First day in Amsterdam.

Feeling lucky to be supported with a Travel Bursary from a-n to enable me to explore and make friends with artist-run bookstores in Amsterdam.

I’ve designed an itinerary which allows me to focus on achieving one big thing a day but also allows me to stumble across interesting things and think about new stuff – in other words discoveries that can’t be planned and manifest themselves only by getting away – a breath of fresh air.

My planned task for today was to travel here from Devon, visit artist run book store Boekie Woekie, say hello to artists Runa, Jan and Henriette who run the store and discuss an existing invitation to come to Plymouth to participate in Counter, Plymouth Art Book Fair.

Tickety the cat was staffing the shop at Boekie Woekie along with Jan. It is going to take some patience and delicate communication to find a way for Jan, Runa or Henriette to come to Plymouth. Jan will be in Iceland at the time of the event this year, attends Small Publishers Fair, followed by New York and then maybe will look to participate in another event. Jan suggested sending the cat – I like this idea!

Bought two postcards cut from cat food boxes and a copy of an easy fold giant poster/text ‘Thirty Years of Boekie Woekie, Books and More – by Artists’ from an exhibition at Nylistasafnid The Living Art Museum, Reykjavik, 2016.

Discussed returning tomorrow to spend some time mooching through artists books and multiples and finding out how artists submit books to the store.

The Art of the Shopkeeper

Spent a lot of time walking today to get bearings and stumbled across some great shops, always lured by elegant and charming shop window displays including: Typique a lovely atelier trading since 1967 selling letterpress prints and traditional stationery.

Looking in shop windows at curated objects has been helpful in absorbing and thinking about how works can be displayed to engage people. Although, at times, I felt I had fallen into a living Pinterest nightmare I thought about the significant presence of Dutch design here. I wonder how this strong design sensibility starts to be acquired – its interesting that every kindergarten appears to present delightfully idiosyncratic, colourful hand-painted scenes, bold paper cut outs and proudly share pictures of Dick Bruna’s Miffy in their windows.

What joy!


This is the concluding post of my blog discussing my trip to Amsterdam to research artist run bookstores supported by my a-n International Travel Bursary.

Thank you for reading my blog!

It’s been three months since my adventures in Amsterdam where I made friends with Jan and Tickety the cat at artist-run bookstore Boekie Woekie. Here, I hung out in the bookstore exploring books, pamphlets and editions, working out how the shop was organised and learning how printed matter was submitted from all over the world.

At San Serriffe I learned how Ott and his friends started and sustain a small, design-led art bookshop; operating as an agency, publisher and event space. I was reminded by Ott that it’s Amsterdam’s rich design heritage and mercantile history that’s reflected in the abundance of small, specialist, independent shops curating objects that are influencing my own ideas for developing the small pop-up shop I run with Paul Hearn.

At the Stedelijk Museum Library I learned that attempting to undertake desktop research on 1970s artist run bookshop Other Books and So is a slower means of enquiry that demands adequate time to visit City Archives and research training. So this activity is added to my forever evolving dream PhD proposal; further thinking resulting from this bursary trip.

Traveling to Amsterdam has allowed me to physically explore spaces, handle artwork and meet people. This activity hasn’t been possible remotely: social media only goes so far.

This feeling of lack of physical spaces to handle, share and buy books made by artists motivates me to work with others to produce events: an art book fair and pop up shop here in Devon.

With a focus on developing international networks, especially following the disappointing EU referendum result, this research trip has influenced our planning for Counter, Plymouth Art Book Fair which I co-organise with Vickie Fear and Paul Hearn.  This year, we have allocated a number of free tables to international exhibitors. Moving forward, we are researching further opportunities to develop international links through travel.

My collaboration with Paul Hearn running our shop selling books made by artists has developed further focus. There is a new energy and different thinking that has been generated through the experiences of the trip. Since returning from Amsterdam, Pineapple Falls has developed:

  • more and better pop-up events
  • a new website
  • budgets, pricing, commission strategies
  • new dialogues with artists
  • approaching international artists – we now stock a new quarterly from the US
  • more, new, exciting, good quality stock
  • conversations with graduates about publishing work

Having become so absorbed by organising a shop and a book fair, I’m increasingly more interested in others’ artwork and I like it this way for now. In the context of the shop and the book fair, I think making the event and all the stuff that needs to be done to make stuff happen is the work – this is where the art is!

