Tuesday, September 14, 2010


Trawling (detail). Installation by Steve McPherson. See Website here.

Old books with yellowing pages, tattered covers and exposed spines, rescued and reinvented, transformed into art. Whoever would have thought that an artform would arise from a pile of discarded books ..... but then nothing should surprise me when it comes to the ingenuity of artists.
Rediscovery by Joseph Hammer. See more of Joseph's work here.
"I’m a lover of books, and I wonder: will there be books as we now know them in the future? I’m partial to using old, discarded hardback books in collages and am inspired by the varieties of colors and textures on their covers, by how they can be used, like paint, to provoke feelings and emotions, to explore things such as line, color saturation and tension. As a lover of history, I pay tribute to these threadbare, tattered tomes. They provide a look back at the bookbinder’s craft and the careful, sometimes elaborate designs, marbling and gold leaf, of long ago. Deterioration does not diminish their beauty but adds a patina of use, of human “hand prints.” - Joseph Hammer
Collected Letters by Joseph Hammer. See more here.

Cartographic No 1. by Steve McPherson. See website here.
"In my bookworks I use empty old second hand photo albums or scrap books, which I collage and montage straight into with mostly my own images and found objects."
"Taking two to three months to complete each work, the works undergo many changes. Time is spent moving and testing objects, images and text without a single item being fixed permanently in its place. Through editing, re-editing, chance and play, meaningful relationships gradually form between the elements and the layers" - Steve McPherson

"Milieu 4" by Brigitte Riesebrodt. See more of Brigette's work here.

"Milieu 2" by Brigitte Reisebrodt
"Langenscheidt 4" by Brigitte Riesebrodt. See more here.

Jody Alexander "likes to rescue books in distress and give them new life as rebound books, scrolls and sculptural pieces."
Exposed Spines by Jody Alexander. See website here.

Bars (Grey) by John Fraser. See more of John's work here.

"The book is just one component; once it becomes a part of the picture plane I negotiate that plane. Nuance, subtlety, and beauty and all things I think are worth looking at, those all matter to me." - John Fraser

Relief with Rule by John Fraser.
Mixed media using book parts by Roberta Lee Woods. See more of Roberta's work here.

Book sculpture by Jacqueline Rush Lee. See Jacqueline's website here.


  1. Glorious links Robyn! I especially love the work of John Fraser. Thank you once again. I love visiting The Art Propelled "gallery"!

  2. These are wonderful works! I am particularly drawn to Brigitte Riesebrodt's pieces. The edges, and soft subtle color shifts...the contrast of these two qualities really speaks to me.

  3. Wow! What an inspiring post, thank you!
    (imagine there was no internet...)

  4. Thanks again for the visuals. the ones that really speak to me the most are Jody's and Roberta's with the heft and volume of the cross section or bundles.
    xoxo Kim

  5. I love what people do to old books but some how I cant bear to do that. Perhaps the old books I find are not old enough for me to pull them apart.

  6. Dear Robyn, I've been absent for a while, but it doesn't mean that I have no idea what's going on in your blog! First of all - congratulations for creating your website! I like it a lot and I'm happy that I can see your pieces of art together at one place!! I suppose it's been a difficult process, but with the help and the support you received you probably smiled more often than usual...
    The post about the boats is amazing! Provoking and inspiring! I'm much impressed by Abott an Ellwood's figures! I also find Hammer's thoughts quite interesting!...
    What about your last post - although used in unusual and unexpectedly nice compositions, these old books make me a little bit sad, because they seem to have been unnecessary and useless for a long time, before giving them a new sense in life...

  7. I like Steve McPherson's quote the best about constantly editing a work. It reminds me very much of how I write a blog post - I can tweak and edit and rewrite whole sections for over an hour before I'm happy with just a few paragraphs. But in the end, I'm satisfied with it as a well-crafted piece of writing.

  8. YOu saved the best till last.. I gasp when looking at these..

    Old books are kind of sacred but tempting to rip into at the same time. Maybe we sense the demise of the book in the future?

