Letters from Wallsend / The Life of a Book of a Life

February 8, 2011 - April 9, 2011
Central Library, 2nd floor Balcony Cases
Letters from Wallsend

Mixed-media collage/painting by John Spinks

As a former English and drama teacher, I have retained a respect for the written word. I am interested in the handwritten letter as a form, and I suspect that, in the foreseeable future, it will become extinct.

A person's writing style, coupled with the way they form their letters, is as unique as a personality. The flourish and verve of a signature is as close as most lay people get to a linear representation of who they are. In the near future the signature could be replaced by the iris or the fingerprint, making the handwritten mark as exotic as an Egyptian hieroglyph.

The work in this exhibition comes from the 25 years that I lived in the US and exchanged weekly letters with my father, who lived in northern England for much of that time. The content is very consistent, with references to neighbors, weather, laundry, the garden, sports and politics. All of it is leavened with humor and accessible "everyman" wisdom. These pieces were conceived as paintings, with the idea that they should first be viewed from 10 to 15 feet away, and then examined closely to combine the narrative with the visual.

In our contemporary culture, a select few are celebrated by the media regardless of talent or real merit, while millions of others live exemplary lives and pass away in total anonymity. My father was such a person. His letters reflect the strength of the community of which he was part, and this artwork is a testament to that.

John SpinksCecil Spinks father of John SpinksJohn Spinks and his father, Cecil Spinks. John Spinks has exhibited his work in many venues, including the Irish Arts Center in Manhattan, the Buddle Arts Centre in England and the Andrew Edlin Gallery in Manhattan. His work is also part of corporate collections, including Sony Music and the Coca-Cola Company. He earned a Bachelor of Education from Durham University.

To contact John Spinks:
johnspinks@earthlink.net | www.newpainters.com

BPL - Exhibition, John Spinks, Letter from Wallsend: Rose at an Easy Angle, 2007
Rose at an Easy Angle, 2007
©John Spinks

BPL - Exhibition, Letters from Wallsend: Front Street Pizza, 2010
Front Street Pizza, 2010
From the collection of
the Leonardi Family
Front Street Pizza, Brooklyn, NY
©John Spinks

BPL - Exhibition, John Spinks, Letters from Wallsend: One of the Reasons, 2008
One of the Reasons, 2008
©John Spinks

The Life of a Book of a Life

by Suzanne Coley

Like many artists living in New York City, I get some of my greatest inspirations while riding the M train to work. I scribble my insights, thoughts and images in black notebooks. These "inspirations" often relate to problems I have been brewing over or a recent experience.

The work in this exhibition represents little treasures of ideas that show the complex thought processes involved in creating a livre d'artiste, or a final design or poem. From the type of linocut or woodcut I want to carve for my main drawings to the colors and emotions they evoke to the type of papers I want to use, these books hold the secrets of the soul of the creation process.

Suzanne ColeySuzanne Coley is a book artist who has created one-of-a-kind and limited-edition artists' books. She is a book artist of the US Department of State's ART in Embassies Program through 2013. She has exhibited her work in many venues, including the Center for Book Arts in Manhattan, MoMA's PS1 in Queens and the Jefferson Market Library in Manhattan. She earned a Master of Humanities from the University of Colorado.

To contact Suzanne Coley:
sukodesign@gmail.com | www.suzannecoley.com

BPL - Exhibition, Suzanne Coley: The Life of a Book of a Life: interpreters, 2009
Interpreters, 2009
©Suzanne Coley

BPL - Exhibition, Suzanne Coley, The Life of a Book of a Life:Interpreters, 2010
Interpreters, 2010
©Suzanne Coley

BPL - Exhibition, Suzanne Coley, The Life of a Book of a Life: Periwinkle, 2009
Periwinkle, 2009
©Suzanne Coley