Book Art: Behind-the-Scenes

If you attended Dublin Book Festival 2016 last November, you may have noticed some of the special book art sculptures adorning Smock Alley Theatre. These unique artworks were created by the talented Art, Design and Three-Dimensional (ADT) students on their 1-year portfolio preparation course at Ballyfermot College of Further Education. The response to their work was so positive, we decided to share it with those of you who may have missed out on the festival, as well as speak to ADT course tutor Brian Walshe about all the hard work that went on behind-the-scenes:


Q. What was the initial brief you set out to your students who created these artworks?

Students were asked to respond to the notion of the ‘book’ from a personal perspective, to consider their own relationship with books and stories. They also had to consider the physicality of the book and possibilities of a book as a work of sculpture.

The response from the students was varied, some made beautiful illustrations from books, other students explored their shared relationship with of bed-time story experiences with siblings and family, like in Alanna Fitzgerald’s sculpture, or a subtle subversion of a traditional fairy-tale like in Sarah Cribbin’s inclusion of the tragic figure of Molly Malone in her Cinderella book sculpture .

[Images: Left, Sarah Cribbin, Below: Robert Keogh]












Q. How long were they building the book sculptures? 

From inception to completion, the students spent six days and many late nights at the college making the sculpture-books. Most of the work was made from card or foam board, with LED lights inserted, some books were covered in canvas and stained in tea to give an aged look. A certain technical level ofskill had to be achieved to make structure out of pages of paper and to maintain the look and feel of a book. Most of the sculpture books involved some level of remake in order to achieve the excellent standard of work.

[Images: Students working in the studio at BCFE]







Q. Many of the book artworks the course created were themed. What kind of stories or ideas did they draw upon for inspiration?

Mathew Ryan based his sculpture on the book Young Rebels, he read the book while in secondary school, and Mathew made a model sculpture of the GPO from pages of the book where the GPO featured. Robert Keogh based the theme of his sculpture book on To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee. Robert recreated an outside scene from the book where the children were running.

[Image: Matthew Ryan]




Q. What’s next for your class and the work they produced – will work be put on display for the public again at a later date?

Currently, the ADT class are wrapping up a 3D project based on the paintings of Edward Hopper. Each student is given a painting to work from where they have to imagine what is outside the frame, draw it and build a 3D model of the environment.

The work may go on display in the Ballyfermot Library. Students will complete several other projects before they submitted their portfolios to the various colleges. The students’ entire work for the year will to available to view at the end of year show.


Check out Dublin Book Festival’s Facebook page to see more images of the wonderful work!


Dublin Book Festival would like to thank all of those involved from ADT:

Course tutor: Brian Walsh

Student names:  Laura Boggans, Dylan Carroll, Sarah Cribbin, Paige Doherty, Emily Dowling, Rebecca Finn, Louise Holohan, Robert Keogh, Alanna Fitzgerald, Mathew Ryan, Aine Logan and Alex Murphy