“All of us bound together, tidal, moondrawn, past present and future, in the break of a wave”.
I have thoroughly enjoyed spending time with this beautifully written book by Jeanette Winterson Having reread the book several times, something new is revealed with each revisit. Each time there have been new discoveries, new understandings and new thoughts. It is a story full of mystery and enchantment. Attempts to define the story do not do it justice. It evades direct interpretation. It’s attraction is this elusive, part glimpsed, weaving of individual stories. It allows plenty of space for the readers own imagination to interact with the text. My challenge has been to find a way to respond visually to this language. I wanted to create an artist book which captures something of the ‘atmosphere’ of the story but did not want it to become too literal.
A number of sentences particularly resonated with my own experiences and thoughts, so I decided to use these as ‘jumping off’ points. After several false starts, I finally settled on a series of four books using two different structures. I generally make more than one as I find this prevents me from becoming tight or too precious.
Each is book is a unique work - while some similarities exist between them, the drawn marks and text vary in each. The chosen structures, like the story, are not linear. Jeanette Winterson likes to challenge traditional methods of writing, describing her stories forming a spiral, where the characters link backwards and forwards across different times and spaces.
"Salts My home town. A sea flung, rock bitten, sand edged, shell of a town. Oh and a lighthouse."
With this structure, the book unwraps to reveal a number of sewn signatures. The cover extends beyond the internal pages, which further reveals two seahorses enclosing the centre pages of the book. The viewer is given a range of options in how to proceed. They can open the double page spread starting with the centre pages, or turn to the front as in traditionally bound books. The arrangement of pages is such that the content can be 'read' in a variety of ways.
Times Lost Hero
" Nothing can be forgotten. Nothing can be lost. The Universe itself is one vast memory system. Look back and you will find the beginnings of the world."
As the book opens a small seahorse rises from the centre of the book. In Lighthousekeeping, Babel Dark finds one of these fragile fossilised creatures while exploring a dark crevice in the rocks. Regarded as a talisman, he keeps it in his pocket referring to it as 'times lost hero' Using a double map fold structure, the seahorse emerges into the light from rock-like pages. It's delicacy in contrast to the weight and permanence of stone.
The book cover utilises an envelope fold, creating pockets for two further books - one dark, the other light. They capture the sense of dark and light elements running through Jeanette Wintersons story. Watery marks form the 'language' in these pamphlets. One is static, dark like the interior of a cave, the other full of movement and light. Letters disperse and float throughout these pages suggestive of the stories being carried around the world by the flashes from the lighthouse.