Saturday, 25 May 2013

My Chinese Sketch Book Project

I bought several sketchbooks when I was in China in Feb/March last year, they are cheap and the paper is of very poor quality but what I like about them is the concertina format.  Being really interested in Aritsts' Books, it offers a quick way to try things out before making a book with better quality paper.  I love how the images alter as different sections open out and refold, offering different combinations.   

I have worked in this book over the past six months, always with the theme of time, memory and loss in mind, compiling lists of words, quotes and thoughts that have become interwoven with the patterns and images; introducing things like negative stencils in the shape of a star and a heart, references to the phases of the moon in terms of circles overlapping, used mono printing, collage prints and fingerprints all mixed up with drawn tallies, various scribbles and textile stitch patterns.  

Only once I stopped work today, as I was leafing through the book I realised that when some of the pages fold up and open out, refolding against another page further down the concertina, there were other images becoming available.  I am very excited about this!

So, while this book started out as a general "sketch" book of thoughts, visual ideas, scraps of printing and anything else that took my fancy at the time of doing it, with ideas about time passing always firmly in my mind; it has now begun to develop into an almost completed artwork in itself.  While it is a visually interesting piece in its own right, it is also an important reference work for me; it is nearly finished, at least one side of it is, and I am now considering whether to approach the theme using a different media, perhaps collage, combined with print and no drawing, on the reverse side.  

I have used fingerprints and tally marks in work before and I have always loved it when you see evidence of an artists' hand or fingers in a painting; Rembrandt and Pollock are examples that spring immediately to mind.  The negative stencils I used recall the paintings on rock walls in caves made by ancient civilisations.  The tally is an age old symbol that I have adopted both to symbolise time passing, but also to build up the surface quality and pattern, and to create some form of structure in the form of a grid.  Always there is the push and pull of instinct against intellect; the age old dualist struggle.

To see the album of all the photographs I have taken of this work, showing different stages of development and different combinations of pages click on the following link:

All images copyright the artist, all rights reserved

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