The State Library has acquired a beautiful set of artists’ books produced by an Australian artist, Louise Jennison.
A Year of Southern Hemisphere Birds is an artists’ book which continues the ornithological tradition of John James Audubon and John Gould. This unique work is a handmade book and has been a year in the making. The work features 12 hand-drawn pencil on paper illustrations of Southern Hemisphere birds, one for each month of the year. The species depicted include the Yellow-billed Kingfisher, the Red-rumped Parrot and the Southern Boobook. Each bird is shown surrounded by images of its food and habitat and the things which it does. The images of the birds are accompanied by Gracia Haby’s explorer’s narrative which provides a prose description of each species. The work portrays birds as creatures similar to humans in the way in which they build their homes and lead their lives.
A Flight of Telve Southern Hemisphere Birds is a companion volume to this work. Flight reproduces the portraits from the original work but in each portrait the bird has been hand coloured. Flight is published in a concertina format which folds to form a volume with two cloth bound covers. The Library’s copy is one of only ten published.
The Library holds a rich collection of artists’ books which celebrate the book as an objet d’art and these two books are an excellent addition to this collection.
Collection Development Librarian
State Library of New South Wales
Many thanks once more to Mr Rare Books, Des Cowley, for spiriting G and me into the State Library of Victoria early one morning. Editions of this artists' book reside in various collections, including the SLV, the State Library of NSW, the State Library of Queensland, and the University of Melbourne Library.
Gracia and I have two new card designs for December featuring a familiar face or two. Wet whiskers drying (Batesford Bridge, Geelong, Victoria) and Keeping in line (Rock City, Tennessee)
You can purchase these new Near and Far greeting cards singly, as a pair, or as a bundle of five (of the one kind). And to usher in their arrival, we're having a sale.
Our online store sale runs up to Christmas night (25th of December), so you've near all of the month of December to make the giddy most of things. Simply type in the code NEARANDFAR upon checkout (the code is not case sensitive).
Thank-you for your retweets about our sale ("these finches shd hang in yr window"), friends, and your orders too.
You can also find our new cards at Milly Sleeping in Carlton. Percy and I dropped off an order this very morning, and generated the cutest hash tag I've yet to stumble across: #imetpercy. Thanks Leah.
You have until the 5th of December (tick, tick, tick...) to stick your head into RMIT's Spare Room to see all the prints that have been created as part of RMIT School of Art Galleries and the RMIT School of Art's The Print Imaging Practice Residency from 2004 through to 2013. Appearing alongside Decisions: The Print Imaging Practice Residency Exhibition 2013 in Project Space, this is the perfect chance to see with your own eyes all of the prints made especailly as part of or for the summer residency. It was a small thrill to see Gracia and my print from the 2005 residency, And They Silently Steal Away, there on the wall hung alphabetically. Indeed, as G shared recently, it is sometimes good to look back.
Not normally one to enjoy looking back at earlier work, revisiting this piece proved the exception to the rule. Seeing our (loosely captured) Pemberton’s Deer-mouse (Peromyscus pembertoni) and (approximately or thereabouts) Martinique Giant Rice-rat (Megalomys desmarestii) there on the wall I am reminded that at the time this was first exhibited as part of the printmaking summer residency exhibition, Ex Libris, I had just begun my blog High Up in the Trees. My very first post features a couple of (by today’s standards) tiny photos of the exhibition curated by Jazmina Cininas in which we displayed, in cabinets on loan from the Grainger Museum, our extinct animals quartet of artists’ books that pay tribute to the amateur detective. In bid to keep the forward focus, Trouble at Sea, The Case of the Lost Aviary, By the Pricking of My Claws, and The Dubious Clue are works I rarely look at now.
And speaking of Jazmina Cininas and coming full circle, it was with great pleasure that G and I took ourselves off to hear her present her werewolf findings, her PhD project, The Girlie Werewolf Hall of Fame: Historical and contemporary figurations of the female lycanthrope as part of Monster Fest at Cinema Nova on Sunday.
