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ABCD November 2022

November 15, 2022

Eight members of Artists’ Book Club Dove met on a sunny November day to catch up after Somerset Art Weeks and to make a Buttonhole Binding with help from Judy. Bron reported a successful and enjoyable SAW, though with fewer visitors than in 2019.
She has recently been in Venice for the Biennale and other exhibitions, including one of folded paper ‘aggregations’ by Kwang Young Chun.

Judith has recently returned from Sarawak and Vietnam bringing treasures with her, including bark-cloth from Kuching and hemp and paper from remote villages in Vietnam. I’m looking forward to seeing them used in future books!

We were at different stages of preparedness, but some of us managed to complete a Buttonhole book. Here are Carol’s, Jane’s, Judy’s and mine.

And here is one made many years ago by Bron, following the instructions for the soft-cover Buttonhole binding given in Keith Smith’s book ‘Books without Paste or Glue’ (Non-Adhesive Bindings, Volume 1) page 171ff.

Our next meeting will be on December 10th, when I shall be encouraging the others to make “Dream Books”, a fun and versatile structure invented in a dream by Mark Wangberg. After that, meetings will be every four weeks until April, with a different binding being taught/revised each time. The idea is that each of us will have six books, one in each structure, for our next exhibition. This will be at ACEarts in Somerton next June.

Until we meet again, here is a mash-up of quotations from the day.

November Dove-droppings

the ethnobotanist knew
by the length of the day
the cat stole my pricker

the Launderers
are all packed away
in nightclubs

my hens are menopausal
in a flowery National Trust way
just let them go

a booklet of lampoons
turned up in Louisville
in a clamshell box

it finishes mid-sentence
turning to clay
in the British Library

clay and paper string
persuaded him not to prosecute
the silent sneeze

even in the cafeteria
her own aeroplane
is made to be burnt

I’m in recovery
turning to nature
I need a bit more retrospect

I’m not a perfectionist
folding triangles for seventeen years
just get it right

you need a minuscule or two
you’ve got more elephants
are you satisfied?

Posted by Ama Bolton on 14 November 2022


November 13, 2022

I’m grateful to Marilyn and Howard Timms for including two poems of mine, with recordings of me reading them, in their “Remembrance” issue of Wildfire Words. Both my Grandfathers fought in Normandy in the First World War. Both survived, one to become a successful architect, the other, damaged both by the expereience of combat and by his time as a prisoner of war, to abandon his family in Canada, where he died in 1969 of a surfeit of Canada Club whisky. His wife, with two young children, made her way back to her parents in England and worked as a housekeeper. One of her employers was a Scottish landowner who was exceptionally kind to me when I went to stay at the age of four.

‘Lest We Forget’

The granite glitters in late-autumn sun,
listing the wartime dead by name and date.
Our local limestone’s memory is short:
the words would fade, erased by acid rain.

Each scarlet poppy is a blush of shame
for shattered men who begged on London streets,
for victory bought with personal defeat,
for body-parts buried without a name,

for Grandad with his Military Cross
his nightmares and his whisky-happy days,
for horror hidden in a hackneyed phrase,
for each November’s litany of loss.

Memories are short. Smart-bomb and drone
make mockery of letters cut in stone.

The Round Garden at Pityoulish

On the shore of the loch
he built a walled garden
crossed by two paths

I drew it for years
a cross in a circle
a spell to remember
a summer of wonder

a boathouse where sunlight
slipped in through the cracks
bright stripes in the darkness 
duckboards underfoot

a boat that he nudged
into open water
nosing through whisper
and chirrup of reedbeds

pines on the far shore
hills blue with distance
heat-haze and oar-creak
and the gift of kindness
from a childless man

Seventy years later
I discover his story

a young wife
a young son
both lives cut short
just ten days apart

heartsick and smarting
I scroll the Google map
click to satellite
zoom till the dark squares
tumble into
soft unfocussed
blueblack water

follow the shoreline

no sign of a boathouse

no trace of a garden

And I’m delighted to have a poem in One Sentence Poems this week. Here it is. There was a reason I wrote it first in French, but I’ve forgotten what it was.

Un Autre Fois

Dans un autre bois
un autre soir
on vient voir
les feux de l’automne
et la pluie pointilliste
la pluie qui lave
les feuilles vermoulues
sur lesquelles sont écrits
les quatre vingt dix neuf
prénoms du dieu.

Another Time

In another wood
another evening
we come to see
autumn fires
and pointillist rain
that washes clean
the worm-eaten leaves
on which are written
the nine and ninety
names of god.

Posted by Ama Bolton 13 November 2022

Goodbye, Marigold

October 14, 2022

Marigold was rescued from slaughter by Pear Tree Farm in April last year and we adopted her, along with her sister Sweet Pea. Within days she was jumping onto my lap for treats. She was a chatterbox, always greeting us with clucks and purrs and chirrups. She allowed the grandchildren to cuddle her. She was dearly loved. Last month she stopped laying. Then she went downhill with salpingitis. Now she is buried in the backyard beside dear Hari. “Only a hen”, but she leaves an aching gap in my life. No-one should die unmourned.

A poem about Hari Rama the Brahma hen, from ‘The Flossie-Raptor’, Barley Books 2021

Two poems in Black Nore Review

September 27, 2022

It’s been a sparse year for getting poems into the wider world.

But this week I have two – one from my former life in Liverpool and one from Somerset – in Ben Banyard’s excellent online journal. Thank you Ben!

A day at the Dove

September 26, 2022

It was the second day of Somerset Art Weeks, a perfect autumn day, and I was stewarding in the Print Studio, surrounded by astounding works of art.
A steady trickle of completely wonderful people.
Chance meetings and deep conversations.
The dramatic rescue of a trapped dragonfly.
Autumnal nostalgia.

