Saturday, November 08, 2008

The Minotaur

Here's the completed prototype for the pop-up 'Minotaur'. An account of the final stages of its construction can be found here.

I'm working on some other unusual prototypes at the moment which will be posted here shortly. In the New Year I'll begin the process of making small editions of our first batch of 'Pania Peculiars' for sale.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Pania goes 3D

A selection of Pania Press titles 2007-09

Despite the four month hiatus in Pania Press posts, exciting developments are afoot, so I want to offer you a preview of a range of projects that are underway in preparation for our next cluster of publications.

But first a little back story:

The Christmas before last I decided to make Jack a special book so I set about making an ambitious pop-up book adaptation of his very strange and dark werewolf story, "Notes found inside a text of Bisclavret." I saw that the narrative had a huge amount of pop-up potential with its tale of transformation from man into beast and interior and exterior scenes of castles and forests. The only problem was that I didn't know the first thing about paper engineering. But when I was gathering up the weekly paper recycle for rubbish day I noticed that a lot of cardboard packaging employs collapsible technology which is of course the central principle behind effective pop-up design. I salvaged the cardboard separator from a wine box and a number of six-pack carriers and spent a lot of time thinking about what I could do with them. This was the result:

The protagonist of the story is a noble baron married to a wealthy heiress. Unfortunately he transforms into a wolfman for three nights of every week. In order to prevent his wife from learning his terrible secret he hides in the forest and preys on other creatures until he turns back into a man, retrieves his clothing hidden beneath a stone by an old chapel, and returns home to his wife. Naturally she wonders where he gets to and suspecting that he is having an affair implores him to reveal his secret. When he tells her the truth he also discloses that should his clothing ever be taken from the hiding place then he would remain a werewolf forever. His fickle wife, who is in love with another man, immediately realises that this is the opportunity to rid herself of her husband. When he disappears the following week she commands her lover to steal away his clothes. He willingly does so, her husband never returns, and after a short period of mourning, the wife and her lover are married.

Justify Full[The Chapel in the Woods]

I used the corner and first two slots of a beer carton for the pop-up mechanism and I found the perfect image of a lovely old chapel in a magazine and made a collaged forest backdrop from photocopies of illustrations by Gustave Doré.

The wolf is captured by a royal hunting party but the king immediately recognises that this is no ordinary beast. Our hero becomes a faithful pet, lives in the castle and sleeps at the King's side. But when the King holds a lavish banquet to which all the barons of his fiefs are invited, the knight who had married the baron's wife arrives and the wolf savagely lunges at him. The King is so surprised by his behaviour that the following day he returns to the forest where the wolf was captured to see if he could gather any clues that might explain the wolf's uncharacteristic display of aggression towards the knight. The baron's former wife, hearing that the King's party have made camp in the woods near her home, gets dressed up and takes a lavish gift to present to the King. Upon seeing his wife again the wolf is consumed by rage, attacks her and bites off her nose. The wise King puts two and two together and remembers that the woman used to be married to the noble baron who mysteriously vanished. She is forced under duress to confess her crime against her husband and return the baron's clothes. The wolf becomes a man again and the king restores his estate and riches to him and banishes the wife and her second husband from the kingdom. In a far off land she gives birth to a number of children but her line is cursed forever - all are born without a nose.

[Interior Rooms]

For the second pop-up I wanted to convey the idea of the hidden self so I used the maze like-structure of the wine box insert to create a series of interior spaces with another photocopied backdrop, this time the drawing room of a stately English home. The three front panels show a mirror that reveals nothing, a portrait of the baron's wife and a portrait of the baron. When an actual mirror is placed behind each of the portraits the dark soul of the wife is revealed (a drawing by Alberto Giacometti) as is the tortured state of our Wolfman hero (an Edward Munch Self-portrait).

