Embryonic Stars

The Books of Ian Boyden


Essay by Timothy C. Ely


To the right: Sidereal Heart, 2011. Book made of a nickel-iron meteorite, 7.5 x 7.5 x 2.5 inches


My friend Timothy C. Ely wrote a beautiful and generous essay that appeared in the exhibition catalogue Flowing Movement: The Material Imagination of Ian Boyden. The essay was translated into Chinese and appears in the catalogue in both languages. The essay has been very well received by the Chinese audience, in particular, they enjoy his comparison of one of their most celebrated calligraphers with the patterns found in a nickel-iron meteorite. And most recently parts of this essay have been excerpted and published in a couple of magazines that covered my exhibition at the Suzhou Museum. Here are the first two paragraphs of Tim's essay and I provide a link should you wish to read the whole thing:


Books are strange animals, and great books are stranger still. For me, one attribute of a great book is that it changes my views of the world. These books also possess specific qualities of image and intellect supported by an architecture of fine craft, creating an experience that is holistic—an experience in which it appears that nothing has been overlooked.

This experience occurs repeatedly for me with each viewing of a book by Ian Boyden. For decades now I have looked at fine books and bindings by many of the world's most facile craft workers. I am often dazzled by the skills that each bookbinder brings to his or her process, which follows conception, design, papermaking, and usually printing. Bookbinding, in its conventional means of working, is a series of steps leading to a final assembly. The bookbinder is the last artisan in the art of the sequence. In the books of Ian Boyden, a different music is attended to and something unusual occurs.


Read the rest of the essay HERE.


This essay first appeared in Bai Qianshen, et al., Flowing Movement—The Material Imagination of Ian Boyden. Shanghai: Shanghai Wenwu Chubanshe (in collaboration with J.Y. Fine Art and Suzhou Museum), 2012.