In case you missed it yesterday on instagram and twitter and facebook, we're having a 25% off everyhting SALE in our online store. Simply type in the discount code NEARANDFAR upon checkout.
(Thanks for the sweet mention, Pinknantucket Press.)
And feel free to subscribe to our e-newsletter, if you'd like to be in the loop re sales and new things.
Introducing 38.1500° S, 144.3500° E, a brand new folded zine of mine on this the first day on summer. It features my drawings of a Hooded Plover (Thinornis rubricollis); a Sacred Kingfisher (Todiramphus sanctus); a White-plumed Honeyeater (Lichenostomus penicillatus); and a Willie Wagtail (Rhipidura leucophrys). The coordinates for this particular zine, the 12th in something of an ongoing series, will take you to Geelong Gallery where these birds were last exhibited alongside an Orange-breasted Bunting (Passerina leclancherii), a Pink-footed Shearwater (Puffinus creatopus), and a Red-tailed Minla (Minla ignotincta).
Percy and I sincerely hope that you like this zine. It is available through our online store for the usual $2.00 (AUD). And, just as a heads-up, tomorrow, we'll be having a 25% off everything in our online store SALE. Perhaps you need to round out your zine collection or do a spot of Christmas shopping?
To receive 25% off your order simply enter the code 'nearandfar'. Our sale runs through until Christmas night (December 25th).
Earlier titles in this series include:
A beating of wings (I) (2012)
A beating of wings (II) (2012)
Humble birds (2011)
Birds that like to display (2011)
The interloper (2011)
Birds that have caught my eye in print but I've never been lucky enough to see in reality (2011)
An aurora of polar bears I have dreamt of (2011)
Five proud birds (2011)
Quadrupeds drawn from London's Natural History Museum Collection (2010)
(Making up 15 little kits, with a little help from Olive.)
Yesterday, on a day bright and sunny (and too hot for me, especially on the long way home), I conducted a second workshop in the leafy canopy of the Lyceum Club in Ridgeway Place. Inside the cool and very inviting surrounds as I unpacked my bone folders, scorers, rulers, zines, and pencils, the place was abuzz with news that the Governor-General, Her Excellency the Honourable Quentin Bryce AC CVOI, was stopping by for a look around the club. Sadly, I didn't get to met her, but I did teach three different bookbinding techniques to a room full of kind and keen souls. You may recall, from the below images, the last workshop I taught at the club. This time around, I taught three binding techniques that didn't require glue: wrap around, foldout, and double pamphlet. This time around, the group (as expressed earlier) were equally charming and enthusiastic. Another great workshop I'd happily teach again.
(A few quick photos instagram captures before the workshop was all I had time for, but you can see the beautiful space, and it was nice to see one of Isobel Clement's paintings on the wall.)
Thirteen images from recent (late October and into November) spring days, from resprung and reapholstered chairs to floorboard repairs by way of gallery visits and our pets, Omar, Olive, and Percy. Here, in visual order only, is a baker's dozen of what has been:
(In the early afternoon, we acquaint ourselves with tightly coiled chair springs and luxury.)
(To the beautifully relaxed Cup Day.)
(Mice away. Pens down. Olive tries to convince us the working day is done. (If only.))
(Saturday's tools make rough the hands and happy the heart.)
(Old man Perce makes cutting upholstery fabric somewhat tricky.)
(Saturday's bolt hole.)
(Perce decides that the distance home is too great and happily hitches a ride.)
(Monday's satisfaction is shredding old tax receipts for the RSPCA's rabbit bedding.)
(There on the wall, our print And They Silently Steal Away from the 2005 RMIT print residency.)
(The express picture of contented industry, reposing (after a night of galloping, scampering, yodelling)
(Three cheers to Rona, Deborah, and Paul, and their Wonder Room exhibition.)
(To: Book Team, State Library of New South Wales | Contents: 24 sedated birds)
No matter how busy the coming days, weeks, months, if you can't find me here you'll find me on instagram.
For those curious:
Deborah Klein, Rona Green, and Paul Compton's Wonder Room with Filomena Coppola and Heather Shimmen at Maroondah Art Gallery is on until the 30th of November.
