|A page of Mimpish Squinnies: Reginald Farrer’s Short Guide to Worthless Plants|
Welcome to Wednesday Exhibitions! This week’s piece is Abigail Rorer’s Mimpish Squinnies: Reginald Farrer’s Short Guide to Worthless Plants, from the Center For Book Arts’ main exhibition Fine & Dirty. Part of what makes today’s piece so interesting is that it is a such collaborative work. The last few pieces we’ve discussed were either fully created by one artist or designed and printed by one person and bound by another. Mimpish Squinnies shows that bookbinders, illustrators, writers, and letterpress artists can all work together to create one beautiful piece. This gives freedom to artists who would prefer to focus on one aspect of the book arts: there are always fellow artists out there willing to collaborate with you!
For the wonderfully titled Mimpish Squinnies: Reginald Farrer’s Short Guide to Worthless Plants, the illustrations and printing of the engravings were done by Rorer, the text of the book was indeed written by Reginald Farrer (with an introduction by Maureen Sanderson), the typesetting was done by Michael and Winifred Bixler, the text was printed by Michael Russem, and the finished pages were hand bound by Mark Tomlinson and Daniel Gehrich into the beautiful book and case you see here.
My favorite part of Rorer’s piece is her fantastic illustrations. Reminiscent of Alice in Wonderland or the “travel” diaries of the 16th and 17th centuries, the creatures she designs feel both very magical and very real, existing in an exotic faraway land. These so-called “worthless” plants, from a distance, can be ones we’ve seen before—pansies, orchids, Venus fly traps—but Rorer gives them distinct faces, as if each plant holds a secret that can only be seen with new eyes. Her imaginative engravings are also extremely beautiful and detailed, masterfully created and printed.
The binding and case creation of the book are also beautiful, conveying the earthy and natural feel of a book on nature. The binding of the book itself, with its multiple colors (the spine is green, the cover is red) also creates the same surprise and magic of the images inside. When placed inside the case, the entire book looks green: the surprise of a red book mimics the surprise of the “worthless” plants inside.
As mentioned last week, as a writer I am particularly partial to book arts that include text as well as images, and Rorer’s book is no exception. The text, written in mockery of the esoteric and impossible to understand language of faux science (Latin included!), is funny, refreshing, and fits beautifully with Rorer’s images!
Mimpish Squinnies can be seen until March 31st in the Center for Book Art’s main exhibition, Fine & Dirty: Contemporary Letterpress Art. Admission, as always, is free!
For more information about Fine & Dirty, as well as our Featured Artist Projects, visit http://www.centerforbookarts.org/exhibits/
Have any stories about your favorite (or least favorite) piece of book art, either in our exhibition or somewhere else? Want to give us suggestions or comments? Comment on this post, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, visit us on Facebook (/centerforbookarts) or follow us on Twitter (@center4bookarts). Can’t wait to see you there!