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Bristol Artists’ Book Event 2019

April 25, 2019

This treat happens for two days every two years at the Arnolfini on the waterfront in Bristol. I managed to get there for two half-days. As always, there was little time and much to do and see.

Mike Clements’s flat-pack 3D structures caught my eye. Unlike some politicians I could name, they are strong and stable. He used some of them to support a bookshelf. Now that’s a good idea …
I bought a calendar for next year.

Mike Clementscalendar instructionscalendar

I went to Jeremy Dixon’s reading from his pamphlet In Retail, a sequence of numbered, untitled poems resulting from his time working in a well-known pharmacy chain. “Most of the poems,” writes Jeremy in his introduction, “began life as hurried lines scribbled on the back of a length of till-roll in the lull between sales. As staff members were not allowed to carry any personal items while on the shop-floor, I hid these scraplets in my sock and prayed that today wasn’t the surprise-spot-search-in-the-store-cupboard day.” Now, that is what I want to read! Urgent poems that demand to be written. Poems smuggled out of a hostile environment.

The design of the book (by Cherry Potts at Arachne Press) deserves mention for its meticulous attention to the spirit and origin of the poems. The head and foot of each page carry mirror-text in a faded grey utilitarian font: very much like what one might see showing through the flimsy paper of a till-receipt. Moreover, the text at he foot of each page can be read in either direction as a found poem running through the sequence.

Jeremy is a book-artist. His own Hazard Press produces books, micro-books (from a single A4 sheet), badges, and postcards hand-printed on an Adana press. I bought Tarmac, a little stab-bound book of laconic environmental poetry. The cover of this particular copy is made from an old postcard of Bath Abbey.

In RetailTarmac

Another very enjoyable but sparsely-attended reading I went to was by Stephen Boyce and Mark Rutter. I later found Mark’s stall and bought his Flarestack pamphlet Basho in Acadia (that’s not a typo: Acadia is a National Park on an island off the coast of Maine.) These poems are not haiku, but are written with a haiku master’s engaged detachment and eye for detail.

I also came home with one of Mark’s broadsides and a clutch of his delightfully semi-legible postcards. I do love hand-lettering.

Basho in AcadiaMark Rutter printMark Rutter postcards

From my dear friend Pauline Lamont-Fisher I bought I marched 23 march 2019, a quickly-produced, but (as ever) beautifully-designed, souvenir of the day. The last illustration shows the banner she made the evening before the march.

I Marched

Other books I bought included a little popup-book of ampersands from Corinne Welch

Boggerland, a mysterious and compelling little glimpse into the future of the wetland ecosystem, from Chloe Ashley and George Harding (I didn’t spill my coffee on it- that’s reflection on the shiny cover!)


Winter (in her)) by Irena Frantal: poetic words and poetic photos of winter trees. A little gem. The first photo shows the translucent book-band, and the last shows the back and front cover with a 6″ ruler for scale.

And, finally, The Liszts, a delightful illustrated story-book about an unexpected guest. The story is told in hand-drawn lettering , and there are lots of lists. A lovely book. Actually I think I bought this one in the Arnolfini bookshop on my way out.

The Lizsts

So, big thanks to Sarah Bodman and her team at UWE for this wonderful event.



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