There is a blank unpainted wall in my kitchen that I use to pin up images, ideas, research-anything I am currently working on. The wall has a door in the middle, dividing the space. Left and right often get used for different stages or aspects of a project. It’s the perfect place to put the work as it means I see it over and over again, I live with it, and I have the chance to make notes, to edit, to add to as I go along. At this moment in time the right hand side of the wall has images, notes and ideas for Moonrise by Ella Chappell pinned all over it. This is the first time the wall has been dedicated to someone else’s book, someone else’s work. But then, this is the first time I have worked collaboratively on publishing an artists’ book.
Moonrise marks the start of a new chapter for As Yet Untitled. A chapter supported and enabled by our Kickstarter backers and made not only possible but huge amounts of fun by Ella herself. Ella is a poet and publisher (she co-founded the wonderful Observatory Press). When I first proposed the idea of our making an artists’ book with her poetry I had to start by explaining what exactly an artists’ book is. This might seem like a frustrating start but it was exactly what I wanted. My aim with As Yet Untitled is to make book art with people who might otherwise never conceive of their work in this way. Ella came to the project with knowledge of publishing, of books and of poetry but without pre-conceptions in regards to the artists’ book. From that first conversation onwards the entire collaborative process has been not only a pleasure but an honour.
Having someone trust me their half formed ideas and half finished work; discussing a sense of shape and design; creating something from nothing, something that wouldn’t have every come into existence without all of the people involved is exciting and intoxicating. Collaborating with Ella to create Moonrise hasn’t been about some grand ideal of creativity. Rather, to me, the success and joy of this process has come from the seemingly smaller, easily overlooked moments and details- a line in an early draft of a poem that has survived to our final book, an image that has grown into a theme, the visit to a shop.
Take one of my favourite moments throughout this entire process, one single, pivotal afternoon. It started at one of the most beautiful shops in London, Shepherds in Victoria. It was here, among the high top counters and floor to ceiling shelves that Moonrise started to take physical shape. Paper, thread- the things that make a book where compared, discussed, considered and eventually chosen. Paper samples in hand we made our way to the café at Tate Britain. What followed was hours of conversation (over cake) spent writing notes, doodling, and dreaming up not only possible book designs but also ideas for its release. This single afternoon was the moment the book became real to me. It probably didn’t look like much from to the outside world but from within the bubble of our conversation this was the day I knew, really truly knew, that the experiment of collaboration was going to pay off and the Moonrise was going to really, truly happen.
In the coming weeks we have the mad, thrilling scramble of printing, binding and releasing our book. We have a million more conversations to have, emails to send, plans to make, ideas to consider and hours upon hours to find in already busy days. I have complete faith that we will manage it all and I cannot wait to find out exactly how.