Time has skittered away like dry leaves from under my flying feet over the last month. All projects, including the Round Robin and Mail Art Challenge, have had to be set aside to make way for more urgent publisher’s deadlines. In the month or so since I last blogged about the Round Robin, I have finished a magazine article, flown to Colorado to film a workshop DVD and launched my artist’s books at Elevation Gallery. It has been wondrous and bewildering and overwhelming, and left me trailing guilt over my unfinished projects. For those waiting for me, please forgive the necessity and join me back on the bandwagon.
To recap, I am participating in an Altered Books Round Robin for my local chapter of the Canadian Bookbinders and Book Artists Guild. As this is a collaborative long-term project that speaks to the very essence of who I am as an artist, I decided to share the process. I expect it to be interesting and challenging, as, other than my own book, I will be responding to the style and theme choices of other artists. Once a month, I will blog about the month’s theme and creative process to respond to it.
For those not familiar with a round robin of this nature, here are the rules: Each book artist in the group begins altering a hard cover book of at least 50 pages on a theme of their choice. The original artist creates one two-page spread of original artwork within the book. They then send their altered book with instructions to the next person on the list, who will create their own two-page spread in the book, and then send it on to the next person on the list, and so on until each altered book has travelled around the group and returned to its home. After seven months of circulation, my book should come home to me containing six pieces of original art in addition to my own, and each of the artists in the group will own a similar book.
I am now in Round 3 of the Altered Books Round Robin. You can catch up with Round 1 and Round 2 here. This book has originally come from Colleen Rauscher, and is a copy of Bernhard Edmaier’s “Patterns of the Earth” by Phaidon. This volume just about leaped out of the box at me as being very much up my street. All of my work is informed by and interprets patterns of nature in different ways. As I have leafed through it repeatedly over the last few weeks, I have been surprised by how hestitant I have felt to alter it further. To my nature-loving eye, there is a certain perfection to the content of this book that it feels the utmost impertinence to think that I can alter it in any way to make it better.
As the month has rolled on and I have chased my feet from deadline to deadline, any variety of ideas for altering this book have stayed firmly at bay. I had an initial reaction, a first idea for alteration the moment I opened the book, and it is that idea that has stayed with me all the time. The pressure of the other projects and deadlines have given me greater time to revisit the volume over and over again, but that original idea stayed firmly fastened in my mind.
Weeks behind, keenly aware of the next book waiting in its unopened box, and the next artist in line waiting for me to get my backside in gear, I finally was able to sit down and face this new volume to complete the planned alterations. The photographic images in this book are stunning in the extreme. Images taken by photographic wunderkind Bernhardt Edmaier. I haven’t the heart to cover them, for in truth I simply want to feast on the book as it is. The alterations already done seem to have suffered the same handicap, and so they are subtle and thematic and brilliantly wrought. Some of the alterations are so subtle that I didn’t see them until about my sixth browse of the book.
In the end, I have decided to marry with Bernhardt’s work rather than try to compete with it or cover it in any way. We have so much in common in the patterns that fascinate us that I decided to incorporate some of my own images, to work subtly with or over the images already present. This is not a book to collage over, to disguise or lose in the alteration. This is a jewel of observation, to be enhanced and built on. The method that came to me in my first browse of the book is to create acetate overlays and inserts, and no better solution presented itself to me, no matter how many times I looked at it. Snippets of text are pushing to the forefront of my mind, and I expect will have to be incorporated as well. I will be finishing my work on Round 3’s book this week and will post an update with images.