Anna Lewis

Mary Husted

A major exhibition of artists books, curated by Mary Husted and featuring Welsh and international artists, was presented at the Logan Gallery, Queensland and at the Australian Defence Academy Library, Canberra. Following the project, Mary reported:

"The Open Books Plus project was founded originally from an exhibition idea put together by me, Mary Husted. I invited artists I knew, nationally and internationally, to use the format of the Chinese folding book (which I had come across on my travels to Hong Kong and China).

The first exhibition opened very successfully in Aberystwyth in the National Library in 2012, and then in Bay Arts, Cardiff and then on to Bristol University…. It was recognised early on that it always had the potential to make a visually rich touring show. All participating artists were keen to get it seen further.

Our Chinese exhibition came about through initial interest from the participating artist Frank Vigneron, based in Hong Kong University, who made contact with Joe Zhou in Hangzhou, China. He and his colleague, Professor Zigin Chen, invited Open Books to be part of their next big exhibition in the Sanshang Museum of Contemporary Art in Hangzhou last November as part of an existing programme ‘Decanter Ink’ celebrating Chinese ink-based and traditional format work. We were invited to provide a western and contemporary perspective on this traditional folding book form.

Through Angela Gardner, an Australian artist and poet who visits Cardiff regularly, we were then invited to show in Australia, and subsequently had two offers for exhibitions in 2014 in the Logan Regional Gallery in Queensland and the Library of the Australian Defence Academy (ADFA ), part of the University of New South Wales (UNSW) in Canberra.

These opportunities

- Raise the profile of Welsh artists internationally;

- Establish more permanent cultural links between Wales, China and Australia, and their art establishments, museums, galleries and art academies as well as with curators and practitioners.

- Extend our own understanding of our own practices, both as artists and curators through collaboration with local artists, curators and other book and arts professionals.

The support of Wales Arts International has enabled me to make contact with several new artists and institutions in Australia with the potential for future exchanges and contacts not only for me, but also between our Chinese colleagues and Australian artists and institutions. The nature of this project is to forge links between all participating artists, curators and institutions."

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