Rachael Ashe is an emerging Vancouver artist working in the mediums of altered books, photography and collage. She often works with recycled materials and found objects to create three-dimensional altered books and mixed-media collage.
As well, she plays with paper, paint, rubber stamps, reclaimed papers, and old book pages to create her work. This particular piece is my favourite:
Her compositions feature whimsical scenes inspired by the natural world, and she combines colour, texture, and striking compositions to create imagery that is personal and expresses a love of imagination.
Being a bit of a book nerd (not just in terms of reading, but in terms of collecting idiosyncratic, book-related things), I was excited to pick Rachael’s brain to find out what she plans to demonstrate at this year’s Maker Faire, and to learn more about her artistic process.
Your work is beautiful, and I am a particular fan of your altered books. Can you walk me through your creative process?
Opus Art Supplies recently did a video feature about my work, and gives the viewer a terrific view of my process:
My process is iterative and often spontaneous. I do my best work when I get out of the way and let the ideas flow. With respect to the altered book work I create, the compositions I come up with are either inspired by a particular material or object I’d like to incorporate into a book, or because I’m experimenting with a new way of manipulating the pages through cutting, folding, etc. Most of the books I use to create altered books end up with me because someone no longer wanted them.
You often use recycled materials and found objects to make your art. What is the most unique found object you’ve ever worked with?
The most unique found object I’ve worked with to date would have to be a crow’s foot. I was working on a series called, Forgotten Knowledge, which combined natural found objects with a set of encyclopedias. I just happened to come across it in a park, and decided to use the foot in one of the books after carefully preserving it. I’ve also used bones in my compositions a few times.
Who / where do you look to for inspiration?
I get inspired by the materials I work with, and by the challenge of coming up with new ways of working, but the content of my work is heavily influenced by nature. I also make a point of meeting up with my fellow artists and makers because I get inspired and energized by sharing ideas with others.
Your work has been shown in cities all over North America and in the UK. Is there something about your work that makes it distinctly Canadian, or West Coast?
I’ve managed to show outside of Canada because I sought out those opportunities. I don’t really feel my work is distinctly Canadian or West Coast. I actually feel my work doesn’t fit very well at all into the Vancouver art scene.
What do you plan on bringing / demonstrating at Vancouver Mini Maker Faire this year?
As with last year, I’ll be displaying some of my recent work. I’ll also have a second table set up for people to hang out and make things from books and book pages. I recently acquired a donation of materials from a law library decommissioning some of their collection, and I’m bringing some of these along for people to work with. I won’t be teaching a formal workshop, just offering suggestions and guidance if needed. I’m curious to see what people will want to make, as it can be difficult for people to get their heads around working with books as a material.