Issue 7 is now out and this month we’ve selected something with a nod to the historical moment this month has brought to people in the UK. Tor Lukasik-Foss’s The New Worker’s Songbook Songwriters Workbook for New Worksongs! is a playful guide to creating your own workers’ song, helping you through the process of writing verses, the chorus, rehearsing and performing. It was part of a 2011 collaborative project by DodoLab and Tor, commissioned by the Workers Arts and Heritage Centre in Hamilton, Ontario which was inspired by WAHC’s collection of books and recordings of songs that reflect Hamilton’s history of industry and organized labour. In addition to the songbook, the project led to an exhibition and several public performances using Tor’s Mobile Workers Song Cart.
From the Archives
This month we have distributed copies among the subscribers from a selection of books created for our City As Material 1 : London (2010) and Material Conditions (2011/12) projects. City As Material was a series of walks in London that produced collaborative publications by the participants. Material Conditions was a series of commissioned books made by creative practitioners reflecting on the state of personal creative practice in an era of recessions, austerity and funding cuts.
From Material Conditions,
Material Conditions Epilogue with contributions from Sarah Butler, Jane Prophet, Karla Brunet, Janet Owen Driggs & Jules Rochielle and Ruth Maclennan.
SUBSCRIBE TO THE PERIODICAL HERE
Treat yourself to something lovely each month – an enigmatic, eclectic package of beautifully printed books dropping through your letterbox. Get inspired and create and share your own publications on bookleteer to take part too. We’re currently aiming to reach 80 subscriptions – with free copies of artists bookworks for every new annual subscriber, changing monthly.
Artists Bookworks… Get Your Free Artists Bookworks…
We’re currently on a subscriptions drive for the Periodical – we estimate that we need about 100 subscriptions to break even on printing and shipping costs, and if we can grow beyond that we’ll be able to explore starting new series of commissioned books to be sent out alongside those we select from bookleteer’s public library. At the moment we’ve reached 40 subscriptions – 19 new ones in the past 4 weeks. Each month we’re setting a goal to aim for, and offering (for new annual subs) a different free artists bookwork from our back collection, alongside the “Social Tapestries: Case of Perspectives” which we’ll send out while stocks last. Last month we sent new subscribers a copy of our deck of cards, “Being in Common Catalogue of Ideas“, which we created as part of a commission for Gunpowder Park back in 2008. This month, aiming to reach 60 subscriptions, we’ve selected an artists bookwork we made last year with our friends at DodoLab, Andrew Hunter and Lisa Hirmer, artist Leila Armstrong and curator Josie Mills, Professor Starling’s Expedition : Thetford-London-Oxford.
Three reasons, really. Firstly, and most importantly, its about inspiration, surprise and delight. Each month you’ll receive a package of something engaging, challenging or simply lovely through the post.
The bookleteer Periodical subscription is a treat because the monthly arrival is always suprising, ranging from quirky to poetic. These little editions are like a monthly book art present. This is a great subscription for anyone who would enjoy a thoughtul miniature periodically arriving though their post box.
Luci Eyers, Artist & Subscriber
Secondly, its about a community of readers and makers who can participate in an evolving and expanding project of making and sharing ideas – responding to the things you receive in kind by making and sharing your own publications on bookleteer. Not the knee-jerk reactions and comments so commonly found on social media, but a space and place for considered, elegant ripostes and rejoinders.
Responsive, spontaneous and not too concerned with being A Significant Addition to One’s Great Works; that’s a great place to start from. From play can spring a lot of possibilities. Bookleteer has been a new game, where the next move is always unknown but the consequences useful. The usual finality of publishing is made obsolete by the mutuality of the provisional publication, always open to improvement and rethinking. I like to receive a regular dose of the unpredictable: I’m not too proud to borrow and not too selfish to share.
Gair Dunlop, Artist & Subscriber
And lastly, its about resilience and sustainability – bookleteer is unfunded and supported entirely through donations from its users and sales from the Short Run printing service. The Periodical is our way of inviting users to share in supporting bookleteer rather than charging for using it. If we get enough subscribers we’ll be able to consider more ambitious parallel projects, such as commissioned series, too.
We’ve just published our latest entry in the City As Material series: ‘Professor Starling’s Thetford-London-Oxford Expedition’ – three books documenting the investigative excursions of Professor William Starling and his research team (Lisa Hirmer and Andrew Hunter of DodoLab, Josephine Mills of the University of Lethbridge Art Gallery, Lethbridge artist Leila Armstrong, and Giles Lane and Hazem Tagiuri of Proboscis) during his trip to the United Kingdom in Feburary, where he sought to examine the rapid disappearance of the European Starling in contrast to the continued expansion of its North American cousin.
The first volume, Perquisitions, contains descriptions of the various participants’ thoughts on the expedition and its rationale. Congeries showcases selected items and ideas collected during their travels, and the final volume, Speculations, offers reflections and fantastical musings on the material gathered and testimonies heard.
