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10 March 2011

Book of the month for February: The 1000 journals project by some guy

At last, here it is! February's long over due 'Book of the month' and this one doesn't require reading for it to be enjoyed. This book is a visual feast for the eyes! In fact, if you want to look at the book itself (for free!) and to get a 'taste' of it, please click on the link at the end of this post.

The 1000 journals project is 'some guy's' idea in which in the year 2000, 1000 blank journals were unleashed into the world. If you were one of the people to find one of these journals you'd discover instructions inside asking you to use the journal to create personal pages in it and then pass the journal on to other strangers. It made me wonder if I would ever pick up a journal someone had left say in a park or would I not notice and walk past? Or what would I put in a journal if I actually found one? Would it be similar to my own sketchbooks? And how would I pass it on for the next person to find?

This book features copies of the journals that arrived back to 'some guy' (its not clear but I'm assuming they include an address or someway of sending them on?) or have been published/posted onto the projects website online. Those journals have been scanned and printed in glorious colour inside this book and some of the pages are actually stitched making this book tactile and a work of art in its own right. Not only is it fascinating to see how many different countries the journals ended up in (Japan, Canada, Spain, Germany and Australia to name a few) it is even more fascinating to flick through and look at the collage, doodles, poetry, adverts, photographs and diary entries that those who owned a journal created. To anyone that has ever kept a sketchbook, you'll understand what useful tools they are for documenting a vast array of people/places/experiences, expressing thoughts and creating ideas. Often more casual and more intimate than any other work produced by an artist, I feel that sketchbooks open up the window of the intention behind an artists work. Whether as an artist you're a musician, a writer, a performance artist, or whatever the sketchbooks that creative people keep are often the most revealing and raw parts of their practice. Understandably, not everyone wants to share their sketchbooks with the outside world, so this project is great at providing an opportunity of opening up and revealing sketchbook work to those that are happy to share it. Another point being that when I say 'creative people' I don't just mean artists, after all if Joseph Beuys has taught us anything, its certainly agreeable that 'everyone is an artist', and that therefore everyone can be creative. In fact, the dedication written at the start of this book, is 'dedicated to everyone who's ever said, "I'm not creative." Quite frankly, that's exactly what this book goes on to prove, that anyone can be a part of this project and indeed be creative. Another nice touch to this book is that it adds notes from the owners of the journals, giving details of where they're from, what they used the journal for and who they were passing it on to (whether it was someone they knew of a stranger). This gives a really personal feel to the book and makes it more 'readable' for those of you out there who don't just want visual images but a bit of contextual info too.

To conclude, this is one of those rare books, that you can dive in and out of and every time see something different. From someone like myself who loves keeping sketchbooks (often more than creating separate art works themselves) it's also a very inspiring and reassuring book. I never went to see the 'Blood on paper' exhibition at the V&A gallery a few years back (an exhibition featuring artists books) but I can imagine it was similar in the way it recognises journals/sketchbooks or artists books as an art form in its own right. The wonderful thing (as already mentioned, but I'm repeating it because it's so important) about 'the 1000 journals project' book, is that compared to the V&A show which featured predominately artists, the 1000 journals project works because in it, everyone is an artist. Exactly.

Here's that link I promised, check it out!

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