Dark Soul

Those of you familiar with Jack's stories will know that straightforward narratives are not his thing and the Bisclavret story is no exception. The original story in French runs alongside the English translation and this is joined by a third, much stranger text, told as a sequence of marginal notes written by a 21 year old anorexic woman. The connection between the two characters, the wolfman in the main story, and the young woman writing the secondary text, is that both of their physical afflictions involve bodily transformation. Along with the obvious physical emaciation, one of the known side effects of anorexia is the development of a fine covering of hair over the face and body, called lanugo, which is a protective mechanism built-in to the body to help keep a person warm during periods of starvation and malnutrition.

The story written in the margins of the primary text is about a woman who takes two abandoned foundlings into her home even though she recognises from the start that the boy and girl are no ordinary children. The observations of the household staff confirm her suspicions: the way they tear at their food snarling and biting like wolves, their rough play, and obsession with hiding. They take to sleeping with the woman at night and she welcomes the maternal sensation that this unlocks in her. When her husband returns home, disheveled and grubby, after one of his frequent unexplained absences she reflects on the state of their marriage - that but for his absences she could love him still and on her tragic inability to bear him a child apart from the curious cub-like foetus that she had miscarried. To save her marriage she invites her husband back into the marital bed, they make love, but when she wakes in the half-light she finds herself alone. She looks out the window and sees her husband with the children crouched at his side making their way towards the dark forest. In the dream that follows she is one with them, among her family of wolves in the woods but in reality she must always wake alone inside her castle.

[Castle: Exterior / Interior]

In the final pop-up I wanted to create a sense of the woman's solitude and the absence of her werewolf family. I used the remainder of the six-pack carton to construct an incremental pop-up using photocopied magazine images of a wooded garden with stone steps leading off into the bush, the exterior of the castle, a curved interior stairway and a bedroom with an empty but slept-in bed.

When I took the book to a specialist book binder in Cuba Street to have a nice clothbound cover made for it the man took one look, laughed out loud and pretty much told me not to waste my money. That was a bit demoralising but on my way home I saw an oversized antique key in a shop window. I bought it, crudely bound the book in corrugated card, and stitched the key onto the cover for dramatic effect.


So there it was - my first pop-up book and Jack loved it. My sister Therese, who had seen the labour involved in putting it together and never once complained about the piles of cardboard debris around our flat, gave me a fantastic pop-up Alice in Wonderland for Christmas. Designed by Robert Sabuda, the undisputed modern master of paper-engineering, it has six main pop-ups of various scenes from the story but each page has a smaller insert with at least three more pop-ups.

Every technique under the sun is used in the book. There are concertina and tunnel pop-ups and countless figures that change from one thing into another, even the Queen of Hearts' roses change from white to red as you lift the page. The final page is breathtaking in its complexity as the deck of cards fall down on Alice's head and she awakens from her dream.

I could see that I was in danger of developing an obsession with pop-up books but instead of going out and buying a whole lot of them I decided that I would continue to make more of my own.

That's the end of the back story. It wasn't so little as it turns out but if you're still interested I'd like to show you a few of the 3d prototypes and projects that I've been making more recently.

As a Christmas present for Michele Leggott last year I made a pop-up stairway to accompany a lovely stanza extracted from her poetic sequence 'hello and goodbye':

when I walk sea waves
as I turn glass mallets
and turn again wind chimes
sleeping with the last track
climbing the stairs in the dark

You can find the full text here.

[Michele's Card]

I really like the simplicity of the form and the optical illusion created by the contrasting card underneath that makes it look as if the tops of the steps are red.

A few months ago my artist friend Katharina Jaeger asked if I would write an essay to accompany her exhibition at Campbell Grant Galleries in Christchurch in May. I've been a fan of Katharina's work since she exhibited at Lopdell House a few years ago when I used to work there as a curator. She works mainly with textiles and soft sculpture but instead of taking a soft approach to the medium, Katharina's art has a dark, sinister and disturbing side, which I like a lot. She creates strange taxidermic environments filled with stuffed, sheathed, sutured, draped, elasticised, and dangling objects that get under your skin. ‘I enjoy that haberdashery can be so mean’, she wrote to me recently and I have to say that this idea intrigued me a great deal.