And all the prints created as part of RMIT’s Print Imaging Practice Residency from 2004 through until 2013 are on display at RMIT Project Space/Spare Room until the 5th of December.
Plus, keep an eye on the State Library of New South Wales Acquisitions blog in regards to my recent artists' books.
For some considerable time now I've been meaning to post about Gracia's most recent Dear You postcard collage zine, and so it gives me great pleasure to introduce (to those of you who may have missed it earlier on) this new and charming publication. A Postcard as Measuring Device (2013) sees the series continue on from Conveyed by the Postal System (2012), and this time we get to head to Durban and the Rose gardens of Butchart's Gardens.
This new zine of imagined travels features some of the saddest tales I've read, with pulled tails being glued back on ("'Just a joke, just a joke,' they coo. ‘Don’t take it so seriously, it was only a bit of fun,' they tell me as they glue my tail back on to my rump.") and a lion tamed ("To be quietly brought into follicular line with a focused snip, snip, snip. With a little fussing, I may, just may, be granted entry to the bar and ballroom. The eternal verity: look the part and they’ll never know."). And it also features some of my favourite postcard collages, and a few familiar landmarks (such as the State Library of Victoria where rodents, as we sleep, rewrite history in the night hours).
This zine also sports a fetching striped spine and has been bound slightly differently to earlier zines. You can expect to see a lot more of this binding technique with a wraparound cover. And a few more zines by the two of us before the year is out, including another one with our good friend Hila.
An edition of 70, you can pick up your very own copy of this zine through our online store for $8.00 (AUD).
(It's curious to remember that the morning we took these photos of this new zine in hand was on the very same day G and her Mum later made all the biscuits for my artists' book launch at the Baillieu Library.)
Gracia and my artists' book, As inclination directs, can be seen for a few more days longer at the Fremantle Arts Centre until the 17th of November as part of the Fremantle Arts Centre Print Award 2013, and, as you can see above, at Geelong Gallery until the 24th of November as part of the 2013 Geelong Acquisitive Print Awards.
And in RMIT's Project Space / Spare Room until the 5th of December alongside Decisions: The Print Imaging Practice Residency Exhibition 2013, you can see all of the prints created from 2004 through to those created this year, including Gracia and my work, And They Silently Steal Away, from 2005.
Those overseas can see several of our zines included as part of The 4th Sheffield International Artist’s Book Prize Exhibition in the UK which is on until the 30th of November. The exhibition features 450+ books from 35 different countries.
Gracia's Poirot zine, A Catalogue of Bodies, can be seen as part of Shelf Life 2013, Delmar Gallery's Christmas Exhibition (from the 20th of November through to the 8th of December). (You may recall Shelf Life 2012.)
Recently, Gracia and I had the exceedingly good fortune to be able to document my giant book of birds, A Year of Southern Hemisphere Birds, in the beautiful domed La Trobe Reading Room of the State Library of Victoria, and it was a joy to see my birds soar. Here, for you, after instagram teaser, a closer look at my Kakapos, Red Knots and Crested Jays on the loose in a temporary paper forest. The chance to photograph this work before its journey to the State Library of N.S.W. served as a rewarding full stop to this big project and it left me feeling both nostalgic for what was and excited for what was to come. And so I give you, A Year of Southern Hemisphere Birds, a closer look:
In these photos, you can see how G's explorer's narrative was woven into the book on each month's title page. It is curious for me to think of this work now in transit to its new home. It's been quite the long goodbye.
Thank-you Des for spiriting us into the library.
Read: All my pretty chickens, glide, soar, flutter, perch
Coming soon: A handful of hand-coloured individual bird portraits
Here, photographed at Geelong Gallery on the day we deinstalled our show All breathing in heaven, is Gracia with a bound and finished copy of my artists' book A Flight of Twelve Southern Hemisphere Birds in hand. You can see the hand-coloured feathers of May's Southern Boobook (Ninox novaeseelandiae), June's Grey-rumped Treeswift (Hemiprocne longipennis), July's Kakapo (Strigops habroptilus), and August's Red Knot (Calidris canutus).
