Sunday, 26 August 2012

Shame Masks

Whilst in the heated overflow of new love and obsession (see my previous post concerning artists books), I have found myself inundated with ideas. This is both exciting and exhausting. I do not yet have the skills or the time to physically make the books my brain is busily creating, but that doesn't stop me from doing a spot of research.

Whilst online, and then in the cosy stomach of the Bodleian library, I came across Shame Masks.

I've not been able to find much information yet, save that they seem to originate in Medieval Germany and consist of metal crafted, punitive masks.

As far as I can make out, the various characters of the masks represent different crimes. So the long tongued mask is to be worn by a gossip, as punishment for that activity.

I'd never thought of masks as a form of punishment before.
It is actually a powerful idea; instead of manifesting a character for theatre or ritual, or disguising ones identity, these masks expose identity. They illustrate the most shameful aspects of a person, removing any chance of anonymity.

As a person who loves to be no one in a crowd, a watcher in a cafe, or all alone outside, I find that idea vaguely horrifying. It leaves me wondering - what is my crime, and what mask would I wear to show it?   

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Arvon - Text and Image

One of the best thing for me about the Arvon course was having my own little space in which to think and work. 

With a hill to walk up...

And a vegetable patch to look out over.

I worked on new drawings, on combining text with my images in various ways and eating large dinners at an ancient looking wooden table. 

Sadly, the course did not inspire or hold me in quite the way I had hope for...Partly due to my own needs and lack of experience.  I left feeling sad and unseen. The best thing for me was meeting a woman who makes artists books. These tiny treasures are exquisite pieces of work, combining my favourite things; drawings, photographs, found text and objects, story and poetry. So, in the end I did leave inspired and with a new mission:

to learn to make books.

Monday, 6 August 2012

Coptic Binding

Today I went on a bookbinding course run by Lucie. She sells her beautiful handmade books out of the Albion Beatnik Bookshop on Walton street in Oxford. She showed me a simple version of Coptic binding, which leaves the spine and stitching exposed.  

I used a photocopy of one of my drawings as the cover...

And some photocopies of old botanical drawings for some of the leaves inside.

Lucie showed us all of this in three hours, sat in the basement of the bookshop whilst feeding us tea and biscuits. Perfect. I really appreciate handmade crafts in general, and am now massively excited about never having to buy a diary from a chain shop ever again. It occurs to me that I can also now bind my own short story or picture books...Gratifying that in only three hours I have acquired the basics for a skill I can play with and perfect for the rest of my life! Assuming of course that I can remember the intricacies of the stitched binding (Lucie gave us each a very clear instructions sheet, but I always learn better by mimicry). Maybe I should start on follow up volume at once...Excuse me...