Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Exhibition at Hamilton Girls High School

Artist's books on exhibit at Hamilton Girls High School
(NB click on any photo to see enlarged details)

Although I've never curated before (other than my own work), I'm always up for the steep learning curve, so I offered to curate an exhibition of artist's books at Girls High towards the end of my Residency. With the help of my #1 Open Studio girls we got the show up today, and looking pretty good, if I might say so myself.

Human Rights themed books from Year 10 Art students

The exhibition consists of some of my work and many books created by students during my time at school. My contributions include Deep Time Writer's Residency, a tunnel book that I made to fulfil the school's commission as part of the Residency. I'm also showing various works in progress as photographs or as actual books such as my Residency journal and some 277 million years of painted scrolls.

Deep Time Writer's Residency, a tunnel book (more about this one in a future post)

The largest work in the exhibition is a collaboration between me and the students who've been coming along to my Open Studio sessions. We've made a lantern book with an abridged version of my favourite poem that I've written during the Residency, If Jellyfish Wrote History.

Jellyfish Lantern Book

The girls and I have spent several weeks folding 100 paper lanterns, some with the words of the poem, and some decorated to represent jellyfish. It's been a fantastic project and a dozen or more girls have contributed at least one or two lanterns, with a stalwart crew putting in many lunch hours of origami with me.

Isabel, Deahna and Aleisha have been loyal Open Studio participants since I arrived at school, and helped install the exhibition.

Other Open Studio regulars have their own book projects included in the exhibition. Of special note is Cheri's Tale by Jessica Imswary and Aimee McGregor who have worked very hard to complete their lengthy manga comic. Their good-humoured collaboration and mutual commitment to meeting the exhibition deadline has been outstanding.

Jessica and Aimee spending yet another lunch hour making their comic in my studio.

A spread from Cheri's Tale by Jessica and Aimee

Almost half of the student contributions have come from several Year 10 art classes taught by Jennifer Fernyhough and Nellie Ward Wallace. These classes made artist's books as their major project last term, using previous social studies research into human rights as their content. The intense subject matter (the Holocaust, Apartheid, slavery etc) and the devotion of many classroom hours has produced some very powerful and moving artist's books.

Jews in the Holocaust

Most of the other student books on show were created in Year 9 &10 English classes that I worked with for just 1-3 sessions. Hundreds of girls have made little books with me over the past 3 months and it was certainly difficult to choose just a few to include in the show. Almost all the books have original content: poetry or stories and illustrations which provide a light, playful contrast to the intensity of the human rights books.

Lots of little books from junior English classes and Open Studios

The school's senior students have been immersed in end of year assessments for most of my tenure, but I did get to work with one Year 13 extension English class. They made some wonderful books, represented in the exhibition by Baily Stewart's stunning 'A film guide to Psycho'. As with the best artist's books it is impossible for a photograph to do Baily's work justice: it harmoniously combines a variety of structural elements with a limited colour palette to powerfully convey her analysis of the classic film.

A film guide to Psycho by Baily Stewart, Year 13

The exhibition is up until 24 November and members of the public can view it during school hours. If you are in Hamilton please come to the Atrium in the Administration Block (the big glass building accessed from Ward Street). I'm sure you will be impressed.

Isabel Brooker made this scroll as an independent project


Anonymous said...

You're a machine Meliors.
Congratulations - again.

sanekoprinceoftennis said...

hello!it's me jess from hghs,im starting a new project now,remember how we were talking about the art trading cards?well im going to make 100 kokeshi dolls trading cards,i really dislike long term projects so this'll train me in some far i've done 12 in 2 days,only 88 more to go!
here's a link to my website miss!

have a nice holiday,im sure we'll cross paths again no doubt,after all, in this small community that we live in it's impossible to not ever bump into each other!teehee!saneko signin out!