I’d like to tell you about an exciting project I am working on in collaboration with the Portico Library in Manchester. When I first walked into the Portico Library I was immediately drawn to the most damaged books: the ‘spineless’ books in the collection, with their scuffed
leather tones and fascinating array of under-papers, held together with cotton ribbons. These hidden under-layers, of the centenarian books standing exposed along the shelves: hand-written accounts ledgers; scraps from newspapers; advertisement flyers; lines of script; all assumed by the original book-binders to never see the light of day. Looking along the library shelves we get a glimpse into hidden histories…
I had gone in to the library originally to see if they might like to stock some of my art cards in their shop, but they were SO enthusiastic about my work and I was SO enthusiastic about their books, that our ideas grew into a painting project 🙂
This collaboration celebrates the importance of the Portico library as a home of
literature, history and learning.
In September this year the paintings will be displayed in the library, and on September 14th there will be an evening event ‘Spine[less]: Rebinding The Portico’ where there will be presentations from the Portico’s Collections Manager and from myself 🙂
You can book tickets for the event here: https://www.theportico.org.uk/event-calendar/spineless-rebinding-event
From Thursday 12th October 2023 – Friday 26th January 2024, the paintings will be part of an exhibition in the library promoting the Portico’s Adopt-a-Book scheme, highlighting the importance of preservation, restoration and the need for rebinding books. Members of the library are invited to Adopt-a-Book and pay for it to be rebound: to be brought back into use: to be reborn! The finished paintings will be for sale,with 25% of the sale price going to the Portico Library 🙂
In progress in my studio at the moment are the two Portico paintings: one of a shelfful of the exposed ‘spineless’ books, and another of a collection of ornately bound books from the Portico’s collection. It is such a joy to delicately translate these ornate and battered spines into paint across the canvas, relishing all the little handwritten details and worn edges.
I can’t wait to unveil the finished, framed paintings at the library when we set up the display next week!!
You can find out more about the Portico Library and their Adopt-a-Book scheme:
…and more about me here: https://roowaterhouse.art/about-roo-waterhouse-shelf-portrait-artist/