Interview: Emma Taylor, Book Sculptor Extraordinaire
Emma Taylor creates unique book sculptures depicting the scene that inspires her from within a book. Her art is a response to the decreasing demand of books due to the rise of the modern technology. She says "To me the possibility of the end of the book is a tragic one; I appreciate books as an object as much as I enjoy the stories and knowledge which they hold."
Emma Taylor: As well as making book sculptures I am also studying for a History of Art BA in London. The combination of the two work wonderfully - when I’ve had enough of essays and want to be creative I turn to book sculpture and when my fingers can take no more gluing I head back to reading books instead of cutting them up. I love everything to do with art so being in London is ideal for me and I try to visit as many galleries and exhibitions as I can.
Emma Taylor: I’ve always been the making sort; I have photos of myself with towering box sculptures when I was three that I decorated with flowers and tassels. So I guess book sculpture is just a refinement of the cutting and decorating that I have loved since being a child. I was first inspired specifically to create a book sculpture for a qualification at school after seeing images of the Edinburgh Book Sculptures on the internet. I was completely mesmerized by this art form and wanted to have a go at creating a similar piece in my own style. That was two and half years ago and From Within A Book has just grown from there.
Emma Taylor: Each piece is inspired by the book itself, whether it's the cover, story or title. I love combing the shelves of old bookshops and market stalls looking for a starting point for each new sculpture.
Emma Taylor: I like to think of book sculpture as giving new life to books which people no longer value for their original purpose. The books themselves may be damaged and so by incorporating them into a sculpture I hope to highlight that signs of wear and tear form a record of the life of the book and so add to the beauty that they still display.
Please tell us about the process from selecting the book for sculpture to creating the scene.
Emma Taylor: After I stumble upon an inspiring book I then begin sketching ideas around that theme, from these sketches I form a plan of what I imagine the final piece to look like. I find the process of sketching integral to the design process in order to consolidate my ideas into one cohesive scene.
From this plan I begin creating basic skeleton forms of the various components from wire, these are then padded with wadding to form the 3D forms and finally covered in strips of book pages to blend seamlessly with the book behind. The final details are added at the end, this is when I let myself get completely carried away with adding anything from window frames to the petals of tiny flowers.