I've been thinking about pop-up books lately. In a couple of weeks I'll be heading to Arrowmont for a class with book artist Carol Barton, who's known for her skill in paper engineering. And yesterday I stopped in at BookWorks and found a pop-up book class in full session. Led by the very talented designer and book artist Shawn Sheehy, adjunct faculty of book arts at Columbia College in Chicago (the wonderful Audrey Niffeneger is also on the faculty there), the class was creating magical structures that made me wish I had signed up for Shawn's class AND Carol Barton's. (That's one of Shawn's pieces above, part of a book of fabulous creature constructions he has on exhibit at BookWorks this week.)

Su Blackwell is a UK-based artist whose work with books is part pop-up book, part papercutting and part fairy tale. Her three-dimensional "book-cut sculptures" are delicate and mysterious, and some are darker upon reflection than they appear at first glance. From her web site:

The Quiet American, 2006

"In a way, Su Blackwell's book-cut sculptures are very similar to receiving a marked-up copy of a book from a friend. Their particular interpretation of the text is privileged for your consideration and you can re-evaluate your response to the work through the lens of their relationship. It's like turning books into memories.

" her reconstruction offers up to the viewer many questions. We can no longer physically read the book, so in that way it is made redundant; and yet on another level it has taken on a new life and is telling a different story. Her work gives a new dimension to the rich European tradition of storytelling..."

And Blackwell says:
"The wear on my books, as physical objects, holds their history and makes my relationship with their contents immediate and visceral. The books I carry when I travel get stained and frayed, and the damage tells a story. I love second-hand books that have been marked up with pencil because I can see what was important to the person who read it before me."

Birds, Beast and Fishes, 2007


Sarah said...

ooo you lucky thing! That class sounds like it's going to be a lot of fun! Carol Barton is very talented, I loved those pop-up light-up towers she did... I love pop-ups (my dissertation was a pop-up!), wish I could make that class :) enjoy!

Eero said...

I LOVE Sue Blackwell's books---you have just introduced me to someone really fabulous! Thanks BookGirl.

I look forward to hearing all about Arrowmont---I hope to go there next spring.

I, too, have always wanted to do pop-ups...so fun and clever....

Clara said...

Sarah, everyone I know who has taken taken a class from Carol Barton tells me she's a pleasure to work with. I had a chance to see one of her "light towers" at a wonderful exhibit of artists' books (which I almost missed -- I made it on the last day!) at the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, D.C.

I was very inspired by seeing what was going on at BookWorks yesterday. During the first day of the five-day class they had created nearly two dozen models for future reference on a whole variety of folds and cuts that they could then combine to create new structures. I was very envious!

E, I'm glad I helped introduce you to Su Blackwell's work. I'd love to see it in person someday.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for introducing me to Su Blackwell's work. It looks fabulous. I am off to explore your links! Thanks!

Clara said...

Glad you found her, Frivolitea. She does lovely work.