My Nick Bantock Collage Postcard Adventure!


Lost Love, Altered Postcard, November 2007

Lost Love, Altered Postcard, November 2007

Over the last month, in between preparing for workshops and submissions to galleries, I’ve been doing some research on artist/writer Nick Bantock.  This December I hope to submit a postcard for a challenge paying tribute to his Griffin and Sabine trilogy: Griffin and Sabine: An Extraordinary Correspondence, Sabine’s Notebook and The Golden Mean.  An extraordinary correspondence indeed the trilogy relays, through a series of postcards and letters (which we get to open and read!), the romance between Griffin Moss, an illustrator living in London, and Sabine Strohem, a stamp designer living in the fictional Sicmon Islands.  Through magical means Sabine is somehow able to see into Griffin’s world.  As readers we become voyeurs peering into the intimate correspondence between the two.  One nagging question persists throughout the series … is Sabine real or is she a figment of Griffin’s imagination?  When the two finally meet, this question is ours alone to decide as Bantock leaves readers to solve the mystery in their own imaginations.  It’s a thrilling and visually compelling read as Bantock, a master collagist, leaves all kinds of clues and conundrums for us to uncover about his characters through his art.

With big boots to fill, I’ve been bent on “becoming” Nick Bantock.  Like an actor who takes on a role by studying the life of the character she/he portrays, as an artist, I like to do the same.  Through doing some research I’ve tried to get into the headspace of Bantock and his characters.  I’ve gone through the trilogies as well as reviewing Bantock’s book Urgent 2nd Class, written for collage enthusiasts outlining his thoughts and approaches to art making.  Technically, it’s not the most detailed step-by-step text but it gives great insight into a wide range of amazing collage techniques.  The book is a must have for those interested in creating collages with all kinds of antique collectibles (ie. photos, postcards, stamps, books, banknotes and game boards).  My favourite sections in the book deal with altering stamps/maps/engravings, playing with photocopies/rubber stamps and integrating drawings into artwork.  For me, the beauty of Bantock’s collage style is how he so subtly and seamlessly weaves images and mediums; blending them so skilfully that they take on a life of their own.

After two weeks of reading, I needed to carry through with some action (!) so I laid out my modest collection of old postcards, stamps and rubber stamps on my studio table.  I spent a few days looking them all over and eventually isolated a precious few I hoped Bantock himself might have chosen for his own postcard collage.  As well as using these I thought I might be a bit gutsier and create my own antique-looking postcard.  So far, I’ve thought working with the theme of the sea might be nice… maybe using an old photo of myself as a kid on a beach in Pakistan.  In those days the beach was the greatest space of imagination for me: the endless Arabian Sea, the beautiful seashells and the sound of the ocean in them always managed to transport me to another world.  I’ve got some old stamps from Pakistan I could use as well.  I picked up a really neat sea shell stamp from my favourite local rubber stamp store Heather’s Stamping Haven.  On Thursday afternoon while searching for images for a workshop I found a perfect pair of sandy feet that might look great as a postcard cover (eureka!) … so it looks like I’m ready to experiment!  Now, I just hope I can get it done in time for December 1st!  If nothing else it’s a great opportunity to peer into the visual soul of one of my favourite artists.  See this link for information on the Griffin and Sabine postcard challenge.

You can buy antique postcards and stamps at local antique stores or fairs.  If you’re in the Ontario area, Gadsden Promotions gives a great listing of vintage book/paper/postcard shows.  If you’re a Nick Bantock fan, here’s a little something for you to check out.  My good friend and creative soul Diane Salter, and her friends were so taken up by the Griffin and Sabine stories, they invented their own lovers, Parus and Alexandra, and created a postcard correspondence between the two (check Set 1 and Set 2).  If you’re interested in other collage postcard artists “Signs in the Wind” by artist Lenore Tawney is excellent!  Here’s a great link written by Clairan Ferrono to fill you in a bit about Tawney’s life and art.

4 comments to My Nick Bantock Collage Postcard Adventure!

  • Socrates

    What a fantastic and detailed post. Now I certainly expect your entry, it would be too bad to leave all this wonderful research without results. I can tell you that Nick Bantock has been checking the website and he has so far been impressed with the calibre of the work. Now we need yours.

    • Michelle

      Hi Socrates, Thanks for your kind words regarding my post. It’s so easy to get excited about Nick Bantock’s art. Well, it looks like I’m going to have to try extra hard to get it done on time! It’s always fun checking your site to see the latest postcard submissions. Best, Michelle

  • Oh, how fun! You’re going to die, but I recently saw Nick Bantock here in Denver! There’s a retrospective of his art here at the Museum of Outdoor Art (of all places!). It’s amazing and is up until February.

    I got so much juju from seeing him and his collage work that day. I was ready to sign up for one of his workshops. I still may do that.

    Just wanting to share the NB love and send you kudos for making an awesome card!

    • Michelle

      Hello Cynthia, Wow, lucky you to have the privilege of seeing Nick Bantock AND his work!!! I sure wish a gallery would pick up an exhbition of his here in Ottawa, Canada — we have plenty of NB fans here! There’s something about the aura of creative people that’s so infectious. Recently I discovered a webpage re his collage workshops — it would be amazing to have a chance to learn from him directly. If you register, I’d love to know how it goes. I wonder what kind of juju you’ll pick up if you get a chance to speak/work with him one-on-one! Thanks for your kind words about my postcard. Michelle

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