Finally, I have found a spare moment to collate the thoughts, pictures and artifacts that arose from Manchester Artists Book Fair last month! Me and Laurie Ramsell made the great journey Up North to promote and sell copies of his art & science magazine Synthia at this Hot Bed Press-orchestrated event, with my work and that of talented illustration explorer Kate Rowland also on show as some of Synthia's primary contributors.
Arriving at MMU with some hefty boxes of printed matter, we set out our wares upon our designated table unsure what to expect from the day. Situated next to the kindly creators of Surrealist Editions, we quickly felt at home amongst the table-clothed islands of, well, a rather eclectic collection of... stuff.
Painters, photographers, illustrators, knitters, printers. Doers, thinkers, makers, shakers, binders, finders; I was truly fascinated by the diversity of those displaying. As the finishing touches were applied to carefully tended and slapdash stalls alike, it was clear that visitors to the fair had a rich array of unique objects awaiting them. All were conjoined, simply, by an appreciation of books; whatever form they could take and whatever they could house.
As soon as the event commenced a steady flow of punters traveled in laborious waves around the room, surveying wares slowly with care and caution at first. It soon began to pick up pace, with lots of enthusiastic students / tutors visiting along with those partaking in the fair's spin-off book making workshops, so conversation was lively and very enjoyable from the beginning. This dissolved my nerves about how best to interact with those who came to visit us at stand Synthia, at first wary that I didn't want to disturb them while they were browsing (...but really just wanting a good chinwag). This was not a library, or at least not a conventional one.
There was a great feeling of respect for what was on display from everyone I interacted with, despite such huge differences in approach or interests. Sales were plentiful but more importantly for me; meaningful, with each person who took something away brimming with positivity as they made their selection. The fair had definitely created an environment that I wanted to stay in.
Thank goodness we got to come back again tomorrow.