© 2020 — Alice Fox

Playing with (book) structures

I have long been interested in making simple book structures. My work previous to this project had included making a series of small Coptic bound books that then became the repository for recording some aspect of the landscapes I was visiting. The stitched binding remains exposed on the spine of the book, which is made up of page ‘signatures’. Bound together with a series of interlocking stitches, the book structure becomes a unit that flows beautifully in your hands or can sit open in a variety of curves through to a full circle. Using a fairly substantial, good quality paper for these books, I became fascinated by how this basic structure as my ‘blank’ unit could then be dyed, printed, dropped in puddles or dipped in exposed estuary mud, collecting some physical aspect of the landscape, just as I had also treated similarly ‘blank’ units of hand woven thread.

So it was only natural that my initial thoughts for this project were to make books. But… surely that would be too obvious? Wouldn’t everyone else be making some sort of book? Just because the starting point is a collection of books the creative response could take any form…

I considered something less bookish… I had thoughts about possible directions:

using the shelves on which the books are kept

the spaces within these shelves

the repetition of the book unit

the scale of these large books – making something big!

But I kept coming back to that incredible exposed spine. Just because something seems obvious doesn’t make it wrong. That gut reaction I’d had about ‘my’ book seemed just as relevant for my intuitive desire to explore this stitched bound book structure. Furthermore, to have some sort of continuation of themes between projects seems very justifiable. After all, we divide our work into ‘projects’ to present to our audience but really an artist’s work is a continuum, an ever-evolving line of inquiry.


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  • Such a beautifully put take-away. I have always felt that way.
    A long and yielding thread.
    xo Roxanne

  • I love the purity of your white books. But I find it really hard to break that whiteness when I start a new sketchbook. There’s a sense of an empty vessel about an unfilled book.

    • They haven’t remained white Helen but I do really enjoy them at this stage. I agree about the new sketchbook thing!
      Because these books won’t be openable in their final form it doesn’t actually matter what they contain, but there is such potential – I like the idea of them being vessels…

  • Helen Frost
    · Reply

    They are very beautiful as they are I agree but I look forward to seeing what comes next – I am sure they will be enhanced but suspect that their structure will be as vital to their final being as the surface. Thanks for sharing.

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