Personal Histories Artist Book Exhibition

Bringing together artists from around the globe to share their own stories in artist book form. Sharing similarities, diversities and individual perspectives. Highlighting the dynamic world of artist books.

REDLAND MUSEUM: 12 October - 30 November 2014
REDLAND ART GALLERY: 29 March - 10 May 2015
UNSW CANBERRA: 28 September - 11 December 2015

For more information please contact the Coördinator, Robyn Foster (email:

Friday, 28 August 2015

Personal Histories in Canberra

 Personal Histories International Artists' Book Exhibition 
UNSW Canberra Campus 
(Australian Defence Force Academy - Duntroon)
Academy Library - Building 13
Northcott Drive Canberra ACT 2600

Open to the public:
 Monday 28 September - Friday 11 December 2015

Official Opening Event: 
5.30pm Thursday 1 October 2015
(official opening by Professor Ross Harley, Dean UNSW Art & Design)

Floor Talk event:
5.30 Thursday 29 October 2015

Artwork Image: ŠoŠo (Sandra Winkworth)

Thursday, 23 July 2015

Personal Histories at ABBE

I took a sample of Personal Histories artworks to the artists' book fair at  
Artists Books Brisbane Event (abbe) 
which ran over three days 16-18th July 2015 
at QCA Griffith University, Southbank Brisbane.

This was a great venue to show some of the wonderful works
which have formed part of the overall exhibitions to a very interested audience.

Head on over to the official 

to see lots of photographs, see who was there and to read more about the event.

Doug Spowart & Victoria Cooper also have a wonderful article on their blog

Sunday, 10 May 2015

End of Redland Art Gallery Exhibition

The doors have closed today on the
100Book: A Personal Histories International Artists' Book Exhibition
at Redland Art Gallery.

It has been a brilliant exhibition with lots of positive feedback from gallery visitors and staff.

Since the opening night event we have had two artist's floor talks, three guided walk throughs and one bookmaking workshop.

I have been very remiss in not putting any posts up on the blog over the run of the show, but I hope you will be bear with me as I get back on track.

I would like to share with you some of opening speaker, Jan Davis', words about the exhibition and about the practice of artist book making:

This exhibition of books is presented in a climate we are constantly told, of diminished reverence for the book,  for the feel of the book, a time when people are supposedly turning away from reading a bound object held in their hands, turning towards reading from a screen.  The 100book exhibition brings together artists who aspire to reignite our relationship with the book.

Why do artists make books?
There are many answers, but I want to talk about just two reasons that are powerfully demonstrated in this exhibition, (and I don't use that adjective lightly).

1. books can tell a story: they are open to presenting a narrative in a way that many single stand-alone works of art, such as a painting, a print or a piece of sculpture are not.  A sequence of pages (not necessarily covered in words) gives an opportunity to develop a concept, to draw out or build an idea.  And many artists, as you will see in this exhibition, have a complex story to tell.

2. books are intimate: they are quiet objects of contemplation.  They take time, time to make, and they reward time spent reading them.  They feel intimate in the making, they lure we bookmakers into revealing quite a lot about ourselves and others.  Being with a book takes us to a very private place.

Viewers of this exhibition will recognise the narrative and the intimacy in the books and in the artists' statements that support them.

CATHERINE KIRKPATRICK (USA) writes that in creating these images her immediate family and ancestors came into her mind, their births, their life's journeys that led to her being born in New York City.  She writes "I see their triumphs and struggles, and in my work I honour them'.

JAQUELINE BALMER - UNITED KINGDOM (LANCASHIRE) in describing her project "Was she the one who?", which involved working with old family photographs, writes 'Names were forgotten, or attributed to the wrong face, anecdotes were confused and embellished.  Now, not knowing who these people were, we read stories into their images based on their expressions, their clothing or surroundings.  Some of the stories you may read in these images are more accurate than others'.

HELEN SANDERSON (AUSTRALIA) in her work 'My grandmother was a Dear: The female line - Tracing the invisible women and those who came later', her 4th book records some of the lace passed down to her from these women.  Lace pressed against their skins - Narratives and intimacy indeed!

This exhibition also demonstrates a key aspect of the artist's book community and that is their capacity to build and sustain communities of makers.  Robyn (Foster) has tapped into existing national and international networks of artists making books to invite participation in this project and to also promote and disseminate information about the exhibition.  She has created new communities and is continuing to do that.

Saturday, 28 March 2015

Installation Week & Opening Night - Redland Art Gallery Cleveland

 100 Books: A Personal Histories International Artists' Book Exhibition
has opened to a very enthusiastic audience at 
Redland Art Gallery Cleveland (Queensland, Australia).

Congratulations to all the contributing artists involved.

It was an honour and a pleasure to have Jan Davis officially, and very eloquently, 
open the exhibition with Redland Art Gallery Director Stephanie Lindquist (in the blue dress below) acting as MC.


Exhibiting artist's books since the late 1980's,  
Jan Davis has undertaken duties as an Adjunct Associate Professor at Southern Cross University, is Vice President of the Print Council of Australia and is one of two Siganto Foundation Fellows currently based at the Australian Library of Art ( State Library of Queensland).  As part of her fellowship, Jan has chosen to research historical diaries and farm records from the John Oxley collection which she will transfigure into artists' books. 

