Testing Our New Toy

Thanks to the wonderful people who backed our Kickstarter we are the proud owners of a new camera. This means decent photographs of our books, it means no more blurred event photos, it even means the occasional video. It is a truly incredible thing to have been able to buy and we couldn't have afforded it without you all.

Any new camera needs testing and with the sunshine finally out it was the perfect moment to take a hike through Epping Forest and field test the camera.

What a celebration...

We want to say a huge and heart felt thank you to everyone who came to celebrate the release of Moonrise on Saturday night. It was a wonderful evening and we had so, so, so much fun with you all.

A few (slightly) blurred photographs for your viewing pleasure.

If you would like a copy of the book you can find it in our shop. We are incredibly proud of it and would love to send many, many copies of to new, loving homes.

Thank you all again, truly and deeply

Rosie, Zelda and Ella

Moonrise, release date and launch party.

‘These pods swollen by a marvellous logic

which this margin is too narrow to contain’

Moonrise by Ella Chappell

As Yet Untitled is delighted to announce the release of our first new title: Moonrise by Ella Chappell. This is our first collaborative artists’ book and the first title to be made with the support of our Kickstarter backers. It marks a whole new chapter for the press and we could not be more excited.

Moonrise is a poetry collection preoccupied with themes including scientific theory, love, cosmology and feminism. Tracking the moon through the skies, the poems propose theories and thought experiments, accompanied by night photography that traces through the trajectory of the collection.

Moonrise is available to pre-order now and will be released on May 21st. If you would like to come and join the celebrations the book launch is open to all, Saturday May 21st at The Harrison in Kings Cross. Doors open at 7.30 and the night will include readings from Harry Man, Nicholas Herrmann and Ella Chappell along with live music from Michel Garrett and Chums and Tom Hyatt.

Pre-order your signed copy here:

Moonrise by Ella Chappell
10.00
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Pastry, Paper and Other Vital Elements

There are a few vital elements (or ingredients if you will) that go into a successful day book designing.

A few of them are listed below:

Cheese

Bread

Salad

Fruit

Baked Goods

More Baked Goods

Paper

Ink

A Computer

A Printer

More Paper

More Baked Goods

Friendship 

Today we had the perfect selection of these things and Moonrise is now closer than ever to being a real, physical, BOOK.

 

 

Moonrise- A Collaborative Artists’ Book Part One: Rosie Sherwood

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.

Screen Printing

As some of you know I work as a technician in a secondary school in North London. It’s a wonderful place to work, with fantastic teachers and brilliant students. I was organizing some of the art supply cupboards the other day, going through stock, working out what equipment we have and I found all the tools and materials required to screen print. It’s an amazing resource to have in a school and one I didn’t know how to use.

Didn’t being the key word.

I got permission to go on an introduction to screen-printing course at the London Print Studio to learn how to do it. It was suggested we bring a design or some images with us to print from and while casting around for an idea Ella Chappells book popped into my mind.

We have been discussing visuals, graphics and design recently and I thought I would use this amazing opportunity to experiment with some of our ideas. Wonderfully these ideas lent themselves to learning both key screen-printing techniques: paper stencils and light sensitive emulsion. 

After two days of hard work and a huge amount of fun I have ink under my nails, all the important information I need to introduce screen-printing at my school and an initial idea for the cover of Ella’s book.

I also have an overwhelming desire to return to the London Print Centre again and again. A desire I am going to fulfill.

Winter planning is complete... It is finally time for some announcements.

Winter: cold, wet, and dark with glimpses of sunshine. This time of year is traditionally when As Yet Untitled retreats from the world, not to hibernate (much as we might want to) but to do some catching up, take a breath and make a year long plan. Throughout the year there are emails that aren’t unsent, admin that isn’t done, print runs with errors that we don’t have time to fix. From December to March we hide away and pick up all these pieces so that we can start again with a clean slate. This winter taking that catch up time was particularly important. 2015 was a roller coaster ride of joy and wonder that left us with even more threads to tie up and even more plans to make.

