|A rarely seen sight - a room full of photographers sewing|
Here are some notes of a course I went to last Saturday on making simple photobook structures. The course was organised by London Independent Photography and was run by Clare Bryan. Clare was a really knowledgeable and helpful tutor, who helped us learn the basics of making simple structures as well as opening our eyes to the creative possibilities of these structures. Clare has an MA in Book Arts from Camberwell College of Art (1997-98). She is a member of ‘FOLD’, a group of four artists working with a combined interest in print and book arts. She has been teaching since 1997 and currently teaches at The City Literary Institute in London. Her work is in both private and public collections, including Yale Centre for British Art, Tate Library and The Government Art Collection.
We started by making a range of simple folded book structures. It was a bit of a revelation to me that with little other than a ruler and craft knife you can make structures that open a range of creative and presentational possibilities. The structure below for example offers possibilities for juxtaposition of images as well as the interplay of internal and external spaces. it could be used with combinations of colours or patterns (I thought about some of my house pictures with patterned details, or seasonal images) or the internal spaces could have internal and the outside external imagery, and so on. Folded structures can be used as normal books and stored flat or in bookshelves, but also offer up a range of options such as a more sculptural 3D display.
We followed the folded structures with simple three hole stitched books with a variety of cover options, and finally on to stitched Japanese slab bindings – that’s what we’re working on in the top picture. You can see from the expression on people’s faces that it was an engrossing session. I really liked the tactile qualities of the little books and the low-fi technology. It made me think of the simple pleasure of making things that I remember from childhood, and it was particularly interesting to me that this simplicity can be a vehicle for quite sophisticated ideas and imagery. The skills we covered are the basic building blocks for book-making. They can be combined and elaborated on to make larger and more complex books but I feel I left with a good overall understanding of the basic principles, which I can build on in due course.
I ended the day with six little booklets which I will be filling in months to come. One is the perfect size for my twelve winter images for Landscape Assignment One. I'll be experimenting with a variety of ways of presenting pictures over the next few months and this will be a welcome (cheap) addition to the range of options. As well as being useful for experimental purposes there is the option to take the thinking further and make more sophisticated artist's books – that is, books where each aspect - structure, cover, paper, printing, colour, etc - is carefully considered and contributes to the whole experience.
We looked at a range of books brought in by Clare and by other members. These covered a gamut from books made to record a memory of a beloved place or person, through simple concertina or flick books, to complex design constructs involving bespoke printing and lettering, cutting and imprinting processes. Clare showed a number of her own books, which use complicated cut-outs to draw us into into an exploration of an image, gradually revealing the whole. Her work often starts from a photographic original which becomes a temple for the final paper design.
Overall I would say this was a very successful event for me personally. Lots of food for thought and ideas that I hope to develop further in the year to come. At £39 for six hours’ intense tuition in Central London it was a bit of a bargain. It was really good to meet other photographers working in London and nearby and to spend time in such a friendly and supportive atmosphere. I’m a relatively recent LIP member and not too active currently but hope to get more involved and get to know fellow members better in future. If you live in London or nearby do check out the LIP website for events and membership details – maybe I’ll meet you at some future session.