The Book of All and The Last Book (2022/2023)
This Textile Artist Book Sculptural Installation, comprising of layered, interconnected sub-narratives, was part of an exhibition ‘Reflections of South Hill Park’ with ‘Consuo’ textile artists’ group, at South Hill Park Arts Centre, Bracknell, UK.
Two presented textile book sculptures artistically examine utopian and dystopian scenarios. Juxtaposed realities serve both as a declaration of hope and a forewarning. Mytho-poetically approached, this narrative is placed at the intersection of cloth and language, considering books as keepers of knowledge, humans – as custodians of civilization and nature. Predominantly, the project did not seek direct historical or physical accuracy, rather – connected ideas and realms. Some conceptual and physical aspects have been developed in the past two years, prior to distilling into site-specific reflection. However, an image of an Ice House on the grounds from Bracknell Library Archives ( https://www.flickr.com/photos/bracknellforest ) has made a profound impression: seemingly an embodiment of light and darkness in my work, thus prompting a veiled interpretation in one of the ink hand drawings on silk in The Book of All.
Rich, encyclopaedic format of the first sculpture and the dark reality of the second invite to think globally, unravelling opposing realities through ancient book form and cloth. Having grown up with complex geographies, vastness of physical landscape and cultural hybridity, I am naturally concerned with perpetual contradiction of humankind – painfully observing our tragically destructive tendencies alongside impassioned desire for cultural growth, appreciation of nature, beauty and the need to preserve them. In that stance, within a wider cultural framework, my inquiry cogently placed at a historical cultural centre of note intrinsically connected with its work representing and celebrating culture.
Are the children of tomorrow to bask in kaleidoscopic wonder? Or – to inherit The Last Book?
Multifaceted conceptual depths of this work herald the beauty of ‘the unseen’. Metamorphosis of humble food waste such as fish skins, for instance, into exquisite naturally dyed leather, – hand-tanned and gilded, transforms raw nature into fine art. Continually placing practice at the intersection of artist books and textile art, I desire to subvert classical expectations of these realms and simultaneously connect to global ancestral practices, celebrating endangered heritage crafts. Hand-drawings on silk with hand-made natural inks depict the fleeting beauty, impermanence of nature, finding treasures amongst often aesthetically ‘invisible’ decaying vegetation, common plants and weeds. Uniquely hand-crafted approach, precious practice of creative experimental natural dyeing is an ode to the labour of growing, harvesting dye plants and the skill of extracting and originating ‘living alphabets of colour’, – for, like humans, they change with time, imbued with poetry of nature and stanzas of its custodians. John Ruskin captured this with utmost clarity: ‘It is the best possible sign of colour when nobody who sees it knows what to call it’ (Ruskin 1859, cited in St Clair, 2018:32).
Painstakingly handmade, aesthetically both sculptures resemble ancient artefacts, to suggest passage of time and further accentuate shared cultural heritage as a true, universally understood treasure and a way of communication. The use of natural materials and dyes highlights my fascination with juxtaposing raw nature and the finesse, beguiling beauty they offer through transformation of handcrafting. Artistic references to marbling, gilding, embossing and Coptic binding connect to ancient book arts, anchoring artist books’ realm to heritage and simultaneously subverting by placing inquiry into textile medium with its unique narrative potential.
Hand-made Fish skin leather, Natural Bees Wax, Linen and Silk Yarn, Natural Dyes, Handmade Natural Inks, 23 ct Genuine Gold Leaf, Hand-stitch, Hand-drawing on silk, Hand-cut Stencil, Wax Resist, Natural Handwoven Hemp, Silk, Kakishibu dye, Natural Indigo dye, Handmade.
Fish skin leather book cover: H 54 x W 77 cm
13 deconstructed Codex book double sections, each (unfolded), approximately H 32 x W 54 cm
The Last Book open scroll: H 53 x W 107 cm.