This book was inspired by a trip to the Gandhi Memorial Museum in Madurai. On a previous trip to India I had visited the Gandhi Museum in Mumbi called Mani Bhavan. As a child my dad used to talk about Gandhi often I think he was something of a hero for him and he made sure we kids knew all about his life and what he had achieved. My dad was a pacifist and I think saw many commonalities of ethos and conflict resolution. So now on two occassions I have been fortunate to visit places this man had been or lived and learnt about his life first hand. Both times I have found it moving and had a sense of my dad over my shoulder telling stories of this great man of peace.
The start to this book was a receipt I collected when I donated some money to be able to take photos inside the museum. I didn’t want to chop this up to much so used a modified zine fold to create a little book that still has the ability to open out to become one sheet again and at the same time creates the accordion fold to hold the rest of the sections together. From there I created two more zine fold books from a ten rupee note. I thought long and hard about using actual money as a book (I’ve been toying with the idea for a long time). I feel that Gandhi would have disapproved because although to me as a westerner this note is worth the equivalent of about twelve pence to many people in India it could be a meal. To a great extent it felt quite frivolous to cut it up, but I felt on this occasion it was warrented. It symbolises the struggle for fair wages and prices for cotton and the fact that it bares the face of Gandhi goes to show how important he is to this country.
The cyanotype prints used were made by a piece of fabric I found on my journey and the detail of the weave reminded me of the simple cloth that Gandhi chose to wear, some of which was on display in the museum. I had a little bit of the original receipt left over so made a second zine fold book covered with more cyanotype print. The matchbox used was found in Madurai and seemed appropriete with the symbol of a light bulb on the front. Gandhi was most definitely a light for India.
With this book, as often happens, it has become a tiny sculpture as much as a book. I love how many shapes it can make just by opening it in different ways. This one more than most!
Matchbook number five was actually a concept that came to me very quickly and seemed quite an ovbvious thing to do. It is created from a collection of receipts aquired after an evening meal in Madurai up on the roof of a lovely resturant. The food had been great as was the company and being on the roof gave the whole evening a rather lovely ambience so I wanted to create something to remember that evening. I had previously played with the round stamp the resturant use on each reciept and used a flower fold (instructions in a previous post find it here) to see how it looked. It worked very well and I liked the idea of little bits of information about the meal being hidden in each little folded square of paper. I cut out thirteen little identical squares making sure each one contained some piece of information about the meal i.e. time, date, choice of food, drinks and snipets of the address. There were thirteen because there were thirteen of us eating dinner together. Then it was a simple case of creating a structure with my thirteen little bits.
I am particularly please by the vesitility of this one. It can become all sorts of different shapes depending on how you open it up. I get a tad over excited at how a small little thing in a matchbox can fold out to create so many forms, it REALLY pleases me! I could fiddle with this for hours. As you explore the structure you glean little snippets of information about the evening and it builds up a picture of an event. For this one the matchbox draw was lined with some of a local newspaper from that day and I left thirteen of the waxmatches in the box that were in there when I found it.
For me this little book is a real treasure. All the pieces that made it were found on the ground literally in the dirt at a local morning market somewhere on the road from Mahabalipuram to Puducherry. The fabric was all twisted around and had clearly been used as a lead for a cow and disgarded, maybe when the cow had been sold? I saw a glimpse of gold picked it up and shoved it in my bag. It wasn’t until later back in my room I unravelled it and washed it thoroughly to discover it was an incredibly beautiful section of a sari. Most of it now dangles in my flat with a large bell attached that I bought from the same market.
On the same twisted cow lead was some red and white gingham and some yellow and pink plastic threads…it really was quite a find. I also discovered one side of an A4 book cover which was very battered but a lovely turquoise colour with some great images on it, some tickets and a little scrap of note paper.
I took some of the book cover to make a little draw for the matchbox as it didn’t have one anymore. I also used this material as my book cover which holds a selection of the fabric and paper stitched in valley folds to create a semetrical look. I used some extra gingham and sari fabric to line the box and strengthen the valley folds after I had stitched the little pieces in. I love how this became such a beautiful little memory and it really brings to life the frase ‘beauty from ashes’ at least I think so!
The bits and pieces for this book were all collected in or around the Meenakshi Temple in Madurai. Inside the temple the floors are constantly swept to keep a sense of order and reverence in the space so I was unsure of finding anything. To my delight I found this matchbox near were some workmen were renovating part of the temple, I suspect one of them dropped it and the timing was perfect to swoop in and pick it up before one of the vigilant sweeping ladies spirited it away. Day ticked right there and then!
The rest of the papers were a selection of blue and red tickets, a small peach coloured envelope, a page from a calendar for the day before my visit, a scrap of material, receipts form the temple entrance, a flower head dropped in the temple and a plastic circular object, found just outside the temple, which is usually attached to objects hung underneath two entwined trees that represent the male and female life forces. People who are struggling to conceive hang these offerings under the trees and light candles in the hope that it will encourage fertility to blossom.
