Sunday, October 28, 2007

Three Weeks

Three weeks from today my exhibition will open and I will be ready. I will. No doubt in my mind, despite the nervous little laugh that burbles up involuntarily whenever the incredible soon-ness of 18 November arises in conversation. And these days I have very little ability to initiate conversation on any other topic.

My last few days at the Quarry have been right on track for my tight timetable and today I actually edged ahead, with a productive session of printing lanterns. Last time I made a lantern book I was laser printing from a Word document and the most time consuming aspect of the project was the origami. This time I'm setting and printing one word per lantern on the proofing press, a process that took about two hours to print the first word and the rest of Friday to print the next 30. There are 156 words in Sky in the City. The origami seems insignificant in comparison to the endless monotony of printing... and I figure I can enlist E's expert origami skills if I'm still folding lanterns while we are installing the exhibition. Fortunately I knocked out another sixty or so words onto lanterns today, working until I was so tired and cross-eyed that I started making stupid mistakes.

That's when I cleaned up TKPT and walked across the spring-beautiful Quarry to my little Studio 4 to put in a few hours on Meliors' Scarey Biggest Book Ever. It's called You are Beautiful and it is so ridiculously big that I have to enlist help whenever I want to move one of the wooden pages. I persuaded a friendly stranger (thanks V) to help me shift the first completed page out of the way and put a fresh blank page out to be worked on. (The book is so big and the studio so small that I can only work on one page at a time).

Oh, and in between the lanterns and the Big Book I made a start on the last work for the show by cutting luscious Incisioni 350gsm to make Mobius strips. Due to the lantern printing progressing unexpectedly well I might actually have time to make the Mobius book without sacrificing a day of annual leave or a night of sleep. And perhaps my laughter might be a little less nervous when I flick over the calendar to November and come face to face with the big red circle around Sunday 18th.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Dishes Done

Tomorrow is the postmark deadline for submissions to 'Fresh Impressions: Letterpress in Contemporary Art', an exhibition at the Oregon College of Art and Craft. I really really wanted to include my book Do the Dishes in my submission but I literally only finished it this afternoon, snapped some photos on a borrowed camera (thanks Lulu) and burned them onto a CD to put in the post on my way to work tomorrow morning.

By nature, I am not inclined to finish things at the last minute. I generally try to have a generous margin of several days between completion and due date. Not for me, the pulling of all-nighters, late delivery of work or the slipshod proofreading at the 11th hour, so this experience has been a little stressful.

This book has been gestating for two years, since experiencing the epiphany described in the poem. First I wrote the text, then I imagined the book and always knew it could only be letterpress printed, so then I had to find somewhere to learn letterpress and then get enough skill to come close to manifesting my vision. Oh, and I had to learn die cutting (and get the necessary equipment made for that).

Actual work on the books that I finished today began a couple of months ago, with the covers: first a pattern, then text, then realising that the pattern overpowered the text, I had to learn how to soften if with a colleographed tint and assemble the tools for that (thanks Ruth).

Then with Jim's help I laid out the text margins justified to a circle shape and die cut the pages into circles. Last weekend I spend a whole day in assembly line attaching the pages to the spines: it is tricky to get circles lined up straight!

That's when I realised that I had forgotten to get the silver paper I wanted for the end papers (actually boards) and removable spines. Whangarei being the art supply wasteland that it is, I decided it would be just as quick and certainly less expensive to pick up the necessary paper when I was visiting Hamilton this weekend for a party, rather than mail order it. Saturday afternoon at Gordon Harris did the trick (and for once I resisted all temptation and didn't buy anything not on my list!). I drove back to Whangarei early, early this morning, so as to have a full day's work on the books at the Quarry. Unfortunately I quickly realised that I had underestimated my silver paper requirements and only had enough to complete three books. ARGHHH!

Fortunately I just as quickly remembered that I only needed one book finished to photograph and I managed to do that in the fading light of the rainy afternoon. Thank goodness for digital cameras: of the seventy or so photos I took, about four were good enough (though embarrassing to put on the same disk as the superlative photos by Mags). The drama continued with some difficulty in figuring out how to get my laptop to communicate with an unfamiliar camera, but a phonecall to my tech savvy daughter (every poet should have one) and a reboot eventually did the trick.

As well as hoping this book will travel to Oregon next year, I intend it as the centre piece of my upcoming solo exhibition, Domestic Pilgrimage. Finishing Do the Dishes means I have now made more than half the pieces for the exhibition. With less than four weeks until the opening and three books left to make (all big and complicated) I expect posts here will continue to be sparse. Bear with me, dear readers, I promise not to completely abandon Bibliophilia.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Taking a breather

every once in a while
in the frantic whirlwind of my life,
I remember to draw
attention to my breath.
For a second or two,
sometimes with persistence,
ten or twenty seconds
I follow the mobius strip
trip of air through my body.
When I allow my breath
to cradle my attention
it feels like being a baby
embraced on a loving lap:
total trust
total safety
total relaxation.

Breathe in.
Breath out.

Try it.

The photograph is a detail from Charnal Grounds, one the pieces I have recently finished.
Photographed by Margueritte Kent.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Vintage Railway Poster

This poster was one of several highlights of my visit to the Heritage Park last weekend, found in the railway station.

The hair!
The suit!
The cigarette over dinner!

Those were the days, before the trains were sold to overseas buyers to be run into oblivion.