Highlights from Volumes Zurich. A summer edition with an early autumn feel.

EIGHT HOURS SURROUNDED BY BEAUTIFUL BOOKS AND ARTISTS

This Saturday I joined the art book fair Volumes Zurich for the first time. Eight hours surrounded by other artists, publishers, and visitors passionate about beautiful books in print. I have to admit, going in I thought it would feel like a long day to spend at a table, but in the end it was all over in a flash. Which was really nice. It is always better to leave with the feeling of “wanting more of” than the opposite.

The venue was informal and well-equipped, everything within easy reach allowing for a quick settling in. A big thank you to the organising team for the well thought out setup and easygoing approach.

I have planned for many large events and global trade shows in the past, but this time around it feels so very different. There is no large team to coordinate, and no “corporate” budget behind. It is a single person table. It should be far simpler to set up, yet it feels in some ways more daunting.

Every audience is different, explores and looks for different details. As a first event with a new audience, my main goal was to learn. And learn I did.

Through discussions with other artists, or simply observing how the day and crowd unfolded. Sunday was spent taking down notes on how to carry these learnings back into my edition development and showcasing processes.

Setting up for the day

Exchanging on the beauty of traditional ink painting

With fellow artists Verica Kovacevska and Manuel Giron, equally present at the fair

I paint in a very traditional art form – Japanese ink painting – and my editions so far are the result of that practice of brush on paper. They are also the result of wishing to support the environment of artisans and techniques surrounding this tradition.

All my books are handmade. They always use the Japanese stab binding method, and are printed on acid free, uncoated papers. The fine pigment prints newly developed are a tribute to the beauty and expression of handmade washi.

On my desk was also a mulberry paper (kozo) scroll from a Japanese paper mill. This is the most traditional media for calligraphy and ink painting in Japan. More on why I brought this scroll in a minute.

I was happy to feel the curiosity of visitors and artists towards the practice of ink painting. Also to share about the beauty and happiness of chasing the minute details within ever evolving nature, and being truly “present” in the moment of creation.

Thank you to everyone who dropped by my table this Saturday, for your curiosity and engaging questions. On what was perhaps one of the nicest coincidences of the day, the lovely local design studio behind the wood postcard holders on my table display – bienvenue studios – was also in attendance. It was a pleasure to greet the designer duo in person.

Creating a season and site-specific artwork

My scroll piece, finally complete with a rainy partial view of Lettenviadukt

I wanted visitors to experience my artistic practice unfolding before their eyes. There is as much pleasure in painting as in answering questions about my work. Painting live felt like a good way to prompt discussion on ink painting.

I had several early thoughts about what to paint, and the format, but nothing really felt quite right. Either too small for people to see, too large to work from a narrow table, or too cumbersome to move around and store away if the weather took a turn for the worse. It was the night before, and I still hadn’t settled on a format I felt would work. I favoured brush pens over ink sticks for convenience.

Finally, when picking up a small folder of works, I bumped into the long narrow Kozo scroll box seen above. This is small, light and practical to move around and work with. Also, it is a fairly long roll, it will always have enough white space left to showcase the beauty of washi, and for me to paint to my heart’s content. I can simply start a landscape and continue as time and mood allows. Well, isn’t that just perfect?

I started the landscape with the flowers and foliage of late summer in Zurich. We have sunflowers, large daisies and poppies. In some places also cosmos. Because it is cold, way too cold for end of August (15 degrees celsius) tree foliage is still green but starting to show hints of golden yellow here and there. That will be the colour accent I will add only at the very end, once the monochrome ink is done.

The final inspiration strokes

Mid-afternoon a downpour hits the landscape outside the fair venue. I was lucky to select a table that allowed me to easily see the street and a corner of the Lettenviadukt. That downpour inspires me to throw some water on the paper, and paint an energetic rain scene featuring the corner view of the Viadukt. Once the paper is dry sometime later I add the touches of green and gold colour. Now I have more than photos, I have a piece to remember this day by.

See the short clip from my table above for a full view of the landscape. If you missed the book fair, I have some good news.

Until September 15, if you order “The Tea House Diary” handmade notebook together with any other item on my online shop, your order will qualify for free shipping. Simply add the code “FREETEA” on your cart before completing the checkout process. Until we meet again, keep reading, keep well.