    Cant imagine this kind of collage with old kindles.

    There is no backstory to a kindle...

    I feel like turning into a luddite.

  9. This post is just fabulous & so inspiring! Thanks so much for sharing the work of these very talented artists.

  10. delightful and inspiring..I especially love Hammers collected letters piece as i am also drawn to those types of elements from the past.
    our 8 week old pup arrives on Sat so if you have any last minute bullie words of wisdom I'm all ears!

  11. thanks for all these links Robyn! fantastic work as always! I agree with Leslie!! love coming by your gallery!!!

  12. remember when you were little
    and cutting or marking books
    was considered a crime against humanity....
    i still have the odd feeling of guilt to repress
    when tearing a page

  13. These are wonderful pieces. I actually own several artworks made with old books, so I am drawn to books as medium. As a lifelong reader and artist it seems like the perfect melding. Thanks so much for sharing the works of these artists!

  14. Robyn

    Yet again you manage to allow me to slow down and study the pictures.

    Just fabulous

    regards Dave

  15. I too love old discareded books, to alter and to use as collage papers - or simply to keep on a shelf as decoration. Thanks Robyn for sharing this collection of quotes and images - just beautiful!

  16. j'aime énormément cette galerie!
    fan de vieux livre ..impressionné de ces créations!

  17. R Just love your energy and generosity in sharing such inspiration but also in the way you promote the creativity of others - I really admire your spirit. Thanks. B

  18. Talking about feelings and emotions!
    "It is much better than burning them"

  19. Fantastic post Robyn. Books are so much a part of who I am as an artist, teacher and all around person. To see them presented in this way is the ultimate in "honouring" their roles in peoples' lives. I'm hard pressed to have a favourite , each one speaks to me in a different way. Thanks for the efforts you put into bringing these themed posts together.

  20. I see you've included the wonderful Steve McPherson. Thank you also for introducing me to Brigitte Riesebrodt's work...I'm getting lost in these right away.

  21. Really great work....I have worked as a cataloger for many years and am a lover of books! I love how the lives of once cast off books get extended in these works of art. Beautiful! Again, thank you for making these artists known to us, as well as all those you share on your blog!

  22. OOOOh I love all this book and paper art. Thanks for these fabulous links. xox Corrine

  23. I am so impressed with the artists that you find. Thank you for bringing so much great art to us.
    I have been trying to post here for some time...for some reason blogger does not like me :( However, as you see I have not given up.

  24. Downright amazing...books speak of so much and seeing them as another art form is amazing. I connect with Steve McPherson's words about editing and re-editing...a labor and connection for sure.

  25. Such lush color opening the web post here. Beautiful transformations.

    Love some of the comments too. books are such power in our psyches and changing form, format.

    At a College once the dumpsters were overflowing with "out of date" books. A couple teachers and many students "rescued" some books. We later altered them cut them up and such. But i was also at a literacy project nearby that had few decent books--the whole activity became random political activity. A great, frustrating, learning gift.

    Thanks for the links. Thanda.

  26. It will be a sad sad day if books ever become obsolete. I've loved them for the better part of my life. In fact, I love them so much I have a hard time using any part of an old book in my art. But, they do add a lot to these works.

  27. I have just spent some very enjoyable time going to all the links- I also love books and love recycled and used books and I myself have used pages, and spines and covers in my own collages and paintings-- so I really love all these artists and their works.

  28. What a delight, this post!
    The only thing better than a book is an old book.
    I have pages from a Bible printed in the 1800's.
    I've been commissioned to make bookmarks for an adult sunday school class,,,,for their Bibles. I will be incorporating these pages into the collage on the bookmarks. It feels good to be saving the old brittle pages and giving them new life, instead of them ending up in the landfill.
    Thanks for another awe-inspiring post Robyn, I've visited almost all of the links,,,and cannot name a favorite, as they are all so interesting.

