Saturday, September 24, 2011

An Evening Sunrise

Its been a great joy to return to my collaborative altered book project with Bethwyn, Frugal with the Bruegel. We had a long winter break while I was caught up in preparing for exhibitions and she had a term and a half of teaching full time.

However, early in the year we had decided to enter some books in the Association of Book Crafts biannual exhibition opening in Auckland later this month, so that was extra incentive to overcome any inertia that might have delayed out altered book project further. We entered two books were more or less finished last year and two books that we finished this week. Here is one of the recently finished books, Sunrise, in its entirety.

I happen to be reading a lovely book by Diane Ackerman called Dawn Light: Dancing with cranes and other ways to start the day, which is a series of meditations on dawn through different seasons and in different environments. She is a favourite author of mine for peaceful, grounding yet uplifting prose. I also feel like this spring heralds the dawn of a new stage in my creative practice, as I prepare to lift my game up another few notches. So Sunrise is a very apt book to be sharing with you.

The base book 'Sunrise' was a perfectly lovely wordless meditation on a single dawn from a single perspective on a small rural village, in which a few quirky characters appeared. Bethwyn and I added an abundance, perhaps almost an excess of quirky characters and other additions to this, working on it in slow, occasional bursts for at least a year.

If I arrived at a Frugal with Bruegel session feeling anxious or sad, a couple of hours of gentle silliness with Sunrise would make me feel good again.

Sunrise is also known between Bethwyn and me as the Uncle George book because of our extensive use of a couple of 70s kids books in which Uncle George takes his niece and nephew to the zoo and tv studio. You can play spot Uncle George if you want!

Some of the best contributing books to Sunrise were old primary school textbooks and story compendiums with images by many different illustrators.

Dinosaurs and other prehistoric life from evolution (and creationist) books were the final touches to tie everything together in the last session.

Unlike the art I make with textiles which is very conceptual, deeply researched, deliberately planned and exactingly executed, Frugal with the Bruegel is spontaneous, playful, casual, whimsical, intuitive and often ridiculous. Which is not to say we don't have rules, but only for us to feel no pressure and have lots of fun.

The point of making Sunrise was to lighten my heart in the making. If it has a message its only perhaps to slow down and look carefully, because there's a lot to see in every spread. Not only the weird incongruencies I pasted in, but the original illustration beneath is full of interest too. Viewing these photos on a computer screen its probably not easy to always tell what I've added and what was there first. At this distance I'm not completely sure myself anymore.

You can see the real thing, along with our other altered book submissions to the ABC book exhibition at Lake House Arts Centre, 37 Fred Thomas Drive Takapuna, Auckland between 31 October and 20 November.

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