Cabinet of Curiosities

Old Mining Building, University of Leeds
8th - 19th March 2010
Curated by Louise Atkinson

As part of the 13th Leeds International Book Fair, Artist Book Collective was invited by organizer Chris Taylor to present Cabinet of Curiosities, an exhibition of relational bookworks by local, national and international artists. The focus of the exhibition was a large cabinet with 14 drawers. Each drawer contained site-specific work by a different artist, pushing the boundaries of book art through the use of found objects, text, audio, sculpture and photography. Instructions were provided as part of, or alongside artworks, producing an interactive element to encourage the audience to contribute to the creation and dissemination of the work. By bringing together text, performance and collaborative practice, the work also referenced previous art movements including Surrealism and Fluxus and was complimented by additional bookworks exploring interaction and collaboration.

Ellie Sanders
A collection of abridged life stories built up over the course of the exhibition and woven into a cohesive frame by the authors.

Select a thread from the pile. Write your life story in 20 words or less on the strand of paper attached. Tip the rocker forward (you may need to move it back up the frame, away from you). Weave your story between the threads. Tip the rocker back again. Weave back the other way.

Linda Ingham
‘Open’ series: Specimen
The ‘Open’ series is inspired by a particular place of importance to me, close by my coastal home . . .The ever-changing nature of the estuary, the equal beauty of the calm and fury of water and wind, and the uncountable multitude of lives and deaths and the fullness and emptiness of shells; my parents’ courtship, my childhood summers, the long-past, mid-summer night suicide of a close one, in this place; the watery and skyful horizon as viewed through the hollow carcass of a gull, spied on the sea-wall whilst in transit to this destination; the frozen perfection of a dead starfish in the ice at the edge of the receding tide, the importance of movement - both of freight, lives and time and the needfulness of shadow to appreciate the light.

Kathryn Desforges
A Collection of Moments 02/03/2010
Created on the above date, this individual boxed bookwork contains a collection of drawings from surfaces around my home. Rather than being simply rubbings, each is a drawing in its own right, stemming from an intuitive interaction with each surface. Sound was recorded simultaneously, and no time limit was imposed, instead I simply stopped when I thought each one was finished.

The drawings are read from left to right, and each tells a story of the moment in which it was made. A timing, (relative to the time it took to make), is specified for the viewer to study each drawing, and the soundtrack which goes with it follows these timings. The aim is for the viewer to recapture the moment in which the drawings were made following each mark and sound to culminate in a final image.

Darren Bryant
Ludic Pocket Action & Pop-up
Accordions can fold in many ways, making interesting page folds and pockets for you the audience to draw, write, add, re-organize, or change. These pockets can be used to store bits of paper, making for an interesting instant book: A depository for exquisite corpse collaboration.

Exquisite corpse (devised by the surrealists) is a technique used for producing visual or literary art in which several people collaborate in creating a text or an image. Based on old parlor games in which players take turns writing on a sheet of folded paper, concealing part of the writing. Similar visual games can be conducted individually or collaboratively using collage and book folds. Feel free to draw, write, add, re-organize, or just turn the pages.

Rebecca Strain
Quiet Please
My work is mainly concerned with collaboration and accumulation, defabrication and then refabrication, and circumstantial connections. I am interested in place, ownership and value. I explore this in my work which embraces and challenges creative processes.

In this drawer you will find sections of eight books that I have read, most of which I have swapped or been given. I now present them to you the public as a library where your role is both librarian and borrower. I am interested to see what will happen when administration is taken out of the process and the rules are left to the people.

Alison Herbert
An interactive piece of artwork that builds into one book or several small books. Write down 1 or 2 text messages from the inbox on your mobile, on the sheets of paper provided or on a blank page of any book. If you’re feeling arty, add a doodle with your message or on another blank sheet to add to the fun. You may include your name – this is optional!

This artwork is a play with words and phrases from ‘received responses’ or, ‘half’ a conversation. The unrelated messages from various people give the piece its narrative. It considers how and what we communicate, together with the snippets of conversations we have every day that are sometimes misconstrued.

Shaeron Caton-Rose
This drawer of books is part of a larger project called EverAfter. So far, this consists of three artist books each telling the story of a different woman known to the artist in the format of a fairytale with illustrations. Accompanying this is a soundtrack in which the three women concerned tell their life stories as fact. The contrast between the two elements – the spoken and written, the tale and the story, highlights the differences and similarities between our ideals and actuality and how dreams still inform day-to-day living.

