Friday, 22 June 2018

'If I only had more time' - in which I make an edition of 42 books in 8 days in collaboration with Nina Rodin

Lac Leman, Vevey, Switzerland

Last week was one of the most intense weeks of my life.....

Back in September 2017 I was artist in residence in Trelex, near Geneva, .

Whilst there I made a little book about being artist in residence, and how there is never enough time to complete a project. It was a small hand sewn, not very well crafted book using materials lying around in the studio.

To my delight, Nina Rodin, founder of the residency invited me back to make a first edition of the book with the aim to raise money for further residencies and for charity. This was an opportunity not to be missed, and I jumped at the chance to collaborate with Nina who is a very exciting artist, a perfectionist, and who has a lot of experience of making books.

The chance to revisit such a peaceful place was also something I could not resist.

fields of grain, Trelex

We worked hard.

Very hard.

From dawn until bedtime in the studio with occasional visits to Vevey to collect materials.

First I made a tiny mock up to work out how the pages would run.

 And then we sent for some enormous rolls of paper and got started.

The shops in Trelex are rarely open, so there was no excuse not to keep working.

I never managed to get inside either of these establishments, and the bakery was closed too, due to 'hand surgery'. No delicious fresh bread for me. Just wonderful juicy cherries, fresh from the tree in the garden.

The book was printed on a very large printer.

The huge sheets were then trimmed into strips for a concertina book.

I trimmed 280 metres with a small pair of scissors. It took 2 days, and was not that exciting. I was very glad when it was done.

Nina made 960 folds for the pages with her creasing device. She, too, was glad when that particular task was complete.

creasing device

When making a 31 page concertina, keeping everything square is critical.

Otherwise you get a 'bad' book, in which the images are not square to the page.

More exciting was a trip to Vevey to the book bindery, to choose materials for the covers.

I was allowed about 3 minutes to choose.

The original book was shocking pink, which would have worked well for rasing money for breast cancer, but there was not enough card in stock, and no cloth.

So no pink.

I wanted it to be cheerful.

The orange buckram cloth just jumped out at me.

It had to be.

I thought about blue, but I keep thinking back to my book art course and how I wasn't allowed to display an orange sleeve with my work when we had an exhibition in the library.

Defiance is a powerful emotion.

I am now free to rebel.

We found a red-orange card for the soft covers that almost matched.


And then thinking back again to my book art course, and how I would have to write why I chose orange/red and how it works for this specific book I took a stroll in the village to think of all the possible connections to that colour.

This is the art world at its worst; pretending that there was a good reason for the choice, when actually it was because I felt rebellious.

So here are some orangy-red things in the village, which if anyone asks I can pretend were the stimulants behind my choice.

the only way is orange

at the station

world cup fever

geranium orange

village cones

hair and watering can

But looking deep into my subconscious, maybe it is because the fountains were full of orange/red petals last September, which is how my project on water and the local fountains got started.

petals floating in the fountains of Trelex, September 2017

The petals are not there in June.

The flowers have only just started blooming in the baskets above the fountains, and the water is free of debris.

It would have been a very different book if I had visited at this time of year.

Anyway. The job is done, and I think you will agree that the covers match the petals perfectly.

completed books

And for my other half, who prefers foody things to most things, it almost matches the sausages too.

Tuesday, 5 June 2018

The guacemole that saved the day

on the way to somewhere

Another month goes by.

Words unwritten.

Trips to Canada to catch up with family, and nothing to write home about.

The land of rock and trees, water and puffy white clouds.

We took a ferry to Mayne island. The catalogue of disasters that befell youngest child in his attempts to join us were the stuff of a gripping movie. One that you wouldn't wish to see. Other people's travel disasters are really not that interesting, except when they might be about to miss the ferry.

We all made the ferry, by means not originally intended, and breathed a sigh of relief.

ferry to Mayne Island

The weather was kind.

We passed islands , trees and water.

More trees.

And more water.

water under the ferry

We stayed in a house by the seashore, and watched the ferries pass by in the distance, making their way between the islands, sounding their horns as they went..

It was idyllic.

We saw families of geese, and seals playing in the harbour.


We found jellyfish in rock pools.

Swam in the sea,

ate cake,

collected sticks, made fires ( some of us needed more matches than others, not having been given basic camp-fire building education in the highlands of Scotland where only one match was allowed).

how not to build a fire

And we went to the May fair, which was an extraordinarily joyful affair, with fancy dress, music and maypole dancing.

fancy hat contestant

maypole procession, Mayne Island

the queen and her followers

May Queen, Mayne Island
the maypole, Mayne Island

None of which I really wanted to write about.

The words just wouldn't come, and it was a private, family time.

But changes are afoot back home. OH ( my other half)  has had a slight change of diet, for 'health' reasons.

No more bacon and eggs for breakfast. No more smoke filled kitchen EVERY MORNING FOR THE LAST 10 YEARS.

We now share a box of muesli and fresh fruit. Oh joy.

The house smells so much more pleasant.

Last week the weather was beautiful. OH prepared a BBQ. Luckily there were no guests.

Delicious, totally burnt chicken. And other meats for OH of course.

I despaired once more.


Last night night I came home from London after a day of visiting and sitting on trains and found a meal prepared for me,

with ......


I nearly fell off my perch.

Not a plastic carton in sight ( almost)

No meat involved. Fresh coriander and chilli.

100% delicious.

Now that was worth putting fingers to keyboard for!


beaver lake in spring

rhododendrons, vancouver style.