The State Library of Queensland visual arts community was deeply saddened by the death of one of our respected artists’ book makers Wim de Vos on 8 December 2018. Wim was a regular visitor and supporter of the Australian Library of Art collections and we are privileged to have examples of his artistic endeavours spanning almost thirty years from 1987 through to 2016.
Wim’s life as a musician is reflected in much of his work, with Wim writing in 1988
“I have since 1980 worked extensively with sounds in a visual form”1
Soundscapes for flute 1-7, 1987 is an artists’ book that highlights this aspect of Wim’s work. The 7 etching plates for the book are on display in the ALA Showcase.
Another book that began as an exploration of sound is Sound and flight of the currawong which Wim donated to the Library in 1995 along with the etching plates. This work is digitised and available via One Search.
The importance of line and sound continued throughout Wim’s career and his bookplate in the publication Bookplates unbound 2012 has an accompanying artist’s statement which reads: “Drawing on an immediate impulse of sound making, my bookplate reflects marks etched into zinc and copper metal that are within a movement. This act alone provokes a statement of identity.”2
The significance of family to Wim is referenced in artists’ books in the collection. A collaborative book with 8 year old daughter Saskia, Tales of the snow angel, 1990 used torn long stranded Japanese mulberry paper to create images of angels. White angels are fixed to a blue background of French Canson paper, the white cover is embossed and the book housed in a Perspex slip case.
Marks/Remarks, 1993 a work dedicated to his parents has been constructed using 16 pages of handmade paper with embossing. The book is also housed in a Perspex slip case.
In 1998 Wim established Studio West End with his colleague, artist Adele Outteridge. The Studio is a venue for their practice, teaching and exhibitions. We remember Wim as a dedicated teacher who with Adele delighted in bringing students into the Library to introduce them to the artists’ book collection. Wim’s contributions to presentations were always informative and entertaining. He was never lost for words! Those of us who attended abbe 2017 (artists books Brisbane event, Griffith University) will recall his presentation as one which highlighted this aspect of his personality.
Perspex is a material that captivated Wim and he used it frequently for slip cases but it was to become the medium for books as is seen in his 2012 tunnel book The Chrysler Building. This work featured in the Australian Library of Art Showcase in 2016.
The Chrysler Building is a splendid example of Wim’s craftsmanship using Perspex. The tunnel book provides the viewer with a glimpse into the foyer of the famous Chrysler Building at 405 Lexington Avenue New York. The concertina book has been created by stitching together Perspex ‘pages’. A photograph of the foyer has been replicated and adhered in decreasing sections to the interior ‘pages’ creating a three dimensional effect. The Art Deco style of the building is reflected in the mirror base, the windows and the end panels of the book, as well as in the two inner slip cases. Coloured inks have been applied to a section of the inner most slip case and book referencing the painted ceilings and walls of the foyer of the Chrysler Building.
Wim discusses tunnel books, unpacking his Venice book and The Chrysler Building in a short video clip by photographer & book artist Doug Spowart. View the YouTube video
The significance of Wim’s contribution to the book arts community is undeniable. He will be remembered by many for his passion and enthusiasm as an artist, teacher and mentor. His book art practice is well represented within the collections of the Australian Library of Art ensuring a lasting legacy for this memorable Queensland artist.
- Vos, Wim de 1982, Wim de Vos, Jan van Eyck Academie, Maastricht, Netherlands.
- Vos, Wim de 2012, 28853 Bookplates unbound 2012.
Christene Drewe – Specialist Librarian, State Library of Queensland