Despite all the underlying humanitarian objectives beneath the surface of my work, it’s still my vision. And my vision is one stemming from my love of books. I love nature, people and trees and the best product to ever come from a tree is a book. The best way to learn, create imagination and consequent visualizations begin with books. My ideal theatre is a narrator in a comfy chair with some cookies, a hot chocolate and a gigantic book projected behind them. For all these things to happen, this project begins and ends with books!
When I began this project, it was meant to be digital. I went to France, expecting to find an illuminated version of La Rate Blanche in the Bibliotheek Nationale in Paris. I thought that I was an idiot and that the reason I couldn’t find it in the University of Amsterdam’s library was bad research. It wasn’t true. I couldn’t find an illuminated version of it because it was an oral tale and not the content that would’ve been captured in the Middle Ages.
What I could do was to forge a believable digital version from existing manuscripts. I’m a fantastic researcher. I love whiling away my days in libraries exploring with the assistance of willing librarians so I quickly found my direction. It takes a lot of study to even begin to understand the psychology of a Medieval book. In the process of understanding this era’s book arts, I gained greater insight into what remains of that in today’s. Calligraphy, alphabets, miniatures and illuminations began rolling around in my head creating awkward synesthetic effects. The clouds from a miniature I was in love with began to replace the flavors of the Dutch Masters funsickle with a blue I still can’t describe which was peppered with metallic flakes.
I gather my thoughts by staring out the window at trees. I trace the patterns of bark with my eyes when I have a thought to unravel. As I stared at the leaves, I’d find myself elongating their tips and fleshing out the narrow spaces between the vein’s leaves to make them more symmetrical; like the ornamentation in a manuscript.
Individual leaves that were graceful became repeats throughout the trees so they’d work better as border ornamentation. I began seeing, tasting and smelling the elements of the manuscript in daily life. A griot speaks their words, I paint mine or cut their images out of paper.