I try to teach at the Sturt Craft School each year if I can; they have marvellous Summer and Winter Schools where you live-in at the adjoining Frensham School and attend classes every day for a week, so it’s wonderfully intensive.*
In other years I’ve structured my class so that each day the students build up skills in creating alternative book structures: concertina binding, Asian stab binding, coptic or longstitch binding and some simple section sewing. This year, at the Winter School in July, I will be doing something a little different.
I’ve called the class ‘The Complete Book’ (even though Sturt list it as ‘Bookbinding’) after listening to an exhibition report-back by Rosemarie Jeffers-Palmer at The Gathering last year. This is now a category in the British bookbinders annual exhibition, and it it meant to differentiate artists’ books from conventional bindings. Why? Because with artists’ books, everything works together to form a complete whole: the structure, the materials, the content. If an artist book is blank, then it should be blank for a reason, not because it has an artistic cover and the maker will use the inside later. A sculptural book is perfectly valid, as long as the seemingly blank content supports the message.
This is what I want to explore with this class: we will be going through different binding structures, but the way we learn them will depend upon the concepts that the students bring to the class with them. It’s the perfect chance to workshop that idea you’ve had for ages and didn’t know how to bring to fruition. We will be playing with ideas and how to make them material book objects. We will also explore different ways to produce text and images and how to plan books (leaving plenty of room for spontaneity!). And let’s not forget the fun of altering books to make new content and context. All of that in a week, plus a lot of good conversation. If you’ve done my other Sturt classes, this is like an extension pack… it would be fabulous to have you back.
Don’t be scared! If you would love to do the class but think that you have no ideas, come anyway. I can show you that you have lots of ideas, you just haven’t met them yet. This is a fantastic chance for some professional development if you’re an art teacher, and especially good if you’re a printmaker and have lots of proofs and bits of prints lying in your paper drawers. Absolute book beginners are also very welcome, you’ve always proved to be exciting book-makers.
There are plenty of places in the class at the time of writing, and the deadline to decide if the class is running is looming, so pass this post on to friends and family! It’s such a good week, working in the beautiful surrounds of Sturt and meeting fellow creatives.
* You can also stay off-campus in the nearby town of Mittagong or elsewhere in the Southern Highlands of NSW, but if you do that, I highly recommend having lunch in the dining room with the other students so that you get to share the communal learning experience.