The huge success of our Kickstarter means that 2016 is a year of potential and change for us. We have dedicated the last few months to taking the first steps in laying the foundations we will need for the coming year. None of what we’ve done is particularly exciting nor does it make for interesting storytelling but it was all completely vital to the success of the press. However, just last week things started to feel exciting again and so we thought we would open to doors and windows to the press once more and continue to share our story, our plans and our progress…

Firstly a Kickstarter update: The first set of rewards went out before Xmas, with back issues finding new homes. It was such a pleasure putting them in the post! We have been researching the other rewards and they will be coming (very) soon. The digital proof just came back for the tote bags today and we cannot wait to get our hands on the real thing. And it isn’t only the rewards we have been working on. Ella Chappell’s book, the first to be released this year, is well underway. It is a truly exciting project and we will share more about it in the next few weeks. Perhaps most excitingly we are ready to start shopping and filling our studio with the amazing tools and equipment you have supported us to get. We will let you know when our parcels start arriving!

Elbow Room: The first Elbow Room of 2016 is due out on March 18th. We will be releasing it at Elbow Room Live at The Harrison in Kings Cross. Much to our joy Late Arrivals Club will be returning to the Elbow Room stage for the first time in over a year, helping to ensure we kick the year off with a bang. It worth coming for just them but as always our line-up will be packed with poetry, fiction and short films. We will confirm the full line-up shortly so keep an eye on the Facebook page for details, tickets and further announcements as we confirm who is reading with us.

And that’s not all where Elbow Room is concerned. We opened submissions during Jan and Feb and found ourselves positively swamped by more incredible work that we could possibly fit between the covers of the journal. So we have decided to stretch beyond the pamphlet and publish a new, twice yearly Elbow Room Broadsheet. Free to subscribers and sold at selected book fairs the broadsheet will be released to accompany our June and December volumes. It is going to be full of glorious poetry and prose that we cannot wait to share it with the world. Our recommendation- subscribe now and don’t miss a single line. We will even send you a free back issue if you subscribe on or before the 18th of March.

And last but in no way least As Yet Untitled will be at Pages in Leeds on the first weekend in March. Hopefully we will see some of you there.

Here to a brilliant year full of new books. We will keep you updated so watch this space.

Rosie and Zelda

 

 

What a Year

What a year 2015 has been. We have released four new volumes of Elbow Room, hosted Elbow Room Live in London, attended book fairs across the country, taken part in exhibitions, had work selected for international collections, released the third and final UEA Special Edition, run the first Elbow Room Prize and successfully crowd funded over £2000 on Kickstarter. Every year since Elbow Room Volume One was released has been one of adventure and growth but this year has been particularly special.

The success of our crowd funding campaign, the support and faith our community has shown in us is incredible. It has truly blown us away and we couldn’t be more thankful. We also couldn’t be more excited. For the first time ever we have a chance to invest in As Yet Untitled, to buy the materials and equipment we need to build a strong foundation from which we can grow and move forward. 2016 is going to be a year of change, of creativity, of new books, new ideas and new stories all made possible by your support. We can’t wait to get started.

We are planning more Elbow Room, more live events, another Elbow Room Prize, new artists’ books, more book fairs, more exhibitions, more paper, more ink, more thread... basically just more; more of the old and more of the new. It’s going to be a challenge but it is also going to be so much fun.

We promise to keep you updated as the journey continues next year, but until then Happy Holidays (and perhaps consider sharing your work with us at Elbow Room- submissions are open until Jan 31st)

Rosie and Zelda

 

Favourite Stories? Favourite Books? (Favourite Faries?)

As Yet Untitled is about more than one person. It is about every single artist and writers we collaborate with. In the final part in our series on the books and stories that inspire us poet Ella Chappell discusses her favourites:

Being tasked with naming my favourite anything is always a challenge, but to name my favourite story is in a league of its own. A plethora of novels spring to mind at first, books that came to inform my personal philosophies, my priorities, and my desires in life, often somewhat cliched options - Catcher in the RyeThe Bell JarMadame BovaryThe Golden Notebook... 

