After Novice comes...

In the library
you and me
me and you

progression |prəˈgreSHən|
noun
a movement or development toward a destination or a more advanced state, esp. gradually or in stages: the normal progression from artists’ book novice to advanced beginner.


Before you are conscious of it, progression has occurred. Your work, in this case, our artists’ books from early 2000 to today, evolves as you refine your ideas, polish your skill set, and keep at ‘it’ doggedly, wholeheartedly. And all the while you’d thought, perhaps you were treading water. Perhaps you were just making the same piece, again. But there, on the table, proof that you are moving from one state to the next on a long, unknown, kinked pathway.

Consulting the Five Stages of Skill Acquisition,* following on from Novice, Advanced Beginner, Competent, Proficient, and finally, the debatable holy grail, Expert; this is the way all things hum along.

And so it was delightful to see our earlier tales unfurled on the table in the library alongside our most recent pieces. To revisit Bombay (Through purgatory passed, and then there was Bombay (Photogravure views of Bombay), 2009) within arm’s length of a suite of costumed Salvaged Relatives (2014-15). These two pieces might employ the same techniques of cut and paste, press and bind, but they are world’s apart. The same Madras tree shrew (Anathana ellioti) may scurry through both works, cut by the same pair of honeybee scissors, but he or she does so now with a little more panache and grace.

Seeing an edition of Find your place (2007) was bittersweet as we had only recently found out that our dear old printer, Bernie Rackham, had passed away.

Thank-you for inviting us to talk about our work as part of Rare Book Week, Susan Millard and Georgina Binns. Thank-you for taking an interest in our work, and ensuring that both the Baillieu and the Lenton Parr Music, Visual and Performing Arts libraries hold copies of our artists’ books and zines. And thank-you to all of you who came along to turn the pages. It was a thrill to see these pieces enjoyed so, and we feel greatly encouraged to make more. There’s just no topping a chance to show these pieces as they were intended to be experienced: in person.

* Dreyfus, H. L., & Dreyfus, S. E., Mind over machine: The power of human intuition and expertise in the era of the computer (New York: The Free Press, 1986)

Other artists' books of ours within the Special Collections of the Baillieu Library include Because I Like You (2016); A Flight of Twelve Southern Hemisphere Birds (2013), Sleeping during the day (2010); The Case of the Lost Aviary, By the Pricking of My Claws, The Dubious Clue, and Trouble at Sea (2005); and Those Two Daring Pirates (2004).

 

Image credit (top): Gracia Haby and Louise Jennison, Salvaged Relatives, edition I, 2014–2015
Image credit (body): Susan Millard, Baillieu library, and Georgia Binns, Lenton Parr Music, Visual and Performing Arts Library, the University of Melbourne, Wednesday the 20th of July, 2016