the gardener seems to be only one of the instruments, not the composer.” Geoffrey B. Charlesworth
“Summertime is always the best of what might be.” Charles Bowden
“What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness”. John Steinbeck
“The trees that have it in their pent-up buds – To darken nature and be summer woods.” – Robert Frost, (Summer Woods)
“It was one of those perfect English autumnal days which occur more frequently in memory than in life.” P.D. James, (A Taste for Death)
“Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns.” George Eliot
“Winter, a lingering season, is a time to gather golden moments, embark upon a sentimental journey, and enjoy every idle hour. John Boswell
“At Christmas, I no more desire a rose – Than wish a snow in May’s new fangled mirth; – But like each thing that in season grows.” William Shakespeare
The book should be opened and flowed in a certain sequence, this will show the correctly assembled panels for each season. Otherwise, the panels may depict half of one season along with another.
To view the book: remove from cover sleeve, open to view the four panels of a season as a picture, then fold the top half of the book under and rotate 90 degrees clockwise and open like a book to view the next season, repeat.
Reflect on yet another aspect of time as you experience what it’s like to lose yourself in the concentration required to work in a very highly focused way.
In all I made three artists books and each required a series of processes had to be undertaken including – planning, presentation, drawing, text, editing, covers, assembly and bindings. These all took time and each is the cumulation of these processes and combination of effort. In each the effort was quite involved and required a level of concentration that time seemed to pass in an instant.
These were very enjoyable to make in their own individual way. The combination of emotion and effort plus a process of memory were involved in the making of the book on ‘my father’.
This book on my father also presents ideas for the assignment piece at the end of this section.
My research on self-made and artists books revealed the never-ending book which is folded to reveal the next page, this cycle continues until the book returns to the first page and thus the cycle continues. This rolling over of the pages without end was also an allusion to the continuing and never-ending cycle of the seasons.
For each season I utilised a colour for the page. The warmth of summer represented by the glow of red, spring freshness called to mind by the light green and cold of winter represented by the acid stark blue and autumn by the pink tone for faded warmth of summer and reds, browns and oranges of fallen leaves. The book is presented in a card envelope with a paper made with the inclusion of leaves and seeds.
The dandelion book was fun to make a I wanted to make grand a humble normal object for the subject of a ‘book’. The humble origins of the book were reinforced through the materials I used in its making, used old envelope, recycled dictionary pages and bamboos leaves scavenged from the bamboo plants in the garden.
This was a book mthat evolved from a couple of pages torn from an old dictinary. Having decided on the dandelion theme I located the dandelion entry in the dictionary- removed it and started from there. A brief story board of the sequence was drawn and these drawings made to represent the stages in the life of a dandelion.
Once this was complete I then found some old cardboard to make the covers and recycled an old envelope for the flyleaves of the book. A suitable amount of bamboo leaves of the correct size was harvested and stuck to the bare covers with PVA and then the various pieces were assembled.
It was quite rewarding to have a one-off booklet made from found and recycled materials.
BrainyQuote. (2018). Seasons Quotes – BrainyQuote. [online] Available at: https://www.brainyquote.com/topics/seasons [Accessed 5 May 2018].
Berger, J. (1976) Drawn to the Moment” [online] Spokesmanbooks.com. Available at: http://www.spokesmanbooks.com/Spokesman/PDF/90Berger.pdf [Accessed 29 Apr. 2018].
Goodreads.com. (2018). Seasons Quotes (314 quotes). [online] Available at: https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/tag/seasons?page=3 [Accessed 5 May 2018].
Lindsay, Vachel. (2018). The Dandelion. [online] The Dandelion. Available at: https://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poem/dandelion [Accessed 6 May 2018].
Quotegarden.com. (2018). Quotes about Seasons. [online] Available at: http://www.quotegarden.com/seasons.html [Accessed 5 May 2018].