Wednesday, 7 November 2018

The Misadventures of John Nicholson


Over the past couple of months I've been working on a set of illustrations for Typewronger Books for a republication of one of Robert Louis Stevenson's short stories, The Misadventures of John Nicholson.  Set in Victorian Edinburgh, it tells the story of the ill-fated John Nicholson, a son of a well-to-do family in Edinburgh's New Town.  From Typewronger's event page on Facebook: 

This was originally published as part of a collection of Stevenson's work after his death and we think it deserves more notice!  The Misadventures involves embezzlement, a mugging on Calton hill, an illegal drinking establishment, a murder & a comedy cabby... Our edition includes an introduction by Jeremy Hodges and five new illustrations by Joanna Robson.

For more information visit Typewronger Books page at www.typewronger.com or find them on Instagram at instagram.com/typewronger.

And if you find yourself in Edinburgh, then you can always call in at the shop at 4a Haddington Place!  It's at the top of Leith Walk on the right as you walk towards the city centre.






Out anti-hero is on his own after dark on Edinburgh's Calton Hill, unaware of the immediate dangers...

Wednesday, 17 October 2018

Vasilisa and the Witch's Fire



Recently I have developed and finished a new piece of laser cut book art.  Vasilisa and the Witch's Fire depicts a scene from the Russian fairytale Vasilisa the Beautiful, a story that sees its heroine Vasilisa overcome the obstacles put before her by the witch Baba Yaga.  


Uneditioned version

Uneditioned version

Uneditioned version
The lasercut booklet illustrates the heroine's escape home across the forest at night, armed with a mysterious glowing skull.  It's an eerie tale that has not left my imagination since I read the tale as a child.

Two versions of this piece have just been finished: an unlimited edition fold-out concertina version that comes in a dark yellow dustjacket (seen above); and a limited edition version, which has clothbound hardcovers that fold over the booklet and turn the piece in to a cube (below).  The latter are in an edition of thirty.

This version represents a bit of a departure from the fold-out concertina books that I usually create, as this one folds itself up in to a self-supporting structure.  It took a lot of experimentation before getting the paper hinges just right, but I think it was worth it.  Below is a short video of this new lasercut version:

(if the embedded video below doesn't work on your browser then you can find it on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7dqmSRaxryc, or by searching for the title of the book)



Limited edition version
Editioned cube version, seen from above with spotlight
Both versions:
uneditioned copy on the left, and the limited edition 'cube' version on the right


More information on both copies can be found on my online shop at 
 https://joannarobsonillustration.bigcartel.com

Thanks for looking!  If you have any questions, comments or thoughts about any of the artwork then do feel free to get in touch with me via the shop link above or through the comments section below.

Friday, 27 July 2018

Work in progress: something wicked this way comes...

Here is some work in progress of a new laser-cut artists' book, which won't be finished for a little while yet. Perhaps some of you can already tell which story this is based on by the clues in this photograph...


Once the edits have been finished I'll begin making an edition, with copies available to purchase this Autumn.  

If you would like to be among the first to see new artwork from me (including the final images of this new piece), then do add your email address to my mailing list at https://bigcartel.us17.list-manage.com/subscribe/post?u=e89fc5b3e135c7a4021010835&id=4b3010f94b

Thanks for reading!  

Tuesday, 10 April 2018

Fighting the Monster: Frankenstein 2018 Book Art Exhibition

Close up of screen-printed and lasercut pages

Liverpool Book Art's third major exhibition of book art will open in May 2018 and will celebrate another significant literary anniversary: the 200th anniversary of the publication of Mary Shelley's book Frankenstein.

I'm delighted to say that my proposal for this exhibition was successful and over the past few months I have designed and made a new book for it entitled Fighting the Monster.

I wanted to create a book which considered the way in which ‘monsters’ are created online. Our choice in what we like, what we dislike, what we share, what we publicly comment on builds up a larger picture of who we are to others online. It’s also something that is reflected straight back at us with the virtual voices and opinions we surround ourselves with. Online debate seems to create a virtual army of those For and those Against, where friends are removed and followers unfollowed if their opinions or beliefs are out of synch with our own. I believe that this is an area from where some of the most challenging monsters of our day can appear, monsters we didn’t think existed, who get up and walk away from their computer screen to attack someone in real life.

