Sumi Perera & Theresa Easton

Gallery North Artists’ Book Fair in June 2010 provided the opportunity to exhibit a collection of book works by Sumi Perera, Beijing art students and lecturers.

Artist Book, photo: Roger Coulam

Artist Book, photo: Roger Coulam

I have always been interested in presenting Artists Books in an intimate way, and the opportunity to use the space at 25 Sg was perfect in that it allowed Sumi’s collection to be displayed in a domestic setting. Visitors were guided around the house by a plan that identified the location of the artist’s books, whilst 25sg provided an interesting and relaxing space in which to contemplate and engage with the works.

Artist Book, photo: Roger Coulam

Artist Book, photo: Roger Coulam

Unpacking the books at 25 Sg reminded me of a Victorian Christmas, as each individual piece of work had been carefully wrapped in black sugar paper. The work ranged in style from layered cut sellotape, to traditional Coptic binding.

There was also an element of mystery and puzzlement, as nothing was known about the artists, the work, why it was made, or even whether they are male or female.

Viewing the artist books in the garden, photo: Roger Coulam

Viewing the artist books in the garden, photo: Roger Coulam

In 2007 I exhibited work at Manchester’s Alsager Gallery, in an exhibition entitled ‘Sitting Room’, and curated by Tom Sowden & Lucy May Schofield. The exhibition became an international touring show that recreated a sitting room in each venue, allowing participants to sit, relax, and most importantly physically touch and handle the work. Similarly the venue at 25Sg allowed visitors to relax in a domestic, welcoming, and familiar setting, and to engage with the work on a more intimate level than a traditional gallery space. The event, (including the ‘Show & Tell’ session in the garden), was documented and recorded by Photographer Roger Coulam. The images not only capture the moment visitors turned the page of a book, but also record the work insitu, thereby re-presenting the work in a domestic context, creating new connections and crossing the boundaries of cultural difference.

Reading Artist Books, photo: Roger Coulam

Reading Artist Books, photo: Roger Coulam

Viewing Artist’s Books in this manner is not always possible due to the nature and delicacy of the work, so this opportunity created by Sumi Perera provided a unique and privileged experience for those taking part.

Theresa Easton

Lottery Funded, Arts Council England

Lottery Funded, Arts Council England

Artist book on a pillow, photo: Roger Coulam

Artist book on a pillow, photo: Roger Coulam

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