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 )

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