een Hand Gebonden Kunstenaarsboek '(The) Fairing(s)', the Artist's-Books Workshop,Vilnius 2009 a hand-bound Artist's-Book / le Livre d'Artist / ein handgebundenes Künstler Buch / Mahler Buch


daylies of

the International Artist's-Books Workshop
"Vilnius European Cultural Capital 2009"

'real time' 19 - 10 - 2009

The way from the hotel to the Academy is still short and nice, but I must see how the town is actually 'on' the river Neris, as I know this view from 19th century novels.

Well, indeed, a bit early, but the water seems as cold as in one of those novels

For my early start - I do remember having said 'I'd like to start at nine, if at all possible' - there is not a living soul there before 9.20, so I have the remarkable opportunity to get aquianted with the 'early risers'. A small and nondescript number of surprisingly well looking, somewhat cultural, bums. That sounding very disrespectful for at least one of them, a fifty-ish remarcably well dressed lady that, after using the facilities, re-arranging her dress and rubbing off half of the night's-war-make-up, informs me (she is convinced I must be English, so, a 'so' she does not exactly explain, there should be a Russian connection) about her love for Ivan Turgenev (mind you, I've read a few and she convincingly knows a lot, obviously she does not like - though seeing the qualities - Dostojevsky. When I tell her I can see her point she recites a few Lithuanian poems. That, having a fine 'ring', does sadly not reach anything but my musical ear, and I realize how much I lack in knowledge on Lithuanian literature. In fact I know nothing at all about the artistic culture of this country other than the music of a few absolutely great composers, and the prints of a few friends.

Some students come in - I am to find out that some students in my group have subscribed, but are not free from other classes, clever bunch really.
Based on the assumption that they have all the information I have on fore-hand given on the internet, I simply start working. The posted packet with papers, lino, some wood, and thingy-things has arrived, so all things needed are there to be divided 'for the needing' so to speak - but, indeed, rather to be an inspiration to find quality in whatever an artist might find in front of him.
As the thing gets started I fumble with a few binding-tricks, and ask the students to make fit, whatever their (paper)measures in printing are, the booklets to somewhat postcard size - there should be something of a collection in the end, and a general size is the easiest way to 'not ruling, but never the less keeping together'.
An idea to have a most basical idea for 'a collection' - that works well with the theme 'fairings'.
Well, the idea that the internet-pages had been fully understood was not exactly right - I heard something of a grumble that 'we would not get it all together' any-way, but that was something I stupidly failed to grasp at the time.
It did not last long to find the ink not having much drying qualities, so the 12 editions of 25 copies did need something of an organization; I had to find there that these students do not really have the most graphic of graphical ideas: 'working together to make a personal things coming out right'.

Luckily I found Aema Shin (from the Prefectural University of Art and Music, Nagoya, Japan), and Liang Zang (from the Sichuan Fine Arts Institute, Chiangqing China), both happy and willing to cut words from the title page in Chinese and Japanese.
Apparently words in both languages can be pretty much the same, which was their reason to choose for a writng-form that would make it more interesting. And, yes - as these things are, there was that little thing that is soo much in all of us with forgetting that things to be cut and printed from undergo a mirroring process; nothing much, but for the technique quintessential - and furthermore it shows all the basic problems about composition and how to go about it in the first place. Such things are a good laugh even more because there will never be anyone without the experience; it is what every craftsman knows to be a good start.

It was something to find a way in this 'desert', as it is in all places where you do not know the habits of others that are using it at other times.
An atelier is not just a place where things are (or indeed things are not), but it is the well organized collection of extra hands in the right place to be activated when the artists mind calls for it; the 'mise en place' as a cook would call it is of utmost importance.
Academy ateliers never are such places!, one has to fight for it to get something like 'a soul' in a few days only.
An artist has to learn this when he is (as most artists are) going places in order 'to get around' (something very healthy for his art).

Some first start has been made for paper making.

The staff is most helpful when asked for 'things', but I do not always see the reality of 'things' not being so easily to be 'found'.
I'm beginning to see the real meaning of the addition 'and resourceful' by neighbouring Wayne Crothers to my 'Tja, one may need to be flexible', when entering the class-room.
A group of students begin by shredding old newspapers and what ever bits of paper that comes their way. Sooner than expected the 'humble' nature of this work seems to loose attraction; but I'm afraid that most certainly this is the sort of 'zen-lesson' that has be learnt. I belong to the (anciently) old-fashioned artists that makes his own oil-paint by endlessly rubbing the pigments into the oils, as long as each different colour needs to be mixed and rubbed in each different oil. The idea of 'practise making the master' has in my case developed into a feeling of love for my materials as they are the friends that should make it possible for me to have 'free-way' with 'the stuff' in my fingers in order to have my mind concentrate on the philosophy that should make it worth to look at my 'things' when, later, I'm ready and gone and nothing but my work is left of me.
This idea of ready made materials is a marketing idea to get amateurs started. Real artists start their adventures in art at the very basis of things, and we study the history of our ancesters: 'course I know why Goya coloured the basic grounds of his portraits (or any other of his paintings); course I know what is under Rembrandt's 'Jewish Bride'; not as a result of seeing the x-rays, but because I have learned to look with a lover's eye through the skin.
These paintings would not have been possible on white and prepared canvasses.

Some students have made figures for the watermarks - sadly we shall see them not working in the 'instant-papermaking' course we shall have to settle for - the paper made is simply to thick for the fine threads used.
But these may come in later, as all material I have brought is going to stay for any student that would have an interest to continue after these classes, or for that matter, take up the craft and make it into an art.

Had some preliminary opportunities to see works from by-gone era's, living artists, and colleagues.
Difficult to believe how 'Sovjet' a 'Sovjet woodcut' is - more difficult even to see how an 'old-style' artist could be 're-set' into a new-style artist (something I do actually hear a lot about), whilst on the other hand there are such a host of good artists that worked their way before and work their way now, without the one or the other nonsens getting in the way.
And as always in any academy in Europe I fail to see the point of not having real art openly on display, and standing around everywhere on corridoors and God knows where. What is it with these places that make me wonder if art is something secret. Would it really be that professors are afraid to influence students by debating the real thing when on the walls? If anywhere, it is here where good and real art should be in every corner, and should be open to debate to everyone. It is here where art should be vulnarable, not just because of being art as such, but also to teach students and all society around them to respect art or properly debate it.
Like it or not:
If you'd love it - tell me exactly why, without the blurr of a vague time-capsuled-laguage. If you don't like it, well tell me in good strong words what exactly it is that you don't like; taste would not do.
If that would not be an ultimate lesson to learn to have proper conversations on art, I don't know what is.

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