Both the Graphic Design course and The Caseroom Press have been working with the American Folklorist Jack Zipes for a number of years. The collaboration has resulted in a number of Artists’ Books; The Good Man, Fairy Tale, The Onion MerzPoem, Utopian Tales, and of course, The MerzBox.
This year we took a leaf out of the Merzbox brief, a project we’ve run a couple of times with the Graphic Design students, and turned our attention to the stories from Utopian Tales.
Each student was given one of the stories from the book to work with – each was written around the 1920s, in the days of the Weimar Republic. The Fairy Tales all reference the political and social upheavals of the period and were a rich source of research material for the group, resulting in a wonderfully varied range of Artists’ Books and Artefacts.
Laura Warrior’s book was based on a story by Robert Grotzsch. She took the story back to the roots of the First World War and the soldiers who were injured and crippled by the conflict. The text is a visual representation of the casualties from nine major campaigns.
Rachel Crook’s story, The Fence, by Hermynia Zur Mühlen deals with censorship and her book is a collection of altered texts that rob the speaker of their right to free speech, and the reader of their opportunity to have an informed opinion about the world.
The Boy Who Wanted to Fight with a Dragon by Berta Lask, inspired Sophie Goodwin to create a glass book. The transparency of the materials reflect the utopian ideals of pacifism and social equality that Lask aspired to, and the textures, flaws and imperfections in the glass pages reference the social realities that she had to deal with.
Mollie Wade’s interpretation of The Little King and The Sun, by Edwin Hoernle, looks at the opportunity we had to make a perfect world, if only we had worked together to form a single vision, but the reality was a fragmented and divisive political climate that led to war.
Based on Edwin Hoernle’s The Giant and His Suit of Armour, Andrew Bruton took the author’s communist beliefs, and created a truly left wing publication. The text only appears on the left side of the page, all hierarchy has been removed, there is no Upper Case as there can be no Upper Class, there is no punctuation as there can be no silent Workers toiling away to support the Middle Classes… the text is designed to a square grid on a square page, so that all remains equal. Even the choice of materials and making are in keeping with the need for mass production and for copies to be disseminated to all.
Emma Waller designed an artist book that reflects her interpretation of The Fairy Tale Of The Wise Man, written by Eugen Lewin-Dorsch in 1923. The aim of the publication was to produce a visual metaphor showing that the search for happiness, often has the consequence of making people feel more unhappy and depressed instead.