*update!
Fighting the Monster is now available to purchase through my online shop in the link above - £250 plus postage

Photos and a short video are below...

Thanks for looking!













Work in progress 


Short video of Fighting The Monster




Monday, 5 February 2018

The Ambassador's Ball

New artists' book ready to be editioned!  


Twenty copies of The Ambassador's Ball are being created and will be available to purchase through my online shop.  


Inspired by a real event, this lasercut concertina book illustrates how I imagine the Spring Festival on 24th April 1935 at the US embassy in Moscow might have unfolded.  

And why choose this particular event?  The level of chaos at this party would not have been out of place in a Marx Brothers film: in a bid to impress their Soviet hosts, the US embassy staff threw an outlandish party, a party that aimed to surpass any other embassy party in Moscow's history.  Guests arrived to discover that the neo-classical embassy of Spaso House had been transformed: decorations included birch trees in the chandelier room; an orchestra from Prague; flowers from Helsinki; a sword dancer from Tblisi; and numerous live animals including over one hundred finches, pheasants, roosters, goats and a baby bear.

Spaso House, Residence of the U.S. Ambassador in Moscow
The animals caused an uproar – the unhousebroken bear was introduced to champagne and ruined a Soviet general’s uniform, while hundreds of finches escaped their aviary and flew noisily about the high ceilinged rooms during the party and for some days after.

One of the guests at the party was the Russian writer Mikhail Bulgakov.  The fantastic and surreal imagery of this party was not lost on him, ensuring that the legacy of the party was to live on beyond that night.  Bulgakov went on to use the party as inspiration for a famous scene in his novel The Master and Margarita.  Satan’s Ball (or the Spring Ball of the Full Moon) in Bulgakov’s novel features a number of barely disguised parallels with the Spring Festival of 1935.

Something about the chaos of this event against the backdrop of such an elegant neo-classical building caught my imagination last summer, and I set to work.

The finished book is a panorama of lasercut scenes against a white embossed background.  References to The Master and Margarita are dotted throughout the book, including one giant black cat and an embossed cascade of playing cards hidden in the building's ceiling.  

Below are some of my favourite photos of the book as well as a quote from one of the party's organisers...
















I'm currently taking orders for copies of The Ambassador's Ball, so if you'd like to purchase one, please contact me through my online shop in the tab at the top.  Each copy of The Ambassador's Ball is £350 plus p&p.

Alternatively if you're based in or around Edinburgh, you can come and have a look at a copy for yourself at my table at the Fruitmarket's Artists' BookMarket on the weekend of the 17th and 18th of February.  (For more information please visit www.fruitmarket.co.uk/event/artists-bookmarket. )

Thanks for looking!

Thursday, 1 February 2018

A Knavish Lad: display case and booklet


Eighteen months ago I created the largest artists' book I've made to date to commemorate the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's death.

A Midsummer Night's Dream was visually narrated, using a combination of etchings and laser cuts to illustrate the entire play.  Since then all seven books in the edition have been completed, two of them have been sold, and plans are afoot to make the remaining copies available for purchase online.

Each new copy now comes with a clam-shell display box and a short booklet, which gives a bit of extra information about how the book was created and the ideas that informed it.  I'm really impressed with the sturdy and attractive dark blue clam-shall boxes that the Sullivan Bindery made for me and I would definitely recommend them if you're looking for something similar.  Below are some pictures of the book with its new display box and the booklet:





'Cupid is a knavish lad
Thus to make poor females mad'
 - Puck                                               

Monday, 6 November 2017

Typewronger Books commission




This was a commission for Typewronger Books, a new bookshop that opened in Edinburgh yesterday and is currently operating out of the police box on Leith Walk (Croall Place).  I was asked to produce two illustrations for a double-sided bookmark, which will also work as a business card for the shop.

Even though I was given barely any time to create the image and the design, I'm happy with the way that it turned out.  Here are a couple of pictures of the finished piece and also a picture from the opening yesterday too -





Typewronger Books is open every Sunday on Leith Walk in Edinburgh from 11 until 6pm!  

For more information on Typewronger Books please visit their website at www.typewronger.com or their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/typewronger