Bookmarking Book Art – Pauline Rafal


Among the several artists displaying works at The Riverside Gallery was Pauline Rafal.

Inspired by poetry and literature, and influenced by the tangible qualities of paper and print, my work focuses on linocuts, and pen and ink illustrations displayed either as individual artworks, or as artist’s books. The artist’s books vary in form, ranging from simple concertina folds to more sculptural pieces, with the aim of creating a journey for the reader, and encouraging a more intimate relationship with the words.

The experience of touching, folding, and opening a book plays an important role in my work – letterpress and linocut techniques matched with materials such as fine papers, Japanese tissue, or leather support the portrayed stories through their individual tactile characteristics.

Key themes that reappear throughout my work include reflections on the creative practice and artistic processes, the artist’s relationship with their creation, and memories and experiences of change.

In 2015, Rafal created a book art installation to accompany a piano recital by Annie Yim, an event that illustrates an unusual integration of literature, book art and music. (More here.) The year before, inspired by the prose poem “Windows” by Baudelaire, Rafal demonstrated yet another unusual bridging of artistic media and technique.

Pauline Rafal "Windows" by Charles Baudelaire (2014) © Pauline Rafal 2014
Pauline Rafal”Windows” by Charles Baudelaire (2014)© Pauline Rafal 2014

When closed, this accordion book appears as a non-descript brown parcel tied with string.


As it is opened, the parcel becomes a streetscape with buildings through whose “windows” Baudelaire’s text reveals itself.


The form of the book has been altered best to display the imagined flâneur’s prose narrative.


Another of Rafal’s works is “The legends of Robert Schumann: A Piano Recital and Book Art Installation”,  reimagining scenes from childhood in Robert Schumann’s piano masterpiece Kinderszenen (1838).  The concert occurred at Burgh House and Hampstead Museum.  As Rafal describes the work:

You open the desk and you see there’s a surprise inside – a book installation…When you read these books you realize that there’s more to the story than just childhood – it’s a real-life story that happened between two people [Robert and Clara Schumann] and which resulted in these amazing music compositions.” – Pauline Rafal, book artist

Set of 13 ‘book houses’ displayed in a miniature desk, each book displaying a letter written between Robert Schumann and his fiancee Clara Wieck at the time when ‘Scenes from Childhood’ was composed. 

For more of Pauline Rafal’s work, see her website and Facebook page.

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