Books On Books Collection – Jack Oudyn

A Prayer in Hell (2018)

A Prayer in Hell (2018)
Jack Oudyn
Palm leaf prayer book format of 12 timber slats with double-sided collages materials and images made with pomegranate ink on antique paper, water soluble crayon calico, wound dressings and PVA adhesive. Text from Nauru Files — Guardian Newspaper and Islamic prayer book. Open: H195 x W130 mm. Closed: H195 x W 55 x D35 mm. Slip case: 2 mm card with collage, H202 x W60 x D38 mm, to be displayed with the book. Unique. Acquired from the artist, 4 January 2020. Photos: Books On Books Collection, displayed with permission of the artist.

A Prayer in Hell is one of Jack Oudyn’s larger works. works refer to the Australian experience of the world’s refugee crisis (perhaps the largest diaspora in history), A Prayer in Hell is the most scorching of them all.

Materially, the work embodies the refugees and their experience in many ways — its palm-leaf prayer book pages even consist of “stressed and recycled timber slats”. The binding cords penetrate drawings of eyes on each slat, creating the effect of the faceless staring through bars. Although the work’s title alludes to the English expression “not a hope in hell”, the work itself nods toward hope appears in how the wound dressings, wound round the slat pages, gradually become cleaner. Under and over the dressings, strips of English and Arabic text are collaged alongside handwritten extracts from Islamic prayer books and reports of events and conditions in Australian detention centers. Complete with redactions, the English text refers to the scandals associated with the centers at Nauru, Papua New Guinea, Christmas and Manu islands.

Fish Books One, Two, Three and Four (1999 – 2001)

All acquired from the artist, 4 January 2020. Photos: Books On Books Collection, displayed with permission of the artist.

This complete set of his fish books represents Oudyn’s Micro Press imprint well. Many of the small works are playful with language, form, and material and, often, socially satirical or critical. More hook-in-mouth than tongue-in-cheek, the fish books have provided the artist with ground for playing with collage and printing techniques. In imagery, they are reminiscent of Ric Haynes, Breughel and Bosch. In text, they encapsulate the punsterdom of book art (albeit without the usual book-related self-referencing, though “fish wrapper” would have been good for their covers); reveal the artist’s Dutch heritage in their numbering; and revel in Australia’s odd common fishnames (dart, flattie, stargazer, sweetlips, etc.). By Fish Book Four (2001), however, a socially sharper tone emerges. The dates of publication, which vary from those in the WorldCat links for each title, are taken from the artist’s website.

The Very First Book of Fish (1999)
Jack Oudyn
Booklet made of 200 gsm digital paper, sewn with single white waxed thread, 16 pages. Color laser print of mixed media drawings; ink, paint, collage on pages from telephone directory. H70 x W105 mm, 16 pages. Edition of 50, of which this is #27. Photos: Books On Books Collection, displayed with permission of the artist.

Fish Book Two (1999)
Same format as first, except sewn with single red waxed thread; #49 of 50.

Fish Book Three (2000)
Same format as the second; #25 of 50.

Fish Book Four (2001)
Same format as third, except sewn with single dark gray waxed thread: #13 of 50.

‘ATE (2011)

‘ATE X 10 (2011)
Jack Oudyn
Japanese stab-bound booklet, with wax paper cover and Momigami fly leaves. H54 x W74 mm, 10 train ticket sleeves holding 10 small numbered cards collaged with advertising brochure photos. Edition of 2, of which this is #2. Photos: Books On Books Collection, displayed with permission of the artist.

ATE X 10 demonstrates Oudyn’s wont to play language, form and material off image and vice versa. Bound in a Japanese stab binding by waxed thread and wax paper from the fish markets at Tsukiji in Tokyo, the book begins with a front fly leaf page bearing a tag line from the breast exercise mantra; on the same Momigami paper, the end fly leaf bears the colophon. The pages are made of Japanese train ticket sleeves containing numbered cards collaged with small photos from advertising brochures found near railway stations. As the fly leaf hints, the modest photos come from ads for breast enhancement services, an 8 x 10 promise relative to the images presented.

The works in the Micro Press imprint also reflect Oudyn’s interest (and presence) in mail art. He has been a member of the International Union of Mail Artists, and a section on his site is devoted to mail art.