But a favourite story is different to a favourite novel. In studying Literature, I quickly came to discover that the idea of 'stories' as complete items - furnished with a beginning, a middle, and an end - never sat easy with me. Stories are easy to digest, they have a sure moral and a delivered emotion, they don't happen hour by hour, day by day, and that's why all my favourite novels eschew the idea of straight narrative. I remember the first time I read Catcher in the Ryeon my brother's recommendation. Nothing happens! I thought, This isn't a story! This is something else

This, I guess, is also why poetry appealed to me from an early age. My favourite books? That's an easier question to answer. The Flower Fairies series by Cicely Mary Barker informed and dominated my imagination for at least a decade. These absolutely lovely poetry books are a classic example of book art at work. They are collections of stunning, intricate illustrations paired with short, whimsical poems, each one regarding a different Flower Fairy - The Almond Blossom Fairy, The Elder Fairy, the Sycamore Fairy - any flower or tree you can think of, Barker assigned it a cheeky imp or elf to act as its mascot and esteemed guardian. (My personal favourite? The Willow Fairy, delicately dipping her toes into water dappled by the shade of long, elegant willow leaves. You can almost hear the water lapping gently at the bank, feel the whiskery hairs of the willow leaves on your fingers...) 

These books cradle a deep, warm nostalgia at their heart. They are artefacts from an England of meadows and hedgerows and banks of bluebells, a past in which my granny as a child would go out to the fields next to her house to collect dog daisies and pick blackberries. The carefully chosen lyrics, the lovingly depicted fairies with their skirts of petals and caps of discarded bud-velvet. These books taught me how to be alone in nature. They taught me to watch the inner glimmer of transparent yew berries; that if I wanted to make friends with the butterflies, the buddleja was my first port of call; how the scent of a honeysuckle is different in the evening - more potent - than in the day; that a secret kind of magic hangs under fronds of wisteria; and to be quick to nab the alpine strawberries as soon as they were ripe, before the birds - or the fairies - could get to them first. 

I don't think any other books exist, as objects, that evoke for me such innocence, and gratitude for the smallest, simplest things in life. Occasionally as an adult I can access these simple, mysterious emotions again - cracking open a fresh pea pod from the garden - and I feel a shock deep in an unknown realm of myself, as I recall a whole mythology I learnt by heart and promptly forgot. 

Once word had spread through my family about my interest in poetry, my sister bought me my first proper poetry collection - Ariel by Sylvia Plath. A baptism of fire for entering the world of grown-up poetry, but no better place to start for an adolescent girl with a tendency for a certain dramatic melancholy. That remains one of my favourite books too. I always loved the basic Faber & Faber poetry collections with their textured covers and carefully chosen colour palettes - a testament for simplicity in publishing and letting the words within speak for themselves. I have a growing collection of these Faber poetry books now, but Ariel will always be the one I treasure most. It reminds me not to be afraid of rawness in poetry, and that mythologies you whisper to yourself as a child never really die.

 

Childhood Stories

As Yet Untitled is about more than one person. It is about every single artist and writers we collaborate with. In the second part of our series on the books and stories that inspire us poet Zelda Chappel discusses her favourites:

Some of my earliest childhood memories involve books. From bedtime stories as a very small child – my sister and I both loved the Mr Men series in particular – to going to school for the first time and having access to lots of books to take home and read and swap.

As an slightly older child, I was a avid reader. I would devour books. Enid Blyton was a firm favourite. Stories like the Magic Faraway Tree and The Wishing Chair really captivated me – I liked the way they constructed different worlds, with different rules and different creatures, but also that these adventures were temporary, fleeting. Never once (to my recollection) did they climb to the top of the Faraway tree and find the same world twice. And I liked that.