Now the artist would like you to contribute to this project by making your own little storybook. Add to or take away from one of the small books provided using any of the materials in this box – cut, collage, tear, write, draw. Use a story from your childhood as inspiration.

Sophie Vrettos
What Brings Me Gladness: Daytrips and Donkeys
After watching the news one evening, I felt that the portrayal of Britain was all a bit grim; I really wanted to create something that celebrated our country. The Great British holiday seemed to the perfect subject, whether you love or hate them, I think this is something we should be proud of. Even now, as we are going through the credit crunch, the Brits have resorted back to holidaying in the UK. I created this book from my own family photographs, on day trips and caravanning holidays, as sentimental the book is to me and my family, I hope that you are able to flick through and be able to relate to my memories, and smile at our similarities.

Please take a postcard and write down your Great British holiday memories, they can be good, bad and ugly as you like! From caravanning catastrophes to amusements at Butlins, share some stories...

Francis Elliot
Void Pebbles
Based on a piece by the recently deceased George Brecht, in which he carved the word 'Void' into a large boulder, I have filled a drawer with small pebbles, each with the word 'VOID' written on it. Brecht’s idea is that anyone who sees the piece - or a photograph of it - owns it as surely as the person who actually owns the original rocks, and thus anyone who opens the drawer and sees the work can remove a small pebble as a symbol of a transference from an idea to a memory.

Bob Milner
Milk, 2 Sugars
Be your own editor. Bind together classic pages of the zine with a new cover specially created for this show. Use one page, ten pages, upside-down pages, it’s up to you.

Carrie Scott-Huby
Lifeloom - Strange Attractors
Chaos Theory is the inspiration for the development of this new Lifeloom series of artworks. Each series tells a visual and textual personal story. The text is inspired from the book ‘The Tao of Pooh and Te of Piglet’ by Benjamin Hoff. Chaos is realised by the participant’s responses creating different ways to the designed (final) outcome. Read the installation as a whole or read the individual tags. Choose one or more of the loose tags from the grey wool basket. Create your own response/s and tie it/them to the installation.

Larna Campbell
Contribute to the growth of this evolving book sculpture by leaving something inside one of the envelope pages and labelling the envelope. You can leave an object or item that you have in your pocket or bag; an old receipt or a button perhaps.

Victoria Lucas
Existence 2010
Today’s obsession with collecting lies in the act of photographing. Our digital footprints allow us to become immortal, and moments, places and people are captured; documenting the passage of time through the archive of imagery and the changing faces staring out from the paper. Facebook is an extraordinary example of this, individuals documenting their own existence and projecting it back in to the world as evidence.

Existence is an interactive artwork, in which participants exchange a passport-sized photo for a link to a blog upon which all the images will be added. The photos can be from any year, and can be a portrait of friends, family, or of the participant themselves. The images will also be compiled as part of a book, acting as a mini museum that documents a series of faces belonging to strangers brought together by the project.

Debra Eck
Three layer accordion fold
A three layer accordion fold with pockets and boxes that contain small books and artworks that the viewer may either a) alter or b) take if they leave something in exchange. I am interested in the intersection of art and everyday life so would prefer the audience to leave something that they happen to have with them, sweet wrapper, dry cleaning bill, etc.

Louise Atkinson
Book is a four-letter word
Turn the cubes to create your own poetry. The piece is based on the idea of an ideograph, a graphic symbol representing a word and used to convey a concept as a whole, such as in Arabic or Chinese. Using one or more cubes select words to convey your concept.

Alice Bradshaw
Static (2009)
The remains of a hole-punched text The Rocks Remain in constant motion.
I work with a wide range of media and processes involving the manipulation of everyday objects and materials. Mass-produced, anonymous objects are often rendered dysfunctional caricatures of themselves, addressing concepts of purpose and futility. I create or accentuate subtleties, blurring distinctions between the absurd and the mundane, with the notion that the environment the work exists in becomes integral to the work itself.


  1. Wow, this is the most amazing exhibit- with drawer upon drawer of excitement to just go wild with. What an opportunity to see this exhibit and participate! How lucky and to see all of this in person! It deserves a second wow!!

  2. here here! superb show - lets take it on tour!!