Over this weekend, the Arnolfini has been host to Bristol Artists Book Event (BABE), a building-wide event involving over 80 Bristol based artist bookmakers, dealers and small presses. BABE 2013 also included performances, informal talks and a chance to talk to artists about their work. This week’s Sunday round-up is dedicated to books on art.
Starting in early September 2011, More4 screened Mark Cousins’s epic documentary The Story of Film in 15 one-hour segments. After watching just the first few episodes, getting my hands on his 2004 book which inspired the project became a priority. The film was extraordinary to watch, infusing a galactic affection for cinema with an alternative look at film history, focusing on innovation in content and form rather than box office. But the book was a tangible object, yet to say it was unputdownable would be a lie; in fact, I found myself finishing each chapter and then leaving it for a while, so I could watch as many films that interested me as possible. This took many months, many rented and bought DVDs, many illicit sources and many highlighters, but since discovering films like The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford and Distant Voices Still Lives, as well as entire eras and countries totally below my radar, I soon found my appetite for cinema expanding on an ocean of light, at the behest of this book. It’s not just the scope of the book, it’s the amiable style as well (‘More poetry than prose,’) which drew me into the global search for creativity.
Whoever said never meet your heroes never met mine. In a talk at the Watershed, when I asked of the role of the filmmaker, Cousins quoted Bresson to me: ‘Make visible what, without you, might never have been seen,‘ words I still ponder in every one of my filmmaking experiences since. And again, during a Skype call with the BFI Film Academy Bristol, I left with recommendations to read Virginia Woolf & Jean Jacques Rousseau, and another quote: ‘Try to stay passionate, and leave your heart to the constellations.’ His towering art book has influenced me in my driving objective to know less and less about more and more, and I suppose it’s served like the pre-movie countdown leader you see sometimes – giving way to the bigger picture.
This weekend I had the fortune of stewarding at the Arnolfini for BABE Bristol Artists Book Event which happens every 2 years. This meant that I managed to immerse myself in the event and have a really good look at everything that’s down there. It was a crazy weekend but I really enjoyed it and got the same feeling from everyone else.
One thing in particular that caught my eye was a book by Francesca Phillips called White Monks: A Life In Shadows which is a photographic glimpse into the lives of monks who live in silence. The book itself is really nicely printed and bound in dark leather, it’s quite a special object that reflects it’s religious content almost feeling like a bible in some ways. A lot of the images in this book definitely resonate the feeling of silence and tranquility, weather it’s an image of day to day life or religious acts. Throughout the book there are images which have woodlands printed onto a heavy tracing paper and then layered over them, this is interesting in the way that by obscuring the image you pull out specific shapes within the photo.
Sadly I didn’t have the £500 to buy the book but it was a very elegant object which made me stop and want to learn more about it. Have a look at her website and the project and you will start to get a feel of what I’m talking about.
Thanks everyone at BABE for a great weekend!
Now this isn’t exactly a book but some illustrations I’ve really been interested have been Zen Pencils.