Friday, 23 June 2017

Medieval Books

I’ve started working on a complicated structure based on medieval book and manuscripts.

My thoughts are bit scattered the moment, but that’s nothing new at the beginning of the process.
I’ve been thinking about different types of medieval books and their purpose. Whilst looking at different types of manuscripts I was especially interested in almanacs, other folded, easily portable books and those which contained volvelles and diagrams,. These everyday objects with their signs of wear and repair have now become a precious thing to be handled with gloves and kept in controlled storage.

I was intrigued by the way that they provided information that physicians and others used on a daily basis to do their work. Nowadays we can use smart phones in much the same way

I am thinking about trying to create a book that can house multiple sources of information in separate sections which do not have a straightforward sequential structure,  echoing how we use the internet to flick quickly from one subject to another .
But I also want to make reference to our twenty first century response to the medieval book. Most of us don’t understand the languages or have difficulty in deciphering the texts .When we read about them we patronisingly consider many of the concepts in the books as primitive or strange (eg.the zodiac related to parts of the body, the body needing the four humours to be in balance for well being , forecasting the future based on the weather) .

However these books have a visual impact and we can respond to them on a surface level even if we don’t have knowledge to interact and gain from the contents meaningfully as the scribe/maker/ commissioner intended.

So I want my book to be a container of fragmented knowledge collated but not ordered in a meaningful academic/usable way.  I also want it to make clear reference to the source of inspiration, the medieval book, in a way that isn’t a direct copy. And I want it to have a tactile and visual appeal which reflects our modern understanding of the original
After experimenting putting together several sets of pages in various permutations I have a structure that I think will work. Now all I need to do is fill it. Simple !

Saturday, 17 June 2017

Punch in Jail

I am participating in new project being run by the Lancashire County Archives. The idea is to create work in response to something in their archives. The theme this time is Theatre.

I found a couple of documents relating to James Heward. He was arrested and imprisoned for performing in several public houses without a license. The court records were put on microfilm in the 80’s. I managed to work out most of the text in the first one. Here’s a fragment

“the said James  Heward did .... and also Saturday night now last past in an alehouse within Huddersfield aforesaid for Hire, Gain or Reward ... did act, represent or perform or cause to be acted represented, or performed an Interlude, Tragedy, Comedy, Opera, Play, Farce, Juggling or other entertainment of the stage or farce Part or Parts therein and did also perform Juggling... and that for several years now he has strolled about the Country for ...... the same and with a strange woman: although his settlement is within Stansfield township within Heptonstall Parish in Yorkshire and has a wife or dwelling ....... in the said holding”  QSP/1582/35
The catalogue entry for the second document (which I haven’t been able to decipher from the microfilm, I’m hoping to be able to view the original soon) says it is an “examination of James Heward, aged 52, of Stansfield in Heptonstall co.York. arrested for showing puppets, including Punch and Judy” QSP/1582/38
I had this vision of Punch performing shows and wandering  round the county with Pretty Polly while Judy was at home with the baby. I think my Punch got his just deserts.

Monday, 12 June 2017

Running late

My attempt to make a print and a book each month has slipped a bit. I finished the book in May but the experiments took up a lot of time so I only finished and printed the print block last week.

I got 7 prints out of it (5 good ones) before the stars and the moon started to peel. The prints are on the rack drying but here is the plate.
I left it inked up because I won’t be trying to print from it again