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ABCD: Borderline

February 23, 2014

Artists’ Book Club at the Dove met on 22nd February. “Borderline” is is the word we’ve been working with since the last meeting. It produced a wide range of responses.

Bron has been having trouble with physical boundaries (keeping a neighbour’s cows out of the garden), and Rowena has been celebrating the half-century of CLR James’s cricketing memoir “Beyond a Boundary” with an album of lively test-match etchings that she made some years ago at The Dove.


Karen made “Borderline Case”, a concertina-book in a little suitcase! On one side are images of the edge of the sea, and the other side has stitched-in pages with a poem by Matthew Hollis from his début collection “Ground Water”. This was a poignant reminder that Karen’s home on the Somerset Levels is almost entirely surrounded by flood-water.

There will be no maps for where we are …


Clare, whose local river has been rearranged by a rain-induced landslide,  made a pop-up flood (above) and a zigzag-book of photos of lines on beaches – tide-lines, lines of footprints, sea-borders.


Judith was in Malaysia last month. She brought “A Walk in the Park”, about a rainforest nature-ramble that turned out to be more of an assault-course. There is security in the solid covers that begin and end the book and the walk, but the Khadi-paper pages supported on a loose zigzag subtly convey the sense of swaying insecurity as the ramblers abseiled and rope-walked their way through the forest canopy.


Judith’s other book, seen in the foreground of the photo above, was “Georgetown Borderline”, a strip cut off the bottom of a book and discarded by a printing shop in Georgetown. She also brought some Chinese joss-papers


a boat for burning


and a folded paper purse, on the wrapper of which is printed “This red packet is a cheeky re-imagination of the word Hong Bao, which means Red Bun in Mandarin. Red packets are traditionally given as monetary gifts during special occasions such as Chinese New Year, birthdays and weddings as a symbolism for good luck. Proudly folded by the inmates from the Changi Women’s Prison.”


Jane’s very sculptural book “Borderline Decisions” is an embodiment of stillness and anxiety. Some saw it as a legal document with seals, others as a Japanese priest’s pleated garment complete with sash. It folds inwards from each side to fit into a discreet indigo-blue box. The attention to detail is breathtaking.


Caroline brought a beautifully-constructed book of photos taken at the India-Pakistan border. It crackles with military tension. A smaller book of photos is concealed in a pocket. Barbed wire is represented on the slip-case.


Janine’s book, a simple stab-binding secured with unravelled embroidery threads, contains the words of the song “Borderline” by Willie Nelson (Not the re-write by Ry Cooder, and not the version performed by Madonna!)

When you reach that broken promise land …

Gill said of her large-format fold-out book, “This is the borderline I sit on. I’m not on a borderline between negative and positive. As far as I’m concerned it’s all positive.” On one side, a graph of the progress of an illness. On the other, radiant images of New Mexico.


My book “Twelve Border Crossings” contains a 2000-word memoir of an overland journey from Amritsar to Woodford Green in the spring of 1977. The structure is a set of Turkish Map-folds pasted to thin card sections that are Coptic-sewn between stiffer card covers. I used too coarse a yarn (Indian handspun flax) for the sewing, and made a pig’s breakfast of it in the early hours of Saturday morning, too late to start over. The book is just over 10cm square when closed. Each page opens out to 20cm square.


While working out the construction I made a scale model. It is only 5cm square when closed. It prefers to be open, looking like an Indian marigold.


The word for next month’s meeting on March 22nd is “Flying”.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Judith permalink
    February 23, 2014 8:19 am

    Brilliant write up of a great day Ama. You are way too modest about your very inspiring map book and story which was perfect to me!

  2. February 24, 2014 4:26 pm

    Such different and wonderful results for the same word, a beautiful set!

  3. February 24, 2014 9:58 pm

    Thanks, both of you!

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