Opening tonight at Artspace Mackay in North Queensland is the annual Libris Awards for artist books. I hear this is the biggest show yet with work from over 90 artists selected. The work I have in the show is titled “Bone Sequence II”, and is of course the second book of this type that I have made from a sequence of prints taken directly from an animal bone. A third is slowly underway.
How do you print from bone you ask? In essence, I treat the bone as if it was a wood engraving block. Careful sanding with fine grade carborundum paper creates a polished flat surface, acting as a section through the bone and revealing detailed intricate structures within. I don’t need to do any further shaping or carving, I’m just there to reveal what is already present. This flat surface then has printers ink applied with a roller, and an impression transferred to paper. Again, my work with wood engraving told me how to go about this in a way that would capture the greatest possible detail with the greatest possible clarity. The process is repeated many times, creating a sequence of ‘samples’, which coincidentally turns the whole bone into dust. Collated into a book, these images, one per page, act as a model or analogue for the real object now destroyed in the process. In the above image you see the strong black image printed on translucent paper, showing the receding shadowy hints of the subsequent pages beneath. Perhaps this process is also an analogue for human culture and society. The more ‘advanced’ we become, the more our ability to obtain and collate knowledge of the world increases, the quicker we destroy it.
Artspace Mackay Libris Awards will be showing until June 30 2013.