And here is G's explorer's narrative for this feathery quartet. Enjoy!
Southern Boobook (Ninox novaeseelandiae)
Tiny little Ninox novaeseelandiae of mainland Australia, Tasmania, and the coastal islands. Tiny little Ninox novaeseelandiae, lover of the open desert and the dense forest. Why, you’ve charmed your way into May placement. Sighted nesting in a tree hollow one night, I fell that hook, that line, that sinker, for your great big eyes and your small frame. Though your love of the rodent as delicacy is one I cannot with my palette come to appreciate, I admire you all the same. You talk to me of their paper fine ears tasting like the finest morsel and I find myself wincing ever so slightly. But no love was ever smooth in her course, and so I find myself both drawn closer and repelled. Caught in your talons, a small grey tail and I think of childhood tales (of Anatole the mouse with the expert knowledge of cheese, and Ratty and his beloved riverbank). And so, my handsome little tiny Ninox novaeseelandiae I will draw your portrait with you and your young encircled by a ring of mice. A mischief of mice for the two of you, only please, pray, make their demise swift. (In writing this love missive to a Boobook I realize that the winter isolation is already taking its toll. I am metamorphosing into a true Twitcher before your very eyes. My mannerisms have quite altered, and I fear all forms of normal society may well be closed to me forever now. But what for that cared the besotted, mania-bitten. What indeed.)
Grey-rumped Treeswift (Hemiprocne longipennis)
In a mangrove forest in the Malay Peninsula, I spot the easily detectable Grey-rumped Treeswift from a distance. The tail is like a pair of long-bladed scissors, and the inclement weather is on my side. As they perch on the twigs for a rest, showing me same cheek as Gould, I draw the portrait of this non-migrant. For their generosity, a halo of butterflies (Rajah Brooke’s Birdwing (Trogonoptera brookiana), Common Lascar (Pantoporia hordonia hordonia), The Wizard (Rhinopalpa polynice), Wavy Maplet (Chersonesia rahria), Horsfield’s Baron (Tanaecia iapis)). My fascination with birds has struck me quite late and J. Ruskin’s lament, when he mulled over a life he deemed 'wasted' on mineralogy, echoes my own wilderness steps: "Had I devoted myself to birds, their life and plumage, I might have produced something worth doing."
Kakapo (Strigops habroptilus)
MONDAY into TUESDAY 22nd / 23rd
My first meeting with a Kakapo on Codfish Island (Whenua Hou), New Zealand was as befits this marvelously robust flightless bird, most fitting. It bowled me over one night as it clambered about. Took me by terrific surprise. The ambush! Bewilderment! There was I stumbling in the dark on the forest floor looking for one when one found me. Many may describe such a flightless bird as being ridiculous and stocky, but I can assure you it was I who felt ridiculous and cumbersome as I fell face forward. If one of us was to look the lumbering goose it was not the rampaging Strigops habroptilus en route to create a performance arena to woo a female. All the nightlong I could hear its subsonic mating boom. July’s portrait to scale thus drawn from memory. It’s giant claws looked like tree roots, its focus was intent, and even in night’s cloak, its feathers a most luminous green and yellow.
Red Knot (Calidris canutus)
Near to 11 AM
As we pass the halfway point of the year, if I thought for but a moment that my to-ing and fro-ing in search of particular birds was of immense proportions, a cursory glance at the annual flight patterns of the Red Knot soon returned my head to right proportion. Now at the south east Gulf of Carpentaria, I await their arrival. Made up of many subspecies (the nominate subspecies Calidris canutus breeds in the Taymyr Peninsula and in central- north Siberia, for example, whilst the subspecies C. rogersi breeds in north-east Siberia; the subspecies C. roselaari breeds at Wrangel Island, Siberia, and north-west Alaska; subspecies rufa breeds in the Canadian Arctic; and subspecies C. islandica breeds on the islands of the Canadian high Arctic and northern Greenland. Have I lost you yet, dear reader, to the factual whirl of the fan?) Beholden to the mudflats, sandflats, estuaries, bays and inlets, lagoon and harbours, to sight a Red Knot I know where to look. I know too of the food they fancy, and so as I wait, I prepare gastropods, crustaceans and echinoderms. Worms, and bivalves too. And with too much time on my hands, I have arranged my gastropods and worms so as to spell out the word ‘Welcome’ on the sandy beach. Fearing they may mock my sign or deem it too much, I flip my prearranged crustaceans over and reshuffle my bivalves until the arrangement now loosely resembles the words 'Eco' and 'Mewl'. Though upon reflection, perhaps now this merely renders me foolish. Of all those in the animal kingdom, surely it is humans who are by far the most ridiculous. I wait for the Red Knots like a nervous host unsure anyone will come, the mangled words of Nietzsche in my ear: "I fear the animals regard man as a being like themselves, seriously endangered by the loss of sound animal understanding; they regard him perhaps as the absurd animal, the laughing animal, the crying animal, the unfortunate animal."