  29. What a great homage to the written word made manifest. Thank you for introducing me to the work of Brigitte Riesesbrodt's pieces. They remind me of a gorgeous installation of reclaimed pages layered like geological strata that I once saw in an Iowa City gallery, a town which is a hotbed of books and writing.

  30. See, now here's a great argument for not giving up on real books and resorting to a kindle - no lovely art made out of those that are no longer being read! :) Some great pieces here. I love Jody Alexander's "exposed spines", not sure why, it just appeals.

    p.s. I've ordered Etcetera from Amazon... thank you, I am sure I will love it just from the glimpse I had there. Very excited as it should arrive in time for the weekend...

  31. What variety, Robyn! The book art I had seen until now had been somewhat similar. Brigitte Riesebrodt's pieces were heart stopping!Glorious.

    As for having books like now, I hope so. An interesting thing about kindle is that they can remove something from your library at any time- in fact they have already done this to some. That could easily escalate into corporate control over what we read.
    A 3 min Canadian film about it:

  32. Wonderful post! I find I use more and more book parts in my work lately. I just love to open an old book and touch the pages and smell the age. And to find a book with beautiful end papers -- what a treat! I'm looking forward to exploring these artists over a cup of coffee this afternoon.

  33. such beauties here, an homage to books, really. ultimate recycling of pieces that might soon be trashed restored/reworked....brigitte reisebrodt gets my head going and the wax warming.

  34. Just what my exhausted body needed :) Inspiration. Thanks for this fab post, which I know I'll be back to.

  35. Robyn - I just find your blog so inspirational artistically - I always leave it full of ideas which I can use in my work.

  36. What a great, great post. I adore books and love to see them recycled like this, into works of art. So many of these works are amazing, too.

  37. I've just been to your website! I adore your doors ;)

    What is it about all those pages, end on, together, & those beautiful letters.

  38. fascinating and rich art...thanks again for sharing! I've always loved the smell of older books.

  39. Fabulous, interesting and inspiring work! YUM :~)
    thanks Robyn

  40. Hi Robyn,

    I LOVE your website!!! It is beautifully done, and it is a pleasure to have a chance to view a collection of your works in one place.

    I remember when we first lived in Hawaii, I saw an exhibition in which an artist had used old books to create these large sculptural pieces that brought to mind giant sushi rolls. I cannot recall the artist's name, unfortunately. I found this re-purposing of old books unsettling at first, being a collector of old books and a reader of any kind of book. Now, I see art from old books more frequently, so it isn't as upsetting as that first encounter. You've assembled a nice collection here.

  41. Leslie, I thought you might like John's work. They are very subtle aren't they?

    Laura, Brigitte's work gave me palpitations .... so beautiful!

    Cerulean, indeed.... What would we do without the internet? Well actually I might get a lot more work done :-)

    Kim (Numinosity), don't you just love the exposed book spines?!

    Penny, it's so ingrained in us to handle books with care that it's extremely difficult to deface them in any way. I know the feeling!

    Rossichka, thanks so much!I thought you were a little too quiet :-)

    Heather, I also relate very well to Steve's quote about editing (and tweaking).

    Grrl, you will enjoy Jacqueline's website!

    Maria, thank you, I enjoy sharing my finds.

    Lisa, there must be a high state of excitement in your house today. One more sleep :-)

    Cat, it's a pity I can't serve cheese and wine in my gallery. Glad you enjoy visiting.

    India, that feeling of guilt will never leave, I don't think.

    Cynthia, the perfect melding, yes!

    Dave, enjoy!

    iHanna, there is something so magical about an old book.... or any book for that matter.

    ELFI, every picture tells a story.

    Barry, thank you so much.

    Wim, exactly! My stomach flipped when you mentioned book burning.

    Margaret, well said! A way of honouring books in our lives .... I like that.

    Priya, Brigitte's work is just amazing! I decided to do this post when I found her on the internet.

