Keith Smith and Scott McCarney talk at SLQ

Internationally renowned New York artists Keith Smith and Scott McCarney who are on a visit to State Library of Queensland supported by The Siganto Foundation spoke about their work at an event on Sunday 27 May.

Scott noted the current discussion around the 'future of the book', remembering that when he began making books in the 1970s the artists' book, as one of the new media forms of the time was the future. He reflected that physical books do still have a place in contemporary culture as evidenced by his invitation to Queensland by SLQ. The appreciative audience of more than 90 people would agree. He also touched on the difficulties inherent in exhibiting artists' books.

Scott McCarney shows “In case of emergency” a book in the form of of a nuclear fall-out shelter sign

The earliest of his works Scott showed was an anti-nuclear work created as part of the Ground Zero Club, a guerilla art action collective. This was followed by books altered with hammer and chisel into a tesellated  pattern upon which images were replaced to emphasize the transitory nature of the information. He then discussed a series of autobiographical works using ephemera collected through his and his family's lives. The final work shown was his contribution to the Al Mutanabbi Street project, an international collective artists' book reaction to the bombing of Baghdad's book selling centre in March 2007. It is a tar paper folio of two sided loose leaf prints made from collages constructed from the remnants of found books.


Keith has now made more than 280 books. He discussed his musical inspiration and use of digital technology from early works using MacPaint and MacWrite on a Macintosh computer to his current use of up to 24 layers of colour in Photoshop to produce lushly coloured pages. He showed the ways in which he incorporates and combines image and text, using all parts of the page including the gutters. His more recent books include several using manipulated images of St Sebastian, and large one-of-a-kind works with decorative stitching along the fore-edge.

Several of the books to which Keith and Scott referred will become part of the Siganto Foundation International Artists' Books Collection at SLQ.

Scott and Keith respond to audience questions. Photo courtesy Doug Spowart.

The talk is available on audio webcast from the SLQ website  
More information about the work of Keith and Scott . 


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