digital images, artists books, fine art degree and telling a story

Ravelled Sleaves: artists book copyright Vivien Blackburn

There isn't any painting going on at the moment. I have to get on and finish Sam's Christmas present book and I've been busy present buying as I've been totally disorganised this year

.... ok ... disorganised as usual.

I'm nearly there :) thanks in part to Amazon and Ebay!

I thought I'd show you some old digital work - an artists book I made during my degree . I'd chosen a module called Integrated Imaging, which was about photography, video (I gave that a miss) and digital imagery - not that the tutors had a clue about digital imagery or photoshop! they were a painter/photographer and a film maker. I had already started using photoshop and playing with digital imagery and saw it as an ideal opportunity to explore it further. The rest of the group worked in photography or video.

I was working part time, doing the degree part time and my daughters were at senior school so life was really hectic. The family were fairly understanding but sometimes there didn't seem to be enough hours in the day and I needed 6 pairs of hands to cope :( - it was always time to rush here or there, meet a deadline for an assignment, change mindset from student to employee to mum to wife.

I took photographs of clocks at work and at home, scanned my hands and ID documents from work and uni, photographed the surroundings and then played in photoshop. Hands juggling and time were the key elements in my life it seemed.

I used acetate for some pages, to layer lists of words and images so that images changed as you turned the pages, starting with 3 or 4 layers of printed acetate over a paper page, giving multiple versions as you move through the book.

The title Ravelled Sleaves is from Shakespeares Macbeth - there's a line about Time which Knits up the Ravelled Sleave of Care - Shakespeares spelling :) it came to mind and just felt right. Then the poem Not Waving but Drowning by Stevie Smith - I often felt I was drowning.

a sequence using acetate

The actate shows lists of things to remember or do or buy - things I was juggling in my mind, trying to keep up with all of them.

The hands and clock get steadily more and more frantic as you go through the book.

The following are about the boredom of work, how slowly time went, the stillness and the wish to be elsewhere ........... painting :) and feeling caged, the windowblinds like prison bars with the looming tower block nearby blocking the sky :(

So altogether very 'poor me'! :D

you can see the whole book here

It was my first attempt at making a book. I used copper wire, twisting the ends into spirals, ravelling them :) my tutors really liked the book but weren't keen on that - it came 'perilously close to Women's Institute' they said but I 'just got away with it' they decided !

The whole thing was worked out as I went along. The images and 'story' came first and the idea of making a book from them later. For marking I displayed the images on the wall alongside the finished book. The method of binding evolved as I went along too - I decided to use string to bind it, simply punching holes with a file punch - that let the pages slew about too much so the idea of the wire came about and then there was a need to decide how to finish the wire off and at least partially cover the spine so the overlapping shapes evolved.

The whole project was done from photographs, scans and printed words with hand made paper, pastel paper and acetate - and of course the copper wire but no drawing or painting at all. It lives in a box now, only coming out once in a blue moon.

I enjoyed using text and poetry with this project. I often enjoy the use of text by artists where it enhances the image such as the work of Kurt Jackson or Bridgette Guerzon Mills at maybe I should experiment with it more as I did here .

Do you use text in your work sometimes?



Hi Vivian
I absolutely love your book. Your digital imaging is superb and I would love to see you produce another one which would be so much different now. I have bee looking at your digital work on you web site and you have a unique style which closely complements you painting style.
I spend a lot of time on digital imaging and it is usually the source for my textile and fibre work. 'Spending a lot of time' however is the only drawback - it is VERY time consuming and I don't know about you but I lose all track of time when working on these images.
I too like to use text a lot and often distort text to incorporate it into a design and I often free machine text over a surface. It personalises a piece even more.
Enjoyed your blog.
sharon young said…
What exciting digital images, I love the tension and 'almost' chaos in there. I looked at all the pages on the slide show and could totally relate to your experience, having done my degree at the age of 40 something with teenage children still at home and 2 new grandchildren! (from the two who'd left home). It's weird how this drowning analogy keeps popping up with us mature students!
Have you thought of having the images made into a bound book . it's very cheap now , apparently Photo box do it as do Iphoto. I saw some examples of student 's sketch books copied and made into books at Graduate Fashion Week and they looked terrific.
vivien said…
thank you both :)

yes it is VERY time consuming i agree! and addictive - you know you should stop and get on with other things but you just want to try something else .... and a few more hours fly by!

I don't see myself making it into a commercial book really - and I'm not sure that they would do the acetate pages that were a crucial part. It's just a very personal whine!!!
Karen said…
I like using text in my work, and viewing work with text in. I find it really time consuming as I am very dyslexic - and worry about mis=spellings in the finished work!
Enjoyed this post.
vivien said…
thanks Karen :) I subscribe to your blog :) and enjoy reading it and seeing your work
Sue Smith said…
Great post. I really enjoyed the slide show presentation, too. I guess I need more "geek" factor -- I'm absolutely boring when it comes to jazzing up my posts :>D
vivien said…
ah but the content is never boring Sue :) I enjoy your blog

and it's blogging and forums that have taught me about slide shows and suchlike - and I'm way behind most!
Lorna said…
Love your book!
dinahmow said…
"Perilously close to Womens Institute" indeed! Cheeky blighters!

Yes, Vivien, I do use text. And acetate.It depends what I want to convey.
vivien said…
thanks Lorna :)

Dinah :D - they were capable of worse comments!
derek jones said…
good to see these Vivien
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