What's happening at Ampersand Duck?
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Books by Canberra Artists

An exciting exhibition showcasing artist's books across the field: from fine press to street press, made by 20 Canberra artists who don't think of themselves as 'book artists'. Opening at 6pm on Thursday 11 April at the Watson Arts Centre (with guest speaker Peter Haynes), the show runs until 28 April.

Did you know?
Canberra has a long and prolific history of artistic book production, encouraged and inspired by our rich array of cultural and creative institutions. There is a vibrant community of artists here who use the book form to explore and extend their broader practice, whether it be printmaking, sculpture or any other medium.

The genre of artists’ books has been formally taught in Canberra since the early 1980s thanks to the establishment of the European-inspired Graphic Investigations Workshop at the Canberra School of Art which in 1998 became the Printmedia and Drawing Workshop of the ANU School of Art. Both workshops have released generations of book-aware artists into the Canberra art scene who were then in turn supported by more community-based printing organisations like Studio One, Raft Press and Megalo.

This exhibition, timed to coincide with the Centenary celebrations, features twenty artists with a strong connection to Canberra, showcasing their work in a way that is both snapshot and survey. Each participant has been invited to show ‘old’ work and ‘recent’ work. The pieces on show track the beginning of a professional interest in books for each artist that continues to the present day.

A sometimes surprising array of excellence...
GW Bot, Patsy Payne, Tanya Myshkin, Franki Sparke,  Dianne Fogwell, Nicci Haynes, Jan Hogan, Antonia Aitken, Bernie Slater, Ingeborg Hansen, Shellaine Godbold, UK Frederick, Genevieve Swifte, Maryann Mussared, Murray Kirkland, Kirsten Farrell, Hannah Hoyne, Nick Stranks, Iona Walsh: all of whom reveal their relationship with the book form as a integral part of their practice.

Curated by Ampersand Duck (Caren Florance), this range of work will enchant book enthusiasts and perhaps challenge notions of what a book can be in an art context.

But wait! There's more...
We (fellow organiser Maryann Mussared and myself) have arranged artist's talks, workshops and a zine fair to keep the buzz going through the exhibition. We're still confirming the details, but the dates to pencil in are below:

the back side of the invite

I will keep you informed, or you can contact the Watson Arts Centre for more details: / 02 6241 1670.
The Watson Arts Centre is on Aspinall Street, Watson ACT and is open 10am to 4pm, Thursdays to Sundays.


Sue Wootton work

Sue Wootton is a NZ poet whom I met during my time as Printer in Residence at the Otakou Press in The University of Otago. Her poem, 'No String Banjo', was one of the broadsides I printed for the ensuing Prime folio (now sold out), and it looked like this:


Last year I was invited to print a tip-in print for the next Matrix journal (imminent, I am assured) and I chose another Wootton poem as a way to showcase my various letterpress skillz in a way that wasn't too intricate -- I had to print almost 800 sheets, I didn't want to change colours! This is what resulted:

pattern for plain heart

As you can see, Sue writes shaped poems (amongst others) that are much more complex than their mere shape. I have become quite addicted to translating her work from her computer layout (done in Word, can you believe) to lead, with a few tweaks of my own, always with her permission. And so I've embarked upon a fine press volume we've called Out of Shape, comprising ten of her shaped pieces. It will be unbound but in book format, which means the lack of shape extends to the order of the poems.

As you probably noticed from my last newsletter, I'm having a bit of a busy year, so this work is progressing in the grand Weekend Work tradition of many private presses. I'm delighted to hear that while I'm plodding along, Sue is doing great things, and the latest is being shortlisted as one of only four poets for the 2013 Open International Hippocrates Prize for Poetry and Medicine. Yay for Sue! In celebration, and to cross fingers that she wins, below is a sneak peek at one of the poems from my project, as an author's proof, scanned from a quick proof I made from a print as we firm up the layout. Here's a heads-up about the final piece: there won't be a skerrick of black ink in the book. When I visited Sue late last year, I took careful note of the colours she wears and surrounds herself with, and they informed the final design. Sue has a wonderful website, so if you'd like to know more about her or find some of her non-shaped poems, that's where to go. So here is 'String Theory', in proof state.

string theory
Copyright © 2013 Caren Florance, All rights reserved.
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