When I was living in Hong Kong for a while in 2004-5 and visiting mainland China, I became fascinated by the folding and expanding books which artists use there. I brought back several when I returned to Wales and have since filled some of them. I gave away a couple to friends, one of them, Clive Hicks-Jenkins, and I remember sitting in his kitchen talking about an idea for an exhibition of these books by various artists. Over the next couple of years I thought more about it, and decided to make it happen.
Initially I began with six Welsh artists: myself, and five others, all of whom are known to me. I chose artists whose work I esteem, all with very diverse ways of working. What I envisaged is that each artist would do exactly what they wished in their books, so that each is very different from its fellows, but the size and shape of the books would be the same. There should be a uniformity of format but considerable variety in style and content. As I talked about this with others the idea expanded to include artists I knew from both Hong Kong and Australia.
In February 2009 I passed through Hong Kong en route for Australia, and there I bought expanding books in two sizes which were then given to each participating artist. As I have talked with more artists over the last two years about the idea, a few others have been added. Like the books themselves, the exhibition unfolded over time. There are sixteen artists in the exhibition, ten from Wales, three from Hong Kong, two from Australia and one from England.
From Hong Kong, one artist works within the Chinese tradition of dry brush painting as well as two whose works are entirely contemporary. The two Australian artists both have long track records of practising and exhibiting. All in all the selected group of artists exhibit a wide range in style and subject matter. Some of the artists in this group are extremely well known, others less so, but all show a style, focus and individuality all their own. Their books are wonderfully diverse.
My idea has been to let the artists speak for themselves. As each book is opened and viewed we meet an individual voice. As with the text pages in a book; the images themselves are the words of an artist.