Wayanad is a particularly beautiful and fertile part of Kerala. Whilst there I visited a bamboo workshop where some beautiful products were being created everything from blinds and matting to braclets and pens. As a maker myself I really enjoyed watching the ladies at work and even had a go myself stripping the bamboo with a very sharp knife! Whilst there I couldn’t help but notice lots of delicate little curls of discarded bamboo on the floor. I collected some and used them to make a cyanotype print a few days later. I also collected some beautiful leaf skeletons and some random scraps of paper.
I used a zine fold for the cyanotype print so I didn’t have to chop it about too much and used the long and elegant leaf print as a wrap around cover for the book. My aim was simply to make something beautiful to echo the beautiful work I saw going on there. It always suprises and delights me when a book kind of makes its own shapes once I’ve made it, things I never envisaged in the first place! This was definitly one of those.
Finally I used the receipt for the little things made from bamboo I bought in the shop as the cover for the matchbox/draw the book lives in and kept the tiniest little curl to live with the book in the matchbox.
This next little book was one of the first ones that germinated in my head whilst away. On a long windy drive up a mountain in Kerala we stopped to admire the view and encountered several monkeys. They stole the spot light from the view with their cheeky little characters! I knew then I would draw them. At the same time under my feet I spotted this matchbox and a piece of material a bit trodden into the dirt. Once washed it turned out to be quite lovely and has become the cover for the book and the box. It is also the material used for the cyanotype print in the previous post.
The background for the monkeys is a cyanotype print of foliage made in India but it didn’t take as well as I had hoped. However it is perfect as a background… as I used to always tell my students about their work ‘never throw anything away’ you never know when it might be useful.
The only other material used for this book is a page from an exercise book I bought the same day. I love paper and try to keep an eye out for paper that is used in everyday tasks. Something with marks of some kind is always interesting and adds an extra dimension to the work created with it.
I hope I have done these little creatures justice and it’s a great memory all packaged in a tiny box.
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!
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!