’16 Century Map’ (2012)

’16 Century Map’ (2012) Jack Oudyn
Tab/slot-bound, single-fold, map paper on board, covering three outward-opening triangular cut tabs over center map paper on board; ink-stamped and drawn, with “you are here” sticker in lower left corner. H70 x W72 mm (closed). Unique. Acquired from the artist, 4 January 2020. Photos: Books On Books Collection, displayed with permission of the artist.

This small unique work — and those that follow — lie outside the Micro Press imprint. As the artist writes on his blog, this is a trial attempt at juxtaposing the exterior old European map (showing Mesopotamia and the Euphrates, the Northern hemisphere’s cradle of civilization) with the interior Australian map of the Kakadu National Park to get at the concept of Tjukurpa, by which Australia’s Anangu refer to the creation period.

It is not strictly a Turkish-fold map, but the way the tab with indigenous colors snugly closes ’16 Century Map’ is just as mechanically satisfying.

vis-à-vis | face to face (2014)

vis-à-vis | face to face (2014) Jack Oudyn
Blizzard-fold booklet, mixed media and collage with tea bag paper. H100 x W70 mm, six panels. Unique. Acquired from the artist, 4 January 2020. Photos: Books On Books Collection, displayed with permission of the artist.

A heavily stained, empty teabag glued across the two boards, whose opening is closed with the teabag string wrapped around a wooden button, serves for this booklet’s binding. A conversation between two people struggling for words, hence the near random use of found text, occupies the six panels. The abstract faces profiles are characteristic of Oudyn’s work, as is the use of acrylic medium as a block out or resist. Or perhaps it is egg yolk, which would be in keeping with the reference to eggs and, with the tea stains, in keeping with a breakfast-table conversation.

Age Marks (2014)

Age Marks (2014)
Jack Oudyn
Handmade waxed and stained paper book by Trace Willans. Mixed media and collage on paper. H85 x W65 x D10 mm, 44 pages. Unique. Acquired from the artist, 4 January 2020. Photos: Books On Books Collection, displayed with permission of the artist.

Trace Willans makes blank books from organic, sustainable media. Age Marks began as one of these blanks, its pages consisting of lightly textured machine-made lightweight paper (ca. 100 gsm), some stained and waxed. The result is not exactly an inscribed blank notebook, not exactly an altered book. Oudyn’s use of mixed media of different hand-made papers, tracing paper, found text, wax, reflective road tape, postage stamps, white acrylic ink, gouache and pigment creates a unique record of the aging process of mark making. Marks made by conversation, observation, inscription, printing, writing, drawing, collation, lifts and reveals, cutting, tearing, pasting, weaving, binding — all filtered through aging.

Small as it is, Age Marks is one of the most varied haptic experiences in the collection.

The Future of an Illusion (2017)

The Future of an Illusion (2017)
Helen Malone and Jack Oudyn
Sculptural tunnel book structure (three joined four-fold leporellos) enclosed in a folder and protective boxin a box,. Box made with Lamali handmade paper, suede paper (lining) and Somerset Black 280 gsm; Folder: Canson black 200gsm, skull button and waxed thread; Leporellos: center leporello made of Canson black 200 gsm, linen thread adjoining two leporellos made of Arches watercolour paper 185 gsm with acrylic, soluble carbon, gouache and transfer ink jet images. Box: H275 x W313 x D34 mm; Folder: H258 x W295 x D21 mm; Book: H250 x W290 x D16 mm closed, D410 mm open. One of an unnumbered, signed edition of 4. Acquired from Helen Malone, 12 September 2017.

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Roughly Asemic (2020)

Roughly Asemic (2020)
Jack Oudyn
Booklet, single-thread stitched, handmade paper cover, painted and inked, over brown Kraft paper folios illustrated with drawings and markings in paint and ink. H105 X W123 mm, 7 leaves, folded in half making 28 unnumbered pages, 14 of which bear drawings and markings, 13 of which are left blank, and the last page bears the title, signature and year. Unique. Acquired from the artist, 4 January 2020. Photos: Books On Books Collection, displayed with permission of the artist.

This work’s title could not be more apropos. It is a scratchy thing to hold, its pages stiff and crackling as they turn. Patterns, images and letters struggle to emerge, only to be submerged by each other on the same or next page, which goes to show how difficult it must be to achieve entirely asemic markings. “Roughly asemic” might be the best hoped for.

