Wednesday, 16 December 2015

"Nonsense is better than no sense!"

  I sell books therefore logically, I'm someone who fortunately enjoys books! I’m also an artist. I hope it goes without saying I love art. So anything that combines these interests very much excites me...
09:30am, Tuesday December 15th, a wave of euphoria descends upon the Mead in Taunton Somerset. The postman in accompanying van has just delivered a colossal-sized VIP parcel. The visual cornucopia, feast for the eyes, art extravaganza that is Hive 2# has landed!  
Hive 2# Outside Cover of Casing (left) and Inside Cover of Zine (right)
First swarming in March 2015, issue 1 of the celebrated visual arts zine (collectively known as) ‘Hive’ was formed, featuring the work of 12 ‘deliriously excited’ artists, each making work in response to the theme, ‘Track six’. Their work collated/distributed into the completed zine by issue 1’s editor, Stuart Rosamond.  See[].
“With the ambition of publishing biannually throughout the year each issue of ‘Hive’ is guest edited by a different artist who sets the theme, collates the work, binds it and produces the cover plus any supporting content. The brief, that each participating artist produces a response to the theme on an A3 sheet of paper/surface in any medium of their choosing making either thirteen copies or originals of their work and sent to said editor. Each artist as a result receives a completed copy of ‘Hive’ featuring their page and that of the eleven other artists.”
Are we clear?!
15 Minutes of Fame. Selfie with Hive!
Nine months later and the second issue of ‘Hive’ has just been distributed to each of the 12 participating artists. They are; Nina Gronw-Lewis, Rico Ajao, Jon England, Malcolm Plastow, Frank Edmunds, Eileen Rosamond, Megan Calver,  Kevin Hawker, Stuart Rosamond, Tim Martin, Ruby Rowsell and me (Natalie Parsley)! Hive 2# edited by Frank Edmunds, has set the theme for the issue, ‘...the wrong side of 15 minutes’.                          
 What proceeded from first opening my copy of Hive 2 was a series of increasingly delightful surprises. Hive 2 arrives in its complete own ark, an almost zealously protective, bespoke, outer wooden case/sculpture complete with Dada-esque style collage of mousetraps, cuttings, painting and text. In the same way that Hive 1 had its own tailored CD of track 6 songs, Hive 2 has its own additions that includes an Andy Warhol, ’15 minutes of fame’ magnet! Whoop! It is like being a kid at Christmas, but a hugely refreshing reminder that art can be fun! Both uniquely different, both reflective of the characters/interests of their host editors. Inside Hive 2 features more accompanying Warhol quotes to the theme of ‘...the wrong side of 15 minutes’ which are dispersed throughout the pages in between the artists’ work. It reminds me of ‘The Jolly Christmas Postman’ children’s book which had the opening of envelopes and layers, of a book within a book within a book. This is a childhood memory and is something I’ve always taken delight in trying to incorporate in my own Hive contributions (my Hive 2 page includes a 15 piece jigsaw influenced by this very idea). Even in my offshoot zine, ‘Swarm’ [see:] I have always been interested in the mechanics of books and book-making so that pages have holes in them, viewfinders, things to open and fold-out and are generally more interactive, tactile and open to discovery as art objects in themselves in addition to the content produced within their pages.

Snapshots of the Hive 2 Artists' work
From a Bookseller point-of-view it certainly seems as though the publishing industry has almost turned full-circle in recent years, in the wake of digital ebooks that threatened to topple printed book sales mixed with the recession and increase in online buying the publishing industry and booksellers have begun to fight back by recreating traditionally bound and special editions of books adding value with materials (surface design), quality of print, illustrations and more. Two brilliant examples being, the intricately designed fiction ‘S’ by J J Abrams that includes multiple inserts, recreated postcards, maps, notes and photos within its pages that become part of the storytelling and the elegantly produced, ‘The Strange Library’ by Haruki Murakami which combines imaginative typography and ladybird-style nostalgic illustrations. I digress but this tangent raises an important point on the imagination and creativity that can be involved in book/magazine design and I think is an important in the continued re-growth of physical book sales. Should more artists be making books? More artists involved in publishing?
The artist in me continues to be inspired and there is much to be enthused by in the zine process. They offer the collective opportunity to share/produce work with other artists/makers in a 2D exhibition that is sent through the post! Wonderful!


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