Counter, Plymouth Art Book Fair (what we are calling our ‘difficult third album’)  takes place at the Main Hall, Davy Building, Plymouth University on Saturday 29th October and is supported by Arts Council England.

Wonderful Grotto by Pineapple Falls presents a curated table of books made by artists at Drift Records, Totnes as part of the wonderful, new Sea Change Festival on Friday and Saturday 26th and 27th August.

Thank you a-n for supporting this research – it’s been amazing!

Maddy x

Image: My talk sharing my experience in Amsterdam with my peer network at PAC Home, Plymouth Arts Centre, Summer 2016.


Here, I want to acknowledge the paper and packaging based things collected in Amsterdam that will make up a book, page-work or fancy ‘something or other’ in the coming weeks.

I identify a process of collecting, archiving and arranging as a way of making artworks with everyday life stuffs; habitually saving paper bags, food packaging, plastic food bags, fancy chocolate foils and cat food wrappers. These are ‘composted’ in boxes at home for sorting through to gather into potential sequences. This process of collecting, collating and transforming is also an active way of analysing artefacts.

Cat Food Boxes/Chocolate

Thinking back to the wonderful postcards made from cat food boxes, cardboard chocolate wrappers and other paper waste that fill the racks at Boekie Woekie, there are similarities here with my page works. I’m reassured to discover that others share compatible dilemmas when faced with disposal of cat food packaging presenting airbrushed cats eating lunch.

Dreamies Pack Attack

Last week we stood outside Tescos waiting for the freestanding digital advertisement signage screen to show the Dreamies Pack Attack poster. The bright poster simply depicts a single packet of ramshackle Dreamies having been ravaged by a cat. There is no cat in the picture but anyone who understands how cats go crazy for Dreamies will understand the joke. The packet sits simply and satisfyingly on a white background. It’s a great piece of design and we watched it over and over again.

Offhand Design

It’s compelling and comforting to read that Dieter Roth spent time sitting in Boekie Woekie. Much work of Roth populates the store with a satisfying silly-ness that motivates me to make more stuff. Frequently, I return to the 1975 essay Offhand Design – a brilliant manifesto and provocation for a kind of ‘undesign’ that questions compromising situations designers face when designing messages they don’t agree with. I loved browsing the ring-bound, plastic wallet archive at Fruitmarket Gallery’s reconfigured Dieter Roth Diaries show at Camden Arts Centre in 2013 – banana skin, napkins and crisp packets, I remember this assorted debris clearly. It’s good to be making connections between influences through this visit.

Today, at home, I’ve spent some time taking pictures with my phone of all the stuff collected from Amsterdam. I suppose this is a form of digital filing and bookmarking. It shares a similar sense of screening and framing that placing banana skins in plastic wallets implies – a kind of vitrine? :

Writing this post, has allowed some reflection on materials and processes of my work and is motivating me to begin a new phase of making with a better understanding of contexts of distribution. Visiting stores in person was one focus when applying for this bursary. Works certainly need to be handled, spaces explored and its easy to say hello and ask questions face to face.

Depodog, polystyrene pizza base, Police Academy 3: Back in Training.

Finally, I chose the selection of images shared with this post for their interesting shapes, seemingly silly narratives of use, colour and fluctuating details – fluted edging; a circle; funny dog graphic; poop related stories; bright red; pale primrose yellow; elaborate handwriting in blue and red biro; analogue filing paraphernalia; an oblong and a pedantically titled popular film.

I’ve also typed in a recipe below for Red Cabbage Salad which was forgotten and then found in my notebook; jotted down from a Dutch recipe book from the kitchen of the apartment where I stayed. This was where I built a cardboard fruit box library of papers, wrappers, books and an assortment of paper bags and plastic sacks.