Later on, I had a few books that let you play around with the narrative and, again, that was really exciting for me. As a small child I had several books that were stories that you could choose what happened at the end of every page – the 'If you want to go to the castle, turn to page 10. If you want to go to the woods, turn to page 6' sort of format. And later, I had a couple of editions of Famous Five stories – which I was obsessed by – that played out like a game with dice and a backpack that you had to choose how to equip at the beginning of the story. Realising that a story isn't necessarily the same every time, and that it doesn't always follow the same linear progression was really exciting. And being in control of the story was a brilliant place to be as a reader.

Other big books in my life were titles by Roald Dahl; particularly The BFG (which was first read to me by my Dad at bedtime), Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and George's Marvellous Medicine. I got fascinated by the chemistry in these books, the descriptions of creating these weird and wonderful concoctions. All three of those titles are really about creators of things, and I knew that I wanted to be a creator of things too. I should also mention The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster here too, because I read it around the same time, and it was a life changing book for me. It's not well-known in the UK, but I would urge you to seek it out. It's a clever, funny and thoughtful book about how words and numbers live side by side in the world. And if you can find the 70s video of it, with it's slightly trippy soundtrack, it's worth checking out!

I fell out of love with books (but not storytelling) a bit once I got to secondary school, mainly because we had to read set texts so fast so I never enjoyed them, often missed the nuances of them, and hated having to analyse the life out of them. But I did have some incredible book moments despite that. I fell in love with A Midsummer Night's Dream at the age of 11 and never fell out of love with it. The storytelling and the wit and the multiple layers of narrative are just brilliant. And I love the idea that really we are all stumbling around, in and out of each other's stories, sometimes clumsily but beautifully nonetheless.

Other big books for me were To Kill a Mockingbird (Harper Lee), Catcher in the Rye (J D Sallinger) and Cannery Row (John Steinbeck). I ended up reading a lot of American literature, particularly Steinbeck, because I just found them so much more exciting and so much more real than other stories.

I should say that for me, poetry came later in my life. But what excited me about poetry when I discovered it, was the ability to capture a narrative, albeit a somewhat abstract one at times, in such a short space. Poetry is life distilled. And the format of poetry means that you can tell your story, your truth, in exciting non-linear sorts of ways that traditional storytelling doesn't really allow for. Poets can be abstract and play around with time and tense, we can play around with line breaks and where we put words on a page to add extra dimensions and layers to our storytelling. Novels can't do that in the same way, at least not in their traditional formats.

So that's stories. And stories come in books (sometimes). And books are exciting. I'm a regular in charity shops and secondhand book shops looking for interesting looking books, with no regard for genre. I love paper. And good print. And book plates. And brilliant illustrations. And I love ways that books, as objects, can contribute to the storytelling process; whether that's just in how you feel about engaging with the story in the first place, or whether it's about how the book itself interplays with the narrative. In this next stage of As Yet Untitled we'll get to bring you great narratives in all sorts of interesting ways, in all sorts of different and new formats. We'll get to look at books as a holistic process, creating the right book for the right story. And we're so looking forward to it! Thank you for helping us to make it happen.

 

 

Thank You!

To our entire community, to the friends, family and strangers who pledged, to everyone who shared, tweeted and told people… Thank You. Truly, deeply, from the bottom of my heart, thank you. As Yet Untitled is my dream, all of it: the book art, the stories, the explorations into narrative construction and the collaborations. Until this weekend they were a far off dream struggling to become a reality. And then you came along, and with generosity beyond my wildest imaginings have invested in that dream.

Zelda, Ella and I are going to have no much fun dreaming without limits, making books without boundaries. That is because of you. As Yet Untitled is going to be able to build a strong foundation and a sustainable future because of you. I cannot wait until next year and the chance to get stuck into creating that future, in making my dream into a reality. I cannot wait to share every step of that journey with you all. So once more, truly, Thank You!

The Books that Make Us- Rosie Sherwood

Do you have a favourite story?

Do you have a favourite book?

Are they the same thing?

I would imagine that for most they are. Your favourite story, contained within the pages of your favourite book. That won’t be true for everyone- some people’s favourite stories will be aural, or their favourite book a dictionary. But for many of us the two things, story and book, go hand in hand. I know they do for me and they always have.

