Visit to Chelsea College of Art Library

Other writing tasks have made us slow to update the Society’s blog, but with ARLIS UK and Ireland’s Conference underway in Glasgow at the moment, today seems a good day to share some of the wonderful sights we saw at Chelsea College of Art Library back in May.


Gustavo Grandal Montero welcomed us to the library, and took us to the Special Collections room where we had an opportunity to see, hear about, and handle some of Chelsea’s collection of artists’ books. One of the significant things about Chelsea is that its collection was established specifically to be used by art students, artists, and other researchers. There are, of course, museum-quality pieces of art, but as long as a book can be handled (without literally falling apart), it can be used. Materials are incorporated into classes, displayed in exhibitions, and used as inspiration by those working on their own book arts.

Gustavo’s current PhD examines concrete poetry movements, and he was able to bring knowledge from his original research to bear in the discussion he led with the group. He also drew on his longstanding work with the artists’ books at Chelsea, curating, adding to the collection and helping others to access it.

Personal highlights for me, as a researcher who mostly uses artists’ books to teach cataloguing and bibliography (helping students to question the definition of the book and its many forms) included seeing some of Dieter Roth’s bok series that I had not had a chance to encounter before, such as bok 3b und book 3d (picture of MoMa’s copy online here). I also enjoyed hearing attendees’ reactions to Daniel Spoerri’s An Anecdoted Topography of Chance (Something Else Press, 1966; Wikipedia entry here for those new to it) Completely new to me was Gavin Wade’s curated project Strategic Questions. Pictured here is #2. Has Man a Function in Universe?, described on the Bookworks website as “an ‘exquisite corpse’ involving collaboration, dissemination and the combining of works.”


Like all the UoL Bibliophiles library visits, this was a convivial afternoon meeting, in which we saw an amazing institutional collection, talked about our own books, and were inspired by our host’s expertise to add to both our knowledge and our to be acquired lists.

Many thanks indeed to Gustavo and the rest of the Chelsea team.

Anne Welsh

UoL Bibliophiles Secretary

Images: Anne Welsh ; Egidija Čiricaitė; Amy Page.



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