Thursday, 27 June 2013

Peter and Jane

 'It is my go, says Peter. It is my go to hide.'
'You cannot hide from the truth, says Jane.'

Have you ever read the children's learn-to-read series of books Peter and Jane? I have sometimes found the text of such books oddly unsettling. Of course, they are completely laudable, important tools to kickstart what will hopefully be a life-time of reading. But it is the unnatural, formal, and repetitive turns of phrase - that although are obviously engineered to help children read - make them, well, a little strange. 

It is this strangeness that artist Otto has exploited to full effect in his new series of concertina books in which the Peter and Jane characters (with a note of thanks to the good people of Ladybird Books)  are thrown into a new and sinister 'Ottoverse'. 
Jane and Peter find themselves in borgesian labyrinths, exploring the innards of a wooden horse, a narrow boat and a folding bike. With the cheerful bright colours of regular children's book fare replaced with sombre hues of black, grey and red, and backgrounds of gnarled leafless trees, grey tower blocks, and ominous crashing waves, we are left with a bleak impression of the supposedly fun activities Jane and Peter indulge in.

Each book concludes with a subversive and existential clanger from Jane (see quote at the top of the review). Perhaps uncovered from the lost draft of a children's book writer exasperated with presenting a positive and simplistic view of humanity?

Otto's Peter and Jane series of books are hand screen printed, in a limited edition of 45 and cost £30 each. They are available in the Bookartbookshop now.

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Every Day it's the Same

Sophie Herxheimer's Cardboard Paintings

Our window display is currently bedecked in a glorious sunshine yellow in recognition of the long hot summer ahead of us. Artist and poet Sophie Herxheimer has installed a collection of black, white and yellow paintings constructed out of corrugated cardboard shapes. Some of them are vessels for her poems, whilst others speak just with images. They have a fairy tale quality, menacing and comforting in the same breath. Giant crows, wolves and witches loom alongside tea pots, flowers and loyal dogs. 
The paintings continue in the tradition of her book Hurricane Butter that we reviewed a few months back. We have restocked this book as well as launching her new mini-publication Ghost Hotel, an elegy to three of Herxheimer's poetical heroes Anna Akhmatova, Elizabeth Bishop, and Rosemary Tonks.

Popovic's display

Please pay us a visit before the show closes on the 27th June and whilst you're here take a look at the 'little sister' exhibition, Lara Popovic's cabinet of curiosities - fellow Artist/Poet Popovic has taken over our glass display cabinet and filled it with a cornucopia of detritus. Little wooden boxes, wallets and even a shell have all become the homes to poems and drawings on the subject of love.

Everything on display is available to own. As well as the cardboard paintings, we have some original drawings on paper by Herxheimer at £120 each. Ghost Hotel is a risograph concertina in an edition of 50 and costs £5.

Monday, 10 June 2013

Future Fantasteek!

'I'm so busy busy busy busy busy busy busy doing so much pointless shite'

This Zine imprint by Jackie Batey of Damp Flat books has been around since the beginning of the Credit Crunch. Issues are published twice a year and reflect the news of the moment and the anxieties of modern life.
They appear at first glance to be simple doodles scanned in from a note book, but on closer inspection are much more nuanced.  Future Fantasteek follows in the comedic tradition of Monty Python or the Simpsons, in the way it appropriates the ubiquitous language of advertising, and in the process sends humanities absurd foibles up in flames.
Drawing and text mingle deliciously, and bold colour gives it an extra punch. Goats, ants, devils, chickens, dogs, bears, cats, aliens, henry VIII as well as the occasional 'regular' person are all the vehicle for the stupid things we humans say think and do. The text is made expressive by the use of frenetic hand-drawn typography.
The last issue to be released was Future Fantasteek no. 14 back in February 2013 when the horse meat scandal was raging, hence the pantomime horse on the cover. I am eagerly anticipating issue no. 15 to find out where Jackie Batey will next direct her fine-toothed comb over society and drag out some more hideous 'nits' of truth.

Future Fantasteek issues 2, 4, 5, 7,  8 , 12, 13, 14 are currently available in the Bookartbookshop and cost £6 each.

- Jon Lander