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Artist of the month

Rachell Hazell

'On the day I was shown how to make my first book the future was somehow assured. That was it; standing in the green evening orchard understanding that this was what I would do for the rest of my life; make books! A Divine Calling! Bookbinding may seem a curious vocation, but that heart-powered ooomph has never left so I’ve been amazed and delighted at the consequent unfolding path of a Travelling Bookbinder.

Big berger 2005; Rachel Hazell, Photo: Rachel Hazell  

Escaping back to Edinburgh, where I’d spent four happy years reading books in bed (MA Hons English Literature Edinburgh University) after training in London (at The London College of Printing and Camberwell College of Art) Hazell Designs Books was established in 1998.

Everybody has a book inside them. Although a vision on the way home from Glastonbury Festival to convert a double decker bus into a mobile bindery has not yet materialised, I have travelled far and wide to run workshops in schools, book festivals, art colleges, on islands, in lighthouses and on a Russian icebreaker. (Go to Craftscotland for more).

Amygdala 2001; Rachel Hazell, Photo: The Helen Storey Foundation

Helen Storey’s commission to produce a two-metre high book sculpture initiated the move to large-scale narrative works and installations.

Tissueberg 2005; Rachel Hazell, Photo: Rachel Hazell This trajectory has continued, particularly in response to the landscapes experienced during residencies in Shetland and Antarctica. But I still bind small books and limited editions too.

More recently I have had the time to experiment with site-specific installations, at the Cité Internationale Universitaire de Paris during a three month residency.

Reaching the Creative Scotland Award shortlist was a huge boost. I continue to pursue funding for that project alongside more head-splittingly ambitious plans to stage a collaborative exhibition of land art on the Antarctic Peninsula. 

 Found Paper Books 2005; Rachel Hazell, Photo Shannon Tofts 

I’m delighted to have been selected for Origin, the new Crafts Council selling event at Somerset House in October. Frenzied bookbinding is already underway. Recent coverage in “Crafts” (May/June 2006 issue) and Country Living (July 2006 issue) as well as workshops at this years Edinburgh International Book Festival provide very welcome attention and awareness for bookart’s personal pleasures. The breadth and opportunities in the book of a conceptual craftswoman has pages and pages ahead.

Breathing Space 2005; Rachel Hazell, Photo: Rachel Hazell Extraordinary Expandable Sketchbook Journal 2006; Rachel Hazell, Photo: Shannon Tofts

Next year you can see Rachel Hazell’s work at a solo Festival show at the Scottish Poetry Library and as part of the Cutting Edge touring exhibition.

Ross Ice Shelf 2005; Rachel Hazell, Photo: Rachel Hazell

Go on to the Rachell Hazell books website  

Related links
* craftscotland
* Helen storey foundation
* Crafts council
* Edinburgh book festival
* Hazell Designs Books
* Features archive
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