soft copy update 1

Needed to leave the prints done with Betty on the 4th April to dry, set between paper. Unveiled them again today and very excited to move onto the next stage

It’s so cellular; the DNA forms might be a point of intersection between those forms and the text forms

language as the DNA of a place

cellular diagrams that has words wrapped up in mitochodria

I wonder how it would work with muka fibres from the harakeke

And unprocessed wool fibres

Printing the fibres of a place.


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Letterpress collab with Andrea Rivas

In 2016, Mexican poet Andrea Rivas translated 3 of my poems into Spanish for a Mexican Spanish language online poetry journal Circulo de Poesia. We’ve stayed in touch and last year I asked her for some poems in English to ‘translate’ into letterpress. I wanted to return the favour.

Today I began setting and designing three short poems Andrea sent me. Working in Univers Condensed 14pt, bold and medium, and an unidentified wooden typeface.

The design is process driven. An overall idea is based on copy received from the poet. After that each decision is decided in turn, each based on the one before and the type and equipment available in the print room. The final design was completely different from the initial drawing.

The next step is a proof and then adding the work to the print queue. It will be printed on the Heidelberg Platen in two colours. Paper and colours yet to be decided – decision will be based on proof prints.

Photos of the process (including a mishap with a rude and handsy customer destroying all of the work) has been posted on instagram as a way to keep Andrea within the loop of the collaboration. A proof print will be sent to her (especially since I made a line break change to accommodate handsetting constraints of 25 picas).


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printing timber

A piece of Australian Yellow pine from Charles.

To print

On fabric

A landscape. Printing wood – a print of the place it came from. The place that it is.

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Mark and Process wk 3

More mark making, this time with charcoal, ink, and more clay slip.

Thinking about gesture and movement, the traces thereof, mapping – the leaving behind of traces acting as a map of that movement.

An enduring mark (or not!) left in or on a solid surface by a continuous movement. Traces additive or reductive. (Ingold, Lines p43)  In this instance certainly additive.

wide charcoal gesture

charcoal dust and Vaseline

the movement of ink – making its own map

a return to the dyed clay slip with ink

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soft copy – collab with Betty Davis

The thread as a trace. Ingold describes the thread and the trace as the two key aspects of lines. In soft copy, Betty and I are looking at the thread as a trace, drawing with threads rather than leaving behind a trace and yet still leaving behind a trace.

The first lot of printing is done. We printed 40 pieces, all of them entirely different even though we used a process. 8 thread prints per book, 5 copies.

We developed a process, a constraint which helped to rein in possibilities and simultaneously expand them: 3 prints would have a single thread, 3 prints would have 2 threads, and the last two of each book was a mass of many threads. The single and double threads emphasised the line made by the thread whereas the the mass of threads gives a different sense of depth with many shapes and shades.

Forced to relinquish control of the thread. At certain steps the thread could be encouraged in certain ways, but in other ways the thread would not be forced, and pushing it in certain directions would disrupt the inking and therefore the final print.

Process pics (pics of the prints for later):


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Books / archives / documenting

Since making string at the event at Art Space I have been thinking about book making and thinking about the Fred Butler Archive which I have visited on a number of occasions where it is now housed at Puke Ariki.

I went to an exhibition opening at Gallery Three earlier this week (TDC64). There were small notebooks there to take.

I’ve been thinking about screen printing fabric for book covers

And about documentation and writing goals with regards field trips.

all of these fermenting ideas. This relates to the Taranaki field trip, to book binding, to an active writing practice to documenting research processes, for creating work to draw from later. To creating a work, a living breathing hopefully bulging archive as I work as part of a wider motivational activity to write.

Shelton, Ann. 25. Frederick B. Butler Collection, Puke Ariki, New Plymouth, Scrapbooks from: Weather 1956 April – May to Young Farmers 1969 April – October. C Type Print, 1365mm x 965mm, 2006.


Fred Butler and active archiving

Nudes. From the F.B. Butler Collection, Frances and Sereena Burton, Thames. Digital video, varying dimensions. from ann shelton on Vimeo.

More videos of the Fred Butler Archive by Ann Shelton here

Notebook from the TDC64 exhibition at Gallery Three April 2019


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Visuālīs | Toikupu

Visual Poetry

There is a new conversation happening on the walls of Toitū about language and where it fits as visual art.

Visuālīs | Toikupu opened on Saturday 30th March.

The framing of the exhibition is key. In calling it a ‘visual poetry exhibition’ the importance of the words/writing is highlighted. A great many of the people who came to the opening were from the poetry community, thus already predisposed to focus on, or place importance on the writing (the poetry). But not all were from that background. The framing encouraged viewers, regardless of their background, to give the words time – writing is innately temporal in a way that a still image is not (this position could be argued, but that is for another time).