When I was little, books such as Dogger or The Jolly Postman were my favourite stories and my favourite books. They came together without any thought of separating the two. These examples and many others from my childhood still remain among my favourites. I don’t think it’s much of leap to see how I could have gone from The Jolly Postman to working as a book artist. After all, when has form and structure ever been used better to help tell a story?

Today however, there is one story and three books that stand above all others as my out and out favourites.

The story is JRR Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings and the books are my second edition, second imprint copies of The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers and The Return of the King.

These aren’t my only copies of Tolkien’s masterpiece. I have a set of 1974 paperbacks that I carry with me when reading the stories, throw in and out of bag and read in the bath.  It is these books that carry the marks of my love for the story, swollen pages from getting wet, dog leafed corners, well-creased spines. My first journey into Middle Earth came at a young age. Mum would sit at the foot of my bed reading my sister and I The Hobbit. Lord of the Rings however was something I read alone, first encountering it in Mums copies of the books; I got lost and utterly engrossed within its pages. For many years I re-read Lord of the Rings annually. It was my safely blanket, my escape, Middle Earth my preference to this world in which I struggled to feel comfortable.

Falling in love with this story didn’t take long. It catapulted to the top of my favourites list in chapter nine with these few lines,

Suddenly Frodo noticed that a strange-looking weather-beaten man, sitting in the shadows near the wall, was also listening intently to the hobbit-talk. He had a tall tankard in front of him,, and was smoking a long-stemmed pipe curiously carved. His legs were stretched out before him, showing high boots of supple leather that fitted him well, but had seen much wear and were now caked in mud, a travel stained cloak of heavy dark-green cloth was drawn close about him, and in spite of the heat of the room he wore a hood that overshadowed his face; but the gleam of his eyes could be seen as he watched the hobbits.

‘Who is that?’ Frodo asked, when he got a chance to whisper to Mr Butterbur. ‘I don’t think you introduced him?’

‘Him?’ said the landlord in an answering whisper, cocking an eye without turning his head. ‘I don’t rightly know. He is one of the wondering folk- Rangers we call them. He seldom talks: not but what he can tell a rare tale when he has the mind. He disappears for a month, or a year, and then he pops up again. He was in and out pretty often last spring; but I haven’t seen him about lately. What his right name is I’ve never heard: but he’s known round here as Strider. Goes about at a great pace on his long shanks; though he don’t tell nobody what cause he has to hurry. But there’s no accounting for East and West, as we say in Bree, meaning the Rangers and the Shire-folk, begging your pardon. Funny you should ask about him.’ But at that moment Mr Butterbur was called away by a demand for more ale and his last remark remained unexplained.

Frodo found that Strider was now looking at him, as if he had heard or guessed all that had been said. Presently, with a wave of his hand and a nod, he invited Frodo to come over and sit by him. As Frodo drew near he threw back his hood, showing a shaggy head of dark hair flecked with grey, and in a pale stern face a pair of keen grey eyes.

This introduction to Aragorn (still simply Strider at this point) was all it took to go from deeply enjoying the stories to enduring, everlasting love. With every reading and every passing year I have found something new within the lines of Tolkiens story, new reasons to love this epic tale (though I will admit Aragorn remains front and centre). It isn’t an exaggeration to state that these stories helped shape the way I see the world. They have truly, deeply influenced so many aspects of my life.

But that is stories. What about the books? My glorious books.

A book, its pages and carefully typeset text are so often the door through which our imaginations enter a story. But they can be other things as well. They can be beautiful, special, interestingly made or come laden with history. My sister bought both my copies of the Lord of the Rings trilogy for me and both are special, gorgeous sets of books in their own ways.

But the second edition, second imprint copies that I was gifted last Christmas.

Well.

They are something else.

