Photo by Lisa Marie Grigsby

What do you do?

My father once said to me, as I failed to understand an event in my life that had no clear beginning, middle or end. “The problem is you live in a world of narrative don’t you.” and he was right.

I often panic when someone asks me what I do, or what I am. Too self conscious of my drawing to call myself an artist, too aware of my failings to call myself a writer. I sit here in my Studio in Cornwall, (for a long time I called it only half jokingly my ‘ill-defined creative venture’) with the audacious ignorance of not knowing exactly what it is I do, even while doing it.  Perhaps because I’ve spent years working towards living a life where ‘what I do’ can change everyday.  Probably the best one-size-fits-all answer that I can give is that I trade in stories.

What I do involves bookbinding. But it also involves writing (more specifically playwrighting*) printmaking, drawing, designing, teaching, researching, listening, drinking slightly too much coffee and connecting with people. 

I help articulate stories or stage artists’ works to their best advantage.

I find binding solutions for poets who have hoarded stacks of individual pages, or ways of keeping the recipes written on the backs of envelopes and phone bills (that a mother left her son) safe.  

That ephemera you keep, those ticket stubs and postcards - I have a reverence for them too.

I have written a story for a child to help her understand why she doesn’t have an older brother anymore. I have written a book that was someone’s proposal.

I write plays to question the emotional impact of the legalities of restitution, or the limits of science, or the afterwards of war or why keeping a secret can be a beautiful thing

I approach each book I make as a kind of theatre. As an opportunity to stage a piece of work. When I teach bookbinding I call my class ‘The Paper Stage’ as every choice matters, the paper, the font, the spacing, the stitching, they all have an impact

But what matters most is stories.

Awards

  • Winner: Society of Book Binders, 2017: Wyvern Bindery Award for Best New Comer (Joint First)

  • Winner: Cultivator Studio Grant, 2017

  • Winner: Clothworkers Scholar, Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust, 2016

 

Exhibitions 

May 2018 - Falmouth Art Gallery - Books on Books 

April 2018 - Cornwall College - Ideas from the Attic

Febuary 2018 - Open Studio - De Vay Nee Haslam

October 2017 - Society of Book Binders Conference - Bayntun's Bath

September 2017 - Society of Book Binders Conference - London Shepherds, Sangorski & Sutcliffe

August 2017 - Society of Book Binders Conference - Keel University

August 2017 - Open Studio - Lift it with the Feathers

June 2017 - St Austell Library - Books on Books

January 2017 - V&A - QEST Craft Alumni

June 2015 - St James' Palace - Prizegiving