An A-Z of The Ting : Theatre of Mistakes – A by Marie-Anne Mancio – the first part of a 16 eBook set collating Marie-Anne’s research into the radical 70s experimental performance art/theatre group The Ting. Created as part of a bookleteer residency in 2009, originally to accompany a show at West Bromwich’s the Public (cancelled as the venue closed).
DOG EAR is a magazine in the form of a concertina bookmark, with ten slim pages of writing and illustration selected from online contributions. It’s available for free from independent bookshops and libraries (cunningly hidden between the pages of books to perk up surprised readers, I like to imagine).
I love the way the content must fit the unusual dimensions of the magazine. Rather than being a restriction, it seems to inspire imaginative uses of space, containing drawings akin to comic book panels, and flash fiction. There’s also snippets of funny overheard comments and quote-worthy status updates, the latter making messages borne on the most transitory of mediums appear more like transcribed responses from interviewed authors, or the one-sentence reviews that adorn film and theatre posters, simply by harnessing the fleeting digital in print.
DOG EAR reminds me of “reverse shoplifting”, where people plant copies of their books in shops or libraries – subversive D.I.Y distribution. I fancy the idea of self-publishing writers creating their own collections with bookleteer, then quietly slipping them into the bookshelves of esteemed literary establishments. Using any means to spread the word.
I’ve found Etsy to be a great source when looking for remarkable zines, often not featured anywhere else; either a sign that unfortunately, no-one has picked up on them yet, or the author is simply satisfied with creating and making their zines available to whoever stumbles upon them. Certainly the latter can make the reader feel as if they have discovered a hidden treasure of their own volition, rather than via the many zine groups floating about the internet, or word of mouth within the community.
This couldn’t be more true for anyone viewing Ying-Chieh Liu’s reprinted sketchbooks, containing stunning, ethereal illustrations from her numerous travels. It’s an interesting concept to reproduce a personal sketchbook (in I assume, its raw form), without interpretation or much of a narrative, but when they contain such intriguing artwork it’s hard not to be engrossed.
I thought I’d share this, courtesy of the chaps at It’s Nice That. Peter Crawley stitches illustrations into watercolour paper with a pin, needle and cotton thread; the elaborate images and precise lines look more like a digital printout than embroidery. His architectural illustrations are stunning, even more so when you take a closer look at their humble stitch makings. Take a look at “Architectural Reflections”, where the thread has been left dangling under the image to depict what look like roots under the earth. This combination of almost photo realistic imagery with the evidence of its handcrafted origins, integral to the concept of the piece, demonstrates the extraordinary capabilities and visual effects possible from paper and crafted works – comforting in this era of rapidly developing digital mediums.
Caroline Maclennan, a student at Lancaster University who worked with Alice Angus on her As It Comes project, created this eBook to document the research and people involved whilst exploring independent shops and traders in Lancaster. It’s composed of images printed from a mobile pogo printer and sketches, as well as newspaper clippings, tracings of maps and handwritten notes – all contrasted against a rustic brown paper sketchbook, which has been scanned and converted into an eBook with bookleteer. This lends a wonderful handcrafted aesthetic, letting the reader see a personalised account of a project examining human interactions and community, and serves as the perfect accompaniment to the work Alice has produced.
Another illustrator highlight on the bookleteer blog, courtesy of Stuart Patience. His drawings based on the Ragnarok, a book of Norse mythology, are spectacular. These highly detailed, surreal illustrations, contrasted against vast blank space, are the iconography of vivid, prophetic dreams; fitting considering the apocalyptic saga they were inspired by. What really spurred me into featuring his work however, are the images from his sketchbook, as Mandy, Radhika and myself are currently embarking on regular expeditions around the city, capturing public scenes through sketches, poetry and photographs. His seemingly hasty, broad lines, manage to convey a surprising amount of facial features and character traits, and are surely something to be inspired by. I can’t get any direct links to the pieces I’ve just mentioned, so you’ll have to forage around his site to find them – I’m sure you won’t mind stumbling across his other drawings in the process.
Time for me to feature some staggering artwork from illustrator Helen Vine now, taken from her zine “TREASURE”. A 15 page, saddle-stitched, illustration / photography zine inspired by “cemeteries and taxidermy museums”. Thankfully I share this slightly morbid fascination towards various creatures of the rigor mortis persuasion. Her work is amazingly intricate and captures the beautiful patterns and textures of natural geometry found in animals – it’s mesmerising. I was so engrossed in the cover, I didn’t notice at first glance what appears to be a flamingo made out of leaves, subtly camouflaged amongst the other birds, or the wood-grain effect beak of some unknown majestic creature, one weary eye peeking out.
You can view a preview here. To get a copy (assuming she hasn’t run out, which wouldn’t surprise me) e-mail her at email@example.com.
The other week I mentioned an impromptu City As Material expedition with Mandy and Radhika, to Victoria and Waterloo stations. Despite it being FREEZING, we captured some interesting moments (fingers glove-bound) from the trip. I found just being still and observing whilst people whizzed about, quite relaxing, and it inspired a completely different way of seeing and thinking that is neglected when we’re commuting. It also a chance to watch people who were waiting for trains, their quirky mannerisms and subtle interactions with others becoming more apparent as time went by.
In the studio the day after, I assembled a quick eBook from Mandy’s sketches, Radhika’s photographs, and my writing. Designed to showcase a selection of the material created on the day, it’ll be hosted on Diffusion soon with our other efforts.
Tomorrow we’re journeying to the British Museum for more observations, comparing the contrasting locations and further developing what form these trips will take. I’ll probably be Tweeting some snippets of stuff as we’re doing it, so follow bookleteer on Twitter for a peek.
Tomorrow, myself and some of my fellow Probsocis team, Mandy and Radhika, will be venturing on a mini City As Material expedition, hopefully the first of many. We’re aiming to draw sketches and write observations of people and interactions in a variety of public places – places that shape, and are in turn shaped, by the people in them – almost People As Material, if you will. Rather than having a theme or any set ambitions, we’re just going to try and capture the essence of random people and actions, perhaps inventing some fictional narratives and backstories along the way, and see how this format might inspire future City As Material events. Tomorrow we’ll be scouting out a few busy rail stations – places that reveal an interesting insight of the human character when bored or stressed, which should be prime fodder for some amusing drawings and writing. We’ll probably create some eBooks with the results, once we’ve done a few of these, so keep posted.
While Mandy was out at lunch Alice and I pounced on the StoryCube puzzle she’s working on because, well, because it looks gorgeous! Pencil sketches of farmyard animals, sea creatures, flowers, kittens, insects and snakes are scattered across a set of nine cubes and lie on a background of shades of blue. The sketches cross over from one side of the cube to another but change as you rotate the cube so that viewing different sides give the sketches a fantastical feel where kittens have flowers for feet and cows have snakes instead of mouths.
The nine cubes are intended as a puzzle with the goal being to match up all of the sketches of one type across all nine cubes. Sounds simple doesn’t it.. well, Alice and I didn’t manage it in the time Mandy was out for lunch!
ps. I also have to say good-bye today. This will be my last regular post for the bookleteer blog because I begin a full-time research position on Monday. I’ve been working with Proboscis on and off for the past five years and it’s been an incredible journey. I can’t thank Giles and Alice enough for the opportunities I’ve had while I’ve been here – and especially for giving me the chance to meet and work with all the fabulous talented people who’ve been in the studio over that time. Good luck with everything, folks!