Atmosphere of meaning | Title from Norman MacCaig, Artist book, 20 x 17cm by Susie Leiper | Out of Stock
Gold and silver: the embellishments of medieval manuscripts. Gold and silver sparkle through the poetry of Norman MacCaig too: ‘silvering the sand’s ecclesiastic gold’, ‘its silver paper crinkled and edged with rust’. It is often the words of a poet that set me off on a body of work. Poetry has composition, layout, rhythm; so do paintings and books. The block-like shapes on much of the work may be read as the rhythm of writing, the lines of poetry, the design of a page, or even books stacked in a library.
Which comes first: the paintings or the books? In fact both happen simultaneously for me, as an idea, a technique or a particular palette is shared over many surfaces. The gold and silver are collaged metallic papers, a bid to the addition of light to medieval books and paintings. There is vellum too, the very stuff of medieval books: Indeed and Parishes dwindle are repurposed legal deeds and indentures that would otherwise languish in boxes and files.
Making a book is complex: pages, endpapers, covers, sleeve, title. With an artist book the maker can control all of these. Sometimes it is the cover fabric that dictates the pages as in No moon need slide, sometimes it is the pages that demand a plain cover, black or orange, with perhaps a hint of the content as in Parishes dwindle.