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Shadow Book

Shadow Book

shadow book

Research centre
Art and Design Research Centre


Shadow Book is an illustrated volume that was written in Venice during 2001-2003

The book brings together fragments of writing from my writing journals in which I track my ideas and write notes for stories that I abandon and restart and rarely finish. I wrote about many things that captured my attention like recurring dreams: hourglasses, traveller’s tales, dust, the taste of snow and the strange half-ruined spaces of Venice. The work is a constellation, peculiar to me, of thoughts and memories and the things that I wanted to write about: half-remembered images, shadow and tone, melancholy, solitude, lost loves and scars of all kinds.

Shadow Book is a kind of repository or visual inventory that compiles and cross references different kinds of information. The research for the book used sources that included the history of Venice, genetic mapping, diagrams of both real and imagined palaces, studies of snowflakes, diseases and animal and plant life. Much of the material I used came from my own life and at one point the book was actually a photo album while the earliest version was made of glass. Somehow the puzzle of the book never came together as a novel and finally, after re-working the thing for millionth time, I realised that one of the book’s themes is actually the many shards of its construction. For me, the book is about the ruin of memory as much as the beautiful ruin of Venice, magically decayed by time.

Researchers involved

Penny McCarthy - Senior Lecturer, Fine Art

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