Single sheet gallery artist's book

Nets and Portholes

Artists' Books, Small Editions
Single sheet gallery artist’s book, pictured on the flat print.

During lockdown I came across examples of Gallery Books on Alisa Golden’s wonderful website – Making Handmade Books . Flag books with windows – framing the image behind them.

In the autumn of 2021 we took the opportunity to travel locally during a break from the pandemic – one of our visits took us to the fishing port of Kinlochbervie on the West coast. It was lightly raining as is so often the case in Scotland, but the water made all the colours of the rusty anchors gleam. Piles of bright woven fishing nets picked up new patterns in their slumped layers. Fish boxes stacked like a backdrop to a Wes Anderson film – symetrical pinks and reds.

Sculpture of two single sheet gallery artists' books (from above)
Sculptural arrangement of two single sheet gallery artists’ books (from above)

Returning from the trip, the photographs from this colourful day inspired me to knock some rust off myself and try a few new techniques. I was reminded of the gallery books and started folding, cutting and punching out windows forming various maquettes and generally having a lot of fun figuring out the structure.

Three single sheet gallery artist's books
Sculptural arrangement of three single sheet gallery artist’s books (freestanding)

To make an edition a bit more rigor is required so I formed a NET (template) to position all my PORTHOLES… and the title of this set became clear. The photographs of the bundles of bright fishing nets were the perfect back for the single sheet books – each porthole showing a new abstract and the arrangement of the windows across the book forming a pleasing pattern ( unless you suffer from trypophobia! )

Variable edition of 4 single sheet gallery artists' books (back)
Variable edition of 4 single sheet gallery artists’ books (back)

In making the variable print edition it became clear that the books also worked in groups to form some wonderful sculptural towers. The memory of paper when creased allows them to be opened completely flat, then gently reformed back into the flag structure. (EDIT – 1 remaining and I’m delighted that the NLS now has one in their collection!)

Nets and Portholes will be on display at –

Pattern:BooksArtist Bookmakers Exhibition

26 Nov – 23 Dec
Wed-Fri 11-5, Sat & Sun 11-4.

3 Barclay Terrace, Edinburgh EH10 4HP.

“Art is the imposing of a pattern on experience, and our aesthetic enjoyment is recognition of the pattern.”

Alfred North Whitehead
(British Philosopher and Mathematician, 1861-1947)

People often have a visual preference for symmetry and repetition and are frequently attracted to geometric shapes and patterns. There is something incredibly mesmerising and comforting about seeing a shape or an image repeated in a mathematical order. Artists recognise this and frequently use pattern for both structural and decorative purposes. Roman and Egyptian tile work, the wallpapers by Morris & Co., and the paintings of Victor Vasarely and Brigit Riley are all examples of where pattern has been employed to great effect. Upright Gallery frequently exhibits artworks that have pattern at their core. Continuing this theme, artist bookmakers were invited to submit artworks for the annual artist book exhibition held every December. The brief was simple – celebrate pattern in artist book form. Over 80 handmade books will be on display from 35 artists.

Forth Margins Accordion Book by J Rowan designed and published by Lost Path Press 2019

Forth Margins

Small Editions
Forth Margins –
woodblocks by J Rowan, accordion book designed and published by Lost Path Press, 2019.

Having known each other for over a decade and reconnecting at a woodblock printing class a few years ago, our collaboration on Forth Margins made for a very satisfying project.

During the class we were both inspired by the local shoreline and its historical sites. Rowan continued with the project developing over a dozen plates following the edgelands of the Firth of Forth Estuary while I went on to develop blocks of a series of details from the Steam Ship Explorer.

Printed on recycled bamboo paper as a hard cover accordion and tied with string. Edition of 20. Suitable for use as a book or a linear display of prints with the accordion form fully extended. A map is included to allow you to visit each of the viewpoints.

Forth Margins is available for sale at Art Walk Porty, Gallery 10 Edinburgh, Print Space Dundee and other select events. (Edit – Edition I – SOLD OUT)


SS Explorer

Artists' Books, Small Editions

A site visit to the Steam Trawler Explorer proved inspiring. A Nationally Registered Historic Ship, the SS Explorer was used as a research vessel and the protection society is now trying to raise funds to restore the vessel.

2 books have been made so far, using material gathered from the visit.

Taking some of the rusty utilitarian details and symplifying the shapes a seties of woodblocks were carved to make symbolic illustrations for a limited edition (10) concertina book.

A small meander book with 24 images of details found on the ship is available to download as a pdf file to print at home.

SS Explorer Meander Book

almanac dosados zine


Artists' Books, Event, Small Editions, Zines
Almanac Photographs
The Constellations

Work on the theme of Almanac for a photographic exhibition led to the creation of 36 darkroom silver gelatine prints of entirely man-made constellations.

Three books have been produced to accompany the exhibition. A catalogue pamphlet, a dos-a-dos zine (limited edition of 60) and and large format book (limited edition of 12) exploring how the seasons that used to inform and schedule human activities now in the Anthropocene era the seasons are effected by mans activities instead.

Merry Go Round

Artists' Books, Event, Origami, Small Editions

Developing books for the Art Walk Porty “Pleasure Ground” theme led our collective to consider the carousel, not only of significance in the fairground as a swirling ride but also to photographers as the holder of memories in sequence – the slide projector carousel.

Thinking about the theme for several months the final project formed when I encountered a boarded up Merry-Go-Round in France. It was 37 degrees, the ride abandoned by the sensible folk who didn’t want to melt in a plastic tent. Time alone to make multiple exposure medium format colour kodak images of the structure.

These photographs formed the ground of the work. Four photographic prints, an installation of transparent floating circular accetate ‘bubbles’ on a glass balustrade and the book works themselves.

Experimenting with the circular form led to the main work Merry-Go-Round. A hard cover double sided accordion variant with paper cut letters. The slinky book could be displayed in a variety of round forms, but also stretched out to permit the prints to be seen. Edition of 5. (Edit – SOLD OUT)

Taking inspiration from the transparent installation further artists’ books were developed utilising origami and map folding techniques to make additional carousel forms.

The final book in the series – with a nod to our hosts at Twelve Triangles – was a work of off cuts, recycling the cut off papers from the other works to form a unique triangular structure with loose pages and many display possibilities.

Last Light - Origami book - Lost Path Press 2018

Last Light

Origami, Small Editions

The first book in this series uses images taken as the sun set on New Years Eve, or Hogmanay as we Scots call it, 2017. The last light of the old year.

The land and sea fold, shape and reform in a continuous origami map fold which can be displayed in a variety of sculptural forms.

Last Light - Origami book - Lost Path Press 2018

The second and third books in the series are also available.

1. Boddin Point.

2. North Berwick.

3. Seacliff.

Available from 17/02/2018.

(c) Images by Elaine Robson.
Photographs in Scotland, 2017 – 2018.
Designed. printed and bound by Lost Path Press, Edinburgh, Scotland, January 2018. 6 pages, sculptural map fold with clip. Each series a limited edition of 5 copies with 1 Artists Proof.
Printed on recycled paper. SOLD OUT