    Missouri Bend Paper Works, I used to work in a University Library and I kick myself regularly for not saving so many books and covers that were thrown out.

    Corinne, no surprise that you love this art :-)

    Mo'a, glad to see blogger is treating you better.

    Mary Ann, I have thought of books as magical objects since I was a little girl.

    Ger, :-)

    Mansuetude, the comments are a joy! Not only do i learn from all the artists I find but also from the feedback in the comments.

    Stevie, I hope that never happens in my life time. Holding a kindle could never give me the same wondrous feeling as paging through a book.

    Donna, I thought you would enjoy the links!

    Babs, what a wonderful project! I hope you post photos.

    Hannah, Brigitte's work grabbed my attention immediately even though the colours are so subtle.

    Kendalee, I am so thrilled you have ordered Etcetera! You are in for a real treat.

    Shayla, that is interesting.... and very annoying! How can they remove something you've payed for. A good reason not to buy kindles.

    Kim Hambric, there were a few of Brigitte's pieces that reminded me of you (with the maps).

    Neva, happy wax warming :-)

    Deb, enjoy!

    Weaver, thank you.

  42. Phew, I've just learned a very valuable lesson.... Posting 40 replies to comments makes Blogger skittish. nearly lost the lot!

    Thanks Mary-Laure.

    Emma, something magical about them, I think. Thanks for visiting my website.

    Lrc, the smell of all books new and old .... powerful!

    Karin, Yum indeed :-)

    Karine, thanks so much! Actually I posted about the sushi books some time ago. They are amazing aren't they?

  43. I too often wonder what will become of books in general. Will the computer screen become the new book. I hope not. I love holding a good book in my hands. I really like how old books have been cycled into art. It is a great way to to give them new life.

  44. Thanks for the lovely links... these all made me smile, inspired me, and made my spirit soar...

  45. I am not sure if anyone has mentioned this, but a great source of book artists is a gallery I just visited today: Donna Seager Gallery.
    Donna is an expert curator of this particular medium and her artists are top notch. Enjoy!

    and Robyn, *love* your blog. Keep up the great work!

  46. Book art has been intriguing me too, but as usual when I read your blog, I want to rush into my studio and make something!! Thanks for the comment about my work that you left on my blog!

  47. thanks for the abundance of 'altered' book arrty pieces - they right up my alley (or should that be bookshelf?)

    I'll be spending the rest of the day following up on all the lovely links... then no doubt adding what I find to my looooong MFA/PhD research list....phew!

    cheers from the creek (in oz)


  48. Lisa at Greenbow, holding a book in your hands is all part of the charm. I certainly hope they aren't phased out.

    Sharmon, I'm happy to hear that :-)

    Melindatidwell, yes the Donna Seager website is one of my favourites. Wonderful art there!

    Collage Whirl, hope you were inspired to create wondrous work!

    Ronnie, enjoy!

  49. Books... its so wonderful to see them being so preciously reinterpreted! Your blog is my first port of call when needing 3d stimulation and ideas Robyn... always such a delight!
    ps thanks for kind words ...enjoyed a lovely trip away and much needed breather!

  50. What wonderful works you have found for us Robyn. I love Jody Alexander's work particularly. So many fascinating creations from books and paper. The textures are unbelievable.

  51. wonderful selection of book art, what imaginative ways to use books that are genuinely past being able to be read any more!

  52. Wonderful blog! I was just about to send the address to Ronnie when I saw that she'd found you before I did.I'm so enjoying the photos and the links, and of course your work. Carol, also in Australia

  53. Thanks Robyn. As a book lover myself, this post is like finding the Holy Grail. I am not familiar with a single one of these artists and will be exploring their sites for hours to come no doubt!

  54. Wow!! Those are really wonderful and so, so beautiful.
    I say it every time I come here but I'll say this again. *your posts, your work are really inspiring to me*!!! Thank you!!

  55. what a wonderful post! thanks for sharing all these links to amazing book art. Love!