Purchase a limited edition copy complete with specially printed ribbon here.
Let me draw your attention to a brilliantly written, striking piece which was featured in the Guardian a few weeks back. ‘Walking is political‘, by Will Self, is an edited version of his inaugural lecture as professor of contemporary thought at Brunel University, lamenting our increasing detachment from innate cognitive abilities when traversing the urban environment, and championing foot travel as a democratising force amongst spaces ever more dominated by corporate control.
Cue lengthy pause for breath.
Aside from being a fascinating read, it chimes with our aims for the City As Material series – to temporarily put aside our daily travel routines and concerns, the well trodden routes and second nature responses to familiar buildings and spaces, so that we may discover hidden facets of the city and in turn create work inspired by them. Instead of being blindly directed by technology, we use it to document our shared experiences, and evoke new forms of engagement with the places we live in and roam.
Speaking of which, we’re just in the process of finishing the books from City As Material 2. Stay tuned!
Outside the British Museum was first, where we received hails of giggles from startled tourists and smirks from Londoners passing by. It was surprising that Professor Starling got so many reactions in London, where there’s plenty of street performers and PR stunts, compared to low-key Thetford. People that did engage with us seemed to be more concerned with the spectacle of the costume than talking about the awareness of Starlings and other birds. This was especially the case when we got to Trafalgar square, after checking out the second-hand book and print shops on Cecil Court, the Professor briefly mourning some of his stuffed kin in the window of an antiques shop.
A descent of the steps leading down to the Mall was next. They were curiously empty, lending a very regal air to the Professor as he grandly strode on, cane in hand, towards St Jame’s Park. Circling the lake amongst the many species of waterfowl, eagerly scrabbling at morsels of tossed bread through the fence, we overheard questionable tales of Starling murmurations in fantastical formations, and laments for the decreasing number of small birds in the parks and other public spaces.
Shedding his feathers and back in human form, Andrew and the rest of the team accompanied us to Gaby’s Deli on Charing Cross Road for lunch. It’s currently being threatened with closure by the landlords, after more than 50 years of service behind it – here’s hoping it doesn’t migrate elsewhere.
Tomorrow we’ll be in Oxford, the final spot of the series.
Last Thursday we travelled to Thetford, Norfolk, the first destination ofCity As Material 2, centered on the theme of ‘Migrations’. Joining us were Andrew Hunter and Lisa Hirmer from Dodolab, Josie Mills from the University of Lethbridge Art Gallery, and Leila Armstrong. Oh, and the “itinerant avian scholar” (in his own squawks), Professor William Starling – Andrew’s alter ego, who is investigating the decline of Starlings and other species in the UK.
After a heinous early start and a couple of train changes, Giles and I were picked up by Andrew in Bury St Edmunds, a short drive from Thetford. He filled us in on what they’d been up to so far, and we started to discuss a loose route for the day. We arrived and worked our way into the town, along its contours of winding roads and down the High Street, where people drifted past in the slow, content manner of those living in a quiet market town on a warm Winter’s morning, then met the others in a Portuguese cafe. The 2001 UK census suggested that almost 30 % percent of the population in Thetford were Portuguese, drawn by work in the farms, fields and factories.
Andrew showed us an aging tome entitled ‘In Breckland Wilds’, which Professor Starling had been studying to get a sense of the area in past times. I immediately turned to the alluring chapter called ‘Traditions, Customs and Ghost Tales’, and learnt about the spectre of the “flaming-eyed rabbit” and other dubious local lore. Smirking aside, there was a genuine interest in Thetford’s folklore – tales that can allude to the real fears and anxieties of people in the area at the time. On that note we departed and headed for the ruins of Thetford Priory, which in the 13th century had drawn pilgrims to Thetford, after the discovery of a number of saints’ relics in a statue of the Virgin Mary.
Along the way, Andrew transformed into Professor Starling, donning grand attire and a giant bird’s head (crowned by a top hat) and spotted one of his namesake in a tree. Unfortunately it would be the only one we spotted that day. He chatted with passing locals who weren’t fazed in the slightest, cheerfully greeting our unusual ensemble.
I was expecting the ruins to be scattered rubble, but the crumbled perimeter walls were still visible, laid out in thick lines of fist-sized flint, two feet tall. It almost looked as if it was in the process of being built; the stonemasons away on an eternal break. I made some rubbings with tracing paper and a graphite block, gleaning traces of the past, and noticed covered grill pits, sadly filled with rubbish – traces of the now. Saying that, despite being a marvel for us, these ruins must seem very commonplace for the local youth.
