a city, from memory - artists' book

There's something intriguing about maps and our tendency to map every possible thing. This month the #areyoubookenough artists' book challenge had the theme 'Mapped', which gave me the perfect opportunity to further delve into an idea I've had for almost ten years now. The starting point was that I wanted to draw a street map of a city based on my memory of those streets. And now I've got this artists' book called A City, from Memory. It has three parts housed in a latched case - a scroll of nine hand drawn maps and two kaleidoscopes.

a-city-from-memory-artists-book-kaija-rantakari-4.jpg
a-city-from-memory-artists-book-kaija-rantakari-5.jpg
a-city-from-memory-artists-book-kaija-rantakari-6.jpg

The city I chose for my memory maps is London. I've been to London over the past 11 years so many times I've actually lost count. It's a city I dearly love and where I feel at home, yet have currently absolutely no desire to live in. It's a city I love so much I've even made another artists' book about it before.

The maps were drawn using a variety of maps in London tourist guide books with some overlap: sometimes the same place was drawn several times, and the result was never the same. With the first of the nine maps I only drew the streets I remember having walked - everything else was left out, even when I knew I must have walked a certain route to get from point A to point B. If I don't remember the street, the street does not excist on my map. Later on I found my memories changed, or I remembered more streets, and added those streets to the map I was working on, but let the earlier maps stay as they were. I find this to be the very nature of remembering; memories come and go, and I like how the differences in my memory maps reflect the fickleness of my mind.

This method resulted in maps that in certain parts of the city were fairly complete, or at least look like they could be an accurate representation of a neighbourhood, but then there are lesser walked parts of the city were there's only a street here and there and they may not connect to one another at all because I have no recollection of the walk between.

a-city-from-memory-artists-book-kaija-rantakari-13.jpg
a-city-from-memory-artists-book-kaija-rantakari-16.jpg
a-city-from-memory-artists-book-kaija-rantakari-19.jpg

The kaleidoscopes worked their way into all this as I thought about the tools commonly used with maps, and how they relate to my approach to mapping out memories. I couldn't figure out a compass that would reflect how I remember, but a telescope turned into a kaleidoscope quite easily! A kaleidoscope shows mere fragments, multiplied.

One of the kaleidoscopes I built is a traditional one, the kind that has colourful bits that form a series of different patterns forever changing as you turn the kaleidoscope. These fleeting colourful fragments describe my visual memories of London quite fittingly. The other kaleidoscope lets you view your actual surroundings in a new way - it's just mirrors that leave the majority of the world outside your field of vision and turn a fragment of your reality into surreality, which is something I feel is also a part of the process of remembering a thing over and over again.

The memory can grow or transform with time as it bounces back and forth in your head, and you may even start to consciously question the reality of your memory. After all, it's not really the original experience we remember at any given time but the memory we have of remembering it the previous time we were reminiscing. How much of a memory is just hopeful thinking, our own decorations added on a remnant of a memory? And how much of our experiences we forget immediately after? How do we decide what we deem irrelevant right from the start?

a-city-from-memory-artists-book-kaija-rantakari-12.jpg

Some technical details of A City, from Memory: The largest of the nine maps measure 19x23cm / 7.5"x9.1". The case measures 13,5x24,5x5,3cm / 5.3"x9.6"x2.1". Materials: tracing film, handmade paper, gold metal leaf, cardboard, paper, acrylic mirror, acrylic, glass beads, book cloth, box latch.

You can find more photos on Instagram.

accumulator seriali - part 30

vintage finds from London, October 2016 - www.paperiaarre.com At last, photo evidence of just how good London was to me vintage-wise. I mainly shopped at markets, but one magnificent treasure box was gifted to me by C. She really has a knack for finding great stuff! See how generously she spoilt me:

precious gifts from a London friend - www.paperiaarre.com

precious gifts from a London friend - www.paperiaarre.com

At Spitalfields Antique Market I found a wonderful stall selling a big lot of watch related finds in addition to their usual jewelry bits:

vintage finds from London, October 2016 - www.paperiaarre.com

vintage finds from London, October 2016 - www.paperiaarre.com

I made the seller laugh by handing her a big handful of the paper junk everyone else had left behind. I may actually cherish these even more than the actual watch parts and tins!

