Manic Almanac

Manic Almanac

Posted on 18th July 2007

An exhibition of hand made, recycled and metamorphic books by Shaun Caton.

bookartbookshop Hoxton, presents the rich and densely layered dream diaries and recycled book art of local visual artist, experimental poet/performer Shaun Caton. Thickly encrusted pages heave with a tumultuous glut of collaged photographs, delirious word fragments, unintentional Rorschach ink stains, found urban sound poems, copperplate insignia, lost and found imaginary letters, recordings of dreams since the 1980’s whilst undergoing voluntary pharmaceutical testing as a means to funding life as a jobbing performance artist, frenzied ballpoint and crayon drawings, effulgent melting autographs of invented personae, catalogues of the curious and outré, grotesque anatomical anomalies, Polaroid manipulations, over painted cartoons, chronicles of a hyper active consciousness teetering on the ragged edges of concertinaed pages, sandwiched, slashed, and pasted from discarded 19th century tomes, the plethora of thumbed and fading snapshots scrawled with muted utterances from beyond the grave…

Caton’s books are an absolute visual delight and evolve over extended time periods; a page may take several days, a week, or a month to ‘realise’. Working on a variety of themes in his traveling and makeshift studio, from prehistoric imagery derived from numerous visits to cave sites in France where he has studied ice age paintings and signs, to voluminous and truncated journals that encapsulate the minutiae of his daily experiences, these are iconic books, collated and collapsing with text and bizarre imagery. Caton buys books from second hand shops merely in order to cannibalise and re-work, accentuate and situate new concepts of book art inside. The development of mythical personalities within the books is suggested by a haphazard collecting of sepia photographs from flea markets of long dead people, dictates an eccentric and polymorphous approach to any rational classification of these strange books. Certain of Caton’s books have taken as long as 4 years to finish and are a testament to an unswerving obsession with collecting, transforming and regurgitating atavistic impulses and a primordial treatment of language. Such long projects travel with him all over the world and are incorporated into his daily rituals and behaviours. Often he will rummage in his rucksack and emerge with a teeming album only to add to it half way through conversation, carrying on both functions simultaneously. These books are about energy and the dynamics of poetic imagination. As all the books are hand made, painted, and crafted, they are entirely unique and explode the utilitarian functionality of what a book is; these are rarefied reliquaries for a wanderlust mind to inhabit. Caton has recently exhibited a selection of his books as part of his exhibition, Unscene Figment at Galerie de Meerse in the Netherlands (2006).

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