Wednesday 12 April 2023

Book of Roses

My latest creative project is titled "Book of Roses". It can be viewed in full on mobile (single pages) or desktop (two-page spreads). An account of its making...

Several years ago I bought a lovely old photo album from what we call in Australia an op shop, aka charity or second-hand store. It cost me just a few dollars. Up until this year it remained unused and without images, social media having taken over most aspects of sharing family photos. But the emptiness of this unique album occasionally bothered me as I carried it in storage boxes from one home to the next.

A couple of months ago I had an out-of-the-blue idea to create this album anew, as a found-art book project filled with historical images of various kinds. The internet contains a vast array of such relics, available in the public domain and free to re-use in found-art projects such as mine. The search across many websites was lengthy and fascinating. I encountered so many things of beauty and surprising curiosities: paintings, illustrations, photographs and other forms of art from earlier and later eras.

featured image: "The Greek Bride" by Petitot and Bossi 1771

For my Book of Roses, I looked for images that spoke to me personally in ways I couldn't easily explain, approaching them for their visual or emotional qualities rather than historical context.

featured image: self-portrait by Sophonisba Anguisciola c1532-1625

The album's blank photo boxes were various fixed shapes and sizes. The large number of images I downloaded were all different dimensions and resolutions. Printing them out on photographic paper involved a lot of trial and error in the sizing - just a little too large or small could ruin the way they appeared in the book. I also began to understand one reason a previous owner may have discarded the album - it was difficult to get the images inside each cardboard frame and then to secure them in place.

I designed each two-page spread in the book to be one visual experience comprising three or four images across the pages.

Aside from the album's blank spaces for photos, there were also blank text boxes for descriptions beneath. After experimenting with different possibilities, I decided to fill them just with single words. With these I aimed to be poetically suggestive more than descriptive. Almost all that now appear in the book evoke abstract human qualities, or understandings of the world that are almost timeless.

featured image: illustration by Kelloggs and Comstock c.1850

The book has 25 pages. The last one is historical info about its 40 images.

View the complete Book of Roses:
For mobile (single pages)
For desktop (two-page spreads)

The digital version is published on Creative Commons licence and may be freely shared or adapted for other non-commercial projects.