Book sculptors are today providing a provocative new way for us to think about why we live as we do today – and where we might be heading.
Using razor sharp ideas they reveal words, images and patterns by slicing through paper materials, including iconic classic works, history and geography, poetry and prose or mass-produced books, giving old books an all new meaning.
In Australia award winning book sculptor Nicholas Jones has his studio in the heart of Melbourne city, where sequestered away he enjoys the ‘physical act of folding, tearing and sewing book leaves’.
Des Cowley and Clare Williamson in “The World of the Book perhaps described his work best when they said ‘his work attempts to highlight the beauty of the book through a process of changing it’.
Nicholas, born in England, completed his studies at Melbourne and has held a number of solo exhibitions since the turn of the 21st century in Australia.
He’s been published and has also been involved in international group exhibitions from Sydney to Chile and on to Canada.
Jones believes book sculpture is … as much about process as it is about the form -“these books were conceived, born, loved, stored, discarded, found anew, studied, cut, folded and reborn”
The idea is that ‘the act of defacement’ causes the book to be deprived of its original meaning and then allows the observer to ‘read it in an entirely new way’.
His work is also a comment on how beautiful books as an aesthetic form were until in the main replaced by cheaper paperbacks, which then faded or became dog-eared quickly so that they were easily discarded, a product of our very ‘wasteful’ society.
He wants us all to see, what he does, that it is not about the book as an object in itself but about the book’s historical, literary and educational importance, as well as what the written word signifies; the history of mankind and how its wise words from any society should be treasured.
The best is yet to come.
In Scotland a ‘secret woman sculptor’ is having a lot of fun.
Since 2011 she has been delivering her works mysteriously and anonymously. They keep turning up in unexpected places all across Scotland and are connected in some way to literature and the history of the printed word.
She is delivering ‘tiny’ sculptural works, which while only Lilliputian in scale are huge in terms of their significance.
The very first was left at the Scottish Poetry Library addressed to its Twitter account, @ByLeavesWeLive. Other lucky institutions, whose staff has arrived in the morning to find some wonderfully quirky works, include the Scottish Story Telling Centre, The National Museums of Scotland, and the Edinburgh Bookshop.
Completely captivated by the story, the people behind Book Week in Scotland, commissioned more, hiding five sculptures all across Scotland for enthusiasts to find.
Those successful won the sculpture to take home.
Via this printed word treasure hunt, the ‘secret book sculptor of Scotland’ has now attracted thousands of followers and her sculptures have become a social media sensation.
They all illustrate classical Scottish stories and the clues for where to find them are released online for literary fans to follow.
Being lost in a good book, took on a new meaning when she created a unique work from a copy of “Confessions of a Justified Sinner” written by James Hogg. A Teacher Katy MacDonald (35) and nine pupils from Eriskay Primary School found a sculpture inspired by Compton Mackenzie’s story Whisky Galore at the Am Politician Lounge Bar on the island of Eriskay in the Western Isles.
An accompanying note said ‘Whisky makes (the world) go round twice as fast’.
The sculpture left at the Scottish Seabird Centre, North Berwick was inspired by Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island and the book sculpture left at Glasgow’s School of Arts Macintosh Library was inspired by Alasdair Gray’s Lanark.
Its very insightful note said “People who care nothing for their country’s stories and songs… are like people without a past, without a memory….reading matters.
My favourite note accompanied the sculpture built upon Robert Louis Stevenson’s ‘A Child’s Garden of Verses.
It said – ‘for the love of books every ending marks a new beginning’.
Carolyn McDowall, The Culture Concept Circle 2013
Nicholas Jones was born in 1974 in England. He completed a Bachelor of Fine Arts at the Victorian College of the Arts in 1997 and a Master of Fine Arts at RMIT University in 2001. Nicholas has held a number of solo exhibitions, including Slight Return , Spacement, Melbourne (2005); In advance of the broken spine , Spare Room Gallery, Melbourne (2001); and Pages from the ‘Ol Factory’ , West Space, Melbourne (2000). He has participated in numerous group exhibitions, including Poetica , Object Gallery, Sydney (2006); Secret shelf life, Platform Gallery, Melbourne (2006); New work , Linden St Kilda Centre for Contemporary Arts, Melbourne (2005);
Work in progress: Spacement (2004); The Museum Aesthetic , Gallery 101, Melbourne (2003); New work , Latrobe Street Gallery, Melbourne (2002); and 14GO: emerging artist make their mark , Bendigo Art Gallery (2000). Nicholas has completed residencies with Craft Victoria (2002) and The Duldig Studio (1999) and received a New Work Emerging Arts Development Grant from the Australia Council in 2002. He was a finalist for the University of Melbourne Postgraduate Association Art Prize in 2003 and the RMIT Siemens Art Prize in 2001. Jones’ work was featured on Sunday Arts (2006), Craft Unbound: Make the Common Precious (Craftsman House) and The World of the Book (Melbourne University Press)
Nicholas Jones can be contacted vis his website www.bibliopath.org