Further Reading

Foster, Robin. “Feature Artist – Jack Oudyn“, Personal Histories, International Artist Book Exhibition, Redland Museum, UNSW, Canberra. 11 March 2014. Accessed 19 October 2020.

Oudyn, Jacobus (Jack). Blog entry, 4 February 2013. Accessed 19 October 2020.

Oudyn, Jacobus (Jack). Micro Press. Artist’s site. Accessed variously from 1 September 2017 to 16 January 2021.

Helen Malone and Jack Oudyn“, Books On Books Collection. 5 December 2017.

Books On Books Collection – Helen Malone

Alphabetic Codes (2005)

Alphabetic Codes (2005)

Helen Malone

Box containing three books: two concertina books of different sizes and one tetrahedron shape of three pages. Two layered canvases painted with acrylic paint mounted on both sides of Perspex pages in Perspex box. Box: H230 x W160 x D80 mm. Unique edition. Acquired from the artist, 2 July 2020. Photos above: Courtesy of the artist. Photos below: Books On Books Collection.

Artist’s description:

Referencing ancient writing systems, hieroglyphs and engravings, this book is an investigation of sign systems and shared cultural knowledge. Fragmented coded images derived from familiar letterforms lie beneath the surface of the canvas and although visible remain undecipherable and incomprehensible.

The alphabet has traditionally served as calligraphic and typographic seed for book art, perhaps with roots of expression in illuminated letters, the Kabbalah, tomes on penmanship and calligraphy and typography specimen books. In its material and technique, Alphabetic Codes has a rough and smooth tactility; the former pointing to ancient, haptic forms, the latter to current, screen-generated forms. It enriches the subset of alphabet books and abecedaries in the Books On Books Collection.

Exhibitions:

  • Books 05 Image as Text as Image, Noosa Regional Gallery 9 September – 17 October 2005.
  • Botanical Books, Coffs Calligraphers, Botanic Garden, Coffs Harbour, 29 September 29 – 7 October 2007.

Windows on the World (2005)

Windows on the World (2005)

Helen Malone

Perspex box containing two concertina books of different sizes made of recycled Perspex panels with mounted canvas painted with acrylics. Box: H360 x W125 x D75 mm. Unique edition. Acquired from the artist, 2 July 2020. Photo: Books On Books Collection.

Photo: Courtesy of the artist.

Photos: Books On Books Collection.

Artist’s description:

Technological illuminations such as television screens, computer screens, big screens and advertising visually transmit images and act as carriers of global information, education and entertainment.  The medieval purpose of stained glass windows, besides aesthetic and mystical was to visually educate and enlighten.

Purely in color, Windows on the World recalls Albers, Chagall, Mondrian (even though he hated stained glass) or Joep Nicolas. In material, technique and theme, it may echo Alphabetic Codes and its allusion to computer-screen-based windows, but Windows has a more architectural feel that can also be found in the I.M. Pei and Mies van der Rohe “volumes” of Ten Books on Architecture (2017) further enriching the architectural subset of the Books On Books Collection.

Exhibition:

  • Books 05, Image as text as Image, Noosa Regional Gallery, 9 September – 17 October 2005.

Beautiful One Day,
Blown Away the Next (2011)

Beautiful One Day, Blown Away the Next (2011)

Helen Malone

Box containing circular concertina flag book of Fabriano paper, manipulated digital photographs cut and transferred to flags. H90 x W190 x D55 mm closed, 380 mm diameter open. Unique edition. Acquired from the artist, 2 July 2020. Photo: Books On Books Collection.

Artist’s description:

On the eve of 2 February 2011 Cyclone Yasi made landfall on the coast of Queensland. Sweeping through the coastal communities, the Category 5 Tropical Storm of historic proportions left a trail of mayhem and destruction that inspired the artist Malone to create this piece.

Photos: Courtesy of the artist.

Photos: Books On Books Collection.

Bringing together a flag book, concertina and tab-and-lot closure, Malone engineers an ideal structure to evoke the meterological pattern and order of the cyclone. The shattered, blue-filtered photographic images transferred to the flags contribute a kaleidoscopic chaos. The theme of the environment and the struggle between the human race and natural forces is a subset of the Books On Books Collection well represented by this work, Tsunami (below) and others such as Holuhraun by Chris Ruston and Landscapes of the Late Anthropocene by Philip Zimmerman.

