It is with (inevitable) sadness that I read last week that the Encyclopedia Britannica has (finally) announced there will be no more new printed editions. I must admit I did feel largely nostalgic at the thought. Then I began to feel the knowing guilt, having never actually purchased any of their sets. Some might say that this news is possibly 15 years in the making although somewhere, somehow this decision will mean something.
There is, however, something intrinsically wonderful about the concept of a printed Encyclopaedia. It is not just the smell, the binding and the beautiful linework used in the illustrations that draws me to them. For me, there is something magical about capturing and curating all the information that someone has deemed ‘important’ from one entire year. The book/s are a snap shot of life as was known for that particular time and have a very important place in our history.
This notion actually formed the basis for a collection of hand made large scale collage artworks I undertook last year. Generated from Illustrated Encyclopaedias taken from a particular year or time frame, I set out to recreate little worlds or scenes based on the information ‘known’ at that time.
Constructed from a 1956’s Children’s encyclopedia the black and white collage would be my favourite and the one I would like to feature today. (Due to its scale I have posted a few close ups)
Sorely Illustrated in gorgeous black line weights and hatches, it has a richness that captures the artistic style of the time it was printed. Physically the paper is thick between your fingers and the ink has settled to provide a texture to the image. Conceptually, a playful fascination with outer space and the atmosphere featured prominently in this edition so forms a large part of the constructed image.
In contrast, the colourful collage below is compiled from a 1970’s series of Illustrated Children’s Encylopedias.
As a lover of the infiniteness that is the internet, I also appreciated the simplicity and limiting qualities that the bound variety of informational gathering once enabled.
I guess once a Librarian’s daughter always a Librarian’s daughter.
All images by Thebowernest (Caitlin Perry) please credit if used.