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ABCD November 2013: “Changed”

November 17, 2013

I missed the October meeting, but Bron has posted photos of the second “Mapping” session on her blog, here.

Artists’ Book Club at the Dove met yesterday, November 16th. There was food! Home-grown, handmade, good food. Lots of it. There has to be a recipe book from ABCD some time soon.

After lunch we moved from the kitchen to the music room, where Bron played a few passages from the music she wrote in response to “Notturni Veneziani”, Nelson Takahiro Kishi’s recently-published book of Venetian night-time drawings on music manuscript paper. As I leaned against the curved flank of the piano, absorbing the sound by ear and through my back, I was conscious that this was one of life’s high points, an experience that no money can buy. I am so lucky to be here, I thought.

Kishi Notturni

Caroline Mornement was not with us this time; she was at the Small Publishers’ Fair in London, promoting the latest publication from BCF Books.

beautiful books006

I am proud to see that two of my books, “What is a book” and “Ways to Reach the Open Boat” are pictured here, alongside the work of well-known book-artists and fine presses.

Judith Staines’s book in response to the word “Changed” is a record of the autumnal change in the colour of the leaves on a Japanese Maple that she grew from seed.


From a recent visit to Japan she brought this modern account-book made in the traditional way. The purpose of the book’s spinal cord is to make it easy to lower ones accounts into a well in case of fire!


Pat Wolseley brought work in progress: large sheets of paper made with her grandchildren over half-term from fallen leaves and other forest-floor debris. More on this next month, I hope.

Clare Diprose continued the theme of autumn woodland with a cheerful book called “Sloe Gin”. The content was created using wooden letters, rubber-stamp letters, watercolour pencils and her own carved eraser and cork stamps.



Here is a page from her sketchbook


Rowena Pearce had been to the Paul Klee exhibition at Tate Modern, and she brought a couple of watercolour exercises made by following Klee’s instructions, using thin washes of red and green colour on a sheet divided into seven fields. She showed us two small accordion books recording changes in her work as an artist over many years.


Karen Young had made two airy and delicate Turkish map-fold books on the theme of “Changed”, and some winged-accordion books; she showed us the simple origami folds for the latter.



Karen told us of an exhibition in a shop-window in Bath (New Bond Street, until 28 November) of altered ex-library books: volumes saved from a book-cull. Her photo is below.

library books

Jane Paterson’s book was a startling shrine or stage-set entitled “The trumpet shall sound” (…and we shall all be changed.) It refers to the recent badger-cull in Somerset, the red figures at each side representing the marksmen, or hired assassins. And are those goalposts at the edges?


My offering was an altered book. The book in question is “John Charity” by Horace Annesley Vachell. The publication date is not given, but I guess it would be the first decade of the 20th century. The overblown and cliche-ridden prose style overcame my natural reluctance to deface a book, any book. The new title is “Oh Art” and I have begun a partial erasure of its pages. In chapter 1 I used white acrylic to cover the surplus words. In Chapter 2 I scribbled over them. I hope to continue, using a different style of erasure for each of the 24 chapters. This may take a while! In this work I am inspired by Tom Phillips (I saw some early pages of “A Humument” at the Bluecoat Gallery in Liverpool in about 1970, and many more in a recent exhibition at the Ashmolean) and Dave Bonta, who is currently undertaking an erasure of Pepys’s diary over at Via Negativa.

Oh Art001

Oh Art002

In California a man may travel
where memory will be dissolved.
Nothing remains save a crypt
written in saints and sinners

who lived and died in England.
The wildest of that wild crowd
could make love like God,
who had touched him
to the worship of Venus.

Marriage held love,
seasoned with truth.

A woman of ripe experience
to her lusty boy
gave love and tenderness.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. Beau Beausoleil permalink
    November 17, 2013 11:52 pm

    Wonderful work all around, I very much appreciate your comments on what brought someone to hear their own siren’s call, and how they interpreted that call through their work.

    And your poem is hauntingly beautiful, it gives new meaning to “subtext” and putting something “under erasure.” It makes me think that under my own poems might reside a Victorian Novel!!

  2. November 18, 2013 10:42 am

    Now that would be an interesting exercise, but life’s too short!
    Good to hear from you, Beau. Thanks for the visit and for your kind words.

  3. November 19, 2013 9:26 am

    What an inspirational bunch you all are…

  4. November 19, 2013 10:13 am

    Mavina Baker has posted an illustrated review of “In Praise of Beautiful Books” on her blog:


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