vintage finds from London, October 2016 - www.paperiaarre.com

C was definitely on the right track gifting me those gorgeous folding rulers. I adore measuring tools! I've been meaning to put together a post dedicated just to those, but for now you'll have to settle for what I brought home from London:

vintage finds from London, October 2016 - www.paperiaarre.com

One of these has already been put to good use. Come back on Monday to see where it ended up!

vintage finds from London, October 2016 - www.paperiaarre.com

While I steered clear from the vintage clothing stalls this time, nothing could keep me from the lace and sewing notions.

vintage finds from London, October 2016 - www.paperiaarre.com

I try not to be too precious about these London vintage finds - there's only so much I should keep for my personal treasure collection only! If all these finds won't result in a good number of inspired hours in the studio, I don't know what will...

london - part 2

London - part 2 / www.paperiaarre.com "Let's adore and endure each other" - so far my relationship with London has been mostly an adoring one, so maybe London takes the brunt of it by enduring me... I adore the markets, the museums, the old intermingling with the newer than new, the way I'm never lost for a long time, the extremely nice people I keep meeting, and not unimportantly: the massive variety of vegetarian allergen-free superfood salads available. Today I'm fighting off a cold that's trying to catch me (so far I'm winning), so not much words in this post today, just lots of photos:

London - part 2 / www.paperiaarre.com

I believe the Spitalfields Antique Market is my favourite place in all of London. It's not worth traveling to London unless at least one Thursday fits into the trip. More about my vintage finds later this month, but here's a glimpse of the October 2016 Spitalfields hoard:

London antique market finds / www.paperiaarre.com

London - part 2 / www.paperiaarre.com

While often crowded (and overpriced) the Portobello Road Market is usually on my list, too. The best junk is at the very far end of the market, where there's less touristy stuff and considerably lower prices. I had a strict self-imposed no-shopping-for-clothes rule on this trip, so I just walked past all the vintage clothing, but I could tell there were some real gems in there.

And speaking of gems: I forgot to show in my mudlarking post what C gave me! A beautiful cigarette case with some super old pins and nails C picked up from the muddy parts of the beach (she wore wellies, I wore sparkly sneakers). I also doubt I would've spotted these things with my untrained eyes - everything on the foreshore is exotic to me, even the pebbles are of foreign colours.

London mudlarking finds, October 2016 - www.paperiaarre.com

The next photo would've fit right in with the bookish London post I wrote last week, but better late than never! Alison Stockmarr's book art spotted at Liberty, where I spent forever waiting for a downpour to end. Could have ended somewhere far worse to wait it out!

Book art by Alison Stockmarr

The wallpaper in my hotel room made it feel much more luxurious than it perhaps really was. In any case, it was nice to get up with the sun and have this wallpaper be the first thing I see when I open my eyes.

 

London - part 2 / www.paperiaarre.com

London - part 2 / www.paperiaarre.com

One pigeon per arch, max. I'm a big fan of the Tube and its old stations.

London - part 2 / www.paperiaarre.com

But some things you miss if you spend most of your time indoors or on the Tube.

London - part 2 / www.paperiaarre.com

I adore London. Day and night. (So much so that I made an artists' book about the city some years ago.)

London - part 2 / www.paperiaarre.com

You can check out an earlier blog post about my favourite London spots if you're still yearning for more!

Tallenna

mixed media monday - on the shore

On the Shore - a mixed media collage by Kaija Rantakari, 2016 / vintage photo, found antique clay pipe stems, gold leaf, paper, board, vintage ribbon / www.paperiaarre.com Some of my mudlarking finds already put into use! While eyeing the Thames foreshore littered with clay pipe stems I made the decision to bring home a ton. I knew if I only picked up a few I'd end up using them on anything. Having a large quantity lowers the threshold of putting the finds into use remarkably. It also opens up the possibility of creating mixed media pieces using a ton at once, which I love! Today's On the Shore piece is a very small one, but I still get a certain satisfaction in the repetition made possible by using multiples. I know I'll end up making something larger with even more pipe stems once the holiday season is over.

On the Shore - a mixed media collage by Kaija Rantakari, 2016 / vintage photo, found antique clay pipe stems, gold leaf, paper, board, vintage ribbon / www.paperiaarre.com

(vintage photo, found antique clay pipe stems, gold leaf, paper, board, vintage ribbon)

7x12,7x1,1cm  /  2.8"x5"x0.4"

for sale here

On the Shore - a mixed media collage by Kaija Rantakari, 2016 / vintage photo, found antique clay pipe stems, gold leaf, paper, board, vintage ribbon / www.paperiaarre.com

I was happy to find just the photo for this piece in my collection - these two lovely ladies on a shore are just the perfect pairing for the finds I brought home from one, and the sepia tones go hand in hand with the river's.

