creating beautiful journals and books
I believe in being resourceful and I invariably aim to re-use, re-purpose and recycle. Our house is over-flowing with books of all kinds. My printing press is an old wooden mangle. I mostly work in my cosy kitchen using found and recycled materials although I do have a studio in the garden where I store my treasured resources.
My work is intuitive and mostly spontaneous. It is inspired by the natural world, by things that are close to my heart, by what I read, my dream life and by poems I write. Many of my earlier books were made for local annual exhibitions held with my friend and neighbour Sharon Armstead, a painter and mixed media artist. In 2005, during a long stay in Auckland when my mother was ill, I joined the New Zealand Association of Book Crafts. I learnt a lot about book arts through the generosity of other members and gained the confidence to exhibit my books more widely.
I love the medium because it allows me a great deal of freedom.
How long have I been making artist’s books?
A few years ago my mother gave me a little book with wallpaper pasted on a cardboard cover and newsprint pages stapled together inside. I made it in kindergarten in Auckland when I was four years old. So I have been making books for 65 years!
I have loved words, books and paper for as long as I can remember. I have kept journals for decades. When I studied printmaking with the legendary Joyce Allen in the mid-1980s, I added images to my repertoire. So that’s when I began passionately exploring the medium of artist’s books.
Although I am based in Australia, I still keep strong ties to my homeland. For decades I have lived in a rural coastal community in New South Wales. Here I am in touch with the natural landscape and the cycles of nature. I have been fortunate to live a simple life where friendships, gardens, family and daydreams prevail. To me, this is a blessed gift in what is becoming an ever more competitive and complicated world.
Over the years I have been nurtured and encouraged by my friends and specifically by printmakers Joyce Allen and Canberra based G.W. Bot. Papermaker Katharine Nix, book artist Liz Jeneid and New Zealand paper engineer Elizabeth Steiner have all been positive role models for me.
In retrospect, my books are a distillation of my journalling. My journals contain observations of a world that is disappearing and a record of personal experiences, insights and ideas in times of enormous change.
My latest book is a limited edition pop-up structure titled Mending.
The text is a quote from a speech by Jacinda Ardern after the Christchurch mosque shootings. The book features black walnut and copper inks which I made myself for the original illustrations. Mending is currently part of an exhibition at the Central Library in Denver Colorado which runs until December. Other copies of this edition have been scheduled for exhibitions around Australia including an exhibition with an international book arts conference in Sydney in October.
Now that my work is featured in collections and exhibitions around the world, my books may become less playful and more thoughtful. I am mindful of the responsibility that comes with the opportunity to express myself in a global context.
I want the medium and the message to have relevance and resonance for others as well as myself.