A wealth of wit, literary references and life's big themes are on show in the current exhibition at E17 Art House
. Those literary references are particularly apt as the exhibition is entitled Book Marks
, and is part of Walthamstow's inaugural literary festival, Words Over Waltham Forest
Paens to literature, reading and writing in the exhibition include quick-witted visual puns (an orange with a piece of clockwork inserted where its stem should be), conceptual riffs on the sanctity of literature (a Bible which warns that God is watching you via a security camera in the front cover, another with legislature scrawled over chapter and verse), and the more straightforward, though no less charming (sculptures and photographs of readers enjoying a quiet moment with a good book).
From the moment of glancing at the title of How To Deal With Problematic Neighbours, the reader's mind is set racing guessing what the solution may be. Its contents are almost predictable, though still tickle the funny bone; a pistol conveniently concealed inside for dispatching with annoying acquaintances.
J. Thomas's artist's book was one of a number of offerings lining what I affectionately refer to as 'Conceptual Corner' in the exhibition, and is the next door neighbour of my contribution. Big Teeth
, the artist's book which consumed me for around a month and a half, is a hand sewn exploration of the women's language of cloth in fairytales, and of what happens after happily ever after.
To the right hand side of Big Teeth
was another artist's book, this time for sale in an edition. Subtitles (of Life and Death)
by David Barette
also happened to be my favourite piece in the show.
It's a simple idea; collate quotations on life and death in the form of screenshots and subtitles from a variety of classic films. But it works.
The screenshots take the form of postcards that one could "cut (or rather, pull) out and keep", or keep as a complete work of art. Perhaps it appeals particularly to me as part of an image, iconography, pop culture obsessed generation; the Tumblr
generation, if you will. It's certainly very accessible and instantly gratifying.
|Between the Lines by Wendy McMillan, UK Law transcribed over Biblical Text|
|Insect Travellers Author/artist unknown. This artist's book disperses advice and adages alongside scientific illustrations of insects.|
|A Soul of a New Machine by Jonathan Thomas|
The artist E. J. England
uses book covers as their canvases; of course, one would need to read the words enclosed within to know whether these paintings are illustrative, or what is suggested to the artist by the books' titles.
|The Stars Look Down by E. J. England. Gouache paint on vintage book.|
|The Lion by E. J. England. Gouache paint on vintage book|
I've been in a number of exhibitions with soft sculpture and embroidery artist Harriet Hammel
, but the attention to detail and accuracy of her illustrative comic book embroideries exhibited at Book Marks
never fails to astonish me.
|Beano Embroidery by Harriet Hammel|
|Dandy Embroidery Fragment by Harriet Hammel|
Another favourite piece was Jonathan O'Dea
's book-sculpture Burning Back the Layers.
Created as a tangible embodiment of the artist's struggles with reading as a dyslexic, the work also reminds the viewer that books come from trees; it reminds us of the lengthy process the materials have undergone in order for a book, perfect and complete, to be placed in our hands. The longer I spent with this piece, the more of its layers I unpeeled; a very appropriately titled work.
|Burning Back the Layers by Jonathan O'Dea|
This exhibition is rich and beautifully curated, many of the pieces situated in such a way that they have a profound dialogue with one another. I am sure book based art is a genre I will return to time and time again over the course of my career; books are my first love, after all (and what better first love to have?) As one of the art works in the exhibition mused, in the immortal words of Morrissey: "There's more to life than books you know, but not much more." Quite.