Still Life with Typewriter

130 x 195mm
Mixed-media collage, hand bound into book.
Single edition, held in the University of Technology Sydney Library’s special collection.

This book is one of a series of creative works that address the complex relationships writers have with their writing tools. This book is a visual response to Tom Robbins’ novel Still Life with Woodpecker. Within the novel, the narrator interrupts his story with asides about his writing process. He begins:

I sense that the novel of my dreams is in the Remington SL3—although it writes much faster than I can spell […] This baby speaks electric Shakespeare at the slightest provocation and will rap out a page and a half if you just look at it hard.

Gradually, he loses loses faith in his typewriter, eventually destroying the machine and hand writing the last chapter, which reproduced in the book as pages of handwriting:

I’ll never write another novel on an electric typewriter. I’d rather use a sharp stick and a pile of dogshit.

To create the artist book ‘Still Life with Typewriter’, I extracted the narrative asides discussing the writing process from an edition of Robbins’ novel and rebound them into a new book, enhancing Robbins’ original text with additional layers of original drawings, collages and written annotations. Isolating this narrative strand illuminates the troubled relationship between narrator and writing process.

This work was initially show in 2011 as part of the exhibition ‘Type Horses: Writers’ relationships with their typewriters’, at Blank_Space gallery in Surry Hills. The UTS library acquired two of the artist’s books for their Special Collection. Patrons can request to look at the books, but not check them out of the library.

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