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Atlases as sculpture
Nicholas Jones is a Melbourne-based sculptor who uses books and printed paper to make works which question how books are ‘read’. I talked to him about his Creative Fellowship project, which involved carving books into intricate sculptures.
'The title of my project is 'A conspiracy of cartographers' which is a line taken from Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are dead by Tom Stoppard. The project is based on the first atlas which was really ever printed, the Theatrum Orbis Terrarum published by Abraham Ortelius, initially printed in 1570 in Antwerp, Belgium.
'The edition that we have in the collection was published in 1574 so it’s a very, very old book, and a terribly inspirational and beautiful book. The nature of the Fellowships is really honing in on the collection here; I make a lot of work which is inspired by maps, so using a late 16th century book about maps seemed to be the perfect fit. Over the last 12 months I’ve been working on a series of book sculptures where the close lines and the island lines have been taken from this particular atlas and then carved into a series of different books.
'There are people who completely hate what I do and think ‘How dare you, the book is sacred!’ and then other people think this is terrific because I’m giving a new life to old books that will never be read again. The book is being challenged in a way that it's never been before with the rise of ereaders. What I do is to celebrate the book because I think it’s the ultimate design of any sort of object, I’m objectifying a book by turning it into a sculpture.'
Nicholas Jones is giving a free talk titled Paper cuts: atlases as sculpture at 5pm on 7 July for our Carnival of Curiosity.