Construction

The individual units that make up ‘Unknown Book’ are a series of small Coptic bound books. The structure that encases the books is made up of 106 units in a grid. Some of these are filled with one book structure, whilst others contain a number of separate sections. There are therefore around 250 individual items that make up this collection.

The book structures are made of a mixture of good quality printmaking paper and re-purposed paper from publications discarded by the library. Edges are torn and uneven.

The books made of new white paper have been marked, dyed, stained, printed, wrapped, scrunched, rubbed, scuffed, distorted and dipped. The structures made of re-purposed books, magazines and papers have been bound, scrunched, curled, wrapped, sliced, deconstructed, reconfigured, cracked, folded and formed.

Together these make up a collection of experiments with material, form and process. They contain a record of my thinking and making around the subject of a collection of books; about scale and accessibility; about classification and collections; about the physical properties of paper and the changes it might go through.

In Residence

My first couple of days working ‘in residence’ in the library provided a really focussed period of work on the project. I brought the starting points I had developed, along with sketches, photographs and notes to show any interested participants or members of the public. The ‘big book’ was brought down from the collection to sit on my worktable and provide an important proximity to my working process.

I continued to work on the book units, having now identified the exact dimensions to make. I wasn’t working any differently to how I would in my own studio, but being in the library itself provided a focus and impetus to my making and thinking. The library had been asked to collect together any papers or books that would have been otherwise discarded so that I could potentially incorporate them into my work. The range of these was slightly disappointing, but was enough to start exploring possibilities. The lovely library staff found me a tin of old library stamps and some inkpads, which I played with on the surface of some of my book units.

About a month later I had a second residency session, again working in the library in an intensive way and exploring further the use of withdrawn publications in my book units. This time in the library also allowed for participants in the project to visit and talk about what I was doing, as well as the development of their own work for the project. That sharing of process, thinking and development between the artists involved is a key part of this whole venture. Those discussions are so important for artists to have with their peers or mentors, partly as a means of over-coming problems (that you sometimes didn’t even realise were there), but also in a spirit of support and understanding. Even just describing what you are doing or trying to achieve to someone else can solidify things in your own mind and provide a way forward or even just a confirmation that the approach you are taking is right.

 

Findings in a line

We hung Findings last week at the Ropewalk Gallery, Barton on Humber. This gallery suits my work very well in both scale and environment and I am really pleased with how the exhibition looks. Having hung this body of work on three different gallery spaces during the Knitting and Stitching Shows last year it is good to have had some time to reflect and then show it again, making a few changes to how the work is presented. There are some additions as I sold some pieces from the original show; some pieces have been re-mounted for the wall rather than being shown on plinths; my recent walking book series has been incorporated as these book structures record many of the locations that feature in the rest of the work.

This time the work hangs in one continuous line, so you can take a journey through the objects, studying each one in turn. Each individual piece is intimate in scale and the detail is all-important. Together they form a much bigger whole and I hope that they tell a story; each viewer reading a slightly different narrative.

Shall I take you on a walk around the gallery? I can’t show you every piece (there are over 200) but this will give you a good flavour of the work…

As many of you will know, there is a publication which accompanies this body of work. Findings, which has close-up images of much of the work as well as writing that links the pieces to the places that they record and essays by Nigel Morgan, is available to order here. The exhibition continues until 3rd September.

West Dean

Alice Fox 49 Beer Bottle Tops1

I will be teaching a workshop in March at West Dean College in West Sussex. As a new tutor to this renowned centre for the creative arts I have been invited to show some of my work in the College foyer in the run up to my course there. I have sent a variety of work to show in this exhibition, including: Spurn Cloth #1, the large art quilt piece I made during my 2012 residency at Spurn; 49 Beer Bottle Tops (shown above) and 76 Hair Grips (both incorporating found metal with hand stitch and natural staining); a selection of paper-based pieces incorporating rust prints, collagraph and stitch. The exhibition runs form 10th January to 10th March.

enchanted april

Alice_Fox_Puglia_olive_grove

Earlier this month I was fortunate to be in Southern Italy, teaching at the wonderful Masseria della Zingara. We had a great week exploring the land around the Masseria, walking the lanes, collecting things to use in the studio and using various techniques to record our experience. We collected, printed, stained, wrote, stitched, wove, folded . . . and ate!

