Viewing single post of blog Artist Run Bookstores, Amsterdam

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.