Exhibition:

  • Books…beyond words evolution, East Gippsland Art Gallery, Bairnsdale,Vic., 6 August – 3 September 2011.

Tsunami (2011)

Tsunami (2011)

Helen Malone

Box containing “whirlwind” book of Japanese paper washed with sumi ink and water, Japanese stab binding, leather roll. H230 mm, variable width. Unique edition. Acquired from the artist, 2 July 2020. Photo: Books On Books Collection.

Photos: Books On Books Collection.

Artist’s description:

Part of the series of disasters explored by Malone through her art, this piece is her interpretation of the catastrophic tsunami that followed the massive earthquake that struck Japan in 2011.

The earthquake and tsunami were so powerful that their effects were felt around the globe: from Antarctica’s ice sheet to the fjords of Norway. Indeed the debris from the monstrous wave continues to wash up on North American shores nearly a decade later.

The combination of Japanese paper and mottled color of sumi ink and water, the way the work “fights back” as the scrolls are manipulated to display the work, the multiple displays generated by the piling wave-like scrolls — all evoke the picture of inescapable, roiling force of the 2011 tsunami.

Paper, Scissors, Uluru (2013)

Paper, Scissors, Uluru (2013)

Helen Malone and Jack Oudyn

Laser printed images of waxed drawing, collage, painting and Chinese paper covered boards painted by Jack Oudyn with earth pigments, acrylic and xanthorrhoea resin. Sculptural folded page book structure and box by Helen Malone. H105 x W95 x D15 mm. Editions: 6 and 1 A/P. Acquired from Helen Malone, 2 July 2020. Photos: Books On Books Collection.

Photos: Books On Books Collection.

Photo: Courtesy of the artist.

Artist’s description:

Malone and Jack Oudyn collaborated to create this representation of Uluru to resonate with the pleas of the indigenous Anangu people of the Northern Territory in Australia to “Wanyu Ulurunya Tatintja Wiyangku Wantima” (Respect our laws and culture).

For the Anangu the massive sandstone monolith is so sacred that they will not climb it nor photograph it. They ask visitors to respect the spirituality of the site and to follow their customs.

The blend of laser prints of wax drawings, Chinese paper, collage and painting seeks to capture the changing light of the rock as the sun passes over it throughout the day. The boards painted by Oudyn with earth pigments, acrylic and xanthorrhoea resin contribute a glowing depth of color to this homage to the Anangu. As with The Future of an Illusion (below), this collaboration presents an unusual unity of vision and integration of technique, materials and process with structural “rightness” for the subject at hand.

Exhibitions:

  • Art on Show Awards, Artspace Mackay Artist Book Award, Mackay Show Association, Mackay Qld, 16-19 June 2014.
  • Sheffield International Artists Book Prize, Bank Street Arts, Sheffield UK, 7-31 October 2015.

Collections:

  • Bank Street Arts, Sheffield UK.
  • Wim de Vos, Brisbane.
  • Private collection, Brisbane.
  • Private collection, Melbourne.

The Legacy of Absence and Silence (2016)

The Legacy of Absence and Silence (2016)

Helen Malone

Binding of French faux leather. Multiple accordions in Fabriano 200gsm HP paper and Strathmore papers, pigmented ink, acrylic ink, printing ink, gold leaf, chinagraph pencil and image transfers. Closed: H780 x W50 x D150mm; Open: W750 mm. Unique edition. Acquired from the artist, 2 July 2020. Photos: Courtesy of the artist.

Artist’s description:

The Legacy of Absence and Silence refers to the present-day Australians whose forbears were immigrants to the continent in the nineteenth century. Many of those who came to Australia during that period made such an effort to assimilate that they have left no clues for their descendants to discover their origins. In fact some immigrants went to great lengths to eradicate their beginnings. In this work Malone has designed the structure of the book to reflect the effort of a search for meaning. The black foreground requires the viewer to struggle to peer inside the construction to glimpse details. Beyond the visual obstruction the white pages reveal snippets of information but never the full story.

Photos: Books On Books Collection.

