Stroud Artists Books

BABE 2019


This year we were fortunate enough to be offered a table at the premier book art event in the South West. Bristol Artists Book Event runs every two years and is managed by the Centre for Fine Print Research at the University of the West of England. We were fortunate enough to have a table at the event in 2015.

Since then a small group of us have done a variety of other fairs, including Frome Small Publishers Fair, Broadway Arts Festival, the Baltic Book event in Gateshead and an exhibition at Chapel Arts in Cheltenham.
This time we proposed to present a much more professional appearance, and spent many meetings just trying to work out how and what that meant.

Since this was a selling only event we had to sort out a way of taking money from a public not used to cash or cheques, so that involved setting up a bank account and researching the best contact cash transfer system. A steep learning curve for someone who just about knows how to turn on the phone. 
The next matter was presentation. How to show the extraordinary range of  books we represent to their best advantage. More research resulted in the decision to use white, and clear acrylic or Perspex supports to display the books. Then sourcing the right material.

Folds and Folds at BABE

The event itself was over two days. We had an ample group of minders which gave plenty of opportunity to make the most of this very popular and well attended show.
The range of books on offer was from one page tiny books for £1 to a letterpress tour de force at £4,000. Most of the work was in the low to mid price range; limited edition works in all forms.
There were exciting and enticing laser cut books in boxes from Pat Hodson, delicious woodcuts from Molly Lemon, minimalist beautiful books from Julie Johnstone’s Essence Press. We were all impressed by Corinne Welch, and spent many happy hours trying to reproduce her folds. Eileen White‘s cyanotype work goes from strength to strength. Artists from far and wide were there, one of my favourites was Mette-Sofie D Ambeck from Denmark. There were many other great artists, but those were the ones that caught my eye.
As to our group, we represented 11 book artists, and the work was mainly one off, original and unique work, which was one of our main differences from lots of others there. We took over £400. Met some wonderful people and made some great contacts. And we learned, mainly, less is more; and that our work and its uniqueness could be better emphasised.
Now we feel we’re getting the hang of this and are keen to get to the next one.

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