We’re currently preparing for a book art show, but a really special one. It’s been my dream to present this show in London some time. “Prospero’s Library” began as an idea from Moscow-based writer and artist Mikhail Pogarsky, who imagined a project inspired by both the character of Prospero in Shakespeare’s The Tempest, and the film Prospero’s Books by Peter Greenaway. Imagining Prospero’s magical “library of everything” was the starting point to collect together an exhibition that is ever-expanding and transforming, as different books and items are added to it, and it magically manifests itself in different places on the globe. “Prospero’s Library” truly resembles the original library of the magician Prospero in that, like his collection, it has travelled far and wide. The first manifestation of the library was made in the Zverevskiy Center of Contemporary Art in Moscow. After that the show toured to various regions including Yasnaja Poliana, Tula where Tolstoy lived; culminating in a presence at the Moscow Central House of Artists. Further tours were made in Russia, and to Catania and Milan.

Finally, the library is in London. And it’s taken some time to do this because the project is too “odd” for London. It’s not really trendy, it’s not very commercial and it’s not really conceptual either. And we didn’t event try to get funding for it. How on earth do you answer the ACE questions about “public benefit” to something like this. Who can answer that? Approaching the various Russian cultural organisations in London plunged us into scenes from Bulgakov or Gogol. Not being affiliated with any university art department meant we could not use them, which would be the easy way to get a show like this out there. Now that we have Studio 75 though, the time has come. The studio is small but not smaller than a book fair and the show has been at Moscow Artists book fair. In any case, the show changes every time.

Artists books are strange and interesting things. Often I balk at “text art” for a number of reasons not least of which is cultural imperialism (more about that at a later post). But the history of the artists book is so fascinating, so underground and quirky and subversive, and the books themselves – from William Blake’s Songs of Innocence and of Experience to the work of the Lettrists and Fluxus, are just so brilliant! Our project is interesting because it brings together quite a lot of very different kinds of book art, from Russia, from Italy, from the great diaspora that is London – as well as different forms: uniques, multiples, digital books, book installation.

I hope it’ll be as fun and interesting for the audience as it is for us.



It’s interesting the variety of people who come by the Studio to see what we’ve got going on. It’s a great mix of people: lively, opinionated, dynamic. Artists and non-artists alike.

What seems to me to be a bit odd though, is that there are quite a few people I’ve known for a long time and with whom I have had many, many conversations about the “state of art” and how “change is important” and all that. Together we’ve criticized many things we don’t like and ranted about how to change it.

Well, now that my friends and I have decided to put our money where our mouths are, and set up our own thing and try to do things a bit differently (or die trying) – where are these putative supporters cheering us on – or pointing out where me might be going wrong? Invisible. Oh wait, no they’re not. They are just down the road, busy swanning around at the self same institutions they had been criticizing only recently.

Should I be angry or upset? Or just resigned? Let’s face it, we live in a branded culture, where the imprimatur of a big known brand just does count for more than the “no name” version. If a well known brand wants to sponsor an art event, then it is just going to get more people there than some obscure collection of artists. I know that. I don’t even mind. Just don’t preach the radical no-logo art revolutionist claptrap that you don’t actually believe in, cos it’s fashionable.

It’s like the way that so many art bookshops sell these super glossy expensive editions of Situationist texts, or Marxist programmes or even anarchist texts, in lushly bound coffee table editions. Or handsome volumes of radical theory. Relying on the fact that nobody who might ever put any of this stuff into practice will ever read them. Art institutions are not, and will never be, places of radicalism in any form. Do the math.


The collage show is up and running and we did the film screening last night. While not all of my selectons met with approval by the audience, in general the films were well received, especially (of course) the brilliant film Human Remains, a Sundance award winner by Jay Rosenblatt. That film provoked a lot of discussion, which is why I programmed it. There were other films that were liked very much as well – notable mentions include:

Harriet Macdonald’s film Another Year Gone. Originally from Tasmania, Harriet experiments with paper cutouts and a bedroom lamp to bring scraps of paper to life and create a strange other world.

Howard Cohen’s tiny and fantastically funny comedy Golden Wonders Of The Solar System Howard runs The Jelly Moustache comedy group. http://www.thejellymoustache.com

and a beautiful film called Correspondences, by Tim Baker with music by the Kleptones. http://www.mutantpop.net/radioclash

The exhibition of paper collage has interested many people all of whom have noted that it’s extremely rare to see a whole show of collage by different artists. Solo shows, yes such as the magnificent John Stezaker show at the Whitechapel recently


but group shows not so much. In fact I don’t remember ever having seen a whole group show of collage artists. Hmm. The reason we did this show was in fact to show the range of collage practices, how different artists approach collage in their own unique way.


Collage is really interesting because it’s something that anyone can do, everyone does it, artist or not. I cut my collage teeth, so to speak, making cassette tape covers for my mixtapes, in the days before cds (even after CDs, cos I never liked those). As kids we keep scrapbooks. And then, quite often we forget all about this and go on to try to make “proper art.” But then, you go back and revisit collage and it opens up a whole world of possibilities.

Artists do it for different reasons, and with different results. It can be a side-practice that gets you to know your main practice better. It can be a fun thing you do to relax but still be art-ing. It can become your main practice like it did with Stezaker. It can allow you to be critical and political. It allows you the opportunity to examine and interfere with the cultural detritus that is all around us in the shape of books, magazines, adverts and so on. For me, as a photographer and a film-maker, who misses the viceral hands-on working with film since I moved to digital, collage represents a reconnection with the manual process of art-making.

The artist in this show all take a different approach to collage. Glenn Ibbitson rips up magazines to “paint” in a classical style; Nick Wright cuts Argos catalogues to re-create the bucolic Midlands landscape that is being encroached on for endless building; Nazir Tanbouli cannibalises his own drawing books to deconstruct and reconfigure his own work, using only the books themselves. Lorena Balbinot works with newspapers and magazines to locate texts and images that, slyly reassembled, are deeply critical of the political and social status quo. Her work in this show comprises a large piece, two books and a tea set collaged with horrific images of the Iraq war. As for me, Gillian McIver, I made small works on paper and (for the first time) works on canvas. I did them in the studio just before the show and put them out hot and fresh, which is what the studio is all about. Come and taste, tell us what you think.


Social network and how much time it takes!?! that is the question!

We have a website, this blog, a facebook page –

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Studio75/188768711157603 – please visit!

– a blog attached to the website where we put pics and things from the projects and shows, an email list ….

it’s a lot. And does it work? Does it drive people to come and see us? Or is it just more spam and infoclutter?

I don’t know.

I also have a Twitter account (@bitterwit) where I do post stuff about the studio from time to time, although most of it is just my personal views.

We’re told how essential social networking and digital presence is, it’s become a religion.I even went on a 2 day course about it. The proof however wil be in the pudding.

It is more eco-friendly than flyering, though.

Your thoughts on this very welcome!