Monday, January 19, 2009

The Pearls Project

Today I ended up, most unexpectedly, at the Museum of Contemporary Art.

After a day filled with work, Miss Commentbox and I found ourselves with a couple of free hours this afternoon. Miss C said to me, completely out of the blue, "Let's go to the Museum," and I said "All right," and so we drove in to the city, found a perfect parking spot, and looked at art.

Much of the art made me very very tired. Art usually has that effect on me...I become overwhelmed and bored (simultaneously), my eyes start to water, my legs feel very weak and I crave chocolate. Miss C, however, was in her element, and I found myself following her as she slowly moved from room to room.

Then we reached the fourth floor, and everything changed.

My eyes stopped watering when I saw the phrase "The Pearls Project", and I stopped yawning as soon as I laid my eyes on Simryn Gill's beaded necklaces.

Here is an excerpt quoted directly from the description in the Tate Modern website:

"For Pearls, (2000-06), an ongoing project, Gill asks people to nominate a book or text of personal importance, from which she uses every page as the material to create beads. For instance, a writer and critic from the Philippines proposed The World Atlas; a young London architect chose Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness; and a teenage boy in Brisbane selected Philip Pullman’s trilogy His Dark Materials. With their words, phrases and images now only partially visible, the transformed books are returned to their owners to wear like precious jewels or powerful fetishes."

Have a look at a couple of photographs as well. How fabulous.

The MCA here in Sydney apparently held a raffle for its staff and 4 people were given the opportunity to send a book to Gill and receive a beaded necklace in return. How fabulous.

My imagination has been captured by this Pearls Project. I especially like the way the pearls break the rules of what can and cannot be done to books, and I also like the heartbreaking temptation of wanting to wear your favourite book while also wanting to still be able to read it (intact). I like the idea of finding familiar words or phrases on each bead, or using them as worry-beads, or hanging them in my library and just seeing them there, those jewels.

I am going to do something with this idea of a Pearls Project, but I'm not sure of the details yet. In the meantime....do you have a favourite book? I'm not sure that I have one favourite actually. If Gill offered to make me a necklace would I take her up on the offer? With which book? Would I wear the necklace in public? Would I have second thoughts?

What would you do?

15 comments:

The Coffee Lady said...

hmm. I can think of a couple of books I'd like to see cut up, but not in a positive way... !

What a beautiful project

Blue Mountains Mary said...

Just

not sure

I could do that to a book.

I shall reflect on this.

Suse said...

Would have to be Arthur Ransome's 'Swallows and Amazons' for me.

eurolush said...

Necklaces made of books? Be still my beating heart!

Two of my favorite things in one.

What a gorgeous idea!

But which book to choose?

Must think.

Be back soon...

kim at allconsuming said...

Museums have the same affect on me as bookshops. I'll leave it to your imagination with two little words...
bowel movement.

kim at allconsuming said...

You see, these kinds of artworks are exactly the ones that make me think 'why on earth do I question myself in my own endeavours'.

Jen said...

Scissors + Book. Couldn't do it. It makes me think of that trend to have your loved one cremated into a diamond.

Badger said...

I couldn't be responsible for a book being cut to bits either, but it WOULD be lovely to have a set of pearls made from Madeleine L'Engle's Crosswicks Journals.

Anna said...

Oh, this is surely an Eleanor project - taylor made, it seems to me.
When I studied litterature at the university my professor came very upset one morning - his teenage son had been reading at the breakfast table (Hesse, no doubt). This was heresy to my professor, he truly believed that books were holy an all aspects.
I love to read and eat (when I'm alone) and I don't think I'd have a problem with turning books to beads. But which book??

Duyvken said...

That's wonderful, Eleanor. I look forward to seeing what you do with this. I like the idea of turning a book that was special to someone dear to me into a necklace for me to wear. eg. my late father's favourite book. Although he was a Dickens fan so I probably wouldn't be able to actually wear it but having it hanging on a hook in the house would bring me much happiness. Knowing that his hands had touched those pages and his eyes had scanned those words and those stories and ideas had been important to him... well, that would be amazing. And HOW COOL that your daughter turns to you and says 'let's go to a museum'. I need tips on what to do now so that my girls want to do that kind of thing with me when they're Miss C's age.

laura said...

What a beautiful and amazing project.
I love the idea of wearing words that have brought so much pleasure.
But, ack which book to choose?
Now that will take some thought...

Jeanette said...

Oh wow! This post was a treat! You really got my creativity going there Eleanor! I want to start a pearls project of my own...NOW! But what book, what book? A delicate problem. Will have to think about that for a while...

Laughed at the art bit in the beginning. I feel like that too sometimes. I like to go watch art but sometimes it`s just too much if you know what I mean? The artist want so desperatly to be an artist with a capital A that it gets all silly and over pretentious!

Thank you so much for charing!
Jeanette

Esti said...

i'm not sure either if i'd be able to do that...

little red hen said...

I love this idea. I've made paper beads with the kids before but I think I might use this artist as a starting point with one of my art classes. And if we don't feel we could cut up books. I might get them to handwrite the text or some of their favourite sayings/proverbs or even things that their parents or grandparents have told them.

BabelBabe said...

i love this, and totally covet one of those necklaces. (I also really like how you have chosen to interpret it on your blog.)

I would pick (huge dichotomy here...) Ruth Sawyer's "Roller Skates" or Ursula Hegi's "Stones from the River."