Large format, hardback… The paper is thin, old and cream, the cover is cloth bound in red with golden embossed text, the dust covers are dark grey green. They are, quite simply, stunning objects. There are little details that I adore and that make these my favourite books- the top edge painted red (but only that edge) so that when it sits upon your bookshelf it appears the same red as the cover, but when you take it down to read the paper is revealed. My favourite things about these particular books? The fold out maps in the back of every volume. Tolkien’s maps are a thing of beauty and the printing, colours and size of these particular maps makes the books feel that little bit more special and opens the door to the stories within just that little bit wider. All these choices of design and production that go into the books physical form and change the way it feels in our hands are vitally important.

These books have pride of place on my shelves. They are not only personally and historically important but also satisfying and beautiful objects. There are other editions of Lord of the Rings that I want, old and new, first editions and anniversary collections. I want them because I love the story, I want them because of what the story has come to mean in my life and I want them because every littler difference in the books themselves changes the door I walk through to get to Middle Earth.

A door by Gaudi is far more than door.

A door isn’t just a door any more than a book is just a book. They are gateways; entry points to new perspectives, new ways of thinking, new worlds, perhaps even a new you. Every little difference in the way they are designed and made can influence the experience of walking through that door, of opening that book and encountering the story that lies beyond.

As Yet Untitled is going to make books that change the shape of the door. Every artist and writer we collaborate with will have favourite books and favourite stories. These things will have influenced them as strongly as Lord of the Rings and the books containing it have influenced me. They will have become part of the artists’ or writers’ foundations, par of the root system that feeds their work.

The books and stories we love will be one small piece of why the books we make end up the shapes they do and why the story you encounter after opening its pages is whatever it is. Tolkien, Lord of the Rings and my copies of it are certainly standing tall behind The Ellentree and As Yet Untitled. I only hope that the stories we tell and the doorways we create are worthy of the books and stories that have influenced us.

An Elvish Door

 

 

 

 



A Secret Told

A Secret Told.

Secrets are only fun for a little while, and secret plans are only really fun when you get to reveal them. So here it is, the reveal to the secret plan we have been hinting at for so long.

Those of you who have been following us know about our recent steps to expand As Yet Untitled. After much conversation, working with a mentor and joining The Enterprise Program at The Princes Trust we are ready to start taking the next steps.

From next year we will be working on collaborative, limited edition, handmade artists’ books with writers, artists, poets, musician and more. We have already lined up and started working with our first collaborators. We even have released dates and launch events planned throughout the year. However, to get these books into the world we need funds. Funds to buy all the materials and equipment an independent artists’ book press will need.

And so we come to our secret plan…

Right now on the Kickstarter website our crowd funding campaign has gone live. We have a little over a month to reach our target and make our plans and dreams for the next year a reality. To do this we need your help.

We deeply believe in the power and ethos of crowd funding. It is a chance for the public to act as art patrons, supporting the creation of arts in an amazing, grass roots way.

It isn’t a new idea. Individuals and groups have been acting as patrons for artists for centuries. Crowd funding is simply the 21st century version of an age-old tradition between artist and audience. See, look here, we have proof.

However, what is new is the scale at which we can do it. Where once being a patron of the arts was only for the wealthy today any one of us can do it. Every little helps in a campaign like ours, be it £3 or £100. It doesn’t matter how much or how little you can give. Crowd funding is inclusive. If you find a project or artist you want to support or believe deserves a chance you can step in and help.

A pledge on Kickstarter is a promise. A promise from you that if on the 12th of December we have reached our target amount of £2000 you will transfer money to us so that we can make all the book art we are promising. No one will be charged a penny until that happens. Kickstarter phrase it best when they call their funding All-Or-Nothing.

This All-Or-Nothing approach is important to us as it keeps our backers and us safe from disappointment and risk. Every pledge we receive means the world to us and we want to do all we can to ensure your investment is not a risk. Because that is what your pledge is to us, it is your investment in the very foundations of As Yet Untitled.

We have a ton of amazing rewards on offer for those that pledge, including some backer only exclusives. You can find them all on our project page here: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1541280994/as-yet-untitled

We truly hope you see something in our project that appeals to you, something you want to support. Please help to spread the word by sharing our Kickstarter page on Twitter and Facebook, blog about it, tell your friends or even write in the sky. We need all the help we can get to make this campaign a success.