When I create a tiny book it is important to me that every surface is used as there is not a huge amount of space to play with in the first place. So each book is always two sided or reversible it has to be interesting from many angles. With this one it was obvious how the two sides would be created as there were two clear sets of colour to work with. Another concept I had in mind for this one was to make sure everything was in odd numbers as that is important in Hinduism and everything in the temple is laid out in odd numbers. The temples towers always have an odd number of layers and openings. Seven is my favourite number being the day I was born and the area code for where I grew up so I was delighted to find the calendar page with a seven on it plus it fitted the theme perfectly. I love these little moments of serendipity!
Finally I was determined to use the tiny hand written piece of paper given to us by a lovely stall holder in the market next to the temple. We were looking for rangoli stencils to take home to create the beautiful rice flour patterns you see everywhere on the doorstep to a house or shop. Having not had much luck finding them this gentleman wrote out for us in Tamil (I think) what it was we were searching for and pointed us to a lady around the corner. Eventually the lady was found and the objects were purchased so this little piece of paper was an important part of that day.
This book is also about Kochi. I began and ended my trip there so had collected many bits and bobs. But this book was particularly inspired by my new rubbish collecting friend Maggie (mentioned in a previous post). She gave me her plane ticket from Delhi to Kochi because I had told her how much I loved things that are stamped. Her ticket had three stamps all different shapes and colours so that was my starting point.
The rest is made up from tickets, newspaper cuttings and scraps of lottery tickets. The lottery seems to be a big thing in India, maybe its just the same all over the world. Most places I travelled through had stalls selling tickets. I started noticing little piles of torn up tickets at regular intervals which spoke to me about hope and then the crushing disappointment that can follow. We can often hang our hopes on something that turns out to be not what we thought or expected. I wanted to use these tiny pieces of paper and make them back into something good. They also have a lovely stamped bit so my aesthetic needs were met to!
I had found the matchbox cover but it was missing the draw/box bit so I needed to construct one to fit perfectly inside. Finally I used a section of a small map on the back of a flyer for a restaurant I had been recommended but never went to because on my first night in Kochi I discovered the most delicious aubergine and yogurt curry and ate it two nights running and subsequently dreamed of having it again on my return!
First matchbox revamp happened on a train journey travelling from Kochi to Kozhikode about a four hour journey. I went prepared to pass the time creating my first book. I had only been in India for about three days but it doesn’t take long for me to start collecting. I had also come to India with a selection of pre prepared cyanotype papers and had already made a couple of prints of leaves I had found whilst wandering around Kochi.
The rest of my collection consisted of bus tickets, part of another matchbox, local newspaper cuttings and bits of flyers I found lying around. Obviously I am not remotely fluent in Malayalam the local language of Kerala but the shapes of the letters are so beautiful and poetic they were begging to be shown off. The journey flew by and I was very contented with my first creation.
A couple of posts back I shared with you my found matchbox collection from India. I have been busy working on them transforming them into little homes for handmade collage books made from all the bits and pieces I collected on the way. At this stage special mention has to go out to Maggie one of my travelling companions who spent most of the time away handing over all of the ephemera that came her way (when not travelling she lives in a shed so has nowhere to store all these bits and bobs which turned out to be my very good luck!) We became life long friends, I love a person who collects rubbish for me.
So here is a little teaser, I will write a post about each one in turn as there is so much going on in each book they deserves their own space to shine and tell their story. But for now a quick peek at the first four beauties.
The previous post showed you some of the papers I collected in India. I collected so much stuff that I needed an extra bag to come home with! One of my plans was to hand make some little books that I could use for collections of drawings. They would then live in the pockets I made in my sketchbook.
This one was all about the animals I had seen up to that point on my journey. It is made from a collection of receipts stitched together and covered with part of a local newspaper using a particularly lovely bit of text. This was my first one and worked really well so it started a bit of a craze of collecting receipts and stitching books. More to follow…
I have just had the privilege to spend a couple of weeks travelling around south India. I love India and have been before but didn’t get down to the south so this time I wanted to explore the bottom bit thoroughly (or as thoroughly as you can in a two week window of opportunity). To prepare for the trip I handmade a sketchbook using the cover from an old book that once belonged to my dad (sorry Fath) and stitched in accordion fold pages with a range of pockets so I could collect stuff along the way.
It is kind of a big pocket size so it was easy to carry around. I had a couple of long train rides so used that time to create stuff and organise my finds.
When travelling my bed becomes my work place and desk making it difficult to go to bed sometimes it can get a bit crowded!
So keep an eye out in the coming weeks for more posts about what I made and drew and what creations arise now I’m home and back in the studio again. I have so many collected things to work with! Including a delightful set of found matchboxes…
And if you want to see more about where I went and what I did then you can follow all that on my other blog The Nomadic Northerner.
Having spent the last few weeks learning and playing with folds I have become more and more sculptural with my book experiments. I love making something that is small and simple but folds out into extravagant shapes. See what you think…