The Tower of Babel, Artists' Book By Anne-Maree Hunter

Brisbane Open House 2022 is rapidly approaching, and State Library is busily preparing an array of activities so that members of the public can catch a unique glimpse behind the scenes. During this weekend spectacular, we will be offering all history and library aficionados the chance to interact with some of the most fascinating and rare objects held within our collections. With a focus upon the architectural heritage of our institution and Queensland as a whole, we have been busily preparing our collections for display and discovery on the day.

One of the structurally fascinating works in the Australian Library of Art Collection is known as the Tower of Babel.

Tower of Babel by Anne-Maree Hunter, 2006. Australian Library of Art, State Library of Queensland.

Created by Anne-Maree Hunter in 2006, this artists' book invites the viewer to engage with it in a way that one does not usually associate with 'books' in the traditional sense. Colourful and spiraling in shape, the Tower of Babel, or 'Babel Book' as the artist described it herself, is a work that blends the boundaries between art and architecture, and both sides of its surface are printed with a veritable cornucopia of symbolism open to the viewer's interpretation.

The topmost edge of the book has been painstakingly cut to mimic a fantastical city skyline, incorporating the silhouettes and structures of some of the world's most famous buildings and structures, and with each completed arc of the spiral, the 'skyline' grows taller until it meets its peak in the centre. At its peak the artist book is 50cm tall and can be unwound in order to view the internal side of the book

Details of Tower of Babel by Anne-Maree Hunter, 2006. Australian Library of Art, State Library of Queensland.

The inner side of this artist book is printed with the parable of the tower of Babel, told in many different languages in a reflection of the parable's very premise. Each language is over-printed on another, to emulate the babble and chaotic experience of the original builders of the fabled tower. Through this book the viewer is invited to contemplate the similarities and differences of languages in their written forms, and to consider the way a person's native language shapes their world views, their history, and the way in which they interact with the physical and the social world.

Tower of Babel by Anne-Maree Hunter, 2006. The inner side of this artist book is printed with the parable of the tower of Babel, told in many different languages.

Anne-Maree Hunter is a printmaker, with extensive experience in intaglio printing, lithography, etching and the creation of artists’ books.

Only four of the Tower of Babel book were created, and this item will be on display at our White Gloves Tour on the Brisbane Open House 2022, Saturday 27 August. This item is also available for viewing upon request through our catalogue.

More Information: 

Anne-Maree Hunter - artist book digital story, 2008. Australian Library of Art, State Library of Queensland. 

In this video Anne-Maree Hunter talks about her artist's book practice with particular reference to her work The Tower of Babel. The book incorporates two book forms, the scroll and the concertina book and creates the architectural shape of a tower. It incorporates text on one side and images of world architecture on the other.

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