In her latest exhibition, Fold, Katharina created an installation using ornate footstools, tables, and a box of broken pieces of antique furniture. She made fabric shrouds for the disembodied fragments and dangled them from the gallery ceiling and for the freestanding four-legged pieces she made swollen amorphous fabric forms that rose from the surfaces of the tables and footrests as if the objects were coming to life.

In response to Katharina's exhibition I wrote an essay titled 'The half-life of haberdashery', and printed it as a limited edition (30 copies) hand-stitched A5 catalogue. By way of a folded response to the haunted half-life of Katharina's Fold I made a slightly creepy two-piece pop-up form in the back of the catalogue that expands and breathes as you open it.

When Jack and I were talking recently about the various possibilities for future Pania Press publications we came up with the idea of starting a range of different series that could be added to over time. We'd already produced two poetry chapbooks, two art catalogues, and an anthology of stories and poems but we were keen to keep Pania Press fresh and expand our enterprise in new and interesting ways. We've come up with ideas for three new series so far:

Pania Peculiars:

An outlet for the more extreme end of fiction, poetry and art book publication. Our only proviso for the 'Peculiars' is that the darker and weirder the material is the better. Although it's a one-off I think we'd probably categorise the Wolfman pop-up book as our first 'Peculiar'. Interestingly, when we took the book down off the shelf to show to a friend recently two large mason bees flew out of the spine. Being the superstitious souls that we are we think that might be some kind of portent but we're not quite sure of what!

Pania Singles:

In this series we will be working with single poems or short stories that have design or illustrative potential. Jack's translation of the Jorge Luis Borges poem, 'laberinto' [Labyrinth] is our first experiment. Here's the poem:

The Minotaur

There'll never be a door. You're stuck inside.
These sunken casemates are the universe,
all the universe of signs: forward, reverse,
no centre to the web, no world outside.
Don't think the insane precision of your game,
monotonously counting every turn,
monotonously counting every turn,
will save you. The result will be the same.
Stop looking forward to the bloody charge
of the beast who is a man, who is your double,
whose shadow punctuates this seamless puzzle
of rubber walls contracted to a cage.
He isn't there. You're fucked. You'd better learn
not to expect the dark thrust of his horn.

Here's the prototype 'Minotaur':

[Minotaur Concertina Book]

I've divided the poem into four pop-up spreads. The first is a series of sunken casemates. The second is a trio of floating stairs. The third looks at the concept of the double and features a pair of contracting cage or mask forms. The fourth spread is a group of geometric shapes that on second glance form the face of the horned Minotaur. The book will either be assembled as a concertina format with a hand printed maze on the backing card or it will be bound as a carousel book that folds around on itself to create a labyrinthine effect.

Pania Play scripts:

The beauty of having such a diverse and prolific writer in the family is that I never have to look far for inspiration for my next prototype and I never quite know what Jack is working on at any given moment. It shouldn't have come as any surprise when he presented me with the script for his first play a couple of months ago. I'd told Jack about two wine box puppet theatres that I'd made as presents for my nieces and nephews - an adaptation of Petrouchka and a children's version of my favourite Italo Calvino story, The Baron in the Trees. My description of the two theatres obviously made an impression on him because he went off and wrote an adaptation of the Greek drama The Oresteia by Aeschylus - only Jack's version is called The Puppet Oresteia. The narrators are two children, Gene and Rusty, who are rehearsing a puppet show of The Oresteia that they intend to perform for their family.

Gene, Rusty's older sister, has obviously been reading up on Greek Mythology, because she's updated the play considerably to include a lot of commentary on her mother and father's recent divorce, the Iraq war, and a number of other things. She's also incorporated Euripides' two plays about King Agamemnon's eldest daughter Iphigenia into the plot, and these serve as bookends for the vicious family bloodletting which is the focus of Aeschylus's play.

It's important to remember that what we're watching is only a dress rehearsal, as it's hard to avoid the conclusion that the family are going to shut down the eventual performance of this very disturbing drama about five minutes in (as King Claudius does with the play within the play in Hamlet).

