Last weekend, I made a mock-up for the book format I am going to use for the final ‘Scrap That’ artefact. I am basing my design on the gorgeous Watanabe book I discovered in my earlier research. In her case, she had used a folding box structure to represent rooms in a traditional Japanese house in which, the fusama open out as ‘pages’ bearing translations into modern Japanese of writings her father had made. I love the way the format facilitates the creation of sequences of pages (like a journey) and enclosed space (like a resting place). My intention is to build my book so that the ‘reading order’ is a journey along which I read my poem before meeting my loved ones and sharing thoughts with them before entering the final resting place by way of a walk through my home landscape and into the enclosed space of the book … the sort of flower strewn chamber of the Iam Dulcis. It is a very complicated structure.
The book leaves represented in the picture above – in green card – will support the printed images of my poem done in the Photoshop workshop. They will run through the first reading order section, sort of the zig-zag inwards, and lead to fabric covered openings in which the cream card features will be enclosed. These will be fabric covered (significant remnants) and close with the ceramic buttons I made. Within each of these fabric ‘chapters’ of the book will be pictures (from print workshop) words and mementos (collected/made ephemera as the assignment brief says) for my loved ones. The reading journey on the reverse side of the zig- zag section will be fabric covered with pieces developed since the textile workshop. All will be stitched in place with pieces of my wedding veil running along the pages to create a liminal obscurity. This will turn into the opened out enclosed space at the end of reading, to represent a shroud. The walls of the enclosed space will bear the Photoshop palimpsests of the Iam Dulcis poem. This is a huge amount of making and assembling to be getting on with. I have been in very early each morning this week and have stayed late after college to create extra studio time to plan into my work schedule. I have got everything planned down to the minute for the remainder of the project up to deadline and have even managed to squeeze in an elective life drawing session last Monday morning – a lovely relaxing interlude, quiet, away from the studio and the sense of frenzy that seems to have developed as this first, key assignment reaches deadline!
I feel that these have been successful in achieving a liminal effect using the layering and rubbing away palimpsest idea – representing the boundary between life and death. It has been a very time consuming process with a lot of decisions to be made about exact levels of opacity after the pixel level image editing. PT has given helpful support and little nudges in the right directions… particularly about font choice, colour etc and, finally in a discussion about the paper stock to use for printing.
Yesterday, the discovery of collagraph printing – wow. Today, continuing to carve plates at home – portraits to include in my ars moriendi book I hope.
I have selected a group of photographs to work from. My paternal grandmother, my maternal grandparents, my father, husband and daughter. (The loved ones who will feature in my book.) It has been interesting to note the different poses and photographic intentions across the pictures. My maternal grand-mother’s is very formal but beautiful, taken in the mid 1920s (possibly for her 21st?) My Father is extremely formally posed in his air-force uniform c. 1948 and most certainly reflected, with gravitas, through the poignant lens of the regimental photographer – that uncomfortable feeling that this may be the last photo to be taken ….. the one that remains…! My grand-parents pose stiffly but, smiling proudly in their best dress, being photographed at my parents’ wedding in the mid-50s but it is not as disciplined as the previous two. Finally, and contrasting by way of not being professionally shot, a lovely, relaxed, smiling picture of my husband an informal pose in the sense that I called to him and said ‘smile’ and a gorgeous ‘snap’ entirely un-posed, of my daughter enjoying the hilarity of watching her girlfriend trying to learn how to spin plates (in a breeze) at a music festival. My intention, in using this range of pictures, is to reflect ‘passage of time’ and ‘moments captured’ on a genealogical time line that echoes (in human terms) the passage of time in the landscape and biologically, – referenced by the old deeds I am using and the elder tree (I grew and planted) that is a theme for my poem.
The process of cutting the plates is slow but extremely enjoyable – I like the clean, meticulous, methodical activity of it just as a complete contrast to (the equally enjoyable and delightfully messy) freer work we did the other day with mono prints. The plates are things of beauty in themselves. It’s almost a shame to ink them.
Moving into the third week of the project – time for some further mind-mapping. Ideas are beginning to fall into place in terms of narrowing in on a focus for the scrap that book.
I have been considering my nearest and dearest – whether alive or dead: what are my special memories of them? What are my particular connections with them? To what do I owe them that I regard as ‘essentially me’? What would I say to them in terms of parting words or future greetings on ‘the other side’? Alongside these thoughts are considerations of home burial and my relationship with ‘the land’. I have found the old land deeds pertaining to where I live and may use them for printing on (photocopies of them that is! Some of the documents are 300 years old!!!!) I am thinking about printing the poem that is emerging out of these considerations and perhaps, developing a set of portraits in this week’s print workshop.