The incredibly well informed illustrator Holly Wales who’s prefix can just as easily be replaced with educator, writer or collector, has taken the time to tell us her top five books that have in turn educated and instilled in her the sometimes romantic, occasionally rational and always inspiring stuff that makes her work so special. Image courtesy of Owen.
Interaction of Color Josef Albers
This book is concerned with seeing what happens between colours. I love how it discusses something often so instinctive and personal in such a rational manner; it makes me look further than I have already gone, at the same time as working backwards to break down the assumptions I’ve made. It also promotes Albers philosophy of “thinking in situations”, which I was happy to uncover alongside my own interest in ‘thinking through making’, which looks at a part of the design process which I don’t think can be ever be pre-planned, organised, scheduled or described.
“We are able to hear a single tone, but we almost never (that is, without special devices) see a single colour, unconnected and unrelated to other colours. Colours present themselves in continuous flux, constantly related to changing neighbours and changing conditions.”
The Fountainhead Ayn Rand
Ayn Rand was a Russian-American novelist and philosopher in the 40’s, and concerned with individualism. I was first given this book when I was 18 by an engineering student and have treasured it ever since. The Fountainhead is about an individualistic young architect who chooses to struggle in obscurity rather than compromise his own vision, against those who attempt to live through others; those who place others above themselves. I love the development of the thoroughly complex relationships between him and all the different clients and friends who misunderstand him; to me it has also become both a romantic and comical interpretation of the creative industry we are working in today.
Loose Associations & Other Lectures Ryan Gander
“The route of a ball during a half-hour ping-pong game is about the time it takes to read Loose Associations. The match is played by only one person on a half-table facing a wall, and the player is not a professional, so the ball bounces on, as much off, the table.” A description by Emilie Renard of this book; which is a collection of objects, ideas and stories put together by artist Ryan Gander and narrated in a way you might experience it as a performance or lecture. One subject follows the next seamlessly as if you were listening to a stream of consciousness, and each anecdote is backed up with an example-of-a-kind and a series of pictures; this book should be the bible for every blogger. Mine is a bootleg copy I was kindly given by friends friends Europa (www.europaeuropa.co.uk) who designed it to be published-on-demand.
Art School (Propositions for the 21st Century) Steven Henry Madoff
This book is just one long line of enquiry after another for anyone interested in progressive art education; I got hold of it at the John Baldessari Pure Beauty exhibition at Tate Modern when I started my post as Teaching Fellow at Winchester School of Art in 2009; I am endlessly interested in ways people have approached the problems (and there are problems!) we face – from temporary art schools built on the side of hills (The Future Academy, 2006) to the question of whether we still need buildings at all. Every few months I find myself reading a lot of these essays over again; something to do with reading about a practice you are engaging in radically changes what you understand from the text; I think this book is a goldmine and I couldn’t do without it.
Roald Dahl Kiss Kiss
Most of my favourite fiction comes in the form of short stories; and the best I’ve ever found belong to Roald Dahl. There’s something about short stories which induce a sensation of contentment in me; something to do with the way they wrap me up and set me free again in a small amount of time. My favourite story from Kiss KIss is William and Mary. William, a dead philosopher and controlling husband, arranges to have his brain and a single eyeball set in a basin in his home, in order for his wife Mary to continue to pay attention to him; except his plan has disastrous consequences when she flaunts all his rules by smoking in front of the eyeball and watching TV all day – much to the distress of his vulnerable state.
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