Artists books

Concertina book thumbnail
This first book is a visual account of getting lost in the woods with my sisters when we were little. I folded the paper like a concertina so that the story could literally unfold, and be somewhere between being an illustration and a map.

Concertina book 1

Concertina book 3

Concertina book 4

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We go up the lane, over the crossroads and into Bodsham Woods, taking it in turns to ride through the coppiced trees. As one sister slips off Janey’s broad back another is hoisted on and gathers up the reins. This is a path we know. We were here last autumn collecting chestnuts. Spiked grenades that spring open to creamy kernels that we roasted on the fire when we got home.

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Further in we discover invading rhododendrons. We marvel at their papery purple blooms and dark leaves polished by elves. We name our province Paradise and move jubilantly onwards. Here the path forks. Our familiar route runs along the edge of the wood in sight of the fields beyond. The other way heads towards the dark interior, and in a moment of ambition we choose it. Mud gives way under our confident boots. This track is wilder than the others and we find sticks to swipe the brambles from our path. We round a bend and then another, and another until our turning is lost amongst the trees.

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We stride along the rutted track kicking through last year’s leaves. We collect pale grey pigeons’ feathers and poke our sticks down rabbit holes. We think we see a fox slinking through the undergrowth. We swap riders again. Julie leads at Janey’s head, the bareback youngest hangs onto her mane and three of us march at her flanks. The trees grow closer together here and we move closer together too. The path is deeply rutted and midges steam over pools of stagnant water. But our brigade has just laid claim to Heaven and we venture on.

Concertina book detail 1

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A pheasant rises shrieking from the brambles. A sister complains of tired legs and is heaved up behind the other. Witches’ fingers tug at our hair. We see a yellow stump pleated with bracket fungi that we passed hours earlier and realize we have been going in circles. Faithful Janey plods steadily on but our legs are feeble, our stomachs hopeless and empty. The youngest starts to cry. We are lost, snaking through acres of darkness, down boggy tracks that suck the wellies off our tired feet. Then one of us says, ‘Janey will know the way home’, and we stop. The riders slither to the ground and we fasten the reins out of her way. Julie takes hold of Janey’s tail and we line up behind her. Each holds onto the jumper of the one in front and we wait. Janey stands, shifts and sighs, then continues along the track. We follow her in single file as she picks her way between its muddy trenches. Steadily she leads our weary column forward. We trail obediently behind her until at last we reach the road. Stepping back on the map we are surprised to find the world unchanged.

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We know our way from here and as we walk our fairytale fades and the sinister woods turn back to coppiced sweet chestnuts, waiting to be cut for hop poles. When we get home and tell our tale we see that we are both braver and more fearful than we had imagined ourselves to be.

As well as using them for this kind of work, concertina books can be very useful as something to take notes in when you are out and about. They are very simple to make, enjoyable to use and easy to display.


You can download the pdf here

Escape Routes
This second book tells a story without words at all. I borrowed an idea from a picture book I had when I was a child, where the pages were cut in such a way that the image changed as you turned them. In my version, I cut and painted pages so that stairscases, ladders and cellars appear to take the reader into the next scene.

Visual stprytelling image

Visual stprytelling image

Visual stprytelling image

Visual stprytelling image

Visual stprytelling image

Visual stprytelling image

Visual storytelling image