For the past month, aside from chasing gallery exhibitions, museum halls, and new sights, I have also had the chance to check out lots of books. The city of London is especially well-stocked with small bookshops that cater to specific interests. Some carry antiquarian collections and smell of aged bindings and hundreds of thousands of page turns; others are clinical and clean, with well organized shelves of the newest artist monographs. The one thing I particularly enjoy is the museum and gallery bookshops… which have been incredibly well-stocked. They offer a library of information as well as rare and otherwise impossible to find titles. After checking out the Keith Arnatt show at The Photographer’s Gallery, I took a look around their shop- One shelf held about seven different issues of Vissionaire magazine, another shelf held an edition of Leni Riefenstahl prints. The shop also had a few fun camera’s – like this cat faced holga.
The Bricklane section is home to a more underground and contemporary arts scene and home to a few great bookshops of it’s own. The first I visited was Artwords Bookshop which held a collection of books (self-published and mass-published) and a healthy collection of art magazines. Their stock encompassed everything from Photography, Architecture and Art books, to fashion, design, art history and offerings in art theory. I picked up a couple things there; one is a small book of work by graphic designer Roman Cieslewicz and the other an artist book by Martin John Callanan called Letters 2004-2006: Conformation that You Still Exist; I Respect Your Authority; When Will It End; One London.
I also had the chance to meet with Kelly Wellman at Bookartbookshop. This shop offers artists books and small press publication. I have not seen a shop like this before, their shelves holding a unique collection of hand-bound and small-editioned publications. Kelly and I talked about the state of bookarts in the UK and the funding that she receives for the shop. Hopefully we will be able to stay in touch and possibly extend the offer of a Booksmart Studios residency to one of the practicing book artists working with Bookartbookshop.
A side note: I am currently reading The Photography Reader, edited by Liz Wells which, unbeknownst to me with great shock and mild disgust, features a fully nude self-portrait of my former professor from the 1970’s.