Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Rajeshstan, Rajasthan?

This book was sent in by Varsha Choahan. On the back, a label reads Rajeshstan, which I believe could be the indian for Rajasthan? Please write a comment if you know and I will correct this! The book is a simple A4 sheet folded in two places and covered with a beautiful indian fabric and decorated further by small sequins and the larger gold sequins down the centre. When opened the pages reveal a photo of a traditional snake charmer. The photo is embroidered in parts and embellished with small pearls and a jewel. This gives the viewer a sense of a traditional culture, or perhaps a stereotype? The fabric together with the photo are immediately recognisable as representing India, and it is for the viewer to decipher the meaning of the photo and what this is saying. When standing up, the front folds act as a support and the book is transformed into a portable shrine. This does not seem out of place with the piece, if it was intentional or not. 


This book is by Mariatou N'Jee. What first greets you is strong colours of an evening skyline, lit up like Las Vegas. There's an immediate sense of an active place, of excitement, "Lille - the european capital of culture". On the reverse of the "cover" images is a mix of black an white photos of the town and french text with english translations underneath about the town/region. The text gives a sense of a fun and bright place to go. When fully opened out a large printed illustration is revealed. A busy drawing of places and points of interest in the town. The stylised illustration is gives a real impression of the artist's love for this place. It depicts images we can identify with through deep set stereotypes such as the french cafe culture, pommes frites, and the arts, which the viewer wants to explore further and read. The hand drawn aspect becomes like a diary, a personal account of Lille, and it this personal touch which engages the viewer. An exciting, french, cultural town like Lille, is very appealing! Thank you.

Chippenham, Wiltshire

Claire Selman sent in this contribution piece on Chippenham. The book is simple in structure and on first glance seems to show a a number of images of the town. The images seem quite pixelated giving it an almost CCTV aesthetic. On closer inspection, the images are mirror images, mirrored vertically down the centre line, and the images are also repeated. When it is opened further we see that the images we have been observing are mirrored further, this time along the horizontal centre line. The original images depict places that could be anywhere, and it is the mirroring and repetition that make it interesting. When the viewer turns the paper over, we are confronted with a bright pattern. When viewed closer the pattern is made up repeated images, this time more natural, of a mirrored swan, plants and what looks like grass or ground of some sort. Small hearts also jump out. It is reminiscent of an image from a Kaleidoscope, in fact, so is the whole piece. Pixelated kaleidoscopic images of your average British town, making it anything but average. The place becomes a maze/puzzle that the viewer wants to solve.


This book was submitted by Katie Bradley depicting Burnley. This piece use a combination of hand drawn and printed images, with hand cut lettering on the cover and more cut outs inside. Inside, there are parts to explore by lifting up parts and turning bits over. We discover the city centre and the football stadium, a coat of arms and ideas of history. Modern contrasts with the historic, giving the viewer a sense of history to be discovered. 


Simple in construction and simple in design. This piece is not titled and there was no name with it. An anonymous piece depicting a hand drawn map of an unknown destination. A comment, perhaps, on the idea of "place" and what this means. It could be anywhere, it could be everywhere.


This is James Hirst's submission representing the city of Leeds. A simple folded structure with blank covers opens to reveal sensitive illustrations of some of Leeds' architectural monuments. The drawings are simple yet contain surprising detail, with no written description. When the book is unfolded and opened up we find another drawing, this time of the "heart" of Leeds. This a wonderful revelation at the centre and "heart" of the piece. The image has been created by hand by an artist who understands the place and is at home there, and this is something that really comes across. The hand made nature and simplicity of this book gives it a real warmth that is not lost on the viewer.

Monday, 2 August 2010


A book representing the city of Cambridge. A glossy map of the city has been cut into leaving only the streets and a delicate structure. A spiders web of a city. The simple tones of the streets contrast with the reverse of the map with its bright solid colours. The viewer can see the delicate structure of what makes up Cambridge and is left to fill in the blanks. It could almost be picked up by anybody and filled in to be a different city around the skeleton structure that is provided. An interesting question arrises - what makes a place special? Is it structure or our personal experiences of a place? This piece outlines that question well and gives the viewer much to question.

The National Gallery

The first book on a particular institution as a place - the National Gallery. A really interesting book with much to explore. The piece is made using a pamphlet/map of the Gallery folded up to keep the art work contained. Tiny paintings from the National Gallery have been cut out and hang on threads from inside the open book. The scale of the paintings and their arrangement invite the viewer in for a closer look. The solid nature and weight of the "cover" and the way it is folded make it clear that it is not required to be opened, but rather it is the book as container that becomes interesting. The National Gallery as a container of art is beautifully replicated in this piece.


This delicate piece was submitted by Carol Sowden. Simply folded and made out of a paper tablecloth (as written on the back), the detail is painted with rust and rainwater. This gives a real connection with the natural world and perhaps to how this village interacts with it? Straight forward lines connect focal points in the village such as the school and the mill. Simplicity reflecting, perhaps, a simple and straight forward location? A really sensitive piece about a possible treasure of a place. Thank you so much.