Wednesday, 4 February 2015

The Book of Crow

The Story of Crow

This piece of work started life sometime last year as a sample piece for some workshops I'd been asked to run in connection with the upcoming Anselm Kiefer exhibition at Tullie House. The idea of the workshops is to look at different ways of preparing and reclaiming paper to make mixed media books. I was inspired by Kiefer's use of diverse and sometimes unconventional materials and by the variety of different books he has created throughout his career.

Page One

Page Two

Page Three

As I began working on the sample it sort of grew and became a bit more than I anticipated until it eventually evolved into a piece of work in it's own right. It's been a slow burner, I think I started it back in November and it's only this week that I've finally finished it. It's one of those pieces that I keep doing a bit on and then abandoning before coming back to, doing a bit more and then abandoning it again.

Page Four

Page Five

Page Six


Collage of the pages

The book tells the story of crow; in certain mythologies crow starts off as a pure, white bird . As with most stories there are many different versions of what happens next and, in true storytelling tradition, I've picked the bits that I like best from a range of stories to make my own version of the story. My version is partly based on a Greek myth, in which crow is the favoured companion of one of the gods. When crow reveals that the god's lover is cheating on him he is so enraged that he turns crow black and banishes him. I was interested in this idea that telling the truth isn't always the best policy and the idea of the insider becoming the outsider.

Front Cover

Back Cover

Collage of Reverse Side

The book is a simple concertina construction, with a hard cover at each end and a ribbon and button fastening. The pages of the book are mostly black and white photocopies that I worked into in different ways. I've used paint, ink, collage, printing, drawing and stitching. Following the story, the book is white to start with and gets darker and darker until the last page, which is black. I like the visual re-enforcement of the story and continued this theme on the other side of the book by using white fabric that I dip-dyed with black dye. This didn't go quite as smoothly as I hoped but I think the patchy, uneven colour actually works well with the rest of the book.

Drawing Detail

Collage Detail

Print Detail

Stitch Detail

To join the paper pages I used insertion stitches, the patching together echoes the way the story is patched together as well as adding a different texture. I wanted the book to look inviting and to provide a tactile as well as visual experience so I made two sheets of felt, one white and one black, for the book covers. It took me a long time to decide on the fastening; I played around with various ideas including felted cords, ties, loops and buttons before settling for a simple ribbon loop and handmade button fastening.

Button Detail


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