Etchings, printed in red ink, on handmade paper; accordion folded, fixed in wooden, hinged frame in cloth-covered slip-case.

Christopher Croft
Sketch-of-Book 1983

“Confronted by a large box, you discover that the edge with the title (in gold, as in standard library binding) is one that you can grasp, and from which you can also pull out a slip-case.  Because of the bulk of the box, removing the slip-case feels like removing a book from a library shelf.  Inside the slip-case there is a wooden frame, which, when lifted out, can be placed vertically or horizontally on a table.  The frame consists of two, book-like forms, hinged at the back so that they open out.  Between them, they hold a paper insert of seven accordion folds.  The folded paper is a long sheet of handmade paper, printed with etchings: line drawings of piping, conduits, collections of various kinds, storage objects and other miscellanea.

The whole book is a cascade of sketches of a ‘book’, from the box, which is a diagram of a large book; the slip-case, which is a sketch of library retrieval; the wooden frame, which is a working sculpture of the binding hinge of books; to the folded paper.  All of these sketches are held inside the other, but are distinct: like worlds, from library to book to text.  The sequence of actions required to open the book parallel this cascade: different actions, one after another until at the end the book is a stationary sculpture.

The finish of the large box, the fine joinery of the wooden frame and the paper, the materials and colour combine to evoke the stereotypical nineteenth-century library book.  The etchings could be field book entries, analytic diagrams or a specific collection, reminding you of the use of books as compendia of disparate information.  As you click shut the timber frame, lower it into the slip case and slide the ensemble into its box, you can get a strong sense of another sketch: the book as a cage or prison.” 

Alex Selenitsch, Australian Artists Books, extract, publ. National Gallery of Australia 2008