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Tuesday, June 9th: Altered Books by Alexi Francis

Alexi Francis

Today is Tuesday, June 9th

Rag & Bone Bindery is open for business

(read our post from Wednesday, March 25th for more information about how we're able to remain open for business)


We LOVE book art of any kind. Alexi Francis is fascinated by the “secret havens” of the forest. He loves to walk below the trees and look for evidence of animal life, such as burrows made by badgers, or smeuses (which are the “gaps in vegetation made by the passage of animals”). It is these observations of the natural world, and his imaginings of all that must be right below his feet, but out of sight, that he uses to create beautiful and intricately layered forest scenes out of ordinary books. Other than these secret openings in the forest, Francis draws inspiration from the pop up books he loved as a child. The many layers of repurposed pages in his work form an impression of the creature being nestled into the landscape, and sometimes partially hidden by it. “Altering a book is like creating a stage-set,” he writes, “a little window on to life or on to a dream”.

Sometimes Francis leaves the background layer of the scene unaltered. He writes of one piece that he “cannot decide whether to complete the picture behind the deer or leave the pages of text”. There is a certain charm he finds in allowing the “essence” of the book to remain in the forest landscape. Just as he finds evidence in the forest of life that hides in plain sight, he permits the book to leave traces of its own other life as well. Even if the book is no longer useful for reading, its value as an object persists. He feels similarly about the Observer field guides which have been with him on his excursions into the forest for decades. “They’re not rare or valuable,” he admits, but since finding them secondhand they have become treasured additions to his library.

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