Thursday, 15 May 2008

Bertram Rota in America (again)

I've just completed a trip around America, visiting New York and the Midwest. In Wisconsin I visited the fabulous book arts collections in the Memorial Library of Madison-Wisconsin, the Kohler Art Library and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. All these three institutions have astounding resources for research. Wisconsin, with its connections with Walter Hamady, proprietor of the Perishable Press (who taught at Madison) has a long tradition of firing the imaginations of book artists. I saw wonderful work by artists Pati Scobey and Tracy Honn, as well as catching up on new publications by Janus Press and Mare Blocker.

Pati Scobey’s book, Evening Susurrus,inspired by the Chinese whirlwind example, Wuzhai xiongji fa (‘Divination of Fortune and Calamity’) in the British Library. Whirlwind bindings, with their stacked leaves within the scroll format, were a midway point between the scroll and the development of more practical forms of bookbinding in China. Although they were predominently used for reference works, very few whirlwind bindings survive. An edition of two copies only, I decided to bring one home with me for our shelves.

In Michigan I caught up with Lynne Avadenka, whose new work, Six Poems, publishes translations of Dan Pagis’ work, and is featured on the cover of our new catalogue of American Artists' Books which can be down loaded from our website . I also encountered the work of Diane Fine, an impressive artist whose book works are moving and exquisitely executed (see below).

Back in New York I caught up with Roni Gross, printer and designer, and heard about the progress of the Vandercookbook, a project incorporating artists from all over the States in celebration of the Vandercook Press’ centenary. Watch this space for more on this exciting publication.

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