I argue that this made for a different kind of viewing and viewership – a particular kind of meaning making was at work.

A conversation in the studio with two others, notes 02/04/19

X: Refreshing to see a show made by writers and poets in a visual way rather than the other way like when artists work with words, you feel the difference

Y: Pet peeve when artists decide that they’re going to work with sound and music but have no knowledge of how sound and music works

X: Sometimes we [artists] skim across disciplines and sometimes it really shows. It’s great to see it from the other angle.


This conversation with X and Y demonstrated a different attitude to the writing. It suggests they gave the words a different significance, believing that the words were active in the meaning making of the work, had a considered, professional quality that can be brought about by poets, specialists in words. This is a contrast to the possibility artists using words merely for their aesthetics (can a word ever only be it’s aesthetics? Only in asemic writing. A discussion for another day).

Visual poets, as specialists in words, consider the meaning, the sound, and the shape of words. They are in a wonderful position to work with text and its innate visuality as writing.

But this was all about context. Had the exhibition not focused on the poetry, would the viewership? How does a viewer know the professional quality of writing? As a viewer when I come across text in a visual arts exhibition setting, often the text comes across as filler, overly academic, or unaccomplished. This has meant that I tend to think of the text as somewhat supplementary even as a poet. So the question becomes, how do I indicate to a viewer the importance of the poetry?

map (install 2019)

Installing my own work was also a great experience. I had installed this work before for the purposes of photographing (though it does not photograph well! The work flattens against the wall).

But there were a number of things that made this install so great.
1. people would get to see it on the wall, not just in photos.
2. a large brightly lit space
3. working with an install assistant!

Arielle came in to help me install and I was able to add another level of process. I laid out all of the word discs on the ground and asked Arielle to see or choose two discs at a time that she felt produced something interesting together. Whether that was because it produced an interesting phrase, or that the words juxtaposed or repeated. She would apply the blu-tac for attaching to the wall and I would then find a place for them: taking the relationship she had established between the discs and incorporating them into a cohesive whole. When she arrived to help, at least 20 discs were already up. On my own I used a similar process, but the extra layer was an enjoyable linguistic experience.

The work does not act as a map might – it does not give directions – but it does offer up multiple paths to journey. One might say that a map does not give directions but provide the ‘lay of the land’ and you find your own directions. But this map does not provide a complete picture, so it limits and extends routes through the omissions.

Lisa Samuels read/performed a route through the map on the day of install. I would love to record this as she also reads the evidence of omission (word parts, lonely letters and sounds)


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Mark and Process wk 2

In class this evening we were working with clay slip and dyes. Initially working together on a single huge drop cloth to make and test out the slip consistency.

The aim was to take the clay pieces we made last week and crush them down to make the slip. After being convinced I would grind mine down no problem, seeing them all dry and contracted, I was rather fond of my little clay garden, so I’ve kept them, and crushed down some other broken clay pieces to make slip.

Experimenting with the slip consistency and marks on a drop cloth.

Extending on the experiment on paper

Adding green dye to the clay, and working into it with more dye.

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laser-cutting 2

Switching the thinking around re laser cutting and printmaking – I’m still thinking about making type, but that it a bit longer term while I figure out the wood and the typeface (probably perpetua).

In the meantime I’ve been thinking about the scope of Soft Copy. Betty and I have been talking about poetic threads, thoughts of stories and threads of mind. And while I love handsetting type, I have discovered (through working on the project Emily and Her Sisters, currently 2 years in the making) that huge swathes of type is not my thing.

Enter laser-cutting. I’m hoping that laser-cutting can step in and take the play of photo polymer plates. I could go straight to the photo polymer for texts but that doesn’t leave a lot of room for experimentation (I’m yet to look into making the plates myself). So I’ve tried three poems from my building/growing series 55 Sketches .

The cutting at 20pt + went well. The poem poesy set at 12 seems a bit small. All three need testing to see how well they print – both on paper for future projects and on fabric for Soft Copy.


This is how they printed:

archive poem print

gill sans

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Mark and Process wk 1

A 4 week course with Han Nae Kim at Toitu.

I am apprehensive about the type of mark making I want to be producing, so this class is giving me a way to jump that hurdle.

I want to make marks about the land, of the land, about the land, and the first class was about working with clay, so I was making marks with the land.

First as sculptures. We were instructed to respond to the feel and motion of making rather than making with a goal in mind – I ended up making a kind of Garden and I thought about Debbie Harris’s work – of molding and tending a garden.

And then with clay on paper. It was most effective on black paper with great variation in colour of the clay as it dried.


Would be great to map rivers this way.

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