A small part of Europe

July 2, 2016

Tatter’d colours (artist’s book by Liz Mathews) exhibited at The Forum, Norwich, and photographed by Gary Florance

We were in Norwich during the Referendum, at turn the page artists’ book fair 2016.  The fair was wonderful, very busy, with over 60 book artists showing a vibrant and thrilling collection of work, and a large and enthusiastic audience of visitors who were intelligent, informed and excited about the books on show.  The only thing that marred a terrific event was the Referendum result, which had stunned and dismayed everyone I spoke to.  Norwich itself, like London and Scotland, voted pretty overwhelmingly to remain, so at least we had the feeling that we were in a city which feels our European heritage and culture as strongly as we do.  So this is a record of my exhibition, up for a rainy midsummer week in a small part of Europe.

Hot ice and wondrous strange snow

30 artist’s books by Liz Mathews


Hot ice was exhibited in the foyer and on the mezzanine of the Millennium Library, housed in the stunning glass atrium of Norwich’s Forum, where turn the page 2016 was held.  Our stall was just outside the library entrance, so we were on hand to talk about the show as well as the stand.


Liz Mathews with young visitors to turn the page 2016, photographed by Frances Bingham

My artist’s film Paper Wings, setting Maureen Duffy’s 55-poem love song cycle, was screened on continuous loop (appropriately enough) just inside the entrance to the book fair.


I’ve laid out the images for Hot ice in viewing order, to give you a virtual tour, and to show the juxtapositions and relation between the works.


Hot ice and wondrous strange snow in the Millennium Library, Norwich, photographed by Gary Florance

The show began with midsummer, and The Seasons Alter  (double-sided artist’s book free-hanging in the middle) setting text from Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream with handmade paper, acrylics, rainwater, mud  (can be seen page-by-page on last week’s post)


2  Swallows on the Thames, text by Matthew Arnold from The Scholar Gypsy (handmade paper, Thames water, acrylics)


3  Butterfly cloud text by Jeremy Hooker from Butterfly Cloud (handmade paper, birch pole, silk thread)


– then on to Autumn, with


4  In the light text by Jeremy Hooker from In Drenthe (handmade paper, watercolours)


5  Portrait  text by Jeremy Hooker from Self portrait with falling leaves (handmade paper, acrylics and watercolours)


– then round the corner to winter, and the second side of The Seasons Alter, and


6  It is a winter’s tale  text by Dylan Thomas from A Winter’s Tale (handmade paper, snowmelt, acrylics)


7   Light through text from Virginia Woolf’s Diary, 4th January 1929 (handmade papers, acrylics and rainwater)


– then on towards spring:


8  32 bar blues  text:  A Quiet River by Richard Price (32 stoneware bars, cotton duck canvas, acrylics and watercolours, silk, wool and linen threads, birch poles and copper pipes)


9  Hot ice and wondrous strange snow  text from Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream (handmade papers, snowmelt, acrylics)


10  Spring song  text from Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde, original poem by Wang Wei (handmade paper, acrylics)


11  Lark song text from Debris:  A Cycle of Poems by Jeremy Hooker (handmade paper, acrylics)


12  Green light  text from Green Rain by Jeremy Hooker (handmade paper, watercolour, rainwater)


– then on to a double-sided seven-fold zigzag group, starting with


20   All things in flux  text by Maureen Duffy from First Light (a poem about Turner) with handmade paper, watercolour, raw clay slip


21  Blake’s Graffiti  text by Kathleen Raine from What Message from Imagined Paradise (Thames driftwood (broken wine box), acrylics, watercolour, linen tape and handmade paper)


22  Four pages from Clare’s Year:  Autumn text by John Clare from Autumn (‘Siren of sullen moods’) with handmade paper, acrylics


23  Lines and nets text by Jeremy Hooker from Guests of Silence (driftwood, stoneware clay, silk-linen threads)


24  Four pages from Clare’s Year:  Winter text by John Clare from November in The Shepherd’s Calendar (handmade paper, acrylics)


25  Pattern text by Virginia Woolf from Moments of Being (driftwood, stoneware clay, silk threads)


26  No end text by Jeremy Hooker from Written in Clay (Earth Song Cycle) with handmade paper, watercolour, acrylics


– then round the corner to


19   Turn  text by Maureen Duffy: Burdsong 20 (handmade paper, acrylics)


14  By way of words  text by Jeremy Hooker from City Walking II (a poem referencing King Lear) with Thames driftwood, handmade paper, stoneware, acrylics, chalk, rock.


15  Four pages from Clare’s Year:  Spring text by John Clare from Hymn to Spring (handmade paper, acrylics)


16   This Earth  text adapted from Winifred Nicholson (driftwood, stoneware, silk threads)


17  Four pages from Clare’s Year:  Summer text by John Clare from To the Memory of Bloomfield (handmade paper, acrylics)


18  Rag/Luideag   text by Derick Thomson/Ruaraidh MacThomais from Donegal/Dun Nan Gall (stoneware paperclay pages sewn in cotton-duck binding with linen thread; acrylic paints and charcoal mixed with tea and whisky. Can be read page by page; folds to box.)


13   Writing it  text:  Writing it by Jeremy Hooker (handmade paper, acrylics, watercolour)


– then the exhibition continued upstairs


on the library’s mezzanine:


27  When I heard you like that text by Frances Bingham from The Principle of Camouflage (a novel re-imagining Shakespeare’s Tempest, set on a coast not unlike North Norfolk’s), with handmade paper, watercolour and acrylics mixed with Thames water


28  The river’s answer text by Frances Bingham from the same book, with handmade paper, watercolour and acrylics mixed with Thames water


29  One such night as this text by Valentine Ackland from Every Autumn a wind like this wind blows (acrylics on a huge sheet of handmade paper 2m x 80cm)


Tatter’d colours (artist’s book by Liz Mathews) exhibited at The Forum, Norwich, and photographed by Gary Florance


Tatter’d colours (artist’s book by Liz Mathews) exhibited at The Forum, Norwich, and photographed by Gary Florance

30   Tatter’d Colours  text by Anne Finch (b.1661) from The Soldier’s Death. Eight flag/pages made from French canvas linen sewn with linen thread; acrylic paint with charcoal, mud, soot, rainwater, blood; cover made from cotton duck, with same materials – folds and rolls to kitbag case.


It seemed appropriate to end the exhibition with Tatter’d colours at this moment which marks the 100th anniversary of the beginning of the Battle of the Somme; another small part of Europe which is forever England.


Frances Bingham & Liz Mathews at Hot ice and wondrous strange snow, photographed by Gary Florance


(All photos by Liz Mathews, unless otherwise credited.  Please don’t use photos without permission.)




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