In the background:
established Rome, Italy, 1869-1901
Charles F Summers (sculptor)
Australian 1858-1945; living and working in Italy 1867-1901
Figure of Ruth, seated on a rock 1890
Gift of David and Berna Hume Family through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program, 2009
Last Wednesday night, my unique state artists' book, A Year of Southern Hemisphere Birds, and its companion, A Flight of Twelve Southern Hemisphere Birds, a concertina bound, hand-coloured artists’ book of smaller scale, and an edition of ten, were on display in the Leigh Scott Room of the Baillieu Library at Melbourne University. A year-long project came to a beautiful end on a rainy spring night, as these photos by G, my Dad, Elaine, and Jackie Kerin show.
The night went swimmingly, and for me passed in a mad whirl, which you can read about in G's recent post, A very fine launch in the Southern Hemisphere (along with an additional selection of launch photos).
Thank-you to all those who came along to see the work and to help me celebrate. A big feathered thank-you to my Mum who worked on the bar; Elaine and G who baked all those sweet and savoury biscuits; Peter on the zine stall; my Dad for being an extra hand; Susan Millard for being a great host and allowing me run of such a great space; and writer and curator, John Kean. You can read John's launch speech here, and take yourself back in time to Wednesday night.
I am delighted to announce that A Year of Southern Hemisphere Birds has been purchased by the State Library of New South Wales alongside an edition of A Flight of Twelve Southern Hemisphere Birds. My Dad is currently making a wooden crate for its transportation by art courier later in the week. Further hand-coloured copies of A Flight of Twelve Southern Hemisphere Birds are also destined for the collections of Melbourne University Library and the State Library of Victoria.
From the last three days in the gallery, to these past three days, this is how the work pre-Wednesday's book launch has looked. Gracia has slowly and steadily handwritten her explorer's narrative into A Year of Southern Hemisphere Birds over two long days and I loved watching the process unfold on a large drawing board in the lounge room. I saw all of my bird notes, compositional planning and artsts' book hopes come together and I was delighted. This project has been, as G's December Field Notes for the Shaft-tailed Whydah (Vidua regia) describe: "challenging, creative, rough, inspired, illuminating. I’ve darted from place to place in twelve-month span to the sounds of chord tinkling bird call. I’ve made myself a study of wanderlust unrestrained! A dream of flying near a reality!"
Especially for Wednesday's launch at the library, we'll have a spread of homemade biscuits. The Jam Drops and Lemon Hearts above will whet your appetite, I'm sure, and were baked today by G and her Mum, Elaine. And we'll also have a selection of our most recent zines available for a leaf through and to purchase on the night too, including G's newest Dear You number with a fetching striped spine, A Postcard as a Measuring Device, which I am looking forward to sharing with you in greater detail soon.
Hope to see you there, should you be free.
On the last page of A Year of Southern Hemisphere Birds, alongside the artists' book's particulars you will find the following thank-you. It seems only fitting to share it here too.
Thank-you to Gracia Haby for her patience, compositional advice, research assistance, and of course, for sending me to Borneo and beyond in her imaginative explorer's narrative.
Thank-you to Susan and John Jennison, and Elaine and Peter Haby for their combined support, advice, and enthusiasm throughout all parts of making this artists' book.