Alice_Fox_studio@masseria_della_zingara

Spring was in full swing (which it certainly isn’t yet here in the UK!) and we were surrounded by fruit trees in blossom, beautiful wild flowers and a green lushness that I’m sure will have gone once the temperatures rise later in the year. The wonderful red earth in that part of Italy provides a striking foil for the colours of growth. And of course my travel reading had to be The Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Arnim, which provides the story for one of my favourite films, a must-see at this time of year.

Alice_Fox_Puglia_agricultureAlice_Fox_afternoon_stitchingAlice_Fox_collected_words&plant_marksAlice_Fox_old_olive_treeAlice_Fox_recording_place_book

leeds artists’ book fair

Leeds Artist Book Fair 2014_Page_1

I will be at this lovely event this weekend at The Tetley, a new contemporary art gallery in Leeds. I first showed at this event last year and it was a very friendly gathering of all things book art. I’m looking forward to seeing the new venue and meeting some lovely artists’ book making/appreciating people! I’ll be taking some of my Tide Marks books along, as well as this: Forgotten HaberdasheryAlice Fox Forgotten Haberdashery book detail 3

Alice Fox Forgotten Haberdashery book detail 4

print passion

Alice Fox Rust Marks workshop 5

I taught the first in a run of workshops last Saturday at the lovely PASH north of York.  This wonderful old flax mill is full of things in various states of rustiness and repair, so it was a perfect venue for a workshop focusing on making marks with rusty things.  We had the luxury of a wealth of interesting items to use in our experiments as well as those that we’d brought along ourselves.

Alice Fox Rust Marks workshop 17

Here’s what we got up to:

Alice Fox Rust Marks workshop 6Alice Fox Rust Marks workshop 8Alice Fox Rust Marks workshop 11Alice Fox Rust Marks workshop 12Alice Fox Rust Marks workshop 14This workshop is part of a celebration of different print techniques that is on at PASH until the end of June, called Passion for Print.  This includes an exhibition of work from a number of artists working with print in different ways and a series of workshops too.

artists in action

I will be demonstrating on the Artists in Action stand at the Knit & Stitch Show in Harrogate this week.  The show is on Thursday to Sunday and I’ll be there on Thursday and Friday mornings.  There are six artists working on the stand at any one time.  We’ll be on stand C590.  Do come and say hello.  I’ve never done anything like this before and have to admit I’m a bit nervous about having people watch me working.  But I was thrilled to be invited to do it and am looking forward to meeting lots of lovely people at the show.

>all over the place

>Toady I went into an exhibition feeling a little stressed (too much to do – shouldn’t really be swanning round exhibitions when I should be sitting at home ticking things off a list) and a bit unsure of how things might get going in terms of my college projects (wanting to start drawing/mark making but not sure how to go about it – the perennial blank page in a new sketchbook thing)…

…and came out feeling incredibly inspired, fired up, excited, full of what I’d just seen. I think it was exactly what I needed!

The exhibition was All over the place: Drawing Place, Drawing Space at the Leeds University Gallery. This exhibition brings together the work of artists working in a variety of media but all under the banner of drawing and all exploring a particular aspect of place or location through their drawing.

The exhibition opens with a series of quotes about ‘sense of place’ and the act of drawing. In particular this one from Emma Dexter really got me going:

“A drawing enjoys a direct link with thought and with an idea itself. Its very nature is unstable, balanced equally between pure abstraction and representation; its virtue is its fluidity. A drawing can be highly controlled and delicate, an act of homage, redolent of personal memory, or it can be automatic, responding to irrational elements or chance encounters of materials.”
(from: New Perspectives in Drawing, 2005)


The work of Doris Rohr
(incorporating found elements and different media), Paul Edwards (energetic charcoal drawing of the texture of grasses outside his studio window) and Jayne Bingham (mixed media mark making that you kind of fall into as you look at the surface detail) were the ones that really stood out for me and made me want to go straight home and draw!

Of course by the time I’d got home and collected the kids and dealt with tea and all the other jobs that call for my time on a Tuesday evening it didn’t quite happen, but it really fired me up and I have high hopes for later in the week…

This was the second exhibition I’ve seen at the Stanley and Audrey Burton Art Gallery, the first being A Discipline of the Mind: The Drawings of Wilhelmina Barnes-Graham earlier this year which was equally as inspiring.