Sarah Bodman | Senior Research Fellow for Artists’ Books, Centre for Fine Print Research, UWE
I have chosen these books as they each could be used to spur an activity for you to undertake, from creating poetry to curating a small exhibition in your own home.
Grapefruit A Book of Instructions + Drawings
Grapefruit by Yoko Ono was first published in 1964 as a conceptual set of scores and instructions for actions. This edition was published by Simon & Schuster in 2000 and can still be purchased online. A copy is also held in the Centre for Fine Print Research archive at Bower Ashton. Grapefruit is a book of ideas for making art and living life for herself and her audience. Some actions or thoughts are easy, others harder, some impossible. It’s a great book for just contemplating and daydreaming to tease out your own ideas from.
You can follow Ono’s advice on art and life via Twitter.
You can also watch a video of her reading from Grapefruit here. The ‘ownership’ section of instructions reminds us to value and keep in touch with the people we love.
Twenty Library Book Shelves
A boxed set of twenty books created by Bristol-based book artist Cathey Webb from her residency at Bower Ashton Library, UWE which is also home to a great collection of artists’ books. Each of Webb’s books represents a shelf within the library. Each week the artist selected a shelf, opening individual books and selecting a single word from each. These were arranged into a poem as an ode to each shelf. The project was inspired by the Dada poet Hugo Ball, and a Found Poetry workshop with artist Jeremy Dixon of Hazard Press.
Peter Liversidge types his proposals at home on a manual typewriter, which in turn become publications proposing actions for museums, galleries, clubs and events (Proposals for the Government Art Collection or Proposals for the Basel Miami Art Fair), or even towns (Proposals for Frome). These are recently printed in collaboration with the Dutch designer Peter Foolen. The proposals can then be realised or not, depending on the challenge and complexity of carrying out the actions.
There are copies of various proposals in Arnolfini’s archive and Bower Ashton Library to visit in the future. Peter Liversidge – Proposals for Antarctica has been published by the United Kingdom Antarctica Heritage Trust to mark the 200th anniversary of the discovery of Antarctica.
Maddy is one half of the artist duo Pineapple Falls. Their source materials for making include ‘chocolate wrappers, paper bags, plastic brioche, potato bags, Christmas cracker contents, the offcuts left when you cut things out’. Maddy describes part of her practice as making beautiful collage salads. You could download their booklist of “carefully presented, repurposed wot-nots from the archive and recently assembled pieces” from the exhibition Things That Function as a Book at Bower Ashton Library, here, and use it as inspiration to curate your own exhibition at home. Photo: Pineapple Falls.
Tanya Peixoto of bookartbookshop introduced me to the work of Norwegian artist Kurt Johannessen in 2002, in particular his seminal Exercises (1999). Johannessen uses the artist’s book to extend the reach and context of his performances which sometimes take place on remote glaciers, islands or forests. He also delivers them as lectures, for example Everything and Common Ground (2019) which you can watch online. I produced An Exercise for Kurt Johannessen in 2010, in response to one of his exercises: write 100 stories and bury them in the forest. You can download a free pdf version to print out and assemble here. In 2012, for the 10th anniversary of bookartbookshop based on theme: x or what is to be done? I asked Kurt Johannessen if I could choose another 10 (x) exercises from his artist’s book to carry out. The result of that is a free pdf book of visual exercises you can download here and identify through his Exercises book. He has since made another three versions up to Other Other Other Exercises (2015). I absolutely recommend that you do try some of these at home.