Tuesday 17 June 2014

Another Library, Another Country

In 1995 I collaborated with author Kathy Page on a project to create a portable reading environment for Back To Books which toured parts of the UK in The Year of Reading. Kathy wrote the four short stories and I produced a set of large format prints for three of the stories and a textile interpretation for the fourth. The textile panels were lashed to screens thus creating a snug reading space with chairs, cushions and the four large format books. We wanted to take readers back to that early sensation of falling into a large picture book and the pleasure pages, pictures and words could bring. 

Much of the work putting the books together for the project took place in the former HQ of Corby Community Arts in Canada Square, affectionately known as The Bunker. It was very dark but there was lots of space and Kate Dyer had the kettle at the ready and words of encouragement when the task in hand seemed at it's most daunting. What kept me going was the beauty and mystery of the stories and the doorways to other worlds they created.

Some of those stories along with new work appear in Kathy's most recent collection Paradise and Elsewhere published by Biblioasis. You can read more about Kathy's new book here and one of the stories from the collection here

When Kathy and her family moved to Canada there was a long gap where we lost contact, I  remember pondering on this in my former studio in Beanfield Primary School, I was listening to Radio 4 and the Afternoon Story came on. It was one of Kathy's stories, it was her voice!

Shortly afterwards I received an email, out of the blue, from Kathy, via the Saatchi Gallery website where I had uploaded some new work and since then, even though much physical space separates us we have continued to share ideas, take walks together and look at the world in words and images. Kathy has been involved in more recent projects I have coordinated for Back To Books and it has been fascinating to read her new writing. She describes the shaping of the new collection here

I am delighted to have been invited to exhibit a selection of prints from our original project and give a talk about my current practice in the Gallery at Salt Spring Library in Canada, as part of the launch celebrations. 

To quote Kathy 

"I don’t travel frequently, but when I do, it has a powerful and lasting effect on me. I look carefully and think about what I find."

It seems strange that as one project in a series of libraries Lincolnshire ends I'll be making my way to see my friend in her home on Salt Spring Island, talking to her in her local library and revisiting some of my earlier imagery, which was inspired by Kathy's marvellous stories. 

I'm really looking forward to this adventure, new sights and sounds, new people to meet, if you are in the area I hope you'll join us!

Prints from that original project are available here

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