Saturday, 17 March 2012

New connections unfolding...

It was great to meet Brian Lewis at Sates of Independence today, a free book fair of independent publishers, held in Leicester.

Brian is editor and publisher of Longbarrow Press. His stall attracted me immediately, layed out with numerous handmade pamphlets and CDs of a variety of formats. More like artist's books than publications, each one is hand crafted by Brian and produced on beautiful papers, the whole stall given an elegant and understated look of neutral colours, greys, browns, creams, with paper textures a delight to hold between your fingers. I talked for a long time with Brian about our mutual interests. As Longbarrow state on their website:

The ethos governing the output of the press is that the poem should dictate the format of publication. The resulting objects – matchboxes, acetates, maps – allow poet and publisher to explore alternatives to the book without resorting to gimmickry.

This is so apparent in the resulting work. Brian showed me a matchbox he had made which opens to reveal 56 pages of a poem concertinaed into the box. He had CDs covered with brown paper, half the size of the usual CD. Their surprising smallness was delightful. I particularly liked "Edgelands", a publication printed in a long, thin format, about the size of a bookmark.

I went to the event on the suggestion of Mark Goodwin, a poet published by Longbarrow. Mark and I have been talking recently about possible collaborative work. I worked with Mark once before on the Companion Stones project. We created a stone together, with Mark's words and my form, and from the outset we were interested in how the words and the form could work together. Mark's words evoked the sense of horizons in the site where the stone now stands, in the Peak District. My design was two blocks, one on top of the other, but one twisted away, to give the impression of the stones turning. Mark's words are carved into the edges of the stones, splitting the words at the corners, so that they can be read in different ways - as a full poem, if you read it by walking around and around the 'turning' stones, or as broken words and fragments on the faces of the stone. (See the stone and its location here.)
Model of St Peters & St Andrews Church, Corby

Talking to Brian about the form of the publication being inspired by the poem, I was reminded of the Companion Stones project and also of my interest in creating forms from paper. My current project, for the River Nene (see Riverlands event), also involves the use of folded paper forms. I created a number of forms as part of my project with St Peter's and St Andrew's Church a few years ago (working with artist Carole Miles, and that collaboration now continues in a new form as undiscoverednetworks!). As I was exploring the architecture of the church, I began to make models of the church hall and its distinctive use of the tetrahedron for its spires. I was fascinated by the shapes created when the architecture was unfolded back into a flat piece of paper. I wanted to make the church from one sheet, so it unfolded and folded like a box.

I still really like the flat and then three dimensional possibilities of paper, and I think working with Mark, poetry and paper shapes will be worthy of more exploration.

One of the results of our exploration of the tetrahedrol architecture of St Peters and St Andrews Church is currently on display as part of the Corby Open, until 31st March, click here for details.

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