Monday 25 July 2022

SomeBody, split view


'just a few shots here of the way the pages can be split into three and then layered to simulate an operation. The top image shows how the cobweb integrates with the blood vessels, the blood vessels and muscle layer are shown in a transverse section,

and here one of the lungs folds back to reveal the heart.

I will upload more images as we explore the possibilities of the model.

My thanks go to Imperial College and the SHARP project led by Professor Roger Kneebone. Also to my collaborators Rachel Warr, Rachael Matthews and to Kaori and Pauline at the Wyvern Bindery.

Sunday 24 July 2022

SomeBody, endpapers and binding



   The first and last pages of the book are of wide woven silk ribbons all embroidered and slashed. Gold and silver are interwoven to suggest the two lives woven together in this tragedy. 

 The inspiration came from Tudor slashed doublets, a technique popular during the 16th C. to create texture on leather or silk, fashionable for both men and women.

 The book itself was constructed and bound for me at the Wyvern Bindery in east London. The covers, hinges and page mounts are all in black silk with silk covered rods holding the split pages together. We spent a long time working out the depth of each page and how it was to turn, making mock up paper hinges to see how the rods would slide in and out.

  There was also a lot of time spent playing with the contents to ensure they all turned happily with the heavy pages. Above you can see the guts having a little surgery to keep it all in one place!

 There is also a cover, not pictured here, which has volvelles in the front which rotate to reveal the name of the piece.

next: a split view


Friday 22 July 2022

SomeBody, the future


  JOY, HAPPINESS, CONFIDENCE and PEACE, this is what the Navajo people say that all of us deserve.
  Turning the page from the dark to the light, the fresh green of spring and of youth. Here there are the spaces for tools; on the left a knife, scissors and a hammer,

...on the right a screwdriver, pliers, pencil and a credit card. The spaces have yet to be filled, they contain only potential. One tool is damaged by a stab wound, others are open to interpretation. The knife could be put to a different use, how do you interpret what it means?


 After deciding which tools would 'read' well in silhouette I chose to use an old workshop method to illustrate life choices. At my college the technicians kept track of tools by having them hung on a board and drawing around each one, if one was in use the outline was a reminder of its absence.

  It was the Wyvern Bindery who constructed the pages into a proper book for me and they made this page completely. It was laser cut, beautifully covered in green silk and then embossed with the lettering.

Wyvern Bindery here

next: endpapers and construction

Wednesday 20 July 2022

SomeBody, the puppet

 What happens when you are actually in a bad situation? most of us can only guess. Do you lose your head? do you act how you'd like to think that you would? What if you don't feel in control? What if there are social pressures, peer pressures making you act up, act badly?

  If you are young and other people carry knives do you do the same? do you feel safe without one? do you feel that others are telling you how to behave? Who do you turn to when you are in trouble? what happens if there's no-one there for you?

 Many questions can be asked with this page.The puppet rises from the page and leans across to mobile phones and a knife.

Puppet in progress

One phone has pictures of friends and loved ones on it the other has a cracked screen and no battery charge.

The knife is a simple kitchen knife, easy to snatch on the way out.

  Here everything is dark, a black silk background with strong contrasts and plain objects to reflect the reality of the situation being discussed. A stark life choice is about to be made.

next : the future

Monday 18 July 2022

SomeBody, invisible

     When you turn the giant page over from the 'bramble' page to this one at first there is nothing to be seen, just red organza pages with a hint of the yellow fat layer behind. The stab wounds are clear but the rest is uncertain; with clever lighting a face and waving hand is revealed. This is the last of  three overlapping emotional states that are illustrated within SomeBody.

   It is easy to overlook people and their experiences especially if their lives are so different to ours. We may only see what we want to see. When young people feel isolated they can feel invisible in society or that their problems are invisible.  This feeling and similar ones can run concurrently inside us with those of emotional pain, loss and helplessness.

Ghost embroidered panel in progress


 I chose to do a simple (!) line drawing of a face and hand which was then embroidered onto one layer of silk and then overlaid with more silk organza. Once inside the 'body' it lays against the muscle and fat layers obscuring it.


   The reds are chosen deliberately to seem deep inside the body itself but the next page changes completely and looks at physical scenarios and their consequences.

next: the puppet

Saturday 16 July 2022

SomeBody, brambles



  At first this just looks like the vascular layer again but look harder and there is a layer growing through it almost unseen; brambles. They are sharp and tangled and grow quickly like invisible pain.

   This is the second of the three pages that deals with complex emotional states, here it is unseen pain. It asks what we know about someone just by looking at them, what is hidden and what are the consequences of unspoken feelings and experiences. As before the split pages enable this layer to be laid back over the previous 'emotion' showing young people how emotional layers exist alongside each other.

  I used the same construction technique here as the vascular layer but made double layered rouleau which could be cut into to reveal darker colours. Some of them were then embroidered onto with picot spikes or had strange berries. The fruit were created with old button making methods either as Medieval style padded forms or as Tudor stitched beads.

n.b.   rouleau are narrow fabric tubes, rouleaux are stacks of blood cells...I like a bit of serendipity!

next: invisible

Thursday 14 July 2022

SomeBody, the cobweb


    The first of the three pages which look at complex emotional states is the cobweb. It is semi-transparent with web like layers the top one of which is the most obvious. Underneath the beaded webs which move around and shout fragility lay two more webs, one in thread and one in shredded silk. 

 The thread layer is an expanded form of needlelace and the shredded silk was inspired by illustrations by Angela Barrett of thick ancient cobwebs hanging like torn sails. Taken all together a very complex and hazardous depth is revealed behind which lies the muscle layer of the body. You can poke a finger through and not know it's even there.

 Cobwebs suggest being trapped, being caught and feelings of powerlessness. The divided nature of the pages enable the viewer to turn back one emotional layer over another laying bare simultaneous emotional states. For a young person only just beginning to articulate deep feelings there is a language here which can enable them to explore empathy and insight.

next: brambles
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