Red Cabbage Salad

400g finely sliced red cabbage

1 onion, peeled and finely chopped

5 tablespoons oil

2 tablespoons mayonnaise

2 tablespoons mustard

1 teaspoon caraway seeds

2 tablespoons lemon juice

25g walnuts

In a large salad bowl, mix cabbage with onion. In a small bowl mix oil with mayonnaise, mustard, caraway seeds, lemon juice. Mix with cabbage. Stand for 2 hours. Garnish with walnuts before serving.


One of the tasks in my itinerary was to find out about Other Books and So, an artist run bookshop in Amsterdam organised and hosted by Ulises Carrión that ran from 1975-1978. I’ve undertaken some desktop research to establish how the shop was started which has helped me contextualise San Serriffe and Boekie Woekie within Amsterdam’s long history of receiving printed matter from artists all over the world.

Noticeably, collaboration with friends is a key part of getting started. In 1975, eighteen friends of Carrión, clubbed together and paid 100 Guilders each to pay the first 6 months rent for a 6 x 10 metre, low ceilinged basement at Herengracht 227.

The shop stocked cards, postcards, magazines, audio tapes, stencils, offset print, photocopies, letterpress, rubberstamp and hand written work. The shop also worked as a gallery presenting visual poetry, Fluxus, stamp art, mail art and performance. Works were presented flat on tables and in cabinets.

Elements of these activities are reflected in both Boekie Woekie and San Serriffe and it’s interesting that Gerrit Jan de Rook proposes that that Other Books and So became a ‘model for a generation of artists, curators and designers who’ve opened publishing houses and galleries’.

I missed out on the exhibitions exploring renewed interest in Carrión in London in 2009 and subsequently with Book Show at Eastside Projects in 2010. I found out about Carrión through reading Sarah Bodman and Tom Sowden’s Manifesto for the Book which begins by referencing The New Art of Making Books. published in Kontexts, 1975.

At Other Books and So unknown artists from Europe, the USA and Latin America shared space with well known artists; Ed Ruscha and Sol Lewitt for example.

In 1978, after a move to a bigger space the previous year, Other Books and So lost it’s subsidies and was taken over for a while by other artists before closing.

As an artist and educator running a temporary shop and a book fair, I’ve placed myself in various, unexpected situations and roles which has allowed me to draw on different sets of skills. It interests me that Gerrit Jan de Rook writes that Carrión, through running the bookshop, was ‘liberated from being an artist’ and that being an organiser and a gallery became an essential part of his work.



Dead Ends

This blog post is about coming to a perceived ‘dead end’ in the research and then finding out that it’s not a dead end at all, its working out what happens next and making plans on how to do ‘what happens next’!

Before leaving for Amsterdam, I contacted staff at the Stedelijk Museum library for help in sourcing material to help me find out about Other Books and So, an artist-run bookshop in Amsterdam organised by Ulises Carrión.

Maartje and Michiel were helpful and emailed to say they’d ordered a book for me ‘Other Books and So’ and that there was another location in Amsterdam to view archives.

Arriving at the library, the book was a catalogue of an exhibition. In essence, it presented Carrión’s essay/manifesto ‘The New Art of Making Books’ published in Kontexts in 1975.

With no time to visit the City Archives on this trip, I felt I’d arrived at a dead end. I need more time in Amsterdam if I want to develop this research further through the Museum.

I made a decision to conduct desk top research at home instead. Also that I need to come to the Museum, better equipped and with sufficient time (and then some) to follow up leads. This is a whole other research trip!

One thing I’ve learned through this trip is to allow more time for activities. While, another week would have been helpful to follow up leads; City Archives, Rotterdam and Uttrecht artist run spaces (Ott’s suggestion), yet another week would have allowed me to get mucky and make page-work with the stuff collected.

I needed to come to Amsterdam to realise why I wanted to come here in the first place, if that makes sense?

Writing this post has helped me realise that the trip is the beginning of wondering:

1. How do I organise a shop space again?
2. How does Counter work?
3. Where do I send/take my page-work – and how?
4. Do I need to come back to Amsterdam?

And then wondering:

How do I do all that?

Back home, I’ve found out stuff about ‘Other Books and So’ through desktop research, there’s another post on this.

The research is about finding models of artist run bookshops to help me realise my own.