Thank you for joining us on this incredible new stage of our journey.



Introducing Our First Artist

While working on the business plan, financial forecast, funding forms and other such things I had a realisation. All this information was important but I was missing something rather vital. If As Yet Untitled is actually going to do the things I was writing about I needed to start considering artists or writers that we might collaborate with. I needed to start making books.

Eventually I would like to open submissions but for that to work I needed evidence, books that would prove to these strangers that we are a company worth want working with. More importantly that having evidence for others I need evidence for myself, I need the chance to discover how this process I am imagining actually works. I need an artist willing and able to come along for this first ride. But how do I find this artist, someone willing to take the jump based on my own books. The answer to this conundrum wasn’t hard to find. Elbow Room has created a community of incredible artists over the years many of whom I would be thrilled to work with in a more extended capacity. 

But who? It only took a moment to find the answer to that.

Ella Jane Chappell.

Ella is a poet and an incredible one. We published her poems in the very first volume of Elbow Room and then again in our first UEA Special Edition. I love her work (which is the only criteria I really have to work with when selecting an artist for anything) and I know she enjoys collaborating. You can see her award winning film poem collaboration with Garrett and Garrett here.

All that was left was to explain what we are doing to grow As Yet Untitled and ask if she wanted to make a book with us.

Over delicious food in a curry house in Brick Lane earlier this week Ella and I had our first meeting, discussing her fledgling ideas for the book, winding through a conversation about all sorts of things including of all things a joint love of Barthes. I came home thrilled, buzzing and excited to get started on creating and publishing our very first collaborative artists’ book.

I can’t wait to find out how this process is going to work. We will keep you updated as we go…

 

Ella Chappell was born south of Manchester in 1990. She attained both the BA and MA degrees in creative writing at the University of East Anglia. Her poetry has been published in various online and print magazines including Elbow Room, The Lighthouse, Ink, Sweat & Tears and Belleville Park Pages. Her filmpoem, Rolling Frames, made in collaboration with a choreographer and filmmaker, won the Southbank Poetry Film Competition, Shot Through The Heart, and has since been screened at many film festivals internationally, winning multiple awards. Most recent projects include a collaborative audio/poetry piece featured at the 'Conditional Expressions' art exhibition at the STCFTCOTS gallery in Leeds, and 'Disruption', a poem that opened the RCA MA 2015 fashion show, following a year-long cross-medium collaboration with a womenswear student.

 

 

Art, politics and why we do what we do...

Over the last few weeks Zelda and I have had some very interesting conversations about art, politics and what drives us. They have left me asking question about As Yet Untitled, Elbow Room and my own practise.

The conversation started with a late night talk about the idea that all art, no matter the content, is political. What I find interesting is that neither of us is overtly political in the work we make, nor are As Yet Untitled or Elbow Room obviously political organisations. However, I would argue that creating art or founding a company dedicated to the arts is a political act. It is not the content of what we make, rather that we dare to make it all. Throughout time art has commented on every aspect of society, is has spoken about and visualised the unsayable, sought to understand society, humanity and the world. And throughout time art has been considered in equal parts vital and unnecessary, inspiring and dangerous. This was particularly highlighted to me as the results of the general election came in earlier this year. The Conservative government seems determined to gut public arts funding in this country and voters have given them the opportunity to complete the job. Without funding artists’ suffer and without artists society suffers. Yet despite the hardship the arts sector is facing artists are finding new ways to make work, from crowd funding to independent and underground organisations. This is nothing new; artists around the world have overcome everything from government indifference to outright even violent hostility time and again. I see As Yet Untitled as part of this and am determined to do what I can to help myself and others create work. The likelihood is that the work we create and publish won’t be overtly political but it will exist in the world, questioning and drawing from the world.

Which brings me on to a conversation Zelda and I had earlier this week over dinner.

Why do we make art?

And where does it come from?

