London Art Book Fair
Another fantastic day purchasing books and meeting old friends and new at the London Art Book Fair. This is a free event and runs every year at the end of September at the Whitechapel Gallery. Over 80 publishers take stands and these range from large contemporary art publishing houses to small independent artist book makers.
Two hours in and I had only just finished on the ground floor. Only another 40 stands to go! What is great about LAB and other artists’ book fairs is the opportunity it affords to not only browse the material but to talk to the makers and publishers. In this way I discover the back story behind the making and the decisions the artists’ have to make along the way. All of this is useful when I come to use these books with students back at WSA as it gives them more context to work with.
It was particularly nice to meet ex student Max Malandrino who studied Fine Art at WSA back in the mid 1990s and who is now selling both his own books and rare artists’ books from his extensive collection. I bought two of his works for the artists’ book collection.
Another new discovery was Four Corners Books. I was initially drawn in by noticing a Clanger from the 1970s children’s TV programme, The Clangers, on the front of a book. This turned out to be their latest publication ‘The art of Smallfilms: the work of Oliver Postgate and Peter Firmin’. I purchased this book for the Library: it will appeal to students interested in film and knitting as many of the models were knitted. In addition they publish a Familiars series which feature different artists’ responses to classic novels. I very much liked artist Gareth Jones’ take on Oscar Wilde’s ‘The picure of Dorian Gray’. His book ‘A young man of extraordinary personal beauty’ re-imagines the story as a costume drama set in 1970s Paris, but printed in a newspaper style.
We have a number of works by Andy Malone and Helen Douglas in the artists’ book collection so I was pleased to catch up with them both about their latest works. Andy is now producing collage boxes, one of which I purchased for the collection. His work is currently being sold through the V & A. Helen’s latest work, which I also acquired for the collection, was literally hot of the press! It is a beautifully conceived concertina book based on her recent residency in Mexico. She has written an insightful blog post for the Bookartbookshop on the making of this book should you wish to find out more.We also hold strong collections of Mette Ambeck’s work and her latest book, a flip book entitled ‘Boligslangen: on/off’, is now in the collection. Mette is pictured below with her book next to Mike Nicholson’s stand. We have been collecting Mike’s zines for a number of years and two of his latest are now in the collection.
All in all a roller coaster of a day: equal measures of exhaustion and exhileration! I would thoroughly recommend you start planning for next year’s event now!
To make an appointment to look at any of these books or any other material in the artists’ book collection then please email
Catherine Polley, October 2014