Stormy Petrel

Here is an artist’s book I designed for the artist’s collective “Stormy Petrel” – artists Alanna O’Kelly, Orla Ryan and Brian Hand. This book formed part of their commission from the GPO Witness History public art commissions 2016 to coincide with the centenary commemoration of Ireland’s 1916 Rising.

They approached me as they wanted to create a limited edition book of 500 copies whilst somehow retaining the distinctive feel of a one-of-a-kind artist’s book.

Underpinning their work is the symbol of the stormy petrel – the world’s smallest seabird and metaphor for someone who is an avatar of change. In 1916 the stormy petrel was an international symbol of revolution and the anti-colonial imagination. I was quite captured by the notion of the stormy petrel: this tiny little bird being tossed around on a stormy night at sea.

With this in mind, I set about creating a book that would encapsulate a sense of these turbulent times. I developed a type of rotating accordion binding, broken up into 6 separate sections with the cover made from a single sheet of navy card. The reader is steered through the book, rotating it at the end of each section which is punctuated by the navy cover card. Reading the book becomes an interactive, physical process with twists and turns.

The silver spark on the cover references the electrical sparks created by morse code Spark-gap transmittor, a device the Irish republicans used to broadcast a call to arms from the General Post Office in Dublin, which they seized during the Easter Rising 1916.

Title: Thug siad oiche ar guairdeall dom / They left me wandering all night. Limited edition book of 500 signed copies. Binding: Rotating accordion binding measuring 15.5 x 15.5 x 2cms. Printed by Plus Print. Published by Folded Leaf. ISBN: 978-0-9935770-0-0.