Skip to content

At the Mosaic Rooms

January 19, 2014

Adolescence of Burnt Hands: Suzy Malcolm, poet, Scott Brown, printer.

Adolescence of Burnt Hands: Suzy Malcolm, poet, Scott Brown, printer.

Daughter Mary and I arranged to meet in London yesterday to catch one exhibition soon after its opening and another shortly before it came to an end. The former was  a selection of artists’ books and letterpress broadsides from the project with which I’ve been associated since 2008, AL-MUTANABBI STREET STARTS HERE, in the basement gallery of The Mosaic Rooms at 226 Cromwell Road, a short walk from Earls Court tube station. The exhibition is open Tuesday to Saturday, 11am to 6pm, until 22nd February. Entrance is free. Nearby is the Maroush Bakehouse, where we enjoyed English tea and delicious Lebanese snacks after visiting the exhibition.

Both of us were drawn to this broadside, with its burnt and lovingly sutured centre.

There is still a sun that rises: Abdul Satar, author, Bettina Pauly, printer.

There is still a sun that rises: Abdul Satar, author, Bettina Pauly, printer.

It was great to see the whole collection of over 200 books at the John Rylands Library last year, but they were all under glass. In the Mosaic Rooms the books are on benches at a convenient height, and white gloves are provided for visitors to “interact” with some of them. This made a huge difference. It is impossible to appreciate Julie Chen’s tiny book “Memento”, and its matchbox-sized case, without taking it out and turning the pages, absorbing the text and noticing the superb craftsmanship.

Julie Chen 1

The text that appears in the woven token was taken from the preambles to the constitutions of both the United States and Iraq. The image that surrounds the token is of a bookseller’s stall on Al-Mutanabbi Street prior to the bombing in 2007. – Julie Chen

Julie Chen 2

 … the Al-Mutanabbi Street Project unites myriad international voices. A commemoration of the singular power of words, it hopes to make visible the literary bridge that connects us all, relating the Baghdad space to similar sites the world over, the common ground of the bookstore at its core.

 I would love to show more of these wonderful books, but you can browse the complete collection here, and all the broadsides can be seen here.

I am struck every time I see this collection by the passion, the sorrow, the commitment, the imagination and the skill that have gone into making every book and every broadside.

The Cycle of Censorship by Dina Schael

The Cycle of Censorship by Dina Schael

Advertisements
One Comment leave one →
  1. January 23, 2014 10:51 pm

    Beau has just drawn my attention to this article in the Guardian newspaper of 21 January:
    http://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/jan/21/literary-project-baghdad-bookselling-district

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: