The Altered Book – Book Art

It has been too long since our last foray into the world of book art. This morning I thought I’d pop in and check on one of my favourite book artists, Su Blackwell, to see what she has been up to lately. Unsurprisingly, her updated portfolio did not disappoint! So let’s take a closer look at her newer works, and I will introduce some new finds as well.

Su Blackwell’s website, www.sublackwell.co.uk is truly a feast for book-lovers’ eyes. I think what appeals most to me about Su’s work is the intricacy. Not all book art is created equal, and Su’s is a cut above the rest, in my opinion (pun not intended, but enjoyed nevertheless).

Image source: https://www.sublackwell.co.uk/fineartportfolio/ The Book Collector, 2018 by Su Blackwell

Staying in the UK for a moment longer, have you heard of the mysterious book art that was appearing all over Scotland a few years ago? I somehow missed this very interesting news, though it occurred over the course of four years! Beginning in 2011, 10 anonymous book sculptures sprang up in different cultural locations throughout Edinburgh, as ‘a tribute to words.‘ The altered books continued appearing the following year, in honour of Book Week Scotland, with an additional five new sculptures. The photo below is one of the amazing creations that appeared in Scotland in 2012. In a 2015 email interview, the BBC asked the artist why she made the sculptures, and her answer will ring true for bibliophiles everywhere. The works were an “attempt to illustrate the notion that a book is more than just a book – and a library is a special kind of building.”

Image source: https://www.theguardian.com/books/gallery/2012/nov/30/scotland-secret-book-sculptures-in-pictures in honour of Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island

Travelling back across the pond, Doug Beube is a new name for me in the area of altered books, but he has been creating literary art for years. His website, DougBeube.com includes several items from his portfolio, which is not limited to altered books, although books feature prominently in his artwork. Click on the image below to enjoy some truly unique bookish creations.

Image source: https://dougbeube.com/section/485959-Cut-Shortcomings.html Cut Shortcomings and Double-Sided Shortcomings by Doug Beube

There’s something about a book that is transformed from a story or an educational object into a work of art that moves me. In its first iteration, it is purely the words themselves that make the book: the story, or the information recorded on the pages. But when the pages are cut, shaped, or re-arranged into works of art themselves, the book truly undergoes a metamorphosis, becoming something altogether different from its original, intended purpose. Neither form is more valuable or beautiful than the other, but it’s the difference itself that captivates me.

Thank you for visiting! I hope you enjoy these creations as much as I have. ūüíú

Stories for Those Whose Passion is Books

For those of us who are familiar with bibliographic terms such as ‘signature,’ ‘quarto,’ or ‘catchword,’ there are books out there whose protagonists are just as in love with books as we are. Please enjoy these recommendations below:

The Bookman’s Tale: A Novel of Obsession by Charlie Lovett (2013)
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Of the books recommended here, this one has the strongest focus on the details of bookbinding. The story has a lot of bibliographic detective work, as well as a strong link to Shakespeare, and is a gripping page-turner to boot!

The Club Dumas by Arturo Pérez-Reverte (1993; English translation published in 1996)
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There is more detective work in this book as well, with three potential forgeries of a seventeenth-century book whose author was burned at the stake. Interesting details on the life of Alexandre Dumas add to the educational value of this novel, but more of a focus on the occult in the last quarter of the book made me enjoy it slightly less towards the end. But nevertheless, this is a riveting read.

The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón (2001; English translation published in 2004)
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There are fewer bookishly technical terms in this book, although the protagonist works in a bookshop owned by his father, and has a deep love for books. This is not a light-hearted read by any stretch of the imagination, but the author’s delightful turn of phrase had me chuckling out loud many times throughout. Mystery, cruelty, love, redemption and books fill a full 487 pages, and will be very difficult to put down once you start it.

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield (2006)
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This story also features a protagonist who loves books and whose father owns a bookstore. It tells the story of a famous author who is at the end of her life, and her story really does not relate to books, except that it is being made into one. However, it is still an intricately woven tale that keeps you guessing until the very end.

The Most Beautiful Libraries

There are always new posts and articles popping up about beautiful or interesting libraries and I thought I would combine a few, so you can get your fill of architecture and books without having to navigate to another page or site. And what better way to begin the weekend?

The 25 Most Beautiful Public Libraries in the World by Emily Temple for Flavorwire.com on January 1, 2013.
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18 Libraries Every Book Lover Should Visit In Their Lifetime by Asta Thrastardottir for Business Insider on January 1, 2015.
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The Most Spectacular Libraries in the World by The Telegraph at telegraph.co.uk
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*image retrieved from http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/books/10382588/The-most-spectacular-libraries-in-the-world.html?frame=2705761&amgpage=1. Photo by Will Pryce

For those of us who never tire of looking at these divine meldings of gorgeous spaces with their inspiring contents, perhaps you would be interested in a book of lovliness that you can hold in your hands and proudly display on your coffee table? If you are, The Most Beautiful Libraries in the World with text by Jacques Bosser and stunning photographs by Guillaume De Laubier is just the thing.
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Happy dreaming!