Research at the Hocken

I’ve just returned to Auckland from a research jaunt to the Hocken Library in Dunedin. I went there to look at artwork by Cilla McQueen in their pictorial collection.

The forever muffle in my ears (they don’t cope well with the altitude when flying!) provided a kind of sound proofing to concentrate on the huge quantity of work they have by Cilla McQueen. I went to look specifically at her experimental music and sound scores. I had no idea just how many (and how awesome!) artist books McQueen has made. They are often large-scale and short run (between 1 and 10, but usually around 6). The binding is wondrous. Sometimes very conspicuous, such as with ‘Spine-Tingler,’ for others the outside acts as a folder with the binding covered by hessian, silk strips of other fabrics. They are all made with high quality paper with absolute care to binding and presentation. Each one is individually drawn and hand printed using litter stamps. They’re not printed! Every copy must vary considerably.

Most of the artist books are soundscapes with  titles like “Inside the Peninsula, Songs for 5 voices.” Other single page soundscapes have great titles too: “two people fall silent for four seconds during ten seconds of conversation among five people in a crowded room.”

It was an invigorating and inspiring trip, both from academic and creative perspectives. Watch this space for some McQueen inspired artist books.

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Filed under Art Books / Zines, Poetry

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