Wednesday 3 June 2015

(begin and end)

‘Were it not for the endpapers, a hardcover book would literally fall apart. Adhered to the inside of the front and back covers, the endpapers are then glued to the first and last pages within the book working almost as a pair of hinges allowing a reader to open and close their murder mystery, trendy novel or children's picture book -- over and over again.’ Bob Staake talking about his book - The Art of The End - A Visual Celebration of the Book Endpaper. 1.

This post is about the beginning and end of the book. Not the beginning and end of the story that’s inside, but the beginning and end of the structure, once you get past the covers of course. 

Marlene Dumas - don't talk to strangers - 1977 A.

What got me thinking about endpapers is a piece of work by Marlene Dumas in a recent exhibition at the Tate Modern, London. Though it is not about endpapers, or even contains them there are some interesting parallels. The mixed media piece is called ‘don’t talk to strangers’ and contained torn fragments of the beginning and end of letters pasted on either side of the paper. Nothing is in the middle apart from washy lines that draw your eye across. One side might have a fragment that reads ‘Dear ….’ and the other side ‘Best wishes…’ The body of the letters removed and held in limbo. An imagined expanse of communication. I was thinking about how this might relate to a book, what is inside the book that acts as brackets to the main body. The endpaper has a unique position, in that it’s inside the book but is supplementary to the content. It acts as a space that can enrich the content but also break away stylistically to what might be a very structured and formal content.

Hopefully these thoughts will lead me to some interesting experiments using the endpapers. I think there is some potential for them to be explored in a compelling and artistic way. Also how they might relate to the rest of the book and how they might effect the pace, structure and space within the book. 

I have collected together some interesting endpapers below to round off my post and spark some interesting thoughts in design.

The Eccentric Teapot, by Garth Clark B.



Endpapers designed by Wilfred Jones in The Crock of Gold E.

The Scallop ed. Ian CoxPublished in London by the 'Shell' Transport & Trading Company, Ltd. F.

To here Marlene Dumas talking about 'don't talk to strangers' click here:


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