Friday, 11 December 2015

Prizewinners and a date for the diary

Words & Women has had a fantastic week this week. Firstly we heard we’d been shortlisted for Women In Publishing’s New Venture Award 2015. The award ceremony was held in London on Wednesday and the prize went to Mother’s MilkBooks, a publishing house in Nottingham, but we were runners-up! We’re absolutely thrilled to be recognised by women in the business. It’s a great honour and very encouraging.

Then we heard that a story ‘You Have What You Want’ included in Words & Women: Two, published by Unthank Books was awarded the Margaret Hewson prize. Anthea Morrison wrote the story and has read her work at Words & Women events in Cambridge. The prize is awarded annually by Johnson & Alcock Literary Agency to a student on the Creative Writing MA at Royal Holloway University of London. Anthea's short story impressed all the judges 'with its clear, spare prose and powerful description of a woman's altered state of mind. The story about a new mother's midnight stroll was beautifully observed and full of tension.' Congratulations Anthea!

Finally a date for your diary. Words & Women will be celebrating its fifth anniversary next year. We are organising a great International Women’s day event to celebrate. It will take place in the evening on the 7th March at the Norwich Arts Centre. More information will be released in the New Year but it will include the launch of our third anthology Words & Women: Three, readings, music and comedy.  All are welcome.Tickets are £5. Half of the money raised will support Words & Women’s future projects and half will go to our chosen charity Women For Refugee Women.

Saturday, 5 December 2015

Words & Women interviews Rosie Sherwood about her latest publishing venture 'As Yet Untitled'.

W&W: Hi Rosie. Tell us a little about your work as an artist and publisher.
Rosie: Hi. My work as an artist is driven by my desire to tell stories every way I can. Storytelling and art have been at the heart of my life for as long as I can remember so it is unsurprising to me that the two things have become intrinsically linked. It is what first drew me to photography, as it is such a potent medium with which to tell stories and it is what continues to draw me to books of every sort.
I have been working with artists’ books for years now and the potential of the book never stops exciting me. As Yet Untitled is a reflection of all of that.

W&W: Tell us about As Yet Untitled?
Rosie: As Yet Untitled is an independent publishing house that specialises in limited edition, hand made artists’ books. At the heart of the company lies my interest in narrative and storytelling, and every new book published by As Yet Untitled will use the books form and structure in new and different ways to tell stories or explore how narrative works. I will be working collaboratively with poets, visual artists, writers, historians, musicians and more to make new, exciting and different books.

W&W: Where did the title for the press come from?
Rosie: As Yet Untitled is a personal joke. I love fantastic titles; I even have a list with my best friend of all the really wonderful titles we come across. However I struggle hugely with titling my own work. I always save new projects as AYU meaning As Yet Untitled. It seemed an appropriate name for a publishing house that is going to work collaboratively on projects from the very inception of an idea right through to publication. After all, everything we work on will be untitled at first.

W&W: Can you explain what an artist’s book is for those that don’t know?
Rosie: It can be almost anything really. Artists’ books can take any form, shape, come in every medium and fit in every “ism” of art and literature. At its core is the book as an art object. A book for which form and structure create meaning and the object itself is as important as what lies on its pages

