Notes on the Constructed Book

In 2008 artist and poet Simon Cutts curated the exhibition Certain Trees: The Constructed Book, Poem and Object 1964 – 2008 for Centre des Livres d’Artistes,
St Yrieix La Perche. The exhibition also came to the V&A, where Elizabeth James, Senior Librarian at the National Art Library Collections wrote the gallery guide.

This short excerpt from James’ guide sets out ideas that are relevant to the work of many Small Publishers Fair participants. 

“…they (the artists and poets) act as the editors, and often printers too, for their own short-run, self-funded small presses. Self-publishing is considered ‘not a vanity but a freedom’, a ‘critical alternative’ to the commercial mainstream. In the absence of wealth or patronage, economic constraints are embraced as creative conditions.

Here, the material nature of the book becomes central to its content. Size, colour, the fold of paper, the page and its turn are consciously deployed. The same approach applied to a pamphlet, broadside, postcard or standing card, or other kind of object. The aim is to find the right form for the idea.”