Book Arts at the Centre for Fine Print Research (CFPR), University of the West of England, Bristol, UK

A Manifesto for the Book. Sarah Bodman and Tom Sowden, ISBN 978-1-906501-04-4, February 2010 ©CFPR

Artists’ books have re-emerged as an energetic contemporary artform over the last thirty years. Developing from their last materialisation in the 1960’s as a way of bypassing the constraints of the gallery; as a vehicle for the dissemination of ideas and a radical format of bringing art to a wider public through artists self-publishing their work. This notion of making art in an affordable non-wall based format led to the growth of what we now recognise as the artist’s book.

As part of our research we explore many aspects of artists’ publishing: from the conception and history of the artist’s book to creative processes and output, current developments and critical assessments of the subject. Through our research projects and collaborations, we hope to widen critical discourse within the book arts field.

Developments in Desk Top, Internet, E-book, Publish-on-Demand and Video books, have led to many more artists now producing artworks in these formats. This is not to say that traditional means of production such as letterpress type, etching, woodcut and screenprint have ceased. Advances in technology have meant that the traditional and the innovative can be combined to produce artwork and the renewed interest in the artist’s book has also led to a re-appreciation of traditional creative methods.

All of our artists’ books projects, news, events, lectures, conferences, essays, papers, symposia and exhibitions are archived online at the CFPR bookarts website. Many of our public lectures, symposia talks or published essays are available on the publications or events pages as free PDF or audio downloads. For students we have a research section with reading lists and links to information.

For information on our current projects, please visit our Projects Pages. Some of our more recent projects include an AHRC Funded investigation into What will be the canon for the artist’s book in the 21st Century?; 2008-2010; Bookmarks VII - Infiltrating the Library System, The Artist’s Book Yearbook 2010-2011, and Al-Mutanabbi Street Broadsides project tour 2010.

As part of our investigation of contemporary book arts practice we publish the Book Arts Newsletter, the Artist’s Book Yearbook, a biennial publication with essays and information on many aspects of the book arts, and The Blue Notebook journal for artists’ books. Please see the Publications Pages for more information.

For French speakers... there is an essay explaining some of our activities in So Multiples Revue française sur les éditions d'artistes contemporains, N° 3, June 2009, ISSN 1961-9618; Les activités du Centre for Fine Print Research de Bristol by Sarah Bodman, translated by Anne Béchard-Léauté (Université Jean Monnet) online as a free PDF at: http://www.so-multiples.com/revue/numeroc.php

As part of our research, we also collaborate with other institutions and partners interested in artists’ books such as Arnolfini, Bristol; Winchester School of Art; AKI (ArtEz) in Enschede, The Netherlands; University of Missouri, USA, and many other national and international organisations. We also have an MA option in Book Arts, which runs through the MA Multi-Disciplinary Printmaking programme.

At the School we have a popular artist’s book Collection and Exhibition Programme in the Library. This area was launched in May 2002 with an exhibition of the works of James Castle and an inaugural lecture: Provenance in the Wild West: James Castle and the Icehouse Books, by the late Professor Tom Trusky, Director of the Idaho Center for the Book and the Hemingway Western Studies Center, Boise State University, USA. After his unexpected death in November 2009, the School’s library exhibition cases are named in honour of Tom Trusky and all of his work for book arts. All of the exhibitions are archived online and available from our Exhibitions and Events page, where you can also view current events.
The CFPR Artists’ Books Collection was established by Sarah Bodman in 1992, as a personally funded collection, which has grown into an archive of c.650 books and multiples. The collection is used as a resource for students and can also be visited by appointment for study use.

To make more use of these books CFPR also set up the Artists’ Books Partnership, exhibition Programme (ABPP) in 2005, which has loaned works to universities, collections, schools, libraries and bookshops in North America and Europe to date.
The programme loans artists’ books from the collection on a no fee basis - to set up exhibitions and events promoting the artist’s book to a wider community.
Previous loans include: The Art of the Book: Collaboration, at the University of Missouri, USA curated by Marian Amies, Associate Professor in the Department of Art and Art History at the University of Missouri; Limfjordscenter Doverodde, Denmark; Cowles Library, Drake University Des Moines, USA; AKI (ArtEz), Enschede, The Netherlands; Stroud College; Quay Arts Centre, Isle of Wight; The Greenhouse, Guernsey; University of Leicester; londonprintstudio, London; The New Art Gallery Walsall; Swindon College; Bristol Reference Library, Yateley Library; University of Chester; Internationales Bentlager Druckgraphik - Symposium, Germany and Galleri VOX, Bergen, Norway.

We also loaned a selection of artists’ books in 2009 from our Meir Agassi Archive collection to the artist’s group Public Space With A Roof for their project Endless Installation: A Ghost Story For Adults (Encounters, Questions, Collaboration) at SMART Project Space, Amsterdam.

Some workshop loans include: The Richard Attenborough Centre at the University of Leicester; Stroud College Foundation Degree; Isle of Wight Book Arts Group and the Society of Bookbinders.

We collaborated again with Marian Amies in 2010 for The Art of the Book: Journals Then and Now, which is touring the USA and UK over this year. Other 2010 loans include: Book Arts Center at Limfjordscenter Doverodde, Denmark; Stroud College; Pages Of History at Yateley Library; The Secret Library of Solihull  at Solihull Gallery, West Midlands, UK. To view a PDF list of artists’ books in the collection see: http://www.bookarts.uwe.ac.uk/cfprbooks.htm

Sarah Bodman
Research Fellow for Artists' Books
Centre for Fine Print Research
University of the West of England, Bristol, UK
www.bookarts.uwe.ac.uk
Open Monday – Friday: 9am – 5pm
Email: Sarah.Bodman(at)uwe.ac.uk

 

 

Reading room from the exhibiton: New Wave. artists’ publishing in the 21st Century, 2009 ©CFPR
Dark Globe (enclosed systems) Francis Elliott - Foundry, 2009 ©CFPR
Ø - Cherry Blossom Island Tree (video) book by Sarah Bodman and Tom Sowden, Running time 4:47, online at: www.bookarts.uwe.ac.uk/cherry1.htm or on Youtube: www.youtube.com/watch ©CFPR
Angela Gardner, working in the letterpress/relief studio, June 2008 ©CFPR
Angie Butler & Lilla Duignan (UK) 'Ode to Mutanabbi' (CoCoLlab), 2009 ©CFPR
Some of the Buildings on the Sunset Strip by Tom Sowden ©CFPR
Books in Transit by Guy Bebgie ©CFPR
BABE: Bristol Artist's Book Event at Arnolfini 2009 ©CFPR
Artist's Book Yearbook:The ABYB serves as a resource for artists, lecturers, students, collectors and researchers, and has been edited and published by Impact Press since 2001 ©CFPR
Awaiting Transmission 31/10/08 - 05/11/08 by E F Stevens ©CFPR