W&W: As Yet Untitled was originally formed in 2012. Tell us about the first few years of the press.
Rosie: When I first started As Yet Untitled it was nothing more than a line on the back page of Elbow Room, our journal. I knew even with the very first volume of Elbow Room that I wanted the potential to create more books that would all fall under the same umbrella, the same independent publishing house. As my artistic practise grew As Yet Untitled became the name under which I produced my own artists’ books. Since the name first appeared in Elbow Room we have taken part in book fairs, got work into bookshops and special collections and taken part in exhibitions.
This growth has all been organic, until now I haven’t had any particular plan about where the press was going. That changed this year when I did a bit of work on The Princes Trust enterprise program, now we have a proper business plan with ideas set out for the next 5 years.
W&W: You mentioned Elbow Room. Can you tell us a little more about it?
Rosie: Elbow Room was started in 2012. It is an indie journal that celebrates art in all guises. Every volume includes a carefully curated selection of new writing and art sitting page to page. It was started out of my frustration that art is so often segregated from itself- poetry put over here, photography over there, music in that corner, literature in another. As an artist I am as likely to be inspired by a medium I don’t work in as I am by one I do. I wanted Elbow Room to be a reflection of the relationship between the arts.
It has become the flagship publication for As Yet Untitled and reflects many of the values of the press. Every volume of Elbow Room is hand made, numbered and produced as a limited collectors edition. We want to make an object people want to collect.
Since its launch we have made eleven volumes, three special editions in collaboration with the writers and UEA and run our first competition. We also host series of live events that brings art off the page and gives us a chance to showcase artists we can’t publish, animators, film makers, musicians. Its an exciting a diverse project and we are really looking forward to moving forward with it as the press expands.

W&W: You’ve decided to put As Yet Untitled on Kickstarter. What drew you to crowd funding?
Rosie: Crowd funding is something I feel passionately about. Funding for the arts becomes more and more difficult for everyone to access, particularly individuals and small businesses. The government is gutting public funding, demonstrating how little they believe in the importance of art. Crowd funding is a truly democratic process, a way for the public to act as patrons for the arts. It is a way not for the super wealthy but for everyone and anyone to show that they believe art matters, by helping to support artists in an incredibly grass roots way. I think it is incredible. I have pledged to numerous projects, big and small. When I was considering ways to fund my plans for the next stage of As Yet Untitled crowd funding seemed to obvious step. It isn’t an easy solution; it takes a huge amount of hard work to run a successful crowd funding campaign. But its worth it, getting the kind of support we are getting is incredible.

W&W: Tell us how Kickstarter works.
Rosie: There are a lot of crowd funding websites out there but Kickstarter is my favourite because it is risk free for the artists and their supporters. It works on an all or nothing basis. We need a particular amount of money to do all the things we are planning on, if we didn’t have enough the project would fail.
With Kickstarter you don’t get any money unless you reach your target amount, the amount you need to fulfil your promises. I like that because I want to be able to give everyone who has supported us exactly what we promised.
And of cause, if you are really lucky you can raise more, many Kickstarter projects are funding beyond the target amount.

W&W: What kinds of rewards do you have for people who donate?
Rosie: We have all sorts from bookmarks to back issues of Elbow Room or vouchers for our online shop. We have Kickstarter exclusive posters, limited edition photographs and portfolio feedback with my co-curator at Elbow Room and myself.
The rewards start from as little as £3. I think people imagine that the small pledges can’t really help so they have to give lots or none at all, but that’s not true. Every penny helps.

W&W: How much money do you hope to make, and what will it be used for?
Rosie: The target is £2000. Though obviously the dream is to make as much as possible. It is all going to be spent on materials and equipment, things we will be able to use for years to come. A pledge now is an investment in the very foundations of the press.
I’ve been talking a lot in the promotion of the Kickstarter about paying it forward. Every pledge to As Yet Untitled will help us to make countless artists’ books. The money people are giving won’t just help me but every artist and writer we work with.

W&W: Tell us a little about the books you plan to make?
Rosie: That’s hard to do, as I don’t know what they will be yet. What I can say is that every book we make will be different, unusual, experimental and fantastical in some way. As for the first titles, the ones due out next year, I can say that one is mine, a book called The Ellentree that has been waiting a long time for become real. The other two are going to be made in collaboration with two different poets, Zelda Chappel and Ella Chappell (not relation). Exactly what they end up being… hopefully enough people will pledge for us to find out!

Rosie is a multidisciplinary artist, independent publisher and scholar with an MA in Book Arts from Camberwell College of Art. Running her own independent publishing company she also works as a visiting lecturer at Universities across the country. This year she has taken part in group exhibitions at both The Southbank Centre and the Oxo Tower Gallery. Her work is housed in special collections both national and international including the Tate Library and Archive, The Poetry Library and the State Libraries of both Queensland and Victoria, Australia.