We have two books in the current exhibition in Kirkby Library/Gallery in Knowsley – the first book was made for the exhibition in Liverpool Central Library, where it was shown off in pride of place.
This book/sculpture was inspired by the debate between William Lawrence’s materialism and John Abernathy’s spiritualised vitalism, which Mary Shelley would have been familiar with, and the ideas of the time about electricity, mechanisms and life. The ‘book’ is in the form of a modular origami heart (made from two copies of Frankenstein) with origami elements, electric wire and little cogs flying out from it, tumbles of electrical wire in the heart and the whole mounted on printed circuit boards and an old electrical connecting panel.
The Frankenstein themed exhibition (2018 being the 200th anniversary of the publication of Frankenstein) then moved to Knowsley, with a call out for more books, so we made this second one –
It focuses on the themes of Remorse and Revenge – Dr Frankenstein’s remorse and anguish at having created such a monster; the monster, rejected by Frankenstein and everyone he meets, seeks revenge. But in the end Frankenstein turns to revenging the deaths of his loved ones killed by the monster and the monster is finally remorseful beside the bed of his dead creator.
The concertina of the book (pages from a lovely old copy of Frankenstein) follows the development of the story – told by an explorer (Walton) sailing to the arctic. First there is a pop-up boat from a graphic novel edition of the book; the pages all icy white as the boat is stuck in the arctic ice, the words of the book whited out except every instance of ‘revenge’, ‘remorse’, ‘anguish’, ‘repent’ and ‘compassion’; the novel is all written in letters to Walton’s sister so there are little envelopes addressed to her flying off the pages.
Then there maps showing Frankenstein’s travels as the story unfolds – Ingolstadt where Frankenstein studied; Geneva where he returns to his family; Chamonix where Frankenstein goes to grieve but is chased by the monster; Tilbury Docks, London and Edinburgh on his way to the Orkney Islands where he goes to create a companion for the monster, though then destroys his half-made creation. The final page is a mesostics, using the monster’s final speech, making ‘Remorse’.
Under the concertina pages are little blotters (complete with blotted writings from the book) as Walton might have had on his desk as he wrote the letters telling the story told to him by the dying Frankenstein.”
The whole exhibition in Knowlsely is excellent – a wonderful collection of artists books, beautifully arranged and displayed.