In the Winter of 2010, the Queen Elizabeth II Library hosted an exhibition of artist’s books by Newfoundland-based artist Tara Bryan.
Tara Bryan’s walking bird press combines the best of fine letter press printing with the tradition of artists’ books. Since moving to Newfoundland in 1992 with her Vandercook press and six cabinets of type, Tara Bryan has produced more than one hundred letter-press publications, limited edition artists’ books, and unique “one-of-a-kind” works. She has a keen interest both in the Newfoundland landscape and in language, particularly as they are expressed through poetry. She has produced slightly surreal children’s books, and has drawn on the work of Lewis Carroll to produce one of her most ingenious works: “Down the Rabbit Hole” (2005). She has produced books in traditional codex form that range in size from miniatures to folio editions; she has constructed tunnel books, concertina or accordion-folded books, a jack-in-the-box book, hexa-flaexagons, broadsides, and books in specially designed boxes and envelopes. She incorporates into her designs a wide-variety of machine and hand-made papers (Thai Bamboo, Kiritsubo, St. Armand and Opus Watermedia, to name a few), creating works that are as appealing to the touch as to the eye. Walking bird press titles are illustrated and decorated with linocuts, rubber stamps, wood blocks, screen-printing, monotypes, laser printing, letter press printing and blind-stamping. Works may be bound in paper, cardboard or cloth, or concealed in envelopes or custom-made boxes. One spectacular example, To Stretch the Night (2001), is bound in walnut boards and has on its cover an original bas-relief bronze sculpture. In creating the unique output of walking bird press, Tara Bryan has collaborated with many artists, designers, printers, and writers from Newfoundland and from other parts of the world. Viewed chronologically, one notes the evolution of the forms she has chosen to use since she began making books in the 1980s. Viewed as a whole, the work dazzles with its range and complexity. Visit walking bird press to see images of Tara Bryan’s work.