We split up after returning to the city centre. Professor Starling and Lisa went to talk to more people on the high street, Josie and Leila set off for Ancient House Museum, and Giles and I took a scenic detour around the town edges, observing lovely flint cottages and houses overtaken by vivid green vines, then slowly passing along the river. We noticed statues of Captain Mainwaring from Dad’s Army, which was filmed extensively around the area, and by contrast, one of Maharajah Duleep Singh, who settled in the nearby Elveden Hall, on the opposite bank. There’s also an odd statue of Thomas Paine, born in Thetford, on King Street, poised with quill as if playing darts and gripping an upside down copy of his book ‘The Rights of Man’. A diverse trio indeed.
Reuniting with Josie and Leila briefly at the Museum, we saw a Narwhal tusk, taxidermy birds, and replicas of the Thetford Hoard, unearthed in 1979, and now housed in the British Museum. The circumstances surrounding the discovery are shady and it is thought the treasure is incomplete. We started to think about what might be missing, and what the treasures of Thetford today might be.
Over lunch, everyone together again, Andrew recounted some of the opinions he had gathered as Professor Starling. His favourite, in response to his question about why the numbers of Starlings had fallen in Thetford was “Cats!”. Following chuckles, we left for Castle Hill, one of the tallest Norman mottes in England, although nothing remains of the castle which once sat atop it. There seems to be many rumours about buried treasure and hidden tunnels, though our only surprise was how tricky it was to safely walk back down.
Lastly, we drove out to the remains of the Thetford Warren Lodge, surrounded by wonderfully spongy ground that felt like it was absorbing you into the land, and paths sprinkled with knapped flint. Peering through the bars which protected it gave a sense of the original fortitude and seclusion of the structure, standing firm amongst thickets of trees.
Tranquil as it was, we had another agenda: to drive back to town, and retire to the Bell Inn. Pints up!
Following in the fluttering wings of Professor Starling, who will be investigating the passages of Starlings across Europe and North America throughout the ages, we’ll be looking at the migrations of people to these shores, how these have influenced spaces and communities, as well as more intangible forces – the migration of knowledge, skills and beliefs.
Next up: London and Oxford. Look out for tales from the days, and the eBooks created, very soon.
Pitch up & Publish One day workshops to create and publish booklets and StoryCubes using bookleteer: guiding you from concept to publication and beyond, bring a particular project you want to undertake, or come for an introduction and to experiment. The day will be tailored to your needs so you can bring a particular project you want to undertake, specific questions you want to address, or come for an introduction and to experiment. For new to experienced users, all are welcome. Book tickets on Eventbrite for these dates – 12 July, 13 Sept, £50 / £40 (early bird). Max 10 places per workshop.
Get Bookleteering! Come along to one of our ‘Get Bookleteering’ 2 hour surgery sessions ranging from beginners to advanced, to answer your questions about specific projects as well as introduce new users to Bookleteer. Book places on Eventbrite for these dates – 28 June , 26 July, £20 / £10 (Concessions). Max 6 places per session.
Both event prices include (complimentary Alpha Club membership, 5% discount off your first Short Run Printing order, free pack StoryCubes).
Bookleteer is an online service to help you create and publish booklets and StoryCubes. It’s simple, quick and free – print and make them in minutes using only a pair of scissors, or share them online, anywhere there is an internet connection, computer and standard inkjet or laser printer. Make field notebooks, workbooks, gifts, private journals and folios, or just test your design idea’s before using our short run printing service to print your book professionally in small or large quantities. Unlike other publishing platforms, Bookleteer enables quick and easy modification, as findings may change, mistakes made. It allows you use only the handmade versions or experiment with them before professionally printing. The opportunity to create is endless.
A recently published Diffusion Highlight, The Thetford Travelling Menagerie by Lisa Hirmer and Andrew Hunter of Dodolab, is one of the few eBooks so far to use the A5 landscape format, the end result being particularly striking and accomplished. It stands out amongst the Proboscis bookshelves, aided in part, by the lovely illustration on its cover – a procession of silhouetted creatures in all manner of shapes and sizes.
“The goal of The Thetford Travelling Menagerie is to use stories and images of local animals (past and present, real and imagined) to inspire people in the community to share their perceptions of Thetford today. Our stories and images of animals are offered to trigger memories and tales, a menagerie of beasts to conjure up stories of Thetford, its history of change and its current state of flux. What belongs, what’s been lost, what keeps people away, and what draws them in? What can we learn and share about migration, displacement, settlement and change from the creatures and natural world around us?”
It would be great to see more eBooks taking advantage of this larger format – it allows for greater design and really lends the publication a sense of value. It’s perfect for landscape photography, perhaps even for mini coffee table books if using high quality paper and a capable printer, or the Publish and Print On Demand service.
During research visits to Riejka, Croatia, Andrew Hunter of Dodolab took the photographs of signs and graffiti that adorn this set of four double sided Storycubes. Accompanying the Icons Of Rijeka eBooks, they display some peculiar and amusing images, and are given a bold physicality by the three dimensional form of the cubes – almost as if someone has excavated a chunk of wall! I particularly like the sign which shows several figures appearing to clamber over a car, but what it denotes I have NO idea.
Download, make and decipher them for yourselves here.