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ABCD: Trees

January 23, 2016

Five members of Artists Book Club Dove met today to share memories, news and our handmade books on the theme of Trees. Karen and I discovered that both of us had been among the seven thousand-strong audience at the International Poetry Incarnation at the Albert Hall in London fifty-one years ago. Karen was living in London at the time. I was a student at Keele University and had hitch-hiked down the newly-opened M6 with a friend. We hitched back overnight. Both Karen and I were aware at the time that we were witnessing something extraordinary. We didn’t know it, but we were present at the birth of the UK hippie counter-culture. Both of us have vivid memories of the evening.

Karen brought two books. One is a zig-zag book with fabric-covered boards, the pages collaged with images from tree-themed Christmas cards (first and fourth photos below). The other has an embossed thin metal plate on the front cover, with a folio of rubbings taken from this plate stitched inside (middle two photos).

Jane’s sculpture was inspired by a book of Alexander Pope’s letters, rescued long ago from a dustbin. The base, trunk and branches are covered with strips cut from the pages. The leaves are squares cut from the pages, printed with leaves and sewn onto Khadi paper. They flutter in the draught as one walks past the tree. Though fragmentary it is compulsive reading (“Were she once seen in the Bath, no man would part with her for the best mermaid in Christendom ….”). The box used for the base has a bar-code showing through the covering paper – a bark ode? Unfortunately I could not get the whole tree in a single shot. It is magnificent.

Judith has been at a conference in Mexico City. There are lots of trees and she had dozens of photos of trees on her Macbook. She has grand ideas for a big sculptural book printed on her new large-format printer.

I brought along a little book I made for the Amazing Space exhibition during Somerset Art Weeks but have not yet documented here. It is called “The trees have eyes” and is a flutter-book of photos of eye-like features on the bark of various trees in the Circle of Trees at the Dove. My second book “Lost” (third photo below) is a tiny one-off pamphlet with a New Year card as the cover. The card itself is part of a repurposed tree print by Lilla Duignan, and carries her greeting to me inside the back cover. Thank you, Lilla! I scanned the card and printed it on  translucent paper for the outer pages. The inner pages feature a poem called “Lost” that came from the wonderful blog “That’s how the light gets in“. None of my own work – I just put the book together. Due to a family responsibility that occupies part of every day, I’m doing hardly any making at the moment. The projects are standing in line, waiting for me to get back to them.

Bron mentioned, two years after the event, that she has an etching of Glastonbury Abbey in the Queen’s art collection. You can see it here. The edition of ten is not yet sold out – hurry while stocks last!

We are to meet again on February 20th. We decided to stay with the tree theme.

WordPress has a new format for photo galleries. I’ve tried unsuccessfully to do this in the past but now it’s very easy. I like the way they appear as slide-shows that one can scroll through. I’d like to go through my old posts and re-format them, but life’s too short!

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. January 24, 2016 9:25 am

    Loved this post and have subscribed to ‘Seeing Things’. Are you familiar with ‘The Night Life of Trees’ by Bhajju Shyam that features Gond art? It came out as a picture book for kids at first but is now available in hardback. Not the same sort of thing but interesting if you are into trees and art. : ))

    • January 26, 2016 9:50 pm

      Thank you Lesley. Yes, I saw a copy of this beautiful book some years ago. Trees are such extraordinary beings. If they did not exist I don’t think it would be possible for us to imagine them.

  2. January 24, 2016 10:53 am

    Interesting and inspiring, as always. Thanks Ama!

  3. January 24, 2016 1:37 pm

    Thank you Jo.

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