A friend once described my house as a roof held up by books. This is not entirely inaccurate. My library is loosely organized into sections: typography and printing, graphic design, art practice, women and work, feminist art, conceptual art (these two categories overlapping), Irish history, Modernism, the avant garde, Paris in the 20s and of course many books about books. There are smaller subsets of books: music, cooking, travel, books that defy categorization. Plenty of fiction. The children’s books are down to one bookcase now, and I just gave away about 100 moveable books that needed a new home.
If I have what could be called a collection, or rather two, they would be artists’ books and fine press books. Many of the latter were printed in the 1970s and 1980s; I got quite a few of these books through trade, exchanging my printing for theirs. As for the artists’ books, I have been scooping them up for years at book fairs, through vendors, via websites, occasionally even in bookshops. During the pandemic, when my students were locked out of the Special Collections libraries I rely on to give them access to artists’ books, I was able to lend them books from this part of my library. I’m happy to say that every one of those books came back to once again to help hold up my roof. As for my friend’s comment, all I can say is, he should see my office.
Thirty Five Years / One Week.
Linn Underhill. Rochester, NY: Visual Studies Workshop, 1981.
Linn Underhill begins the evocation of her sister, who died at the age of 35 of melanoma, with photographic clouds and the word memorize. The blurred photos suggest that Underhill struggled to capture these memories, however fragmentary, so that she could center and contain her grief. The text, also in fragments, unscrolls from the platen of a manual typewriter as a description of the cancer’s deadly progress, its objectivity in tension with the intensely personal images.
[Helen Douglas & Telfer Stokes.] Yarrow, Scotland: Weproductions, n.d. [c. 1977]
As an artist’s book, Clinkscale is situated between the obvious (an accordion book about an accordion) and the metaconceptual. In a 1989 interview, Telfer Stokes notes that Clinkscale was made after he and his partner Helen Douglas moved to Scotland in 1975. He says of Clinkscale, “It is an easy book to embrace.” The book itself lists the publisher on the back cover, but lacks further information about the date, location or artists.