Exploring Altered Books from the First World

  • By Jacqui Thomas

Exploring Altered Books from the First World

Call it upcycling, destruction of precious items, mixed media sculpture or breathing new life into old ‘technology’, the altered book is an art form that is being practiced all over the first world where information is now being accessed from the world wide web rather than from the printed page.

Its a beautiful turn of events really. Just as the first books (think illuminated manuscripts as pictured above) were individually hand drawn and crafted by artisans, mass produced volumes are now being carefully and thoughtfully re-crafted to create stunning works of art that often connect thematically or symbolically with the words on the page or subject matter of the book.

Here are some samples from around the world.

AUSTRALIAMarriage by Leonie Leivenzon.

This piece is made from an old encyclopaedia that is opened to the page entitled ‘Marriage’. The characters are made from clay with paper from the book collaged onto them. See more of Leonie's art


JAPANSelected works by Noriko Ambe. 

Noriko Ambe in his artist statement says So to speak, I have been mapping the mysterious land between physical and emotional geography. I want to attain something sublime.’ See more from Noriko Ambe


CANADACanadian Guy Laramee’s carved book landscapes take inspiration from South America to express the existential aspect of life. See more by Guy Laramee


UKUK Artist Sue Blackwell says of her work…”I often work within the realm of fairy-tales and folk-lore. I began making a series of book-sculpture, cutting-out images from old books to create three-dimensional diorama’s, and displaying them inside wooden boxes”. See more by Sue Blackwell


AMERICAAmerican book artist Lisa Kokin uses whole both books and pages along with textiles to create thoughtful works that transforms found objects and work. See more by Lisa Kokin


AMERICABrian Dettmer coats the page edges with a varnish to make a solid block before carving into the pages inside. See him talk about his work here.



 AMERICAThe team at Prrint specialise in colourful and quirky prints printed onto up cycled pages from vintage books see more on their etsystore.


Feature image at top: The Hours of Isabella d’Este, Use of Rome, in Latin, illuminated manuscript on vellum [Italy (Florence), c.1490] | Lot | Sotheby's 

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