Michelle Abadie has been making handmade, handbound, artists books in the name of maj and maltby designs, since 2001.
Michelle Abadie collates, designs, prints and binds a variety of artists' books. The themes are loosely based on orphaned or abandoned and re-contextualised postcards, illustrations and photographs (anonymous and her own).
It is through Michelle's eyes that one sees the world differently. She leads us to look at and appreciate images and objects which most of us wouldn’t notice, or would dismiss as uninteresting. Through her eyes the ordinary, overlooked or badly printed are revealed as fascinating and beautiful. Immediately things aren't necessarily what they seem and the creators aren't always obvious, but nostalgia is often part of the narrative.
The 'found' collections come from an interest in the stories and questions that arise from any lost and found imagery and words. While flicking through the pages, you quickly realise that you have filled in some blanks, invented a bit of the story and put your own history and personality onto the subjects. This way everyone gets a different experience from the collections in the books as it depends on their own experiences and past.
The married images, in her other collections, reveal contradictions and comparisons with the old and new. By carefully placing a particular image opposite another, or collaging them together, a dialogue is prompted between them that may not be immediately obvious to the viewer.
Vintage print, photography and retouching seems basic compared to today's overly sharp and hyper-real digital techniques. This is particularly extraordinary when these images were used for educational or informative purposes and yet many of them were unintelligible. However by re-contextualising them in these books they have a new purpose and in fact have their own accidental, naive beauty. Seemingly redundant images of food photography, educational illustrations and photos are returned to the present.
Combined notes and marginalia recreated in some of the books read as diary entries, or snippets of stranger’s incomplete memoirs. In a world where so much is thrown away, it is pleasing to think some of our past is being kept.
The books often contain Michelle Abadie’s contemporary photography often juxtaposed with 1940s-1960s photography used in educational books but not always.
The books are beautiful, well-crafted objects in their own right and something to be treasured in the age of cheap publishing and e-books.
All the books are hand produced. EACH BOOK IS UNIQUE AND NUMBERED.
Below are some images of some selected books:
The ‘found’ photo series are collections of found photography, which is the recovery of orphaned, lost, unclaimed, or discarded photographs. The books are often very moving even though we don’t know the people whose lives we are glimpsing. We feel a great affection for these strangers and a nostalgia for their lives. Each photograph can be surreal, unintentionally funny, inexplicably uplifting, disturbing or sad, nostalgic and enigmatic, but always poignant. These photographs are by anyone and everyone who are unknowingly documenting a social history.
Some titles in the series are Found In A Tin At The Tip (above); Found Egypt (above); Found Beauties; Found Backs And Fronts; Found Animals; Found Love; Found Mistakes; Found Photobooth; Found Dancing; Found Ey!
BOOK OF COOKERY compares the dubiously perfect, choreographed and fanciful commercial photographs from the 1940s-70s cookery books with the hap-hazard messy truth of Ms Abadie’s organic cookbook.
Much of the work in FLOWERSBODIESMACHINES addresses complicated and sometimes contradictory attitudes toward the built and natural environments. Can manmade structures be considered as nature? The images on opposing pages are in dialogue with one another and are enriched by the clash of different modes of representations from varying eras (mid twentieth century up to today) and disciplines (photographs and illustrations). It is a book of comparisons and contradiction.
The compiler hopes to lead the viewer to see these things in ways that they may not ordinarily see them or may dismiss outright.
A biennial photography project - click here for more information.
Photographs of Venice and its Biennale.
The desaturated and saturated images represent the lack of response of the eyes’ iris as the visitor moves in and out of Venice’s bright squares and dark corridors. Often the page spreads are exhibits from the Biennale married with a similar image from the everyday in the streets outside the exhibition spaces.