The Redland Art Gallery exhibition holds 110 works in total 
with contributing artists from 16 countries.

100 works form the main body of the exhibition along with 10 works in an adjunct display which focuses on the centenary of WWI from a perspective of personal/family connections.

As the exhibition coincides with school holidays here, there is a dedicated area for children to create and display book art, with books referencing childhood in close proximity (all safely under perspex covers - of course).  We already have some wonderful examples after an enthusiastic response from the young people in attendance last night.

There is a reading table area where books are able to be read and touched.

I will be hosting a floor talk at the gallery at 11.30am Sunday 29 March 2015. 

Helen Malone will host a floor talk focusing on the WWI artworks at 11.30am Friday 24 April 2015.
Workshops are planned for this afternoon as well.  For details contact the gallery directly.
There are also artists' groups who have organised guided, white gloves tours throughout the run of the exhibition after having had tours of the first Personal Histories exhibition at Redland Museum in October 2014.

Many thanks to the Redland Art Gallery staff for their tireless efforts and skill in making exhibitions like this a reality.

Exhibition runs through until Sunday 10 May.

Thursday, 26 March 2015

Redland Art Gallery - Opening Friday 27 March 2015 at 6pm

We are currently installing the second round of the
Personal Histories exhibition  at
Redland Art Gallery
telephone:  07 3829 8899).

The exhibition has been subtitled
100book: A Personal Histories International Artists' Book Exhibition.

This title encompasses the number of books on display (yes - 100!!!)
as well as referencing the inclusion of 10 other works commemorating the Centenary of WWI.

The opening night event is on this Friday 27 March 2015 at 6pm.

The exhibition is open to the public from Sunday 29 March until Sunday 10th May.

I will be conducting a floor talk on Sunday 29 March at 11:30 am and there will be a second floor talk focusing on the WWI section of books,
with contributing artist Helen Malone, on Friday 24 April at 11.30am.  
Contributing artists are invited to attend this event and meet up with fellow exhibitors.

A number of artist's groups have made plans to attend together to view the exhibition and
the gallery are planning to run a workshop in conjunction with the exhibition.
More details to come.

The gallery have used the above image above from contributing American artist Elsi Vassdall Ellis' work 'What's in a name cowgirl blues' to advertise the exhibition in their promotional material.

I'm looking forward to sharing more with you soon.
The exhibition is looking wonderful with so many glorious books on display!

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Feature Artist: KAREN HARDY

is a visual artist currently living in San Antonio, Texas.

She works primarily with innovative hand paper making techniques in a variety of forms, including artist books, sculpture and installation.  Her practice is centered on an experimental approach to materials, influenced by her background in the natural sciences.

A graduate of the book arts & printmaking MFA program at The University of the Arts in Philadelphia, Karen's work is part of prominent national collections and is widely exhibited both nationally and internationally.  Her artists books have recently received awards in exhibitions at the Northern Arizona University Art Museum and the University of Utah's J. Willard Marriott Library.
Karen has been awarded a Denbo Fellowship by Pyramid Atlantic Art Center and a College Book Art Association Project Assistance grant.  She has also recently been artist-in-residence at the Picante Paper and Book Arts Studio at the Southwest School of Art.

Curiosity about materials is my primary motivation as an artist. My creative process involves intuitive experimentation with the expressive properties of materials and the associations that they carry. My artist books, sculpture, and two-dimensional work often begin with paper that I make by hand, and their meaning is inseparable from their physical materials.  I am fascinated by biological forms and systems. Consciously or not, my selection and manipulation of materials often yields work that is vaguely evocative of living organisms and bodily processes. I am especially drawn to paper pulp made from overbeaten abaca and flax for its organic, corporeal effect. This material layers and interacts with light in compelling ways, capable of being beautifully luminous and uncomfortably grotesque at once. Its translucent, membrane-like quality suggests a blurred boundary between interior and exterior, private and public, protected and vulnerable. Much of my work explores this liminal state, inviting the viewer into a realm of duality and ambiguity.

Two of Karen's works have been part of the Personal Histories project:


focuses on the various roles we fill throughout our lives as both caregiver and dependant.  My intent is to highlight the conflict between the instinct to nurture and the desire to be unencumbered, the push and pull between dependence and independence, and our vacillation between vulnerability and strength.  In this book, the paper itself becomes a vehicle for exploring the variety of emotion encompassed in these relationships.  

The handmade flax pages contain egg-shaped openings partially filled with delicate abaca membrane, echoing the longing present in the text.


is a journey through progressive stages from passivity to action.  The text and imagery describe a struggle to overcome a state of apathy and indecision caused by fear and regret.  Because the handmade abaca paper is translucent, as many as three or four sheets can be visible simultaneously when layered, creating an evolving visual narrative that comes in and out of focus much as mental clarity may wax and wane.  

The book is composed of twelve double-sided 4" x 11" (10cm x 28cm) prints, bound with a modified long stitch in a variable edition of five.