PhD artist’s book

This commission was a gift for a recently-graduated PhD scholar. I was asked to create an artist’s book in response to their thesis – an alternative version of their work that they could reference.

I wanted it to externally resemble a regular thesis, replicating the original colours, but with the surprise element that opening it would reveal very different pages from what one would normally expect. There were many ways to approach this project, but I decided to first get a handle on what themes were central to the thesis to see what inspiration might arise.

I was struck by the participatory action research methods referenced throughout the thesis, in particular the concept of an action research cycle. This methodology can be used as a tool for something as simple as facilitating a workshop or as complex as revising an organisation’s operational systems. The key focus revolves around four simple words: Plan, Act, Observe, Reflect.

Using these words as a springboard for each section of the book, I began working on actual pages of the thesis: cutting out, covering over, drawing into it. This process evolved over time. Often I would return to a page, reworking my previous efforts – a sort of visual editing. Many of the pages have irregular shapes, opening out from different angles, interrupting the normal flow of the book and encouraging the viewer to interact with it in unconventional ways.

The endpapers – the pages at the beginning and end of the book – were handmade to complement this alternative thesis. The autumnal colours reference the scholar’s graduation gown of golden yellow and red, and the pattern mimics the flow of handwriting. This handmade artist’s book measures 18 x 25 x 2.5 cms.