Dear Cleo 18 04 22

Dearest  Cleo

It is a long time since I wrote, it was good to see you today and give you some of the highlights and I will take time now and fill in some of the details.

It all started around three or four weeks ago at the invitation of the course workbook to produce an Artist’s book. I fill loads of books with drawings, they are called sketchbooks, but this was not what the workbook wanted, it requested a book about something that elapses over time.

I had the sketchbooks of both my holidays in Florence and Venice both elapsed over time but neither could compare with Botticelli’s drawings for The Divine Comedy

The true definition of an artist book is somewhat elusive and is probably better explained by example so that you can get the feel of it before I explain my own solution.

The original artists books were religious I am thinking now of the early middle ages a whole monastery of talented monks would spend years to produce The Book of Kells. It was a strictly limited edition but it was a book and it was about something that elapses over time, namely the Four Gospels, it is quite a big book but then it would be having taken a monastery full of monks years to make.

Books back then were very precious objects because they were a serious undertaking to produce before printing was invented, imagine how long it would take you to write a 200 page novel with a pen and illuminate lots of the letters, even if you had a monastery full of monks or nuns to help.

Any nobleman or woman worth the title had a book, they were little more than comics, a book of hours would have twelve pages of writing and twelve paintings, nobody read in bed because electricity hadn’t been invented so twelve would fill the waking hours of the day. A book of months similarly had twenty four pages, because Julius had already invented July.

All surviving examples of these books are precious and are stored in museums or galleries.

Then printing arrived, at first wood block printing and engraving and later words. Botticelli in the late fifteenth century was at the vanguard of this invention and so produced some of the illustrations for a printed book of Dante’s The Divine Comedy. Botticelli produced nineteen illustrations for nineteen of the hundred Cantos, it took him ten years, a monastery of monks would have come in handy and would have maybe completed the task.

I will continue with the artists book tomorrow, in the meantime sleep tight in the secure knowledge that I am back on the horse.

My love as always

Mickos xx

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