One answer is that we make it because we have no other option. Someone asked me the other day why I had chosen to become an artist and I almost laughed at them. I don’t believe art is a choice (if it was I wouldn’t be doing it, this is a hard life) but rather a drive, a calling, a necessity. The other answer is perhaps a little more complicated. For me it goes something like this…We make art because we want to understand the world, and to share our ideas and our questions with others. It comes from inside, from the things that drive us, that we question and struggle with. This could anything from questions of identity, to expressions of love or dealings with grief. It could be a way of understanding history or philosophical questions about the universe. I have made work that is intensely personal, using it to get through hard times or deal with complex issues of love and identity. But I have spent an equal amount of time asking questions about how and why we tell stories or considering the workings of time, in life and in art. It might not seem as though these questions are personal but they are as I find myself endlessly driven by searching for answers. My art is an expression of these questions and my answers. The act of making art can be enough but by releasing it into the world I hope that someone might find a reflection of their own thoughts and questions. They probably won’t see exactly what I was imagining but that isn’t what matters. What matters is that they find something they understand, that answers or even triggers new questions.

I founded Elbow Room because I believe the arts have more to say when they can say it together. When poetry and prose, photography, sculpture and painting, animation and music can stand in one space to ask questions and offer answers.

I am working with the Prince Trust to expand As Yet Untitled because I want more than my voice to be heard. I believe in the power of books as a way of asking questions and expressing answers. I believe in the democracy of books as an art form and in their boundless potential. Book Arts is a limitless field, that can incorporate every art imaginable, and I want to collaborate with artists from all disciplines in exploring, questioning and expressing any and all ideas we can.

As I spend time working on numbers, market research and the business plan I am also considering our next steps creatively. I am talking to the first artists and writers we might collaborate with and I waiting with baited breath for the entries to the Elbow Room competition and all the ideas they will contain. Art takes me to new places, both mundane (financial forecasts anyone) and magical. I cannot wait to help bring the magical to you.

Why We Make Art: An endnote from Zelda:

What Rosie has said about making art not being a choice is entirely true. For some reason, art chooses us and won't let go. It's compelling—it keeps you awake, it makes you work long hours, it forces you through every emotion possible. It's exhausting. And exhilarating. It's necessary, essential. At times it has kept me alive. And it doesn't let you quit (believe me, I've tried).

I am known by most of you as a poet but I also make prints and practice photography. For me, the process of making art—and when I say art, I am talking in the broadest sense—is about making sense of the world. It's about exploring things that are difficult, that can't be easily explained or articulated in other ways. It's a meditation on what it is to be human and an exploration of how we relate to each other and the situations we find ourselves in. Anyone that has read my work will know that it is, on the whole, intensely personal. In truth, it's the only way I can make it. It has to come from somewhere, and for me, personal experience is as about as authentic as it gets. And I'm under no illusion that my personal experiences are unique—they are not. We are all human. We all experience love and hate and greed and envy and grief and loss and exhilaration. We react to it differently, but we all feel it and we all have a need to make sense of it.

But it is also about raising questions. Sometimes we already have the answers, sometimes we find them along the way through the artistic process, but more often than not we don't. And this is what also makes it important to its audience—it's the questions. Every time we come in to contact with a piece of art—whether it's visual or audible or written—we have a reaction to it. We make a decision about whether we like or dislike it. We find art that makes a connection with us in some way, allowing us to empathise with what it's saying (or what we think it is saying). We find art that we understand and art that we don't. We think about it. We draw conclusions. We make choices informed by what we've thought about. We have conversations about it. We change things—personally, in our communities, in our places of work, in our families, in our society. And that is why all art is political. And why it is essential.

For me, Elbow Room (and its umbrella of As Yet Untitled) is about cultivating conversation, both between us and across us. It's about recognising that we are not islands. It's acknowledging that there are things to be said, things to be listened to, to be agreed and disagreed with. And it's about nurturing the people, our writers and artists, who are here, willing to say those things in the best ways they know how to. And yes, the days with numbers and spreadsheets might not be the best ones, but the rest is magical and being able to share it is an incredible privilege.