Thursday 21 April 2011

BABE at Arnolfini

BABE returns bigger than ever for 2011

With tables over three floors, more than 80 artist bookmakers, small presses and dealers from Bristol and around the world will come together at Arnolfini to show and sell their work.

BABE provides a relaxed and friendly space to meet and chat to artists about their work, the opportunity to take part in workshops, attend book surgeries and buy works of art. Prices start from just a few pounds.

Tuesday 19 April 2011

Return to Pewsey Vale

I recently mentioned that I'd paid a visit to Marden in the vale of Pewsey and that it has a very sweet parish church. So, to prove how pretty - I went back taking my camera with me.

The little parish church of All Saints was built circa 1107, although the tower was built in the 15th century during which time the nave was rebuilt. The earliest parts of the building are the south doorway and the chancel arch, both Norman. 

Over the centuries there has been much repairing and rebuilding of the church due to poor foundations placed upon unstable greensand. 

Obviously the original builders didn't read the parable about not building on sand.
Lintel and fabulous mouldings over the south doorway.
This great wooden door is 17th century, even having its original lock.
Stained glass window, designed and installed in 1958 by Jasper and Molly Kettlewell. Jasper and Molly Kettlewell were stained glass makers and tutors on craft courses (Jasper 1905 - 1977 Molly 1914 - 1999) between them making a number of windows for various churches and in the mid-1960s they directed the first mosaics at Attingham. The Attingham Zodiac
A memorial stained glass window, designed by Molly Kettlewell and installed in 1979. Showing the white horse and rolling chalk downs of the local landscape.
The beautiful and decorative Romanesque chancel arch is one of the oldest parts of the building, built not later than 1120, it's slightly flattened at the top due to settlement of the building.
Mrs Jane Hayward
Who in her long and tedious illness
was calm and resigned
and her death attended
with ablessed prospect
of sincere felicity
Thro the merits of her dear Redeemer
She obtained her release
from this troublesome world
May the 31 1761
Aged 62 Years
After exploring the church of All Saints, Chris and I went for an early evening stroll over Knap Hill, looking out over the vale of Pewsey near to Alton Barnes, and the white horse which was in Molly Kettlewell's stained glass window.

It's so pretty, the meadows along the ridge are covered in daisies, dandelions and cowslips, even though, or I guess because of, the sheep that graze the land. 
It was 7.30pm and surprisingly warm and very calm. A truly beautiful place for a walk to watch the sun set and the moon rise.

Thursday 14 April 2011

Making books in the Vale of Pewsey

Sue a UWE and book artist friend mentioned that Lori Sauer was running a crossed-structure binding workshop this week and had one place left. Sounded intriguing, so I decided to spend a little time getting to grips with a new technique.

And I'm really glad I did.

Not least because it's been a while since I've driven over the Pewsey Downs and I'd forgotten just how lovely they are. I know where I want to go walking this weekend!

And Marden (where the workshop was held in the village hall) has a sweet little medieval parish church, which I remember intending to visit when I used to drive the boys to school, and as I discovered this week Marden Henge is the largest stone age henge in the UK, although it has been almost destroyed by ploughing, and no longer has any standing stones. Hey ho.

To the books. These photos show a selection of our finished works.

What I enjoyed most about this technique is the surprise inside the covers, and, now having made this structure I have some idea of how to plan the interior.

Possibly a return to making books about secrets? I think that would suit this style of binding very well.

Tuesday 5 April 2011

The Old Operating Theatre

Last September I visited the 300-year old Herb Garret, hidden away at the top of a narrow and steep spiral staircase in St Thomas's Church in Southwark . . . . And found the Old Operating Theatre.

This was a women's operating theatre and it was built into one end of the roof space in 1822 because there wasn't enough room in the hospital next door. At first glance this placement seems rather strange. But it makes more sense when it is realised that the wards of the South Wing of St. Thomas's Hospital were built around St. Thomas's Church. It was also approximately at the same level as the women's surgical ward which helped with the movement of patients into the theatre. The majority of cases were for amputations or superficial complaints because without anaesthetics or antiseptic conditions, it was too dangerous to do internal operations. Uuurrrrrggghh!

Placing the Theatre in the Herb Garret of the Church allowed for a separation from the ward and gave a separate entrance to students. The 1815 Apothecary's Act required apprentice apothecaries to attend at public hospitals, this meant that hordes of students poured in to watch operations. Before 1822, women were operated on in the ward - possibly causing a certain amount of distress to all the women concerned!

Anyhow, images and thoughts generated by the O.O.T. have stayed with me and a book has been brewing (I admit, at a leisurely pace) all this time.

While there I'd made sketches and noted ideas - but I didn't really know then what I wanted to say about it. After all I'd gone there expressly to visit the herb garret.

I drew a plan of the theatre, made a series of photocopies and played around with shapes and ideas. I found myself drawn to the many and various approaches to medicine. The history of medicine is really quite terrifying, some techniques seem quite barbaric to us now. 

Bloodletting, purging, blistering, the use of leeches . . . . and scant knowledge about hygiene. 

I don't know about you, but, I harbour the suspicion that some of our current theories and techniques will cause future generations to cringe. However . . .
This project was turning into a book, it was during the planning stages I started to place text about different medical approaches onto separate pages.

So we see: Heroic Medicine, Faith Healing, Barber Surgeons, Herbalism, and the Scientific Method.
And for quickness I carved a block from MDF, so that I could get some colour down.

Big revelation - MDF is so easy to carve, it prints really nicely, is cheap to buy and doesn't warp. 

How good is that.
This is where I'm at now. 

I've printed a series of O.O.T. plans for text placement and to make prototypes - should be finished this week - da-dah!