26 August – 15 October 2017

A book is a mystery package, an escape route, a time capsule. It has a compelling resonance that implicates different things for each and every one of us. Some personal histories will include magical bedtime-story rituals, grandfather’s old bookshelf, or the chores of school. Others will still be in the grip of an evergreen passion for literature, learning and grand libraries. While thoughts are naturally drawn first to a book’s contents and the promises it might hold, we respond equally to a book’s material qualities – its tactility, weight, smell and evocative page-turning rustle. As celebrated South African artist William Kentridge declares, books ‘are a charged subject; they are a charged object.’ Small wonder the book has interested visual artists for centuries. Throughout art history, the book has been a favoured signifier to indicate culture, scholarship, piety or vocation. In recent times, the book’s formal and conceptual potential has been more broadly explored as artists reflect on issues relevant to our present-day world. Book Club brought together a group of accomplished international and Australian contemporary artists - Chris Bond, Deidre Brollo, Simryn Gill, Julie Gough, Stephen Goddard, William Kentridge, Archie Moore, Brigita Ozolins, Patrick Pound, Cyrus Tang, Ahn Wells, and writer Naomi Riddle – who rework the fabric or reimagine the context of the book to create layers of meaning, new ideas or experiences in their artworks. Perhaps not surprisingly, few of the volumes in the exhibition appeared as their conventional selves. Spines have been broken. They are dismembered, pierced, pulped, spliced, burned, drawn on, wound-up, stitched, drowned, counterfeited and implied … some even birthing new forms from their own. And all with a vivid new story to tell.

A gallery project curated by Meryl Ryan.

William Kentridge Tree (Combination) 2012, linocut printed on 15 sheets Encyclopedia Britannica, mounted on Arches, ed. 14/30, 82 x 90cm. Collection of Bill and Anne Gregory, Sydney © the artist

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