I was delighted to be a part of the team that put together the current exhibition, “Exploding the Codex: Book Arts in Special Collections.” You can view this exhibition in the Main Gallery of Hill Memorial Library during regular library hours from August 19 – December 13, 2019.
In this post, I’d like to share some of the books that we chose not to display in the exhibition. Some books didn’t make the cut based on physical restrictions, such as case dimensions. We have many extraordinary artists’ books that are quite large.
Some Trout: Poetry on Trout and Angling by D. R. Wakefield is one such book, with dimensions of 38 cm X 53 cm X 2 cm. Some Trout pairs poetry by various authors with richly colored illustrations utilizing the traditional intaglio printmaking techniques of etching and aquatint. Each print was hand-pulled by the artist on handmade paper.
Other books were charming in their simplicity, but only opening the works to one page simply would not do them justice. When you turn the pages of Change by Alice Austin, a small window revealing part of an illustration on the first page grows throughout the book. When you reach the end, you are able to view an entire illustration. The small window is still present on the left side of the page, which shows the deep blue handmade paste papers of the cover. Each page only reveals one line of its poem, so while at first glance it appears simple, this book needs a reader to turn each of its four pages to uncover the transformation of both the subject and the image.
A final example is of a book that exhibits sensory and interactive qualities. Duck Blind by Bill Kelly uses multiple papers that vary in feel and sound, ranging from soft whispers to crispy rattles. The translucent paper overlaps the illustrations, surrounding or obscuring the text as you move through the book. “For Kelly, the writings and the images must be seen together. A many-layered volume, Kelly explores the language of pure sound and makes it his own” (Brighton Press description).
These beautiful artists’ books, and many others that are not currently on exhibition, are available for research and exploration in the Reading Room. Additionally, selections from our Book Arts Collection will be available to experience during our open house on October 24th. The exhibition and open house are free and open to the public.
For information on printing techniques, such as intaglio, woodcut, and letterpress, see Oxford Art Online, a comprehensive reference database accessible via LSU Libraries.
Some Trout: Poetry on Trout and Angling: PR1195 .T76 S66 1987 FLAT, McIllhenny Natural History Collection
Change: N7433.4 .A89 C53 2004, Rare
Duck Blind: N7433.4 .K458 D83 2013 FLAT, McIlhenny Natural History Collection
Caroline Ziegler is the Conservation Coordinator at Hill Memorial Library. She has an MFA in Book Arts & Printmaking from The University of the Arts where she studied under the conservator and book structure inventor Hedi Kyle.