Centre for Fine Print Research University of the West of England Centre for Fine Print Research

Tom Sowden

Past Research

Laser cutting Paper models imageGrant title: Paper Models: investigating Laser cutting technology to develop new artists’ books and paper based creative practice for arts, crafts and design

Awarding body: Arts and Humanities Research Council
Awarded to: Tom Sowden
URL Links: www.ahrc.ac.uk
Project duration: 1.1.09-1.10.10

Project details:

Artists often adapt industrial and digital technologies to work with creatively, as evidenced by the use of digital printing, to create artists' books and prints. This project explored new methodologies for artists' creative production methods. As the technology becomes more affordable, laser cutters are a regular feature within secondary, further and higher education. The project examined the potential of the laser cutter as a tool for artists working with the book form and paper-based work, and how it can replace the need for labour intensive manipulation of paper and card by hand. The project aimed to change attitudes to creative making and increase awareness of the advantage of new technologies for artists/craftspeople.

As part of this research project Tom Sowden developed his own practice as a book artist with the use of the laser cutting process. This involved exploring the possibilities of using the laser cutters in conjunction with digital printing to produce accurate cuts and folds within the book, especially in relation to printed imagery.
Tom also worked with case study resident artists Su Blackwell (UK) and Mette-Sofie D. Ambeck (Denmark) over the summer at the Centre for Fine Print Research to produce new works utilising the laser cutters. These works have been shown at Blackwell's large-scale solo exhibition, Remnants, at the Brontë Parsonage Museum in Haworth (21 August - 28 November 2010); and at the London Art Book Fair, Whitechapel (September 2010) where Mette-Sofie D. Ambeck's book Steam, Salt, Milk, created during the residency was presented with the Birgit Skiöld Memorial Award.

Tom also hosted a one-day symposium in September, with guest speakers Su Blackwell, Jenny Smith and Claire Phipps, for 75 delegates and curated an accompanying exhibition Drawing with Fire which showcased artists' works on paper with laser cutting.

The Drawing with Fire exhibition has now been extended and is touring as a pop-up show. It will be on display next at the AKI/ArtEz Academy of Art in Enschede, The Netherlands  (http://www.artez.nl/English), where Tom and Sarah will be running workshops in laser cutting and artists' books during the week of 17th January. The pop-up show will run from Tuesday 18th - Thursday 20th January 2011. Alongside the main display of large paper works in the main foyer, small book works and paper works will be displayed throughout the library and first floor. Tom will publish the case studies and project downloads in February 2011 after the workshops when exhibition returns from The Netherlands.

Grant title: What will be the canon for the artist’s book in the 21st Century?

Awarding body: Arts and Humanities Research Council
Awarded to: Bodman, Sarah
Researcher participants: Sowden, Tom
Project duration: 2008-2010
URL Links: www.bookarts.uwe


Project details:
In an arena that now includes both digital and traditionally produced artists’ books, what will constitute the concepts of artists’ publishing in the future?
Until early 2010 we are investigating and discussing issues concerning the history and future of the artist’s book. This research project intends to open a debate to an international community of artists, educators, researchers, students, presses, publishers, librarians, curators, dealers, collectors and anyone involved in the field. All presentations are archived online.

Artist’s Book Yearbook (ongoing)

The Artist’s Book Yearbook was established in 1994 by the contributing editors: Tanya Peixoto, John Bently, Stephanie Brown and Stefan Szczelkun and continues to be published on a bi-annual basis. The Yearbook serves as a resource for artists, lecturers, students, collectors and researchers. This bi-annual publication includes essays and information on many aspects of the book arts, artists' listings, information on book arts galleries, archives and collections, book arts courses, events, journals, bibliographies and reference publications, studios and websites, with book arts contributors from around the world. Since 2001, the Artist’s Book Yearbook has been edited by Sarah for Impact Press at the Centre for Fine Print Research.

The Blue Notebook: journal for artists' books

Launched in October 2006 as a peer-reviewed journal of essays and artworks on contemporary artists publishing. Published twice a year by Impact Press, UWE Bristol as a contemporary, artists’ books journal based in the UK, discussing and exploring worldwide, contemporary book arts practice.
The journal is published in two formats: an electronic colour version to be accessed at any time online, and a paper, black and white version: Print : ISSN 1751-1712 Online : ISSN 1751-1720
Subscription covers both formats at £10 GBP per annum - UK and international.

Bookmarks - Infiltrating the Library System Projects

Bookmarks was initially a one-year project, but so many artists continued to ask if they could join that we now run it on an annual basis. The Bookmarks projects series aim is to encourage appreciation of work in the format of the artist's book. Participating artists each hand-produce an edition of 100 signed and numbered bookmarks to give away through distribution boxes at venues around the world.
For archived pages of each project please visit the Bookmarks homepage at:
URL Links: