Towards a community of artists’ books: extending international knowledge and debate in the field of artists’ books through practice-research
The field of activity in artists’ books – artworks in the form of a book - has evolved over the last sixty years into a significant, international contemporary arts practice.
Many artists, especially those new to the field, search for the means of situating their practice and extending their knowledge. Artists seek answers on how and where they can connect with other practitioners, increase their knowledge of, and place themselves within the international field.
They need to know how and where they can learn to create, market, exhibit, contextualise and sell their work to the public. These needs have informed the development of the research question: How can practice-informed, participatory research develop and extend knowledge and debate in the international field of artists’ books?
This question is predicated on the needs of a wide range of artists’ books practitioners, and many others with whom their practice is interwoven: librarians, researchers, students, curators, educators and the public. The following DPhil commentary offers a post-rationalisation of some of the issues and solutions for connecting artists’ books internationally, based upon my research and the network hub I have established at UWE, Bristol. In the text, I reflect upon my contribution to new knowledge through offering examples of artistic and curatorial practice, research and publications that have raised awareness in relation to specific interventions in Australia, Brazil, Europe, Iraq, South Africa and the USA.
This DPhil submission discusses the research aims outlined within the narrative, under the heading Connecting Artists’ Books - The Findings, in relation to the evidence submitted in the accompanying portfolio of publications. The portfolio includes samples of authored books, edited publications, published articles and artists’ books created. These have been collated under the related headings of: practice, reporting on the field, curatorial, artefacts.
I will use the following commentary to explore and analyse the contemporary position of the artist’s book, in order to reflect upon how its creators and audiences have been rhizomatically interwoven into my research investigations and how the participants have benefitted. The analysis outlines contributions made to new knowledge through some of the interventions I have made as a practitioner, publisher, curator and writer.
It identifies examples of themes of practice discovered, revealed and connected through these interventions and their impact upon the field of artists’ books today.