Monday, September 21, 2009

29 Cu: An exhibition of artists books in Hamilton

This book looks like it is on the move, creeping slowly across the plinth under its own volition

It's not often that I get to see the work of a talented and experienced book artist except as photographs. This month ArtsPost is showing 29 Cu, a wonderful exhibition by Ann Bell, book artist, and her collaborative partner, Margaret Mecchia, weaver. Ann Bell was a fibre artist long before she started making books, and this background is manifested in the exhibition's majority of books with woven and stitched structures.

This folded book structure shows off Ann's expertise in treating papers to achieve both colour and texture

The theme of the exhibition is copper which gives a coherent colour palatte that ties together the diverse materials and techniques used by the two artists. Most of Ann's works are so sculptural they are not even described as books on the price list. The most effective pieces utilise well-known artist's book bindings (piano hinge binding using skewers, and coptic stitch). However, with dozens of signatures the books become long sinuous snakes that would be impossible to confine to a bookshelf let alone hold in your hands.

I love this rusty piano hinge book for being not so much a book as a breached barricade around a pa

All but a couple of the books have are free of text or image, but the pages have been 'rusted', a treatment that creates subtle mottled coppery paper. These are truly artists books in the sense of having manipulated and disrupted book conventions to create book-inspired objects.

A stitched snake of many papers, this might be the great wall of China or an endless flight of stairs

Books with some text: An accordion sampler playing with the word 'copper' and in the background a tunnel book looking down a mine shaft

3 comments:

Carol said...

Thank you for sharing your photos of Ann's exhibition. I had no idea how wonderful it would be. Wish I was there to see it. Well, wish I was in NZ full stop...

Ngaio said...

Wow, I will be off to see that exhibition on the weekend - what amazing looking `books` ..

moreidlethoughts said...

Yes, I thought much the same when I saw the piano hinge/skewers.
Thanks for the opportunity to see these.