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  • Writer's picturePamela Lawton

Countdown to Artstories@Tate

Artstories@Tate begins in 3 weeks! Using 'time' as a metaphor for the Movement theme, participants will collaborate on the creation of counter narratives through the medium of altered books; reflecting upon how their past shapes their present and how the present impacts their future. To loosely quote Scots Scholar Sir Geoff Palmer, Our past is our present and our present is our future. To prepare I met with the Tate production team, to ensure that all my materials arrived and that they are safe for all ages to use. That took a bit of work, downloading material safety data sheets and developing processes to ensure materials are used appropriately and activities are monitored.


In addition to bringing our own altered book examples, Teresa Coleman Masters in Art Education student and my assistant with the project, is gathering images of altered books from Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) library collection to show participants. I have arranged for some artist's books, in particular Tom Phillips' Humument, to be brought over from the Tate Britain collection to show participants so they can see a range of possibilities in altering books. Tate Associate partners, Flourishing Lives, Iroko, Black Friars Settlement, Coin Street and the Feminist Library have specifically been invited to take part in the project. I'm also delighted that several of the people I connected with during my Fulbright experience plan to attend as well. In addition, with schools closed for the summer, I expect families to stop in to create one page books at a station that will be set up for that each day.


I purchased over 30 books from charity and second-hand book stores in Edinburgh and shipped them to the Tate for participants to alter. Most of the books I selected were written by and from the White male perspective. One book, I found in a charity shop, drew my attention. I purchased it to work on alongside participants. The book, Clever Girls of Our Time and How They Became Famous Women, by Joseph Johnson (1875), while admirable in that it tells the life stories of admirable and talented White women of the time, the narratives of women of color are missing. I saw this as an opportunity to insert the stories of some minority women who despite racism, classism, sexism and for many illiteracy, not only thrived, but helped others do so as well. I've altered the title to: Colorful Clever Girls of Our Time and How They Became Famous Women. Below are a few photos of the work in progress.





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