Last June I went on a trip to Mid Wales, where one of my books was exhibited together with other 26 pieces at the Sidney Nolan Trust, in Presteigne.
The exhibition is called Re-Imagining the Laws of England: “A set of ‘Halsbury’s Statutes’, the accepted authoritative texts for statute law (Acts of Parliament) of England and Wales, was donated to the Trust by a local court service whose staff now use online reference. The 27 volumes were destined to be pulped had the Trust not taken them. Each volume has been transformed into a work of art exploring themes related to topics covered in the particular volume as well as ideas around legislation and society.”
This paradisiacal location hosts residencies, workshops and an art gallery together with an organic farm, all sorts of animals and a guest house where I could spend the night.
I have been dealing dealing with the effects of an acute and exhausting hay fever for days after the trip, but it was worth it!
My contribution to the project is called Inhale, Exhale: a paper respiratory system.
When I received my volume of the Halsbury’s Statutes last January, I was impressed by the solidity of that book as an object, with its immaculate, severe, clean hard cover, and by the precariousness of its printed content, affected by updates and changes in legislation and destined to cyclical withdrawal and destruction.
The first stage of my alteration consisted in removing every trace of the printed matter from the pages, to focus on the value of Law as a universal, atemporal principle.
This altering technique, initiated by an idea of purity and grace, ended up being a repetitive, endless and frustrating process generating a messy and unclear outcome: after few weeks I lost my interest in it and had to think again.
I then decided to consider the book as a solid, unbreakable body, that needs fresh air to live: I just had to build a paper respiratory system for it.
I researched and reproduced human organs into silhouette illustrations, using some of the printed pages reinforced with coloured card as sculptural material. I finally arranged them back inside the book to create a sequence of intricate anatomical layers.
Every time the pages are opened, the book, a chest wall made of paper and principles, breathes in and out his 800 years of History.