Paul Johnson

Artist: Paul Johnson (UK)

Title: Landolfo Ruffolo

Medium/technique(s): Unique accordion pop-up book with sculptural spine. Industrial textile dyes on Saunders Waterford watercolour paper with pen work and gold inlays. There are no folds in the pop-up construction. All sections are joined with dovetail joints.

Edition size: 1

Artist Statement: The sculptural cover of the book represents the rustic landscape of Fiesole where seven young women and three young men escaping the plague in Florence tell stories – Boccaccio’s Decameron.

My original plan was for the book to be a carousel in five cyclical parts but this was abandoned and instead the five ‘spreads’ open as a continuous ‘pull-out’ accordion.

The theme is the story 4 from the second day of the Decameron: Landolfo Ruffolo, a merchant from Ravello sets sails for Cyprus but is captured by pirates. Their ship sinks in a storm. Landolfo clings to a chest and is carries to Corfu where a compassionate woman rescues him. She bathes him and this restores his health. Landolfo makes his way back home and examines the precious stones in the chest – now contained in a sack. He shows his gratitude to the woman of Corfu by sending her a generous sum of money.

Ships at sea, pirates, storms, shipwrecks and rescues are the stuff of good adventure yarns so I reduced the text to five pop-ups that I thought would make good illustrations.

All the structural parts of the pop-up units are joined with dovetails joints and slotted units. As there are no folds and so no tension or spring action as with conventional folded structures the pages stay open. Another advantage is that there is no ‘paper fatigue’ caused by constant opening and closing of pages. The whole pop-up book can be taken to pieces and new sections replaced or added.


One response

11 07 2013
Locating Boccaccio - Medieval Histories

[…] Paul Johnson […]

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