The new arts space in Leeds, The Tetley, played host to the 17th International Contmporary Artists Book Fair (Pages) this weekend. With 60 exhibitors showcasing and selling some of the best new work being made, the whole building was transformed into a busy buzzing celebration of the artist’s book.
Not only did I get to visit the event, but I also had two books on display at the stall the BA (Hons) Visual Communications stall (that’s my course!).
My favourite book of the whole event was Pocket Orrery. It was a little larger than a matchbox and had insert cards in the order of planets from the sun. It was made by Alex Pritchard.
There was also a beautiful final copy of book illustrating an explosion in a ceramics area of a middle eastern city – each page had a circle removed from the centre and the edge of which was hand cut with a piece of story from the street, like silhouettes of the shoppers, and then the teapots and mugs, ending in a burnt circle. Called ‘Al-Mutanabbi Street – a vicious circle’ it was made by Mette-Sofie D Ambeck and was awarded the Birgit Skiöld Memorial Trust Award of Excellence at the London Art Book Fair 2013 at Whitechapel Gallery in London, UK. One copy is now held at the National Art Collection, Word & Image Department at Victoria & Albert Museum in London. This is the second time Ambeck has won the prize.
I also enjoyed a linocut printed concertina book by Hugh Bryden that unfolded to a long picture of a stone bridge in Dumfries, with the alternate side featuring a poem – all of the artists books were created in collaboration with poets.
Kristine Steele made some wonderful sculptural books that were almost alive. Her bees in a book were wonderful and the could almost hear the buzz?
My favourite stall was illustrator Karoline Rerrie’s one, which hosted a plethora of printed folky delights. I loved her naive style and use of colours.
The printwork and books from the Caseroom Press also impressed me greatly because they were innovative and exploratory with quite a contemporary style.
I managed to spend some time working on our course stall too – well 20 minutes cover between attending an event and my parking ticket running out. It was nice to see people look at the books, and I encouraged them to take part in making a new book for my series on ageing (someone even came back after having a good think during the afternoon). The live sketching photo booth really attracted attention and the interactive elements of our stall most definitely made it stand out and be amongst the best at the show.
My favourite bit of the event was talking to the artists and having them encourage me to pick up the books and read them. It was lovely to be able to handle the art and actually make it come to life in your hands. I wish I didn’t have to work all weekend at my part time job or else I would have really enjoyed spending time on the course stall, talking to people and encouraging them to read our books and hear their thoughts.