Travelling is one of my favourite pastimes.
I learn so much by seeing new things, meeting new people, trying new food and especially for me as an artist, being inspired in new ways that translate into making travel books. I love to create recipes too and take beautiful photos, but the most special of all is creating a keepsake to remember a particular time and place.
When sorting through my parent’s things after they had gone it really struck me how many thousands of photographs and slides they had, not in albums and not labelled, I had no idea where they were taken or often who the people were in them. It saddened me that all these memories were lost and I couldn’t enjoy them as I am sure they would have liked me to. Added to that, they took up so much space I didn’t have the room to hold on to them. I know we are now very much in the digital age and can store thousands upon thousands of images on our many devices, but for me there is absolutely no comparison to holding a tactile object in your hands that you can interact with. This is one of the many reasons I make books, and often very tiny books!
I have many, many visual stories saved in tiny book form, full of clues for someone else to discover when I am gone and enjoy unfolding the stories hidden inside each one.
For more stories about my travels including delicious gluten free recipes check out The Nomadic Northerner.
I am very fond of Italy. I am lucky enough to have two old friends who now both call Italy home.
It is a place I can go to rest and recuperate in the sunshine and fresh air. I have spent time there making work in all sorts of forms. This book was made in response to a the theme of ‘warmth’. It is created with used tea bags from our cups of tea during my visit. They are stitched together to form the body of the book. Each page has olive trees embroidered onto it representing the trees belonging to one of my friends. The cover of the book is constructed from pages from of an old Italian book, along with the box it lives in.
The gold comes from sweet wrappers we shared during my stay.
The other books are made from a collection of found vintage papers collected from the cellar of my friend’s home, discarded by previous dwellers.
In July 2020 I spent two weeks in Iceland.
As is turned out it was a very special and perfect window of opportunity between Covid-19 outbreaks. The weather was perfect, the streets were quite empty and everyone I met was extremely welcoming. I was invited to go by a friend who was there to write.
I spent the time drawing and making books in-between exploring.
I collected feathers, shells, used tea bags and coffee filters, along with lots of packaging and receipts. I also spent several hours on a couple of occasions in the flea market in Reykjavik looking for old Icelandic books, postcards and stamps. These are some of the things I made.
This collection of books were each created to fit inside a matchbox.
I have a soft spot in my heart for India.
Stories about India have been in my head and heart since being a small child. I had many friends whose parents had emigrated to Sheffield from India and Pakistan, so was constantly hearing stories and seeing beautiful things from India. I was drawn to the colour, the textiles and the food, learning to make roti aged ten! So finally visiting India over thirty years later left such an impression I had to return. On my second visit, which involved travelling around the southern parts of this beautiful land, I collected lots of matchboxes. They struck my eye on the streets, as many of them were very colourful and there were so many different designs. They also struck me as an unusual sight because in the UK they are not something we see much of anymore. I am constantly picking up other bits and pieces as I go, so decided to make a ‘matchbook’ for each place I visited.
Each book is created for the most part using materials found in that exact spot.
Some of them needed remaking as they were damaged or squashed, so this project has become like a library of my travels and can be added to from any future trip I hope to take. For more detailed stories about each individual book have a look here Indian Match Books.
I spent a few weeks in Spain last year and was able to concentrate on collecting and making while I was there.
Here I have two of the books I made. Firstly a tiny box, which I found on the beach where I wandered along every day. It was in a hidden enclave in a less busy section and had caught up in the rocks. It was an empty jewellery box which sent my imagination into overdrive, making-up stories about a proposal and clearly an acceptance as the ring was not there! Anyway, I collected a range of polished stones and glass from the same area along with the buckle.
The box was pretty battered so I reconstructed it and lined it with a map of the area.
The book is made up of all the treasures I found in that exact spot, with the box stitched with gold thread. When I see that box it takes me immediately back to that place, and the smell of the sea and the sound of the crashing waves.
The second book is made from all the tea bags I used whilst there. Each one was dried in the sun, emptied out and stitched together to form the body of the book. The covers are cyanotype prints of local plants I picked up on the road I walked along every day. The whole thing was stitched together with gold thread, and I used some of the string and tags from the bags to create book marks.
Again, every time I look at this book it evokes the smells and sounds of that place.
I spend a lot of time in Germany these days. At the time of making this book I was travelling backwards and forwards on a regular basis.
I had collected a small book from a charity shop in Frankfurt, partly because I liked the cover and the end papers, but also because I liked the text inside. I had also collected a map of the area around Frankfurt and back in the UK I had a lovely old map of the Peak District. This book is called ‘In-between’ and is about my split life in two countries and two cities with Manchester being the connection point through the airport. The book was cut into three sections and the pages constructed from pages from the German book and pages from an English book, and sections of map from both places. I cut out holes in the pages so the languages and maps would all be mixed up, and you would get sneak peeks of snippets of text and map. The central pages for each section are maps featuring Sheffield, Manchester and Frankfurt. The band that holds the three together has a snippet from a poem about two people coming together.
It depicts well my life at that time and visually tells a story.
This second book was made about a trip to Berlin.
If you have read the story about ‘The Dog who ate my Homework’ on the family page, then you will understand that this is the book that was originally made to fit into that box. I had to wait a few months to find the perfect new home for this one, but it came eventually via my friend, who knew I was searching. This box had also once housed chocolates so seemed a good compromise. It is made from a mixture of packaging, paper and maps from the trip, with drawings I did afterwards of some of the things I saw.
This book is made from the teabags used over a two-day visit to a friend.
The friend lives in Dorset, so while I was there I got hold of a map of the area and a book of Thomas Hardy poems as he wrote about the area so much. I used snippets from the poems to create my own and pages from the book to make the envelope to protect the book. This was made to remember that lovely time drinking tea and reminiscing.
Let me help you to ‘remember well’. Collecting your memories and encapsulating them in a unique handmade book. Click here to explore your next step