Ross Hair, curator of this year’s special exhibition ‘Avant-Folk – Publishing in the Vernacular’ explains the choice of image for this year’s Small Publishers Fair card.
The image on this year’s card for the Small Publishers Fair is of Ian Hamilton Finlay’s edition of a scarf that bears the words ‘art is a small adjustment.’ Both text and object reflect the sentiments and ideas that underpin this year’s exhibition, Avant-Folk: Publishing in the Vernacular.
Produced in a small, limited number and distributed as Christmas gifts in 2001, Finlay’s scarf tacitly evokes a cottage industry of craft and textile work—a creative sensibility and a way of life—in which aesthetics and functionality, the unique and the everyday, are inseparable. This spirit extends not only to how many of the publications in Avant-Folk have been made (often with similar resourcefulness and by modest means), but also to the ways in which much of this work has been exchanged and shared within an extended community of poets,artists, and publishers working outside the mass market.
Given rather than purchased, cherished rather than fetishized, the modesty of Finlay’s scarf, again like many of the publications in the exhibition, encourages a subtle modification—an alteration—of what we might take for granted, deem worthy, or value enough to be deemed ‘art.’ It is a matter, then, of not just what one makes, but of how one makes it and for what purpose. Just as the way one might wear their scarf, each publication in Avant-Folk might be seen as a small adjustment that, nevertheless, yields considerable effect.
Ross Hair, October 2016
N.B. The exhibition ‘Avant-Folk’ grew out of Ross Hair’s work on his book ‘Avant-Folk: Small Press Poetry Networks from 1950 to the Present’. We are delighted that this important new book will be launched at the Fair, where it will be available at a specially discounted price of £50 (instead of £75).
There will also be an Avant-Folk seminar and, to mark the exhibition, UEA Publishing Project will launch a pamphlet ‘Avant-Folk – Publishing in the Vernacular’. Designed by Colin Sackett and Bethan Sackett-Thomas of Uniformbooks, this 32pp pamphlet will be on sale at the Fair for £5.