Our idea is to publish the playscript with images of the wine box theatre complete with its various scenes and puppet characters in action reproduced on the facing pages.

Here's an extract from the play:

Scene 3: The Palace at Mycenae [night]
Jacuzzi (exterior)
the queen, her lover & her son / Clytemnestra, Aegisthus & Orestes:

Gene: You were great as Daddy … as Agamemnon, Rusty. You do him much better than me.

Rusty: Thanks. You don’t think he’ll mind?

Gene: Nah. Fuck ’em if they can’t take a joke, anyway. This next bit is a bit complicated, though – you’ve got to do both guys, Aegisthus and Orestes. Even when they’re talking to each other.

Rusty: Should I do it in different voices?

Gene: Yeah. Your own voice for Orestes, and that pompous, self-satisfied one of yours for Uncle Al – Aegisthus. I’ll stick with Clytemnestra …

That little bitch screamed like a stuck pig. Some prophet she was! She ran like a rabbit and fought like a mountain lion.

Aegisthus: Did you kill her?

Clytemnestra: Of course I killed her. Unless you know of any way of surviving having your throat slit from ear to ear, that is?

Aegisthus: Har de-har har. Very funny.

Clytemnestra: So much blood!

Aegisthus: Well, what did you expect? Did you think he’d just slip gracefully out of the picture, leaving a sigh and a faint odour of roses?

Clytemnestra: No, but … fuck, what a mess!

Aegisthus: You were going to say it’ll take a while to clean up, weren’t you?

Clytemnestra: No! Though .. Why would that be such a stupid thing to say? I mean, you don’t have to wash the clothes – or the floors, for that matter …

Aegisthus: Neither do you.

Here's the wine box theatre with five tiered scenery backdrops that are removed one at a time as the action unfolds:

[The Puppet Theatre]

In keeping with the plot, the design challenge was to make the theatre look like a child had made it - which wasn't hard for me because I can't draw to save my life so my art and craft projects always have a naïve quality about them. So there's the update from Pania Press. Lots of fun 3D projects on the boil so standby over the next wee while as we go into production and turn these prototypes into gorgeous finished objects.

- Bronwyn Lloyd

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Orange Roughy Sold Out!

[cover design by Graham Fletcher]

The Orange Roughy launch two weeks ago, on Sunday 9th of March, was a great success by any standards.

[Before: setting up the garden]

Michele Leggott spoke briefly about the book, and then gave it a ritual send-off with a touch from her ceremonial tokotoko Poet Laureate's staff. Bronwyn read out a lovely, heartfelt message from Thérèse in Iowa -- and then the rest of us relaxed in the sun, eating, talking and drinking wine. Oh, and a fair number of books appear to have got sold as well.

[During: Michele Leggott & Bronwyn Lloyd launch the book]

Since then, the orders have been coming in thick and fast. Top of the selling pyramid would have to be Peter and Margaret Lloyd of Christchurch (25+), narrowly followed by Greg Lloyd and his able lieutenants Sheryl and Fiona (20+).

[After: Michele in conversation with (l-r):
Greg & Mike Lloyd, Mark Fryer, & Margot Lloyd]

[photographs 1,3 & 4 by June Ross/ 2 & 5 by Greg Lloyd]

On the one hand this is very good news. The whole idea was to make some money very very fast to send to America. On the other hand, I'm afraid we'll have to disappoint those of you who've been putting off ordering a copy.

I'm sorry. We would have held some back if we'd foreseen quite such a rush, but the combination of individually screen-printed, hand-coloured covers with such a star-studded line-up of writers, has proved irresistible.

I know you thought I was exaggerating when I urged you to get in quickly, but they really have all gone now. Better luck next time, with our long-anticipated editio princeps of Michele Leggott's poetry chapbook hello and goodbye ...

Here's the text of Tazey's message:

Hello Orange Roughians!

Thank you so so much to everyone who has come along to today’s launch of
Orange Roughy – Poems for Tazey.

