Zines & Book Arts Workshop at NN Contemporary

Yesterday, was my penultimate day of teaching for the academic year 2014-15…this time in Northampton facilitating a one-day zines and book arts workshop in NN Contemporary art gallery’s Project Space. I’ve taught at the University of Northampton before, including an introduction to self-publishing workshop, so it was a pleasure to be invited by Lecturer in printmaking Catriona Leahy to work with first to third year Fine Art students again.

Arriving with a car full of materials, tools and equipment, not forgetting my Dad’s 1966 Adler typewriter and my new paper guillotine that can cut, fold and perforate (I’m a geek about this…IT CAN PERFORATE!), the workshop began late morning with fierce energy and enthusiasm from eighteen students. I can’t believe how many attended! This set the tone for the day…completely non-stop…fantastic to have so many engage in the day, and so dynamically…as you can see.

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With help from Lisa, a member of the Fine Art printmaking staff at the university (thanks so much Lisa, I couldn’t have done it without you!), the students made zines and books with concertina, pamphlet, stab and accordion bindings, others sewn bound through the use of a (rather unpredictable) sewing machine (note remember cottons and threads next time) with print, collage, photographic, drawing, painting and mixed media pages and signatures (that’s bookbinding terminology). I got far too engrossed in the papers and materials the students brought in to use from a vintage graph paper to a sealed fine linen, acetate and tracing paper layerings to intricate folds and cuts. Some students quite discreetly worked away whilst others were more questioning and indecisive, most of them coming to a resolution by the end of the afternoon.

As always in these workshops, each zine and book created was unique to the student and their current research interests…from fear and anxiety, issues of mental health, identity and sexuality, inner monologues and narratives, self-reflection and personal growth, performance documentation, societal and personal value and value systems, and more. They delved deep to present their ideas through visual formats different to their everyday art practice, then displayed for review and potential selection by artist Peter Kennard from the RCA.

Here are some photos from the day. I realised this morning that I didn’t take enough of each book so there are only a handful of detailed pictures. And yes, that is a picture of a penis on the front cover of one of the books. A day of teaching Fine Art wouldn’t be complete without talk of genitalia in some format.

On Tuesday, it will be my final day of teaching with my MA Contemporary Curatorial Practice students at the University of Lincoln…it’s come around so quickly…I think I can hear violins playing…

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