Friday 27 December 2013

Artist's Book: My Favourite Souvenir

This book is dual language and is available in two colours within the edition:
Red cover (English/Malay) or Blue cover (Malay/English). The book is hardcover bound in bookcloth.
The book measures 200mm x 200mm when closed and 200mm x 600mm when fully opened.
The book unfolds once to reveal the first sewn-in 14 page section, it then unfolds again to the left to reveal the second sewn-in 14 page section.
The main body of the book is printed on 130gsm cartridge paper with colour images printed on 260gsm photographic paper tipped-in. Both sections have patterned endpapers.
A white card band holds the book closed, it has the title printed on it, which is either:
Red: MY Favourite SOUVENIR ....... Blue: CENDERAHATI kegemaran KU
Handmade by Artist, made to order in either red or blue, total edition limited to 20, Brighton 2005

This book was created as a response to the many souvenirs that are available at popular tourist destinations. In this case a journey of six and a half thousand miles (about 10473km) over 12 hours bought me face to face with the same snow storms I had left behind in my home town - even though snow is not a familiar sight in tropical Kuala Lumpur. Popular attractions were visited and many plastic souvenirs were collected such as, key rings, fridge magnets, spoons, shot glasses, pens, plates and of course snowstorms. The souvenirs were all branded with the image of Kuala Lumpur's ultra-modern Petronus towers. I had noticed that my home town of Brighton seemed to sell itself by pasting images of the Royal Pavilion on snowstorms, ironically the Pavilion's indian architectural style is also prevalent in older areas of Kuala Lumpur. I photographed a set of souvenirs concentrating on close-ups to capture the garishness and build quality. I then collected and contrasted these with photographs of the same souvenir objects bought in Brighton, my home town. I shopped for souvenirs and soon had like for like, but with a different building stuck on the magnet, so to speak.

The book is made in two sections: The red section is from the perspective of a traveler from England to Malaysia and the blue section is from the perspective of a traveler from Malaysia to England. Both travelers have bought the same souvenirs and the book can be opened to contrast similar items. Melancholy travel and memory quotes accompany the images along with drawings that were created during my journey. In the red section the quotes are in English, in the blue section the same quotes appear in Malay. The red covered book has the English section first, the blue covered book has the Malay section first otherwise the insides are the same. Malay turned out to be much longer than English so the typography and design were designed to be flexible enough to hold either language in the same format. Translations from English into Malay were kindly supplied by Shep Sharer who has my thanks.

Research Funding
This book was supported through Images in Practice a research center at the University of Portsmouth.
As part of a student 'project exchange' staff research was also supported, in this case, research and reference gathering for a limited edition artist's book called My Favourite Souvenir. As part of the visit to Malaysia myself and colleague Dr. Maureen O'Neill, also from the University of Portsmouth, visited as external examiners ALIF Creative Academy in Kuala Lumpur, assessing final year multimedia design and graphic design student presentations.
The main focus of this funded research exercise was to provide a project exchange for final year students studying illustration at the University of Portsmouth with graphics students at the Universiti Teknologi MARA, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The project is called 'Daily Routine' and visually explored the daily tasks that are often taken for granted, it also sought to celebrate cultural similarities and differences. Myself and Dr. Maureen O'Neil worked in collaboration with Dr. Ruslan Rahim and Mr. Wan Zamani from the Universiti Teknologi MARATo see the Daily Routine Project click here...