As I put the finishing touches on my unique state work, A Year of Southern Hemisphere Birds, in readiness for its launch on Wednesday the 23rd, it seems fitting to close our show at Geelong Gallery with this handful of photos from Monday's deinstall. As Gracia recently posted, it was a beautifully sad experience to take this work down. We could quite happily have left our work up for another two months.
But in saying that, it is true that I am so looking forward to the new work that we feel encouraged to make on the back of such a positive experience. The best way to combat the post-exhibition blues is to keep working, and I am already thinking of the next artists' book I want to make.
Yesterday, Gracia took down her postcard collages, Stephen, his photographs, and I, my Northern Hawk-owls, Turquoise Parrots, and Pink-footed Shearwaters, but before I go into detail, let's pretend it is still on. With my birds serving as a backdrop, here is a look at A Flight of Twelve Southern Hemisphere Birds. Here you can see the Crested Jay (Platylophus galericulatus) on the left and the Yellow-fronted Woodpecker (Melanerpes flavifrons) on the right. One of the exciting things about this Year of Birds project of mine is that Gracia has written an explorer's narrative to feature in the unique state work, A Year of Southern Hemisphere Birds. And here, below, your very first taste.
Yellow-billed Kingfisher (Syma torotoro)
As I sit here concealed by leafy tropical canopy in Lae, a remote part of Papua New Guinea, I am thinking that my hastily formed idea might just be a little mad and most decidedly ill formed. When we spoke at Christmas of our plans for the forthcoming year, little did I imagine myself actually acting upon them, yet here I am, explorers hat on my crown, awaiting sighting of the Yellow-bellied Kingfisher*. There are worse ways to spend one’s January, and, some would rightly argue, there are better ways to spend one’s January, and, there is, it transpires, my way to spend the first month of the year, with binoculars pressed to nose bridge, ears on alert for the whistling trill of the Kingfisher. A medium sized bird with a wingspan equal to that of a 30cm ruler, they are apparently quite common both the local guides and printed guidebooks assure me, though my experience seems thus far to be the exception to the rule. The long hot days of summer draw me a cantankerous figure (this, the ill formed part to my plan I earlier referenced), and I wonder if I will be able to manipulate the mantle of Twitcher to fit my shape. The mosquitoes are holding a wedding party on my right leg and a conference on my left, and on my forearms, their local government is in session. I am being bitten, pricked, and drained, and all in name of cataloguing twelve southern hemisphere birds, one for each month of the year. I wait, pencil in hand, ready to draw for you this stocky little bird whose very sighting will turn my seasonal rancour on its head. (The Kingfisher is known to favour feasting upon large insects, earthworms and lizards so am draping them about my person. Is a lure to cheat?)
* Drawn here surrounded by a ring of termites. It is in the abandoned chambers created by arboreal termites that the Kingfisher makes its nest, laying between 3 to 4 eggs.
Come along to the opening next Wednesday night to read and see more.
(Many thanks to all the staff at Geelong Gallery for making our recent show so very wonderful, and for allowing G and me to take a couple of photos in the beautiful space.)
As Gracia recently posted, you've only a handful of days remaining to catch our exhibition with Stephen Wickham at Geelong Gallery. My birds have held their position on the gallery wall for as long as they can, barely moving a muscle or a feather, and it is time to take it all down on Monday. So I hope that you can make it to the gallery before then to see Gracia's 464 postcard collages and swim through Stephen's from Rock bottom, but beautiful by way of Tangles and charms fallen into the life lost to Plasma and lapis skies. Skates on, troops. You've only three days.
We'll be sorry to pack this up, but we're also looking forward to making new work. And what fun we've had these past few weeks. Thank-you.
Gracia Haby, Louise Jennison, Stephen Wickham
All breathing in heaven
Until Sunday 13th of October, 2013
Geelong region artists program
Geelong Gallery, Little Malop Street, Geelong
(Geelong Gallery's recent e-newsletter featuring Gracia's Wet whiskers drying postcard collage on the cover of October's Art Almanac. Click to enlarge.)