On the Shore - a mixed media collage by Kaija Rantakari, 2016 / vintage photo, found antique clay pipe stems, gold leaf, paper, board, vintage ribbon / www.paperiaarre.com

There's something very pleasing about the pipe stems; each bit is different, more or less worn by the tides, more or less stained by the Thames mud (some clean off-white, some marbled blue, some orange-y brown), and the clay surface at once smooth and porous. At the bottom of the river shards of gorgeously painted pottery intermingle with the equivalent of modern day cigarette butts (and a ton of other junk + the occasional treasure). The pipes and the broken dishes are both of the same clay origin, but on the scale of femininity and masculinity they are worlds away. It's likely a lot of these pipe stems came from the pipes of men at work and the painted pottery from a woman's kitchen. In the centuries these pipe stems have spent in the river the world has changed a lot and the worlds of men and women have (thankfully!) begun to merge at a fast rate. Traditionally gilt rims were seen on the finer dishware, but I decided to add thin gilt rings around these found pipe stems. Perhaps as an attempt to bridge the gap between the femininity and masculinity, and the world now and then - perhaps simply because I find the combination of that beautiful off-white clay and gold leaf gilding just plain charming.

On the Shore - a mixed media collage by Kaija Rantakari, 2016 / vintage photo, found antique clay pipe stems, gold leaf, paper, board, vintage ribbon / www.paperiaarre.com

I hope to have an extra London blog post up for you in a day or two, and on Thursday it's time for those bunny books I promised, so do come back soon!

accumulator seriali - part 29

London mudlark - www.paperiaarre.com One of the highlights of my trip to London was the chance to go mudlarking with my friend C - twice, at two very different Thames locations! So, this Accumulator Seriali blog post is also a London - part 1½, in a way.

I brought home loads and loads of finds, knowing I'd both use them in my mixed media work and that it's going to be a while before I get to go back to a tidal foreshore filled with treasures. Broken clay pipes, especially bits of their stems, are among the most common finds, but I ended picking up a ton of those "boring" stems as I immediately knew what I'd do with them if only I had a ton at hand (a miniature preview coming on Monday). In addition to the stems, I felt really lucky to find an intact pipe bowl by Tate Modern - if this illustration is anything to go by, I think it might be from 1690-1750. Later in the week, while we were at her regular mudlarking spot, C found a decorated piece of pipe and kindly gave it (among many other lovely things) to me - can you see the grapes on the bowl? And that little horizontal heart at the heel of the bottommost stem? The white clay has been beautifully stained by the mud!

Thames has a lot more to offer than bits of old pipes:

London mudlark - www.paperiaarre.com

London mudlark - www.paperiaarre.com

London mudlark - www.paperiaarre.com

London mudlark - www.paperiaarre.com

As you can see, I like all kinds of junk! Pottery, bits of bone, glass, buttons, shells, and other entirely random things. Some of these finds are from our honeymoon trip to London last year, like that mysterious white swirly cone at the bottom right of the above photo. It feels like marble, but I'm no expert. C's knowledge of pottery, on the other hand, is truly impressive! She can tell so much from a tiny shard of pottery! I obviously can't - I'd tell you all about the above stuff...

London mudlark - www.paperiaarre.com

London mudlark - www.paperiaarre.com

It was so worth getting up before sunrise to catch the early low tide on Saturday. Both the beach and the river were so calm and quiet.

London mudlark - www.paperiaarre.com

Afterwards we had brunch at a yurt café (!!!) with C's family and C let me pick some of her finds, too! (I left the teeth - I feel weird about traveling with lots of teeth in my suitcase...)

London mudlark - www.paperiaarre.com

At home I cleaned up the finds, spending a loooong time getting the mud out of the pipe stems so I could get a needle go through. But it's worth it, I hope.

London mudlark - www.paperiaarre.com

As a hoarder-arranger I couldn't avoid arranging the pipe stems into pleasing groupings as I planned Monday's mixed media piece. The photo above really shows off the variety of colours the river has given these plain white clay pipes. Buried possibly for centuries, eventually revealed, now picked up by me. Somehow it's all a bit baffling for someone who doesn't run into such history in their daily life...