Wednesday, October 14, 2009

What I did in the school holidays... Part 1

The girls are back at school and the quiet spaciousness of my two weeks alone in the Artist in Residence studio is now sizzling with the vibrant energy of the students. What did I get up to during the holidays? Lots... with progress on some long term projects, taking up long desired or neglected directions and lots of creative play.

My biggest project at the moment involves painting 570 metres of scroll to represent the 570 million years of complex multicellular life on earth. It's a brain boggling amount of time, especially when the entirety of human history occupies the equivalent of about 3 millimetres on the end of the last scroll. I'm not adding text, image or even pattern to the paper, just washing it with colour and allowing the accidental artifacts of the acrylic ink off a soft fat brush to differentiate one stretch of paper/time from another. Some of it is quite luscious.

Also part of the Punctuated Equilibrium collection which includes the scrolls, but at the opposite scale of perception, I am making microfossil sketchbooks. I'm drawing microfossil radiolaria and foraminfera from electron microscope photographs. My clumsy sketches will be bound into tiny little hardback books, just a little too big for a standard dollhouse. I've made two mockup mini blank books so far, and will probably make a couple more before I am confident enough to bind my sketches to the standard I want. Meanwhile, the girls who visit my studio have been so excited by the cuteness of these tiny books that they are making their own during Open Studios.

These tiny books are the first case bound/sewn multi signature books that I've made for quite a few years and I'm having a renewed burst of enthusiasm for these kind of structures. This is leading me into experimentation with similar structure including a possible jellyfish book using plastic bags. I really want to use plastic bags because so many predators are mistaking bags for jellyfish and choking to death, allowing the jellyfish population to expand unimpeded. But plastic bags are a difficult book-making material, and I'm not entirely sure about my jellyfish book experiment.

I'm also working on a paid commission at the moment, to sew an edition of 1000 art bindings. Making such a big edition means breaking the process down to the smallest possible steps. Possibly my least favourite task is threading needles, so I do about 26 at time. To my delight, the plate of waiting threaded needles look a bit like a jellyfish diagram to my jellyfish hungry eyes.

Coming soon: Part 2 ('Frugal with the Bruegel' altered books) and Part 3 (Antarctic blanket sculpture)


Kay said...

The creativity astonishes me - great stuff.

Carol said...

I'm so pleased I've finally caught up with your entries. So many talents, so much really beautiful work. 1000 art bindings! That's huge - please document as you go.

Lael said...

Hello. After browsing through many of your entries, I've forgotten how I landed on your blog but wanted to pause and say that I love a lot of what I see! Your book art is beautiful and inspiring to me...a fellow artist who often dreams of exploring that medium. Keep up the good work!