It’s an incredible feeling to know that there are all these lovely folk gathered together to celebrate the launch of this gorgeous Pania Press book.

I don’t want to sound like I’m giving an Oscar acceptance speech, but I really do want to say thank you to everybody involved, but a few people in particular.

Thank you to all the contributors who so graciously offered their wonderful words to this book. It’s humbling indeed to have my poems nestled alongside Michele Leggott’s, Bernadette Hall’s, Bill Manhire’s, Michael Steven’s, Emma Neale’s and …well, I won’t list all the authors because that would take too long … you can read all their marvelous contributions once you’ve purchased at least two copies of the book each!

A big thank you to Graham Fletcher for his cover design and exquisite drawings throughout, and for donating so much of his time over the past few weeks, screen-printing and, get this, hand painting all the little orange bricks on the cover!
What a hero!

Thank you very much to John and June Ross for hosting what is I’m sure a very lovely afternoon tea in their garden.

But most of all I want to say thank you to Bonze (sorry, Bronwyn) and Jack.

What started out as a needy call home for some financial aid, has resulted in the most amazing display of creativity, generosity, sheer hard work and incredible tenacity.

I only know of a smidgen of the long hours and hard work that Bonze and Jack put into this production, but I think it’s such an overwhelmingly generous project and I can’t thank them enough for dedicating so much of their time to this book, and for being so totally awesome (or aaah-sim, as they say here).

I wish I could be there to help celebrate, but I’m definitely there in spirit.

New Zealanders rock!

Loads of love and gratitude to you all


Thursday, February 21, 2008

Orange Roughy Launch

[design by Graham Fletcher]

This is an invitation to Pania Press's very first



No. 6 Hastings Rd,
Mairangi Bay
North Shore City

from 2 to 4 pm
on Sunday 9th March

And what's the book?

is an anthology of poetry and fiction, including contributions by the following writers and artists:

Martin Edmond
Graham Fletcher
Bernadette Hall
Michele Leggott
Bronwyn Lloyd
Thérèse Lloyd
Bill Manhire
Emma Neale
Susannah Poole
Tessa Rain
Richard Reeve
Jack Ross
Tracey Slaughter
Michael Steven
Damien Wilkins

And why are we so anxious to sell this particular title? The text on the bookmark below explains the precise circumstances...

“Better than a sausage sizzle in front of the Warehouse”
– Damien Wilkins

It’s not always that easy for a young writer to make ends meet, especially when she’s far away from home. When we heard that our beloved Thérèse (Tazey to her friends), in Iowa on the 2007-8 Glenn Schaeffer Fellowship, was having difficulty paying the bills, we weren’t (unfortunately) able just to write her out a cheque.

Instead we came up with this idea. Why not mobilise all of Tazey’s friends and writing mentors throughout both islands, and ask them to contribute to this little festschrift / anthology?

The response has been fantastic! The book we’ve put together includes unpublished or uncollected work from many of New Zealand’s foremost writers, as well as a stunning set of pageworks by artist Graham Fletcher.

Thanks, then, to all of the contributors, and to everyone who buys the book. Since all of us have donated our time and work for free, you can feel confident that every penny of the money will be going to a very worthy cause.

– Jack Ross & Bronwyn Lloyd.

Yes, it's a fundraiser. So, while of course we intend to wine and dine you in style, we would appreciate it if you came along with that in mind. Nobody involved in this project has taken a cent from it -- all the proceeds, not just all the profits -- are going to Therese in Iowa, so we're really anxious to sell as many of these fine books as possible, at the very reasonable price of $25 each.

More to the point, if you can't make it to the launch, send money or a cheque to Pania HQ and we'll be very happy to dispatch as many copies as you like of the book, post-free within NZ, for exactly the same price. Come on, you know you want it!


(December 25, 2015) Antigone . Poem by Jack Ross. Design by Bronwyn Lloyd. Pania Singles 3. Auckland: Pania Press, 2015. Every Chri...