In the foregound: Bron Bradshaw’s piano-hinge books in tall handbuilt pots. The one on the left was made from clay dug from a hole in the field, eight feet deep. The other two were smoked after firing. On the right are some of Bron’s tree-ink pourings above a collection of her small smoked pots. On the left, darkroom photographs by Myfanwy Morris.
Jaisalmer Fort: sculptural book by Caroline Mornement
Sculptural books by Guy Begbie
I love this photo, Mountain, by Myfanwy Morris, and the stories it suggests
Kathryn John’s metitative installation in the Tree house, complete with writing desk, ink, pen and paper
The dragonfly stayed on Jane’s hand long enough for her to remove the cobwebs entangling its wings. Then it flew off!

I did manage to jot down a few eavesdroppings :
September Dove-droppings

Seven summers
a buzzard and rooks
a splodge of colour

five days in a dustbin
too hot to touch
completely burnt

I don’t even know where they are
the precarious trees

she’s taken up rowing
tinkering on the piano
in the darkroom

we’ve got through it
we’ve changed
learned to love the dark

Found Object

September 19, 2022
no heartbeat
low-tide murmur of the sea
pawprints in damp sand

Somerset Art Weeeks at the Dove Studios

September 15, 2022

I’ll be in the Print Studio 11-5 on Sunday 25th September. Do come and say hello!

Forever young

August 28, 2022

Forever Young
For CB

on my birthday
I light a candle

and watch it burn
down to the dark

this is no time for wishes
time has no hold on you

Evening Light

August 21, 2022
                      paints long stripes across a lawn
                      glistening with recent rain

                           fills a cherry tree with flame
                           gathers and glows in a glass
                           engraved with two names.

                                One has taken flight
                                and one remains.

From my most recent small edition, Shining Sister. Lettering by John Rowlands-Pritchard. Poem first published in the anthology “Light”, from Black Light Engine Room, 2020.

ABCD July 2022

July 26, 2022

Eight members of Artists’ Book Club Dove met in the print studio on Saturday.

Janine brought her beautiful and very tactile triptych “Sanctuary”: collage and machine-embroidery on green silk. Front and back views:

Janine Barchard
Janine Barchard

Jane has been to the Henry Moore exhibition at Hauser and Wirth. She brought a weighty and beautifully-produced book “Back to a Land” about Moore’s work in the Yorkshire Sculpture Park.

I (Ama) have now finished my hand-written Khadi paper book of Graeme Ryan’s poem “O”. The individual pages are pamphlet-stitched onto the mountain folds of an accordion fold, the outer ends of which form the covers. Then I sewed the spine with indigo-dyed thread using the 2-needle Coptic method. All the colours are derived from plants. The black walnut ink was made by a friend. Closed, the book measures roughly 15x21x2.5cm.

Ama Bolton
Ama Bolton

Here are my latest small editions (of 26 and 50 respectively), both of them graced by the lettering of John Rowlands-Pritchard. One is an elegy, the other a response to The Waste Land in its centenary year.

Ama Bolton

Thalia has been inspired by a recent visit to Iceland. She’s begun by sketching on a folded strip of paper.

Thalia Brown

Judy has made several books. Here are two blank hard-cover books, one with a buttonhole binding and marbled paper on the cover, the other with mokuhanga prints covering the boards, and an interesting rune-like pattern of stitching on the spine.

Here is an ingenious small book that Judy made on a course with Ewan Clayton. Do have a look at his website.

Judy Warbey

Judy’s intricately folded sculptural book, “Glimpses of the Sea”, using mokuhanga prints, with folding techniques taught by Guy Begbie.

Judy Warbey

This mokuhanga print by Judy now hangs on my studio wall and reminds me strongly of a sailing trip with daughter Mary in the Hebrides in 2019. Thank you, Judy!

Judy Warbey

Here is Bron‘s latest fold-book using methods of obtaining blue from red cotinus leaves, learnt from Elisabeth Viguie-Culshaw. Another website well worth a look.

Bronwen Bradshaw

Bron writes “I’ve been asked to produce a 3 part work for an exhibition of exquisite corpse – or picture consequences as I call it. So here is the Cotinus bird with Malvolio yellow stockings of bamboo (very sustainable.)”

Bronwen Bradshaw

Clare has been doing more knitting than book-making. All of us wanted to stroke this gorgeous jumper made from a mixture of Jamieson’s wool from Shetland, and Jillybean yarns.

Clare Diprose

Carol was unable to be with us, but she has sent photos of her very exciting work-in-progress, a book of alchemical birds.

We had our picnic lunch in the new field-shelter in the Tree-house corner of Dove Meadow. A place of dreams! Jane’s summer pudding was irresistible. The resident wasps enjoyed licking our plates clean.
Our next meeting will be some time in October. But before then some of us will be exhibiting in the print studio for Somerset Art Weeks on the themes of Sanctuary and Alchemy. I’ll end, as usual, with a selection from my notes:

July Dove-droppings

if you wait long enough it sinks
pressing bones into clay
starting with the word

Kimmeridge Bay is like another planet
a silk sanctuary
a handwritten book

I went to Iceland
it’s a little beginning
a different landscape

a brand new island
shapes reappearing
as if they are moving

an iron blanket
yes but no
it wouldn’t fit in the box

meadowsweet yellow
a yarn made from seaweed
to find the way back

the deer ate my roses
let’s go down to the trees
I know you all by your trees

coming up through the cracks
the first wasp of summer
think how big a wasp’s mouth is

on the equinox
the alchemy of
canoeing in North Saskatchewan

each page talks to the next
the blueness
sinking back into the landscape

If you’ve read this far, congratulations! And thanks for reading.