This is a work that demands display in-the-round on a table allowing viewers to lean far enough over to catch the details within the cells formed by the joined accordions, to circle it to see how emblems and signs emerge and disappear, and to move closer and step back to experience the shifting geometric patterns.

Exhibition:

  • Libris Awards, Artspace Mackay, Queensland, from 26 August – 16 October 2016.

The Future of an Illusion (2017)

The Future of an Illusion (2017)

Helen Malone and Jack Oudyn

Sculptural tunnel book structure (three joined four-fold leporellos) enclosed in a folder and protective boxin a box,. Box made with Lamali handmade paper, suede paper (lining), silk ribbon and Somerset Black 280 gsm; Folder: Canson black 200gsm, skull button and waxed thread; Leporello: center leporello made of Canson black 200 gsm, adjoining leporellos made of Arches watercolour paper 185 gsm with acrylic, soluble carbon, gouache and transfer ink jet images. Box: H275 x W313 x D34 mm; Folder: H258 x W295 x D21 mm; Book: H250 x W290 x D16 mm closed, D770 mm. One of an unnumbered, signed edition of 4. Acquired from Helen Malone, 12 September 2017. Photo: Books On Books Collection.

Photos: Books On Books Collection.

Like The Legacy of Absence and Silence, this work uses joined accordions, but builds on the cut-outs in the former to construct a tunnel book down the middle. The integration of structures here is further remarkable as a result of another collaboration between Malone and Jack Oudyn. Selected for the 2017 Manly Library Artists’ Book Award exhibition in New South Wales, Australia, The Future of an Illusion demonstrates an effective collaboration in a field of art densely populated with — almost defined by — collaborative efforts. One pair of artists to compare with Malone and Oudyn is Sonia Delaunay and Blaise Cendrars. Over a century ago and half a world away, they collaborated on La Prose du Transsibérien et de la Petite Jehanne de France, also in an accordion format modified perfectly to its subject with an aim to create a work in which color, image and words are experienced simultaneously. Malone writes that it “has always been very influential generally on my work(correspondence with Malone, 24 September 2017).

Rather than springing from an interaction over one poem, The Future of an Illusion springs from two imaginations struck by two literary works: Sigmund Freud’s eponymous book arguing against belief in an afterlife and Jim Crace’s novel Being Dead documenting the decomposition of a dead body left in nature. The choice of the two texts, the colors of putrescence, the void toward which the central tunnel leads, the coffin-like box in which the work is stored, locked with a button skull — all create a simultaneous tension of several emotions — fear, humor, sorrow, hope, despair, revulsion and aesthetic pleasure.

Photo: Books On Books Collection.

Exhibitions:

  • Between the Sheets, Central Gallery, Perth , WA, 18 March – 8 April 2017.
  • Second venue for Between the Sheets, Australian Galleries, Collingwood, Melbourne, Vic, 13 June – 2 July 2017.
  • Manly Library Artists Book Award, The Creative Space, North Curl Curl, NSW, 30 March – 2 April 2017.
  • Art on Show Awards, Artspace Mackay in association with Mackay Show Association, 11-22 June 2017.
  • 6th Artists Books Fair, Grahame Galleries in association with Griffith University, Brisbane, 7 – 9 July 2017.

Collections:

  • Artists (1/4 & 3/4), State Library of Queensland Artists Book Collection, Brisbane (4/4).

Ten Books of Architecture (2017)

Ten Books of Architecture (2017)

Helen Malone

Open-sided box containing ten individual adapted book structures. Closed: H175 x W440 x D110 mm; Open: H500 x W600 mm. Version 4. Acquired from the artist, 24 November 2017. Photo: Books On Books Collection.

Inspired by De Architettura by Vitruvius and De Re Aedificatoria by Leon Battista Alberti, Malone created her first version of this work in 2006. Three others followed: in 2012, for the Pratt Institute; in 2013, for the State Library of Queensland; and in 2017, for this collection. In the 2012 version, the sixth book — Queenslander — differentiates that version from the others. The 2017 version is differentiated by its tenth book — Zaha Hahid.

These differentiators signal the abundant variety of structures within each version. Their unerring “rightness” for the subject of each “volume” astounds.

Book One — Vitruvius — consists of embossed and cut concertina folds of Arches paper with diluted sumi ink; when displayed, the line of columns suggests a Roman temple. Book Two — Suger — celebrates the French patron of Gothic architecture with an adapted tunnel book with cut concertina sides in Canson and Arches paper, ink and watercolor; when displayed, the structure suggests the stained glass windows of St. Denis. Book Three — Brunelleschi — is a folded page construction of Canson paper with page inserts of Canson and Arches paper, PVC ribs and covers; when displayed, it references the dome of the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence, the internal colors of the cathedral and Brunelleschi’s credited invention of linear perspective. Book Four — Alberti — is a concertina fold book in Fabriano and Arches paper with PVC covers; its gutters and collaged pages make a structure resembling shallow facades on which several of Alberti’s statements elaborating Vitruvian principles are printed. Book Five — Mackintosh — adapts a French door construction in Arches paper, watercolor, ink and PVC to celebrate the Scottish architect and designer; when displayed, it echoes his design and its Japanese influences. Book Six — Le Corbusier — is a cube book of Fabriano paper and resembles a white concrete box; its page structure is adapted from Corbu’s internal construction plans with mezzanine floors. Book Seven — Mies van der Rohe — consists of a concertina of double Perspex pages linked with fishing line and containing digital photo images of Chicago taken by the artist; it can be manipulated to form various displays, with multiplying reflections suggesting the spread of the architect’s influence on twentieth-century cityscapes. Book Eight — Pei — is a folding triangular paged book made of Perspex and Canson paper, linked with fishing line; when displayed, the pyramid pays homage to Pei’s dome over the entrance to the Louvre. Book Nine — Libeskind — echoes the architect’s intentionally disorienting Jewish museum in Berlin; a slanted rectangular box book, made of kangaroo vellum and scored aluminum, presents its text in a way intentionally difficult to access and read. Book Ten — Zaha Hadid — consists of organic shapes and patterns on a folded pages construction of Arches paper mounted on PVC; when displayed, the book takes on a shape that echoes that of Hadid’s architectural designs.

Additional commentary and images for Ten Books of Architecture (2017) can be found here.

Exhibitions and collections:

  • 2006 version was exhibited in Books.06, Ten and Beyond, Noosa Regional Gallery, 22 September – 22 October 2006 and was purchased from this exhibition by a private collector.
  • 2012 version commissioned by The Pratt Institute, New York. The Collections on View at the Brooklyn Campus of the Pratt Institute and online, May – August 2013. Image published in 500 Handmade Books, Lark Publishers USA, September 2013.
  • 2013 version commissioned by the State Library of Queensland, Brisbane.
  • 2017 version commissioned by Books On Books Collection.

Further Reading

Abecedaries (in progress)“, Bookmarking Book Art, 31 March 2020.

Architecture”, Books On Books, 12 November 2018.

Albers, Josef. Interaction of Color (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1963).

Cascio, Davide. Travel Architecture (2006). Compare with The Legacy of Absence and Silence.

Crace, Jim. Being Dead (London: Picador, 2010).

Drucker, Johanna. The Alphabetic Labyrinth: The Letters in History and Imagination (London: Thames and Hudson, 1999).

Freud, Sigmund, et al. The standard edition of the complete psychological works of Sigmund Freud. Vol. 21, 1927-1931, The future of an illusion, Civilization and its discontents and other works (London: Vintage, 2001).

Jupp, James. The Australian People: An Encyclopedia of the Nation, its People and their Origins, 2d ed. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001).

Kramer, Sophia. “Variations of Vitruvius: Four Centuries of Bookbinding and Design” Thomas J. Watson Library, The Met, 22 August 2018. From biblio-tout.blogspot.co.uk April 14, 2015 8:48 PM.

Kyle, Hedi, and Ulla Warchol. The Art of the Fold: How to Make Innovative Books and Paper Structures (London: Laurence King Publishers, 2018).

Natural Disasters”, Art UK. Accessed 22 July 2020.

Salamony, Sandra; Thomas, Donna; and Thomas, Peter. 1000 Artists Books (Beverly, MA: Quarry Books, 2012). Includes images of Tsunami.

Warne, Kennedy. “Why Australia is banning climbers from this iconic natural landmark”, National Geographic, 15 September 2019. Accessed 22 July 2020.